Tried & Tested

Austrian Airlines Bombardier Dash 8-400 economy class

24 Aug 2011 by Jenny Southan

CHECK-IN I arrived at the airport from Salzburg city centre by taxi, which cost about €15, at 1720, and went straight to the check-in area in Terminal 2. Desk one was for business class passengers and those who had checked in online but needed to drop their baggage off (there was a short line of people waiting). I joined the queue for at desk two, which didn’t seem to be moving even though there were only a few couples ahead of me.

After 20 minutes, the agent behind the business class desk called me over and I handed him a print out of my ticket and my passport. I was travelling with hand-luggage only. As my ticket from Salzburg to Vienna with Austrian (OS5924, 1830-1925) and onward journey from Vienna to London with Bmi (BD428, 2005-2125) had been booked by a Lufthansa representative for press purposes, I assumed that Austrian would be able to check me in for both flights as they are all codeshare partners. Apparently not.

The ticket agent proved to be extremely sour and abrupt, seemingly taking pleasure in telling me the tickets had been booked separately (I had not made the reservations so didn’t know) and could do nothing about checking me in for my connection. He issued me with a boarding pass for my first leg and I thanked him, before heading for security with the intention of checking in online myself once I was airside. (I had not done it earlier in the day as had no internet connection.) I was aware, though, that if I missed my connection it would not be the responsibility of any of the airlines in question, and I would have to rebook another flight home at my own expense. 

The was no queue for security but I had forgotten about a small 0.25cl bottle of liquor I had been given as a gift and shoved in my hand-luggage earlier in the day. This was, consequently, flagged up when my case went through the X-ray machine, but a very kind official offered to store it for me for up to one month for a fee of €2. I said that unfortunately I would not be passing back through any time soon, at which point he suggested I went back and checked my bag in. But again I had to say this wasn’t an option as I had a very tight onward connection (landing at 1925, departing at 2005) so it had to be thrown away. Not that this came as a surprise.

Once airside, I took a seat, logged on to the internet with my laptop and successfully checked in for my onward flight with Bmi. I was not able to print the boarding pass or have it sent to my phone though, so I emailed the link to my Hotmail account so that I could access it via my iPhone, and checked the box on the website that meant I could collect my pass from the kiosk at the airport as well.

BOARDING I bought a bottle of water from a nearby shop and then joined the queue for boarding from Gate 2 at 1820. I was given a sticker and a tag for my case, which I was told would need to go in the hold as the plane was too full. This concerned me as I was relying on being able to get off the plane as quickly as possible, but I was assured that it would not be a problem – they would take it off as soon as the plane had landed and give it back to me on the tarmac.

THE SEAT I asked the stewardess about my connection and she seemed to think it would be ok. I crossed my fingers and took my seat – 15F by a window.

Economy is configured 2-2 (A-C, D-F), with the back row being 20. Seats were upholstered in garish viridian green fabric, and there was a green and yellow striped carpet and red seatbelts. I was sitting directly beneath the wing, beside one of the propellers so it was very noisy.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? Sitting at the front or back of the plane is probably best so that you don’t have to wait so long to disembark and are further away from the propellers where it is quieter.

THE FLIGHT Take-off was at 1840 – there was an estimated flight time of 40 minutes so I tried to relax and read my book before attempting my stressful connection. A drinks service began at 1850, once we were at cruising altitude, and I was offered water, tea or coffee. (A stiff G&T would have gone down nicely but alas this was not an option.)

ARRIVAL The plane landed at 1920 and we disembarked five minutes later. While the other passengers filed on to a shuttle bus, I waited on the ground for my hand-luggage to be delivered to me.

THE TRANSFER After a few minutes we were all driven to the terminal and I was able to get off and rush up the escalators in the direction of Gates D. My heart sank when I saw the line for passport control but fortunately it moved quickly. I then went through fast-track security (as my onward flight was in business), taking my laptop and pre-packed bag of 50ml liquids out. Once through, which only took a few minutes, I was relieved to find my gate (D32) was adjacent, and had only just started boarding. I informed a member of staff that I needed a boarding pass and they were quick to issue you me with one.

VERDICT A huge amount of stress for a very short journey – this was partly my own fault for assuming my flights were part of the same booking, which would have meant I could take advantage of the usual benefits one can avail of when travelling on codeshare carriers.

However, because the person who had made the reservations had not informed me that my tickets we booked separately, I was in an unexpectedly stressful situation – having not being able to check in online as I normally would and facing a very short connection time.

FACT FILE

PLANE TYPE Bombardier Dash 8-400

SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2

SEAT PITCH 32in/81cm

SEAT WIDTH 17in/43cm

PRICE Internet rates for a return economy class flight from Salzburg to Vienna started from €128.

CONTACT austrian.com

Jenny Southan

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