Austrian Airlines’ intra-European business class offers a solid soft product, but their seats are slimline and uncomfortable. Although I am used to European style short haul business class, slimline seats make the experience so much worse.
The Good: Excellent food on a short flight, although only one hot option for breakfast.
The Bad: Just another slimline seat with the middle seat blocked off.
The Noteworthy: One of the few full-service airlines that offer Wifi on intra-European flights.
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I booked this flight at the last minute. I had originally planned to fly from LHR to San Juan, PR via PHL on American. After a ticketing issue with American occurred, my flight was abruptly cancelled, and my money refunded. Since I had no way to return to the US, and I did not plan on buying a full-fare one way business class ticket, I used my American Express Membership Rewards points to book a flight. I transferred points to Aeroplan, which they transferred instantly. I looked up award availability online, and was able to book the flight on their website. The only flight that would take me to San Juan the same day was via JFK on Austrian. I had always been interested in trying out Austrian’s coffee menu on long haul business class, so when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.
Arrival at LHR:
I was staying in the middle of London, very close to a Tube station. I took the Piccadilly line train all the way from my hotel to the airport. It was a very unique experience. I was flying out at 6am, which meant I wanted to be at the airport at 4am. The travel time is 1 hour, so I was on the Night Tube at 3am. Most stations were completely empty. In total, there were never more than 8 people in my car at any given time. After my last tube ride of the trip, I proceeded to Terminal 2.
Terminal 2 is also known as The Queen’s Terminal, and houses all the Star Alliance carriers. I arrived close to 4am, and counters opened up at 4:15am. While I waited, the economy class queue got quite long, and I was the second person in line on the Business Class queue. Little did I know the man in front of me would take 30 minutes to check in for an Adria Airways flight that was 9am. Lord knows why he was there so early, but it took 30 minutes to explain to him that Lufthansa/SWISS/Austrian could not check him in. After waiting for 20 minutes in line, a kind lady from the economy class line told me to go to her counter. She checked me in, and in less than 5 minutes I was ready to pass security.
Lounge and Boarding
The delay at check in, plus the travel time to the gate, gave me only around 45 minutes to check out the lounge. The lounge I was planning on visiting is the United Club at LHR. When I got to the lounge, I saw that it didn’t open for another 25 minutes. I patiently waited, and when it opened went straight for the coffee machine. Although I didn’t take any photos, it is one of the most stunning United Clubs I have ever seen. Since boarding was only 10 minutes away, I left and headed to the gate.
At the gate, there was already a line in the economy queue, but the business class/elite line was empty. I waited there and was soon invited to board.
Airline: Austrian Airlines
Cabin Class: Business Class
Route: London (LHR) to Vienna
On Time: Yes
Cabin and Take-off:
The Austrian A321 has very nice grey leather seats, with red trims and finishes. Business class consisted of three rows, with the middle seat reserved empty for passengers.
I had the bulkhead row window 1A, and that gave me a reasonable amount of legroom. I would say I had about the same legroom as in a Main Cabin Extra seat on American. The airplane also had wifi, which was functional during the flight, but I did not use it.
Flight attendants passed around water or juice before take off. I had water, and fell asleep waiting for departure. As soon as we pushed back, I was able to snap a quick photo of an Air Canada 787.
Food and Service:
About 20 minutes after departure, the crew came around asking if passengers wanted to have breakfast. There was two options: hot sandwich or charcuterie plate. I ordered the sandwich. It wasn’t an amazing sandwich, but it did hit the spot. The tray also came with what I believe was a savoury yoghurt, and a small fruit plate. Austrian is catered by DO&CO, which are my favorite airline caterers.
The flight attendants were very kind, and were proactive without being intrusive. After breakfast I fell asleep again, and landed when we were on final approach to Vienna.
Noon in Vienna was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. On our approach I was able to see the airplanes silhouette.
After landing, we parked at a remote stand, and took a bus to the terminal. Austrian does not reserve a bus specifically for business class passengers, and we had to wait for it to fill up completely. The benefits of the remote gate was the amazing photos I was able to take of Austrian Fokker 70s, and of my own aircraft.
Austrian offers a better option to Vienna from London than BA. Although BA has better lounges at LHR, Austrian’s catering is much better. DO&CO is hard to beat. I would fly them again if the option was available. I just wish European airlines would change their Business Class ahrd product concept. A blocked middle seat, with the same legroom as Coach is not truly business class.
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews