Austrian Airlines will refresh its longhaul fleet with new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, making a perfect opportunity for the carrier to take what it does best and magnify it in such a way that Austrian is catapulted into the elite tier of premium products.
A Roadmap For Austrian Airlines To Evolve From Good To Great As It Awaits 787-9 Dreamliner
Since my very first longhaul flight on Austrian more than a decade ago from Beijing to Vienna, I have had a soft spot for the flag carrier of Austria. But while the carrier does so many things well already, there are some glaring gaps that it now has the chance to fix as it prepares to refresh its fleet of Boeing 767 and 777 jets with brand new 787 Dreamliners.
What Austrian Airlines Already Does Well
Let’s start by recounting out what Austrian already does well when it comes to its business class product:
- Vienna Airport is remarkably efficient and the 25 minute minimum connect time from Schengen – Schengen flights is a testament to this. While not the most modern airport in the world, the ease of flying though Vienna is an asset
- Business class catering is superb on shorthaul and longhaul flights, with wonderful catering from Do & Co. You can expect a warm meal in business class on virtually every flight
- On longhaul flights, not only is the food excellent, but there’s a separate coffee menu with delicious coffee drinks with Julis Meinl coffee
- Service tends to be outstanding onboard
The coffee menu is unique and while many airlines offer excellent coffee onboard, no airline offers so comprehensive a coffee menu (including Eiskafe) as Austrian.
What Austrian Airlines Currently Does Poorly
While flying Austrian Airlines, particularly on daytime flights, is generally a pleasure, there are definite drawbacks to choosing Austrian:
- Austrian lounges in Vienna are mediocre, with an unimaginative buffet of food choices and coffee that is also surpassingly mediocre
- The business class seats are fairly tight and bedding is bad (the blanket is more suited for economy class than business class)
- No w-fi onboard
- No air vents onbaoard (hopefully Lufthansa wisely specifies that all its Dreamliners will have air vents)
- Amenity kits are undwhelming
None of these are deal-breakers for me, but other than the seats, everything else seems to be low-hanging fruit.
How Austrian Can Move To Top-Tier In Terms Of Business Class
I expect that Austrian will, like SWISS, use the Lufthansa Allegris seats, which appear to represent an impressive update from the current Thompson Aero Vantage seats (we might also see some of the Austrian Dreamliners have the Hainan reverse-herringbone seats). That immediately will solve the biggest problem. But beyond that, I would like to see:
- Refreshed lounge menus and barista-made coffee in each lounge, accentuating the coffee that makes flying Austrian Airlines unique
- Wi-Fi onboard
- Plush duvets and mattress covers onboard
- Air vents above each seat
- Amenity kits with Austrian-made items that set it apart from the mundane amenity kits of other airlines
That’s actually not all that much, but those little changes would remove all the pain points of traveling on Austrian.
I am rooting for Austrian Airlines and love that the carrier is determined to maintain an international footprint of flights connecting Vienna to the world. With new seats coming anyway, a relatively modest update to lounge catering and the onboard soft product would go a long way toward launching Austrian into the top tier when it comes to business class.