Austrian Airlines is known for high-quality in-flight meals and a special coffee menu, but what about the rest of the product? Is it worth it?
In the interest of transparency, I state at the outset that this review has never been published before, but is from October 2013. It is part of my Star Alliance Business Class Adventure in Europe and Asia report. I outline in that post why I post older flight and hotel reviews.
We flew from Beijing to Vienna on a Boeing 767-300. With 26 seats in business class but the flight only about 20% full, we had the chance to spread out and enjoy the Austrian hospitably.
Austrian Airlines 64
Beijing (PEK) – Vienna (VIE)
Monday, October 14, 2013
Depart: 11:25 AM
Arrive: 3:5o PM
Duration: 10hr, 25min
Seat: 5D (Business Class)
Austrian Airlines Business Class Food
I’ve got to start with the food, since it was magnificent. Anyone who says good catering is not available out of China needs to fly on Austrian Airlines. Somehow, Austrian managed two wonderful meals onboard the 10.5hr daytime flight to Vienna.
Prior to pushback, a FA dressed as a chef introduced himself to each passenger and took meal orders for the flight.
Service began with warm mixed nuts (generous helping) and choice of beverage. The wine list includes several choices from around the world. Austrian does not use trays in business class for the first meal, instead carefully laying out S&P shakers, butter dish, and bread plate like you would expect in first class.
Although FAs generally paid very close attention to detail, my napkin arrived stained with red wine:
Next up, FAs wheeled an appetizer cart through the cabin, offering a wonderful selection of hot and cold appetizers.
My favorite course came next: tomato soup with warm, crispy bread covered in a olive tapenade. Had this been the entirety of the meal, I would have been happy.
I ordered steak for my main course. Steak is always a gamble at 36,000 feet, but I figured on Austrian it was worth the risk. Indeed it was. The steak was cooked a perfect medium and the potatoes au gratin served with it were rich and creamy.
Fruit and dessert? Yes please. Cheese was also an option, but by this time I was stuffed. Still, I made room for fresh watermelon and a remarkable dessert, cherry almond tartlet.
For your review, the menu and wine list:
Austrian Airlines Business Coffee Menu
But the meal was not over yet! Austrian also has a separate coffee menu:
I had Eiskaffe or ice cream coffee. Wow, was it delicious!
The coffee menu is a true distinctive of flying on Austrian Airlines. Just a word of caution: take advantage of it during/after the first meal service. The special coffee service is typically not available prior to landing due to the time required for preparation and clean-up.
If you’re flying from the USA to Vienna, this is annoying — you don’t necessarily want coffee before you go to sleep, but it will not be available with the breakfast service prior to landing.
Austrian Airlines Business Pre-Arrival Meal
Speaking of a prior to landing meal, a simpler yet delicious second meal was offered about an hour out of Vienna. I had been sleeping and appreciated that Austrian did not start the second meal service so early, especially considering the cabin was only 20% full.
Two choices: stir fried beef or vegetarian pasta served with salad and cheesecake.
Austrian Airlines Business Seat
The Sogerma Solstys (Vantage) business class seat on Austrian Airlines is 100% horizontal lie-flat, similar to what you find on Delta, Aer Lingus and SWISS. Seats are staggered and single seats are available in A and K.
I did find the legroom a bit constricted while the bed was in lie-flat mode, but I still managed about six hours of sleep during the flight. The seat is very comfortable when reclined slightly.
Austrian uses great bedding that is lightweight but keeps you warm.
Austrian Airlines Business Class Service + Amenity Kit
Veteran crew members staffed the flight and were quite kind. The FA primarily working our side of the aisle smiled and did not seem to take a break the entire flight (though in fairness, I slept thru half of it).
My brother and I were always addressed by name and every request was obliged.
I did not even bother to open the amenity kit (back then I was in a phase where I saved them all), but the contents were quite basic. “Noise cancelling” headphones were offered, but of poor quality.
Austrian Airlines Business Class IFE
Austrian is currently in the process of introducing wi-fi to its longhaul fleet but my flight had no internet. There are plenty of movies and TV shows to choose from — don’t worry about bringing your own entertainment. I watched Night Train to Lisbon, a German movie filmed in English. I love finding obscure movies on planes and really enjoyed this one.
A moving map is of course available as well as a great variety of classical music from Mozart and other Austrian greats.
Austrian is now flying to Los Angeles and I cannot wait to fly on OS again. The business class seat is not the best, but good enough for sleeping and the food makes the flight special.
Remember, Austrian Airlines serves the following North American cities:
- Los Angeles
- New York JFK
- New York EWR
- Washington Dulles
A one-way business class ticket between North America and Vienna costs:
- 70K United miles (no fuel surcharge)
- 55K Aeroplan (with fuel surcharge)
- 63K Avianca miels (no fuel surcharge)
- 65K Singapore miles (with fuel surcharge)
- 88K ANA miles round-trip (with fuel surcharge) [no one-way bookings]
Award space is generally quite good.
even though the 767 does not have true throne seats like the 777, the center section seats does have one “throne-like” seat, which is the seat you chose here.
These throne/throne-like seats are really a two-edged sword. Yes you get the privacy, BUT they’re very very constricted in bed more, just how you said. Add to that, the foot cubicle on these are fairly small. I was very excited to try out the throne seat but after i flew in one, i vowed not to choose one again. On a 777, I’ll go with the aisle seat just because the foot cube is bigger and the arm rest can be lowered for more space. On the 767, any aisle or window seat would be great.
I flew on LX’s updated J seat on the 77Ws and picked an center-section aisle seat in the mini cabin…it was perfection! 🙂
Does Austrian not offer a “book the cook” service? Or is that only available between the USA and Europe?
Pre-order meals are available in economy class from VIE (and JFK/EWR/ORD), but to my knowledge not in business class.
Your’re thinking of SQ
Are you serious? Travel in 2013 and reviewed now! That’s not a review anymore, it’s history class.
Not at all. The product remains remarkably similar. That’s why I published it late. Same seat, food, bedding, and coffee menu.
Can‘t agree with you more. Flew the same route today, and the menu and all service flows looked exactly like your experience 5 years ago:
– Nuts are the same cold ones
– Five out of six starter options are the same (they changed the spring roll to fried shrimp wonton)
– Main dish was exactly the same thing, beef+gratin+ratatouille, although my beef was definitely over cooked
– The same almond tart with Doce de Leche topping
– Options and appearances for the second meal were 100% same
Although Do&Co does take inflight dining experience to a new level (at least in business class), from my experience on TK and OS, it definitely seems like they lack the variety. You will soon get tired of eating the same food if you take a 4-leg round trip on either OS or TK.
Thanks for this valuable data point! It proves my points: older trip reports are still relevant.
I flew Austrian many years ago in business, while the food was fantastic, the seat was so hard. So hard, it was actually painful by the end of both flights (R/T US-VIE). I am trying them again next month to get to Ukraine, looking forward to a kinder gentler seat!
I always enjoy flying Austrian, especially in the throne seats. 🙂 also, the airport isn’t bad for layovers and has incredibly fast, free wifi throughout the airport.
One more to add to your list is Aegean. Fuel surcharges but only 45,000 miles (and they are a transfer partner of SPG). That’s how I always book business on Austrian.