A few months ago, I flew from Oktoberfest to the Chicago Seminars. From Munich to Vienna, I flew Lufthansa business class. From Vienna to Chicago, I flew Austrian Airlines new business class product.
Overall I enjoyed Austrian Business Class. The seat was comfortable for relaxing and sleeping, the food was good, there was an onboard chef in uniform, and the daytime flight passed quickly.
How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment? How does Austrian Business Class stack up against its competitors? (& Lots of Pics)
My day started with a 4 AM wake up in Munich to catch my 7:15 AM flight to Vienna. Munich needs to get a high speed express train from the city. If you’re between Munich and Frankfurt for a 23 hour layover, Munich is more interesting, but the airport is two hours roundtrip by train versus 30 minutes roundtrip in Frankfurt.
For those who haven’t flown intra-European business class, you get an economy seat with economy leg room, but only the aisle and window seats are assigned, so you have a little extra elbow room.
In Vienna, I ducked into the Austrian Business Class Lounge and relaxed on one of these chairs for a few minutes before heading to my flight to Chicago.
At 9 AM, the food selection lagged the alcohol selection in Vienna.
Vienna (VIE) – Chicago (ORD)
Depart: 10:05 AM on October 9, 2013
Arrive: 1:30 PM same day
Aircraft: Austrian Boeing 767-300
Seat: 7A (Business Class)
At 9:30 AM, I headed to the gate for boarding. At the door, a flight attendant directed me down the correct aisle wit ha brusque greeting.
My flight had business class in a 1-2-1 configuration. The beds were designed, so that your legs were underneath the arm rest of the seat in front.
This picture shows the slight staggering of the rows. This women’s feet would be under my arm rest when she reclined to a bed position.
Window seats could have their arm rests on the window or aisle side. I selected seat 7A, which has the arm rest on the aisle side in order to be closer to the window and to feel like I had a buffer from the aisle. The drawback was that I felt like I was trapped and it was difficult to get to the aisle through a narrow opening.
In the future, I’d probably select 6A to get aisle access without having to pass my arm rest.
Upon boarding, I was immediately struck by the large TV and small leg room.
I felt like my legs were being squeezed into a cubby in an elementary school.
Part of the issue with the foot cubby is that the floor slants up inside the cubby, robbing you of space that would be present with a flat floor.
Boarding continued and business class ended up completely full. I suspect this is because Austrian actually auctions off its business class seats as upgrades.
During boarding, I took a look at my amenities. The seat came with noise cancelling headphones.
Next to the seat was an intuitive touch screen to control the position of the seat or bed. I found the suggested Relax and Sleep settings to be the most comfortable for relaxing and sleeping as advertised.
On either side were controls for the lights, volume, and flight attendants plus power ports that fit US and European adapters.
Overall the seat was an impressive throne appointed with a blanket and mid-sized pillow, but I wish there were more leg room.
Before take off, the chef came to introduce himself, distribute menus, and ask if we had any questions.
After talking to him, I took a look in my amenity kit.
The kit had:
- eye shade
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- ear plugs
The menu read as follows:
Prior to departure, a flight attendant brought a tray with champagne, water, and orange juice. With such a big business class–36 seats–individual drink orders would have taken too long, and the pre-departure drink tray is a nice compromise.
It was a nice start, and I love when I can pick as much as I want from carts like Malaysia First Class’s satay cart and many airlines’ dessert carts.
Next the red lentil soup was outstanding, possibly my favorite part of the meal.
After the soup, I had my main course of a minced veal patty, potatoes, and veggies. This course was solid, but too small. It felt like the portions we used to get in economy back when meals were free. Normally a multi-course meal in a premium cabin is too large, but Austrian’s meal was too small.
After lunch, Austrian offered an extensive coffee selection, but I was ready to sleep, so I skipped the caffeine.
After lunch, I reclined the seat into a flat bed and attempted to sleep, just west of Ireland.
I dozed off for several hours and woke up over Canada with just a few hours left to Chicago.
Since I got several hours of sleep on a daytime flight, I can’t complain too much about the bed though I think it could be improved.
I felt a little cramped in it, which might have something to do with being 6’4″. It was also slightly angled, with my head higher than my feet. It was a lot better than coach, but some competitor’s beds are better. Overall I like United’s business class beds better, but Austrian’s beds are solid for sleep too.
Ninety minutes before landing, a second meal was served. I chose the carpaccio, which was delicious, but again, too small.
We landed right on time in Chicago, and I raced through immigration with Global Entry.
Seat: Comfortable for lounging, a little cramped near the feet.
Bed: Comfortable and flat, a little coffin-like.
Food: Delicious, but portions were too small.
Service: Efficient, but not personal.
Entertainment: Great TV size and programming selections.
I would definitely fly Austrian Business Class again and expect to arrive refreshed at my destination, but it falls short of aspirational products.
Do you want to fly the same plane I did? Award space in business class is great Chicago <-> Vienna until March 11, 2014. Then there is no business class award space the rest of 2014. Economy award space is incredible through late 2014.
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