Transfer in Vienna
Nothing about Vienna airport really makes any sense. And sadly, the impression you get is that the airside facility was built with everything but the passenger and the usability of the terminal in mind. My aircraft from Tirana parks at a remote stand, which means we are taken to the terminal by bus. But instead of dropping the passengers off near the beginning of the pier, which is where the security checkpoint and passport control are located, the bus driver only drives a few meters and then has us disembark at the very end of the concourse. From there, it’s a long schlepp to immigration and the Covid certificate check, before eventually, you arrive at the very beginning of the pier and the queue for security.
The Austrian Airlines Business Class lounge
The Austrian Airlines lounge is behind security, but in the completely opposite direction to the Schengen gates on the F pier.
The lounge is already quite full when I get there. The food options are rather nice, though. Other than that, the interior design is quite cheap. The seats in the dining area are covered in plastic fake leather and aren’t really all that comfortable either.
Eventually, I leave the lounge to walk around a bit and stop me from falling asleep.
I am seated on 2F. There are five rows of business class for a total of twenty seats. On this flight, only eight seats are occupied. And funnily enough, I’m the only passenger seated on the right side. I’m guessing the other passengers all chose to sit on the left to get a better view of the alps en route.
The crew on this flight are all female and very friendly. They’re all smiles and are engaging with the passengers. Unlike SWISS, Austrian does not offer any pre-departure drinks or refreshing towels.
As soon as the seatbelt sign is turned off after take-off, the maître de springs in to action in the galley. The curtain is closed, but I can hear her pottering around in the galley as she loads the hot meals into the trolley. But then suddenly, there’s this terrific crash as the whole trolley tumbles backwards. The flight attendant opens the curtain with a horrified expression on her face and simply mutters: “Na, jetzt is mir der Trolley umgfallen…”. It seems like an odd thing to say because the crash was so loud that I’m pretty sure they heard it all the way back in Vienna.
Eventually, the crew manage to get the trolley upright, but most of the food has spilled. I really feel for the cabin crew, because she’s obviously distraught and so embarrassed. She keeps passing through the cabin apologizing and explaining that she can’t possibly serve the meal, as “so was gibt’s nicht amol bei der Rynair”… Clearly, to her Ryanair is rock bottom and if not even they would serve such a messy looking meal, then she certainly won’t either in Austrian Business Class. She’s really quite funny in her state of upset.
Eventually, we agree for her to just give me the hot meal and a coffee. It just wouldn’t be very gentlemanly really, to lick the yoghurt of the tray… The hot meal is an omelet with cheese served with spinach.
To conclude the meal, the crew pass through the cabin offering small chocolates. They’re not as good as the Swiss ones, but they rarely are.
We approach Zürich from the East, which brings us in right over lake Constance. It’s a gorgeous day for flying.
The maître de welcomes us to Zürich amid more profuse apologies at having ruined breakfast. She insists that in all her career, this is really the first time this has ever happened to her. I feel quite sorry for her, because she’s clearly very upset.
Zürich airport is very empty and quiet when we land. Even after all these years, I still think it’s impressive to think that we touched down on runway 16 at 09h00, and by 09h13 I was already sitting on the train home!
Catering is, and has always been, one of the airline’s strongest points. And today’s two flights from Tirana to Vienna and then on to Zürich were no different – despite the mishap with the trolley. To serve a hot meal on a flight of barely one hour is certainly not bad at all and definitely a lot more substantial than anything I was expecting. On the other hand, I think it’s a shame they won’t even place a bottle of water at every seat as a pre-departure beverage.
The crew were very nice, which is a pleasant surprise. In the past, I’ve had crews on Austrian that were really just plain rude. For Tirana, I really think Austrian has the best and most frequent connections. Which is why I chose them. However, if it weren’t for their extensive eastern European network, I don’t think I would go out of my way to actively seek them out for my next trip. I find the whole experience a bit bland, and the unpredictability of the crew doesn’t help. I wouldn’t intentionally avoid them though, either.