Airline: Austrian Flight #: OS662 Route: KBP – VIE Class: Economy Seat: 25A Date: Saturday 7th December 2019
After a fascinating time in the Ukrainian capital, it was time to head to the airport for my flight home. Having flown to Kiev with Lufthansa, I opted to fly home with another of the Lufthansa Group subsidiaries, and fellow Star Alliance member, Austrian Airlines. Austrian are one of the mid-sized European flag carriers with a fleet of 82 aircraft (compared to the 300 of its parent) and, from its Vienna hub, offers flights to a range of destinations across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America.
I arrived back at Kiev’s Boryspil airport (KBP) about two hours before my flight to Vienna and quickly found my way from the train station to International departures. Unfortunately, my experience of departures at KBP was much slower than arrivals, as although security was fairly quick and straightforward, the queues for passport control were long and slow moving. About half an hour after entering the departures process, I was finally stamped out of Kiev and headed through the maze of duty free to the airport lounge.
There are two lounges at Kiev, one for ‘airline guests’ (essentially business class or high-status loyalty card holders) and one available for general access for a charge or via a lounge membership scheme (such as PriorityPass or DragonPass). Unfortunately, I was flying back to Vienna and London in economy and so headed for the general access lounge in the back half of the terminal’s upper floor (from what I could tell the airline lounge in the front half had great apron views!)
Despondent is the best word I can think of to describe the lounge, with the windowless room having extremely harsh lighting and tired décor. The only seating available was lines of uncomfortable, ragged sofas which with the accompanying coffee tables didn’t allow me to get any work done during my short visit. There was a small range of food and drink available, with the highlight of the lounge being the barista made coffee!
Given the atmosphere, I chose to cut my visit to the lounge short and headed back out to the main terminal to find a quiet spot to wait. KBP’s terminal is a large glass and steel structure and from the departure lounge there are great views of the apron and the range of airlines that serve Kiev. My flight to Vienna seemed to be the last of an early afternoon wave to Europe with KLM, Lufthansa and SAS flights all departing shortly before mine.
There was a slight delay to my flight and the Airbus A319 (OE-LDF) arrived at the gate about 20 minutes before we were due to depart. The overall 38-minute delay to our departure seemed to overly frustrate some passengers and I was extremely impressed with the crew remaining calm, especially with one passenger who was demanding an aisle seat on the completely full flight! From what I could gather from the crew, our delay was caused by the combination of de-icing in Vienna as well as the crew and aircraft operating the flight from standby at the last moment. Thankfully, with this flight, I had a much longer connection time at Vienna.
Although I didn’t have priority boarding, I did manage to be one of the first passengers to board during the general boarding and was able to get to my seat before the aisle got blocked by other passengers. For the journey to Vienna I was in seat 25A, the left side window seat on the very back row of the aircraft. Thankfully, unlike some of their competitors (I’m looking at you British Airways!), the back row includes a window and so I was able to enjoy the airport scenery whilst boarding continued.
Due to the aircraft being completely full boarding took a while, but eventually we were ready to go and taxied out to KBP’s runway 18L. To the east of the runway there are a large number of Soviet era aircraft parked up which provided an interesting view as we departed, although I couldn’t find anything about these online when writing this post. After departure we took a right turn to head south-west across Ukraine towards the Slovakian border.
As we headed across Ukraine, I investigate the wi-fi installed on this aircraft and the prices seemed relatively reasonable, although I opted not to use it. For the basic package (allowing emails and social media etc) it was 5 euros, with a premium streaming package costing 10 euros. What I couldn’t tell was whether there was a limit to the use in these packages or whether they allowed access for the full flight.
About 40 minutes after departure the trolley service had finally made its way back to the back of the aircraft and I was certainly impressed with the drinks selection, if not the snack. Economy passengers had the standard choice of tea, coffee and juice as well as wine or beer and, as a bonus during the festive season, a non-alcoholic Christmas punch was also available. The snack provided was a very small packet of biscuits, however this is still more than on some airlines.
As we continued across Ukraine, we took a right turn just before crossing the Slovakian border, allowing us to head directly west across Slovakia. We passed through a bit of bumpy air just after the trolley service which, although not terrible, was enough to cause a slight mishap with my coffee. Our passage across Slovakia included the majority of our decent and soon after crossing into Austrian airspace we took a left turn to line up for landing on Vienna’s runway 16.
Having made up some time during the flight, we arrived in Vienna just 14 minutes late and taxied to one of the non-Schengen gates on the north side of the huge terminal building. All in all, I was extremely impressed with the flight with Austrian, especially with the choice of drinks available and the amazing service provided by the friendly and helpful crew. If the timings and cost are right, I’d definitely fly with Austrian again in future.
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 4* Food 4* Service 5* Punctuality 4* Overall Rating 17/25 (read about my rating system here!)