Airline: Austrian Flight #: OS455 Route: VIE – LHR Class: Economy Seat: 30A Date: Saturday 7th December 2019
Having arrived in Vienna on a flight from Kiev (read about that here), I had a couple of hours before my onward flight with Austrian back to London. After letting the chaos of disembarkation happen around me, I was one of the last of the aircraft, however I quickly made my way through the transfers process and was back in the departure lounge about 10 minutes after alighting.
With both my inbound and outbound flights being to/from non-Schengen countries, the transfer lane I used led me back to the G gates, adjacent to the one my flight would depart from. Unfortunately for me, the lounge I was able to access with my DragonPass was at the far end of the pier from this gate and so after a 10-minute walk, I headed down to the ground floor and found the lounge in what seemed to be a hidden corner.
The lounge had a wide range of beverages available including hot drinks, various juices as well as a large selection of alcohol including spirits. There was a small range of cold snacks and cakes, however I timed my visit wrong and seemed to be in the period of the afternoon where no hot food is available. Although relatively basic, the lounge was comfortable to sit in and had a relaxing atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal.
After enjoying the peace of the lounge, I headed back upstairs about half an hour before boarding was due to commence to try and get a view and photography of our aircraft. Although there is plenty of glass to watch the aircraft through, Vienna is a photographer’s nightmare, especially at night, as the two layers of glass have about a meter of space between them create lots of reflections and make taking photos of the aircraft completely impossible.
In complete contrast to the transfers process, the boarding process was complete chaos. Boarding was delayed (although no announcement was made) and the lack of any clear queuing system led to three separate queues from different directions all merged into a crowd around the gate. After allowing priority boarding passengers into a segregated seating area and wait for 15 minutes, general boarding started at about 1700 and I was again lucky enough to get on-board and to the back of the aircraft before the aisle became blocked.
As with my flight from Kiev to Vienna, this flight was very busy, although I lucked out on this larger A320 (OE-LBJ) and had the middle seat of my row left unoccupied. Having settled in to watch the chaos of boarding, I noticed some of the little touches that I hadn’t noticed on my first flight with Austrian. Amongst these was the fact that the boarding music being played was one of Mozart’s classical pieces (I couldn’t tell you which), something I found to be a nice touch and a proud link to Austrian culture shown by its national airline.
The on-board service began shortly after take-off, however due to the busy flight it took about 45 minutes before the trolley made it to the back of the aircraft. As with my first flight, there was a range of drinks available for economy class passengers including the standard tea, coffee and juice as well as beer, wine or a Christmas punch. Alongside the drinks was a choice of either a sweet or savoury snack, and I got some free in-flight entertainment when a grown man a couple of rows in front had a tantrum and sulked because the cabin crew wouldn’t let him have two snacks.
The only negative I have about the food offering on this flight was that each of the oranges offered out as the sweet snack were individually wrapped in paper. Whilst I’d assume this is down to Austrian’s supplier, it was disappointing to see the waste created. On the flip side, the cabin crew were excellent and, despite the length of the first service, found time to do a second drinks service around the time the First Office updated us on our progress over Liege.
Our route from Vienna had taken us in a pretty much straight line north-west to Bruges passing over Linz, Nuremburg, Frankfurt and Aachen before crossing the coast near the port town of Ostend. With the aviation gods on our side, we avoided being held over Essex and having crossed the British coast over Southend, we headed over London on the standard Heathrow approach before lining up for landing. I had been slightly disappointed when I realised, I would be on the left-hand side of the aircraft as it would prevent me getting a good view of London during our approach. However, during our approach I realised I wasn’t missing much as clouds obscured any view of the ground until we were over Richmond and England rugby’s Twickenham Stadium.
After a smooth and quiet flight, we touched down on runway 27R just six minutes late despite our delay in leaving Vienna. This flight was exactly what I needed to wind down after a busy couple of days, with an excellent crew providing a good service and a flight that was smooth, peaceful and uneventful. Austrian certainly made an excellent first impression with this pair of flights and I look forward to flying with them again in future.
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 4* Food 4* Service 5* Punctuality 4* Overall Rating 17/25 (read about my rating system here!)