Part of the Lufthansa Group and a Star Alliance member, Austrian Airlines operates an extensive network of short-haul and long-haul flights from its hub at Vienna International Airport. In this review, we test the Austrian Airlines Economy class experience on a short flight from Vienna to Berlin.
(Please note that, at the time of writing, many Austrian Airlines flights are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, and the City Airport Terminal described below is temporarily closed. This flight was taken before COVID-19.)
|Route||Vienna (VIE) to Berlin (TXL)|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320|
|Class of travel||Economy|
|On-time performance||We arrived on time|
Although Austrian is a full-service airline, they do have some good specials on intra-European flights at times! For this flight, I paid €38.78 (~$63) for an “Economy Light” ticket. However, I also had to pay an extra €25 (~$40) for a checked bag, bringing the total price to €63.78 (~$103).
Normally, I would have been entitled to check in a bag for free thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status. However, this Star Alliance benefit does not apply when booking an Economy Light fare on Austrian, Lufthansa or Swiss. It also does not apply when booking a ticket that normally excludes checked luggage on Brussels Airlines, SAS or Air New Zealand.
One of the great things about flying with Austrian from Vienna is the City Terminal, where you can check in for your flight and drop off your checked luggage right in the middle of Vienna at Wien Mitte train station.
This service is available when flying with a Lufthansa Group airline and using Vienna’s City Airport Train service. This is a non-stop train service that runs from Wien Mitte to Vienna International Airport every 30 minutes. At €12 one-way, a ticket on the City Airport train is more expensive than using a local S-Bahn train or bus. But for the convenience, it can be worth it.
After arriving at Vienna International Airport, I headed directly through security (there is a fast-track lane for Business class and Star Alliance Gold customers) and upstairs to the lounge.
There are multiple Austrian Airlines lounges in Vienna for both Schengen and non-Schengen passengers. I used the Austrian Senator Lounge in the Schengen (F-gates) area.
This is not a huge lounge, but perfectly adequate. Toilets are located just outside the entrance to the lounge.
There are plenty of seats and several dark sleeping booths – perfect if you’ve just come off a trans-Atlantic redeye and have a few hours to wait before your connecting flight. My personal favourite spot is the lounge chairs by the window where there is a view of the apron.
Catering for the Austrian Senator Lounge is provided by Do&Co, and there is typically a very good buffet of hot and cold food. There is also a very wide range of drinks available, including Austrian wine, beer and spirits, as well as coffee machines.
Boarding for OS231 commenced punctually via the electronic boarding gates, and boarding was completed by zones. Anyone that tried to sneak into the queue before their boarding group was called would be automatically rejected by the gate!
The Hard Product
The Austrian Airlines A320 hard product is fairly standard. The entire aircraft is configured in a 3-3 seat layout with Recaro slimline seats, although the middle seats are blocked off in Business class. I found the legroom in row 6 to be fine.
There is no in-flight entertainment, in-seat power or wifi available on board.
Austrian Airlines uses a mixture of Airbus A320 family aircraft and Embraer E190s on its short-haul flights. I am normally a huge fan of the Embraer E190 due to the its more cosy 2-2 seating configuration in Economy class. However, I find the Embraer E190 seats on Austrian Airlines to be horribly uncomfortable. They simply lack padding and I invariably disembark with a sore back. So, if you have a choice of aircraft type, I would suggest flying in an A320.
The Soft Product
I like flying with Austrian Airlines. The cabin crew, in their striking bright red uniforms, are consistently professional and friendly. And there are small Austrian touches, from the classical boarding music (“The Blue Danube” by Austrian composer Johann Strauss) to the local beer & wine.
On this short afternoon flight to Berlin, we were offered a choice of a complimentary sweet or salty snack and drinks. I opted for the salty crackers and a beer, which was perfectly adequate for a one-hour flight. (On other Austrian flights, I’ve also been offered fresh fruit.)
Austrian Airlines serves complimentary hot meals on medium and long-haul flights. But if you’re in Economy class and would like a hot meal on shorter flights – or would like to upgrade your meal on a long-haul flight – you can also pre-order a Wiener schnitzel through Austrian’s catering partner Do&Co for €15 (~$24).
We landed at Berlin’s Tegel Airport on time. I like the location of Tegel Airport because it’s close to the city, but the airport has been operating way beyond its intended capacity for years and is a chaotic disaster. Thankfully, the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport looks increasingly likely now to open by November 2020, at which point Tegel Airport will close. (Tegel Airport was due to close next week, but this has now been postponed.)
Austrian Airlines A320 Economy Class
Despite an unimpressive hard product, Austrian Airlines provides consistently good service with a smile. For the price and the length of the flight, I was happy.