A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:
- Swiss Airbus A340 Business Class from Zurich to Bangkok (not impressed).
- Review of the St Regis Bangkok (excellent).
- Review of ultra-luxurious Soneva Kiri (my best hotel experience ever!)
- Today: Austrian Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Bangkok to Vienna
Today (June 24, 2015): Trip report: Austrian Airlines B777 Business Class Bangkok (Thailand) to Vienna (Austria).
On April 21st 2015, I flew Business Class in Austrian Airlines‘ second oldest Boeing 777-200ER (named ‘Sound of Music’) from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Aiport (BKK) in Thailand to Vienna International Airport (VIE) in Austria. Austrian Airlines (now rebranded as ‘myAustrian’) is a somewhat lesser known member of the Lufthansa group, which owns Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, SunExpress, and Germanwings (to be rebranded to Eurowings later this year). I have flown Austrian twice now (this trip report covers my second flight with them) and it is by far my favorite European airline: the Business Class layout & design is superb, the seat quite comfortable (albeit not so in the lie flat position), the attention to detail superb, and the food is the most delicious you can get at 40,000 feet (and comparable to the best First Class catering).
- Trip: BKK-VIE
- Airline: Austrian Airlines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200ER
- Aircraft registration number: OP-LPA (named ‘Sound of Music’)
- Flight Number: OS26
- Date: April 21th, 2015
- On time departure: yes (23.45pm)
- On time arrival: yes (5.05 am)
- Miles: 5632
- Flight time: 10.20
- Seat: 3A
- Class: business (D)
In this review (more information & photos below my slideshow):
- Thai Airways’ Royal Silk Business Class Lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Aiport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory, WiFi)
- My verdict (score)
1. THAI AIRWAYS’ ROYAL SILK BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT BKK
Austrian Airlines does not have its own lounge at Bangkok’s impressive Suvarnabhumi Aiport, but its Business Class passengers have access to Star Alliance partner Thai Airways’ Royal Silk Business Class lounge. There are several Royal Silk lounges spread throughout the airport, but the main one – which can accommodate the largest number of passengers (more than 300 at the same time) – is located in Concourse D, level 3, and that’s the one I went to while waiting for my flight.
The lounge is a large, rectangular space, with plenty of seating options, and a couple of food stations in between, where you can choose from a variety of hot and cold food options (e.g. wanton soup, New Orleans chicken wings, salads, sandwiches), fruits, snacks and refreshments. Large floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the concourse’s massive interior spaces, so unfortunately, there are no outdoor window to observe the tarmac traffic. Complimentary, high-speed WiFi is available to all guests. If you are traveling with young children, you’ll appreciate the cute kid’s corner. All by all a decent, but far from exceptional lounge, especially given the fact that this is the flagship Business Class lounge of Thai Airways, which has its hub at Suvarnabhumi Aiport.
From the lounge, it was a 10 minute walk to gate D6 where the Boeing 777-200ER was ready for boarding. On this occasion, the flight was operated by Austrian’s second oldest B777, registration number OP-LPA (named ‘Sound of Music’).
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Business Class on Austrian Airlines’ Boeing 777s is spread over 2 cabins: a large Business Class cabin with 32 seats (in 7 rows) is located behind the cockpit, while a smaller and more intimate Business Class cabin with only 16 seats (in 3 rows) is located in front of the Economy cabin. Both Business Class cabins are divided by the main boarding door, a galley and 2 lavatories.
The Business Class seats are placed in a staggered configuration, a so-called Sogerma Solstys layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front. The same layout can be found on Brussels Airlines’ A330, Finnair’s A330/A340, Swiss’ A340/A330, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767. The staggered Business Class cabin configuration on Austrian Airways comprises 10 single seats, while the remaining 38 seats come in pairs. All seats enjoy a lot of privacy, as none of the rows quite line up, so nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle. Most seats also have direct aisle access, except for the paired window seats, where the passenger seated along the window will have to climb over his/her neighbour’s legs to get access to the aisle.
Austrian Airlines’ small fleet of 5 Boeing 777 (as well as 6 Boeing 767) airplanes was recently retrofitted, and the new Business class layout looks beautiful, airy and quite trendy with a red-blue-white color scheme contrasting with the dark grey seat covers. It definitely looks much fresher and feels more luxurious as compared to the design aboard its Lufthansa Group sister company Swiss, which uses the same layout (click here to read my trip report aboard Swiss ). If you have a choice, fly Austrian, not Swiss: although Swiss still has the reputation of being Europe’s best airline, it is now outclassed (in almost every aspect) by its little Austrian sibling.
Click here for the seat map of Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER.
3. THE BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
I was seated in seat 3A.
All Business Class seats have the same characteristics: 152 cm (60 inches) in pitch, a width of 50 cm (19,5 inch), and a 180 degree recline. All seats have at least one large work surface on the side (where you can set up your laptop), with all single seats and some paired seats featuring this work space on both sides (a so-called ‘throne seat’). Within that work surface, you will find the seat controls to adjust the seat position (from take-off position to fully flat) but also to adjust the seat cushion. Yes, you read that right. Austrian Airlines Business Class seats are not made of the customary plastic foam, but instead, the seat cushions have air-filled chambers, and with one press on the button you can either soften or firm up the seat cushion according to your liking, as well as activate its integrated massage function. On the side of the seat, there’s also a power port with international adapters, a personal reading lamp (at eye level), and the meal tray (which is hard to get out). In front of the seat, you will find a large entertainment screen (see below), with the foot compartment below.
The seat is comfortable when you are sitting upright, but it’s a somewhat different story in its lie-flat position. Although it’s a 180 degree recline, the seat (and your lower legs) descends into a space carved out for it in the seat(s) in front, below your entertainment screen. While somewhat larger as compared to the food compartment in Swiss’ Airbus A330/A340 Business Class, this foot compartment is still quite small, making it hard to switch position during your sleep while not waking up, as your legs will constantly hit the walls (although the seats that do not have the ‘throne’ feature have a little more space for the feet, hence making for a more comfortable sleep). In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it feel like you are resting on the ground or in a coffin (because of the seat walls), and making it very uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom. This is one of the most uncomfortable lie flat seats in the sky, especially when compared to the lie flat seats installed on Austrian’s competitors such as American Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and Cathay Pacific (click the links to read my trip reports of those airlines). But – and I liked this a lot – Austrian Airways provides blankets – for on the seats itself – and very good pillows, which all greatly improve the sleeping comfort (and somewhat compensate for the not so good lie-flat seats).
What are the best Business Class seats on Austrian Airlines’ B777s? Click here for a seat map.
- The seats in the second cabin (row 8 to 10) are preferable since this cabin feels more intimate.
- The single best seats for solo travelers are the single seats (all of them are ‘throne seats’).
- Travel companions should go for the paired, middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There are also paired window seats in rows 2, 4, 6 and 10, but here the passenger in the window seat will have to jump over his/her neighbour’s feet to get access to aisle.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Austrian Airlines’ B777S? Click here for a seat map.
- I suggest to avoid the window seats in row 7 and 8 since the proximity to the galley may be bothersome.
- I also suggest to avoid the seats in row 10, which are directly in front of the Economy bassinet seats (so you may end up being close to young children).
Austrian Airlines amenities are superb! Each seat comes with a very comfortable blanket, a lovely and thick pillow, and an additional blanket for on the seat itself. The dark grey Business Class amenity kit has a nice content: socks, sleeping mask, shoehorn, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, sugar-free mint, skin lotion, and a voucher for the Bogner online shop.
Before takeoff, I was offered a choice of welcome drinks: orange juice, water, or Champagne. I had the orange juice. A small, hot towel was offered after take-off. Dinner service started immediately after the captain had turned off the fasten seat belt sign (which was good, given the fact that we took off at midnight local time).
Austrian Airlines has its meal service down to an art and, IMHO, offers the most delicious food in the sky. First, the food comes from DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London and New York. Second, the crew rolls a selection of starters, entrees and desserts through the cabin, so for each course, you can always choose what you want. And finally, to make certain the delectable dishes are complimented by the perfect drinks, Austrian Airlines has on-board sommeliers to offer wine pairings for its Business Class passengers.
So, my expectations were very high, and Austrian did not disappoint. As a starter, I choose the creamy corn soup, with olive tapanade crostini. It tasted very good! As a main course, I had the grilled cod fish, with dijon beurre blanc, fried potatoes, oriental lentils, and leaf spinach. Delicious! Dessert was a cheese cake with marinated berries, accompanied by fresh fruit cuts. By then it was also time for coffee, which is a real fest on Austrian Airlines, as you get to choose from 11 different types of Austrian Meinl coffee. All by all, a superb gastronomic experience at 40,000 feet!
90 minutes prior to landing, the sumptuous, excellent and beautifully presented breakfast was served. The onboard chef had taken the breakfast orders from a separate menu before we took off in Bangkok, so I was now served with the items that I had chosen: a cold meat & cheese deli platter, yoghurt, muesli, fruit salad, and 2 eggs, sunny side up with crispy bacon. One of the best breakfasts that I ever enjoyed in a Business Class cabin.
In front of your seat, you will find a 15 inches (38 centimetres) entertainment touchscreen. What an improvement as compared to the disappointingly small entertainment screen (10,4 inch or 26 cm) of Swiss! The entertainment program itself was great, with a total of 50 movies and 60 TV programs (that are updated on a monthly basis).
7. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: Austrian Airlines’ crew members – with their bright red outfits – are amongst the best and most friendly in the world, and it was no different on this flight.
# LAVATORY: The Business Class lavatory design is very simple. Lavatories were kept clean during the flight.
# INTERNET: onboard WiFi is currently not offered by Austrian Airlines.
8. MY VERDICT
- Seat: 7/10
- Food: 10/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,4/10