Airline review: Austrian Airlines business class

Our rating

4 out of 5

The plane

Boeing 777-200; Austrian has five of these longhaul aircraft in its fleet.

The route

Vienna to Bangkok

The loyalty scheme

Miles and More (Lufthansa's scheme - Austrian Airlines is a subsidiary of the German airline). Part of the Star Alliance.

Class

Business, 5G

Duration

9 hours, 30 minutes

Frequency

Daily between Vienna and Bangkok .

The seat

The cabin layout varies from row to row, due to the interlocking nature of the seats. It's either 1-2-1 or 2-2-2. The 2-2-2 rows restricts aisle access for those in the window seat. The seat pitch is 40 inches (101cm), stretching out to 78 inches (198cm) in flat-bed mode, with a width of 19.4 inches (49cm).

Baggage

Two items of checked luggage up to 32kg each. Two items of hand luggage up to 8kg each, plus one personal item (such as a handbag or laptop case).

Comfort

The seats are wide with plenty of legroom. The interlocking design means some seats feature very large sidetables and the single window seats have two of these, which gives you plenty of workspace for documents without having to get the tray table out. There's a touchscreen panel for seat controls, which converts to a flatbed and also features a massage function. There are sheets and a blanket, but no turndown service is offered to set up the bed so I do it myself. Nevertheless, the seat in flat mode is very comfortable and sleeping is easy. The stylish toiletries pack comes with eye mask, ear plugs, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, face lotion and a shoehorn.

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Entertainment

There's a very large, sharp seatback screen, though it sits closer to your face than in some business class cabins. Some might find it to be too close for the size. There's a reasonable selection of movies and TV episodes to choose from. Not one of the best in the sky, but enough to keep you entertained for the duration of the flight.

Service

The service varies. A chef - or at least a crew member dressed as a chef - comes to take our dinner and breakfast orders and helps supervise the meal service. The crew is efficient enough but none of them introduce themselves before the flight, unlike some top tier carriers' business class crew, so the flight lacks a personal touch. My neighbour is offered a pre-flight drink, but I am not. Another crew member struggles to figure out how to open my tray table, making me wonder whether we have some inexperienced staff on board.

Food

The dinner menu offers two entrees (plus soup) and three mains to choose from. I opt for the smoked trout with spinach, vegetables and horseradish, plus the "Austrian style cream soup", for starters. This is followed by grilled prawns in pappardelle pasta with tomato salsa. There's only three prawns and the meal is, while palatable, not particularly impressive. The double chocolate tart for dessert is better. There are nine wines to choose from (including one dessert wine). For breakfast there is a range of cereals, juices and smoothies, bread or croissants and a hot selection of turkey omelette or bacon and eggs. I opt for the latter. I can't recall being served actual bacon and eggs on a plane before and these are quite good.

One more thing

Austrian Airlines lounge at Vienna Airport has a funky design and excellent showering facilities - better than you'll find in some hotels. Food options are limited to snacks rather than full meals - there's no hot food beyond soup.

The verdict

The unusual layout of the business class cabin is undoubtedly designed to fit in the maximum number of passengers without compromising comfort and Austrian has managed this. The seat design is clever and strikes a good balance between space and practicality.

The writer travelled as guest of the Austrian National Tourist Office.

See also: Airline review: Austrian Airlines economy class