Bangkok to Vienna
The loyalty scheme
Miles and More (Lufthansa's scheme - Austrian Airlines is a subsidiary of the German airline). Part of the Star Alliance.
Economy, seat 26A
10 hours, 30 minutes
Daily between Bangkok and Vienna.
The economy cabin seats are in a 3-4-3 layout, with a seat width of 18.5 inches. The seat pitch varies between 31 (79cm) and 33 inches (84cm) depending on the row. I opt to get some extra legroom by paying an additional €70 ($106) to secure an exit row seat.
One checked bag up to 23kg in weight. One item of hand luggage up to 8kg in weight plus one personal item (eg, handbag or laptop bag).
€70 may seem a lot, but for an overnight flight the price is well worth it to get the extra legroom of the emergency exit row. For that price you also receive the same, better-quality blanket as the business class passengers, which is just as well as this part of the plane seems extremely chilly. The plane seats appear virtually brand new, though feel rather narrow and there are noticeable gaps between the seat-backs. This could come in handy if you feel the need to deliver a death-stare to the person behind you if they're kicking your seat, for example (not that this happens on this flight). The seat cushions are quite firm, which may annoy some travellers, but I find them comfortable enough to get some decent sleep during the night. The standard economy seats lack footrests, which may bother some shorter travellers.
The seats feature large, crisp and responsive touchscreens with a decent, if not outstanding, selection of movies, including new releases and old favourites. The selection of TV shows is limited to single episodes of various programs, which is fine for sitcoms but with serialised dramas like The Wire and True Detective it makes little sense to feature a single episode.
The cabin crew, in their all-red uniforms (right down to the stockings) is efficient enough, if not particularly friendly. As it's an overnight flight we see little of them once the lights go out, but as everyone is sleeping (or attempting to) this is not surprising. Austrian's staff were named the best in Europe at last year's World Airline Awards.
It's fairly basic airline fare in economy. Chicken or fish. The former comes with mashed potato and grilled zucchini, but no sauce or seasoning. For breakfast it's something I've not experienced before on a plane - a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. It's a nice, simple change from soggy scrambled eggs typically served by airlines.
One more thing
Austrian Airlines does not fly to Australia but offers a codeshare flight with Thai Airways, who fly from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Layovers can be long (mine is 10 hours on the return flight to Melbourne) so a stopover in Bangkok is worth considering.
The plane feels modern and is spotlessly clean. While some may not appreciate the firm seats, for me they're very comfortable. If you're willing to pay the extra price, securing an exit row seat is definitely worth it.
The writer travelled as guest of the Austrian National Tourist Office.