|Austrian Airlines Airbus|
Monday, March 17, 2014
Austrian Airlines is setting up an auction that will close 72 hours before flight to sell business class upgrades. The winners are based on price bid, but not told other bids. The outcome also doesn't factor in fare paid or miles co-pays, so there is a chance of buying a very discounted fare and flying business class for not much more. Interesting way to maximize revenue, but it's not very sporting since you don't know other bidders' offers.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
It's a busy week with just about everything in grad school and work due, so here is a quick thought. Austrian Airlines sizes all the roller bags before the security check. Too big, turn around and check it. If it fits, it is tagged as "Cabin Approved Baggage" and you proceed. I like this system and think it should be used by US airlines (I say this confident my bag will fit).
|Austrian Airlines Bag Sizer|
Sunday, September 2, 2012
The friend I was travelling with wanted to have a Von Trapp style experience while in Austria so we took the train to Salzburg. It’s about a two hour trip from Vienna and $75 each way. Our train out was delayed over an hour, so don’t plan on punctuality. Salzburg has a quaint old town with expensive hotels. Luckily there is a Crowne Plaza and HolidayInn less than a 10 minute walk away. The Holiday Inn had a friendly staff, recently renovated rooms, flakey free wifi, and gave a nice platinum welcome gift of a bottle of Austrian wine. The price was right too.
After two full days, we went back to Vienna to catch a
flight to London. We took the CAT, City
Airport Train, to Vienna Airport and were able to check in and check out bags
at the train station (the train ride is about half the price of a taxi to the
airport). The train was comfortable and
we glided to the airport with ease, went through a fast security lane, had our
passports stamped by customs, and settled in at the Austrian Airlines lounge.
Austrian Airlines recently opened a newly renovated terminal
at Vienna International Airport with a new check in area, new lounges, and new
gate areas. The lounge had plenty of
seating, fast wifi, good drinks selection, and tasty food. I also checked out the Priority Pass lounge
(thank you Palladium card) which didn’t have a view and had similar food.
Boarding for the flight to LHR was delayed for no obvious
reason and no information was given.
Once boarding started I was first down the jet bridge (Star Gold status
perk) and settled into my own row. About
a dozen Austrian Olympians were on the flight.
I talked briefly with a swimmer, so I checked “talk with an Olympian”
off my London to do list. The flight
boarded and departed quickly.
The cabin crew was very friendly and started the service
quickly. I had a soda and half a
sandwich (it had an odd taste, but was free).
The flight went smoothly and we quickly arrived at LHR (The Economist makes time fly). On approach we went up the Thames and saw all
the classic London sights. I was
prepared for a long queue at customs, but there was no wait at all. Further, the arrivals hall was full of
helpful and cheery volunteers, a great experience at LHR, especially since I read
about nightmarish conditions leading up to the games. We were able to get a fast start to out 14
hour layover in London and we walked to the Tube station and headed to the
Salzburg’s highlight real includes the castle at the top of the bluffs (take the funicular railway), a lovely park on the other side of the river, Die Weisse (best food and best beer on the trip), and the old town with shops, restaurants, churches, and the Mozart house (and a NORDSEE). This can all be done in a day with an overnight stay as to not feel rushed and enjoy an evening in town.
|Die Weisse Was Amazing|
|NORDSEE Also Good|
|Check In Desks at City Airport Train Station in Vienna|
|CAT to VIE|
|Priority Pass Lounge at Vienna Airport|
|VIE to LHR Flight Map|
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I love Vienna. It is my favorite capital in Europe (Lisbon is a close second). My first trip to Wien was three years ago and I’ve been telling everyone to go since. Vienna (or Wien as local signage says) has a great old town and many beautiful sights. The city was the seat of power for the Holy Roman and Austrian Empires. It is also a great walking town with a tram and subways system when you don’t want to. The architecture is great, people friendly, and street food second to none.
My first time to Vienna I stayed at the Hilton Vienna Danube on a points stretcher award. That hotel is not remotely close to the city. This time my friend and I were staying at the Hilton Vienna downtown. It is a great location. One block from subway and tram stops just off the ringstrasse and next to Stadtpark. The rooms are normal size by US standards and large by European. Even with just Hilton silver status, we were upgrade to a suite.
|Hilton Vienna Suite|
|Hilton Vienna Suite|
The room rate included breakfast and the hotel has a very nice spread (Sunday is more of a proper Sunday brunch set up). The service was good, coffee better, and food great. There was also a large Asian spread available. It was all very nicely done and allowed us to start our day off right (and caffeinated).
Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence of the emperor and the royal family. It is magnificent (more subdued than Versailles) and still restrained. The tour is great and runs about an hour. Another hour can be spent touring the grounds around the place. It is easy to get to with its own subway stop, but arrive early as the lines grow very quickly.
The Treasury Museum is stunning. It puts the crown jewels in the Tower of London to shame really. On display are the trappings of 1,000 years of empire. You have to see the collection for yourself. It is truly awe-inspiring and well worth the visit.
I like a good tram ride, especially as a way to explore a city. Vienna has a special tourist tram that runs in summer around the rinstrasse (it's the yellow one, can't miss it). For EUR2 (it does not accept normal tram tickets) you get an audio tram tour of the city. The regular tram system is extensive and a great way to explore Wien. Some of the best food in town is found at tram and subway stops too.
|Tram in Vienna|
|Tram Stop Food, Yum|
My friend participated in equestrian events as a kid and said we had to take a tour of Spanish Riding School. There are no shows in the summer so the tour was the only option. It lasts about an hour and shows the stables, where you can get very close to the horses, the arena, and other areas. Our tour guide was friendly and funny. After the tour, we lucked out because the horses in town (most are send to a farm in the mountains over summer) were let in the arena to play around. This was a free show open to anyone passing by. I was able to watch from the royal box; a truly unique experience.
|Spanish Riding School as Viewed From the Royal Box|
Vienna is great and everyone should spend a few days there. Saltsburg is great too, but only a day trip, as I was soon to find out.
Saturday, August 18, 2012
It is only a 20 minute taxi ride from the Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona to the new Barcelona airport terminal (RyanAir and EasyJet still use the old terminal). The new terminal is massive, giant, and huge. Way more than I was expecting and larger than the current traffic needs. I do like the architectural style of it, large windows, high ceilings, and long sight lines, but the layout means you are walking a lot to get anywhere. There is also prominent mall to walk through before you see any gates. None of this mattered at first because the Austrian Airlines check in line was massive.
|New Barcelona Airport Terminal|
With only one flight about 2 hours away, the line looked like the entire plane had arrived to check in at once. It was awful, there were two desks and one was preoccupied with a family having visa issues. Luckily I saw Star Alliance Gold members can check in at the business class line with no one in it (my non-status friend was able to check in with me and skip the line). I waited my turn, expecting the visa issue family in front of me to take forever, but the economy desk agent waved me over in front of tons of people to check in. The process went quickly and no one in line attacked me for jumping to the front.
|Huge Check In Line for Austrian Airlines|
A quick trip through the security line and we were off to find the Star Alliance lounge, except there isn’t one. There is just one large shared lounge for all the intra-Europe flights. It also wasn’t well marked (it’s to the far right of the giant mall after security). Once inside I grabbed a coke and my Economist. My friend made good on his new year’s resolution to drink more Champaign and had two glasses before our 10am departure. There was also some light snacks available to munch on; I just had breakfast at the hotel so I did not partake.
|Barcelona Airport Lounge|
When boarding time arrived, we walked to our gate. And walked. And Walked. Only to not see a plane parked, but find a bus waiting for use. I dislike boarding buses and going to stand positions, especially when there is a perfectly good jet bridge available. The buses slow everything up and add stress that isn’t needed (You can get some good pictures though). I prefer to be the last person on the last bus that leaves. That way I get a window spot at the bus door and am the first one off and up the stairs to board (don't worry about bin space, Europeans rarely fill the overhead space). We waited at the gate for everyone else to go and then we were the last ones on the bus.
|Austrian Airlines Retro A320 Jet|
The aircraft was an A320 in a retro Austrian Airlines livery. Inside, the plane looked new with Lufthansa Group’s slim line seats. These seats are super narrow, weigh less, and have redesigned seat back pockets and tray tables. They let the airline fit more rows on board while giving customers a greater feeling of space. The flight left late and arrived early. I had the first exit row, so plenty of leg room, but the seat did not recline at all. Service was prompt and included a sandwich and drink for the two hour flight. I was able to do some reading and enjoyed the quick hop to Vienna. After a quick taxi to the gate we were off to see Vienna, but not before grabbing a few Austrian Airlines post cards first.
|Austrian Airlines Slim Seat Back|
|Austrian Airlines Slim Seat Profile|
|Austrian Airlines Snack in Economy|
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
"World's most valuable boarding card" is one of my favorite ongoing promotions by an airline. Austrian Airlines wanted to promote a free stopover in Vienna, similar to Iceland Air and others, but Austrian took the extra step of turning their boarding pass into a tourist discount card. Discounts are available at numerous attractions, shops, and restaurants around town. Here’s the current list. The promotion has extended to other Austrian destinations too. If you are going to Vienna (my favorite capital in Europe), I recommend their Vienna Card too.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
My colleague Justin sent me a link for $60 off a Lufthansa flight. It's good for travel from August 12 to September 12 and must be redeemed by the end of May. Good on Lufthansa and their code share partners United, Air Canada, and Austrian. Travel must originate in the USA.
|Lufthansa A319 at FRA|