En route to Europe, I flew from Montreal to Vienna onboard Austrian Airlines business class, one of the final transatlantic Star Alliance business class products I’ve yet to try until now.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Booking
The flight from Montreal to Vienna covers 4,027 miles in distance, which is just over the threshold into the second distance band on Aeroplan’s North America–Atlantic award chart.
A one-way business class flight therefore costs 70,000 Aeroplan points, which is how much I paid for my overall itinerary of Montreal–Vienna–Warsaw–Kraków.
Since Austrian Airlines is part of Star Alliance, it’s also possible to book using other Star Alliance mileage currencies like United MileagePlus or Avianca LifeMiles.
After forgetting my passport and having to double-back to the Humaniti Hotel Montreal to retrieve it, I arrived at Montreal Trudeau International Airport about an hour before boarding.
As a Star Alliance business class passenger and Star Alliance Gold member, I’d ordinarily have access to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge Montreal prior to this Austrian Airlines flight.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Cabin
Austrian Airlines’s long-haul fleet consists of Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 767 aircraft. The Montreal route is typically served by the 767, although the business class products are largely the same.
The cabin finishes draw upon deep shades of red and grey, combined with sky-blue throw pillows for a mild splash of colour. Visually, it made for a satisfying, if not overly striking, first impression.
There are a total of 26 seats on the 767, spread out in a 1-2-1 configuration across seven rows (Row 7 does not have middle seats).
Austrian uses a fairly standard staggered seat type here on the 767, with the window seats alternating between being closer to the window and closer to the aisle, and the middle seats offsetting each other row-by-row.
(On the Boeing 777-200, the rows alternate between 2-2-2 and 1-2-1 configurations, with “throne seats” by the window situated in every other row.)
I had picked Seat 5A, one of the window seats closer to the windows. However, upon realizing that the cabin would be fairly empty during this flight, I later moved to the back of the cabin to have a bit more privacy.
On this plane, there was no galley between the business class and economy cabins; instead, there’s a narrow walkway behind the middle seats in Row 6 to allow business class passengers to move between aisles.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Seat
I took note of the seat features upon settling into Seat 7A. As a window seat flush by the windows, my seat console afforded me some extra separation to the aisle.
The Austrian business class seat comes with a 15-inch touch-screen entertainment monitor. Adjacent to that is a large literature pocket and a smaller mesh bottle holder.
Down below, the cabin floor slopes upwards to meet the footwell, making it difficult to store any personal belongings like a laptop bag or a backpack. Most of your stuff will need to go into the overhead bins.
Turning to the seat console, much of the hardware has been around for about a decade and is showing its age, although a few features appear to have been more recently refurbished.
The touch-screen seat controls are intuitive, responsive, and allow for a high degree of fine-tuning. Meanwhile, the entertainment controller is housed under a nearby flap.
The rest of the seat console is rather ordinary. There’s a little nook where you can secure some loose items, a set of power and USB outlets, a headphone jack, and a reading light.
(Be careful, it’s all too easy to leave a phone charging cube in this little nook and forget it when you leave, as I unfortunately found out the hard way on this flight.)
The tray table pops out from the side of the console with the push of a button, and then needs to be “lifted” into place above the surface space. I found this quite unintuitive and needed the crew’s help to secure the tray table on quite a few occasions.
Finally, there’s one more meshed storage unit at the base of the seat back in front of you, where it’s possible to keep a tablet or a laptop.
Overall, the hard product on Austrian Airlines business class isn’t all too much to get excited about.
While it checks all of the boxes for a standard lie-flat product, a lack of privacy and sufficient storage space are the most notable weaknesses.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Amenities
The crew came by to welcome me to the flight and offer my choice of a welcome beverage. I helped myself to a glass of orange juice as we chatted for a few moments, with the crew taking interest in my camera and videography work.
Along with pillows and blankets, Austrian Airlines also provides an amenity kit for the comfort of business class passengers.
The kit is designed in the style of a shoe bag, which I didn’t think conveyed any real sense of luxury.
The contents of the kit were fairly bare-bones too, other than some lip balm and moisturizer by Viennese perfumery WienerBlut.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Meal Service
Just prior to takeoff, the crew also distributed the in-flight menu, which read as follows:
- 1 of 8
- 2 of 8
- 3 of 8
- 4 of 8
- 5 of 8
- 6 of 8
- 7 of 8
- 8 of 8
In addition to the food and wine menu, Austrian Airlines also offers a separate coffee menu with a speciality coffee selection, which is one of the airline’s most well-regarded premium offerings.
The business class cabin was less than one-thirds full on this flight. Boarding of the plane was completed rather quickly, and we took off for Vienna right on schedule.
As with most overnight transatlantic crossings, the crew endeavoured to serve our meals as quickly as possible after takeoff, so that we’d have ample time to rest prior to our early-morning arrival in Europe.
Onboard meals are catered by Austria’s very own Do & Co, which is well-known for supplying the food and drinks onboard Turkish Airlines business class and in the Turkish Business Lounge Istanbul, as well as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.
Having enjoyed the meals on several Turkish flights before, I was looking forward to trying out Do & Co’s “home game” performance.
To start the meal, I had a glass of the Schlumberger rosé as per the crew’s recommendation. I could’ve also indulged in the more upmarket Duval-Leroy champagne, but I was in the mood to sample as many domestic Austrian offerings as possible onboard their flag carrier.
The antipasti course was soon served, a selection of grilled vegetables with ricotta cheese. The flavours were an interesting balance, although my lasting impression from the dish was a soggy texture.
Next up, the main course of Indian prawn curry, accompanied by some chardonnay.
I had high hopes for this dish, but was disappointed that it fell somewhat flat: the curry flavour simply wasn’t strong enough, and I also thought the food was overheated and dried out during the preparation process.
On the plus side, I loved how everything was plated on an interesting triangular plate design, and the crew’s service was attentive and friendly.
I wrapped up the meal with a mug of tea, alongside three triangular ramekins of fruit, cheese, and cheesecake.
I was certainly hoping to experience Do & Co’s catering at the top of their game onboard Austrian business class, but alas, the meal was only average.
I’ve heard that the meals are generally a bit better departing out of Vienna than flying into Vienna, so perhaps that might’ve played a part. Still, the quality of onboard dining fell short of my expectations on this flight.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Entertainment
In terms of onboard entertainment, Austrian Airlines offers a sizeable selection of film and television entertainment, including 100+ Hollywood, European, and worldwide titles across a wide range of genres.
The airline has also recently equipped its aircraft with onboard wifi. I connected to the Mail & Surf plan for a very reasonable €7 for the duration of the flight, allowing me to work and post to social media throughout.
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Bed
After wrapping up the meal and finishing off my tea, I visited the restroom to brush my teeth and get ready for some sleep. The Austrian 767 has a small forward lavatory with a baby changing table.
Turndown service is not provided, so I maneuvered my seat into lie-flat mode on my own and got ready for bed.
The bed itself wasn’t very wide, but the footwell also wasn’t overly restrictive like you sometimes find on many other business class beds.
Overall, the sleeping surface was serviceable for getting a decent few hours’ rest (in fact, perhaps my rest was too good, as we’ll get to below).
Austrian Airlines Business Class – Breakfast
Prior to sleeping, I had asked the crew to please wake me up for the breakfast service, as I had every intention of working my way through every item on Austrian’s specialty coffee menu when I woke up.
For me, breakfast before landing is always a special moment on a long-haul flight. As someone whose addiction to travel is matched only by my addiction to coffee, I was looking forward to sipping on some of Austrian’s signature coffee concoctions as I looked out over the clouds.
Sadly, by the time I actually woke up, we were already 30 minutes out from Vienna.
I turned to the crew member in shock, who said to me apologetically, “We tried to wake you up, but it was impossible!”
As sometimes happens along my journeys, a lack of proper rest had caught up with me, and I had overslept on this transatlantic flight.
By this time, the crew had already needed to put away their coffee equipment in the galley, so they were no longer able to fix up one of the specialty beverages for me.
Thankfully, they still whisked out the breakfast meal service, along with a much-needed cup of regular americano, for me to hurriedly enjoy as we began our descent into Vienna.
The breakfast items were varied and flavourful, the croissant crispy, and the window views of sunrise over Western Europe as tranquil as I remember them – but I do carry with me a lingering regret that I wasn’t able to try out the fancy coffees that Austrian business class is arguably best-known for.
What’s more, I hoped to right this wrong by visiting the Austrian Business Lounge in Vienna prior to my onward flight…
…but instead discovered a sad and quiet lounge with a takeaway-only policy under Austria’s strict lockdown at the time – and yes, the takeaway-only policy applied even for coffee.
Austrian Airlines doesn’t have the most robust route network, nor the newest aircraft in its fleet. Its Boeing 767s and 777s are certainly showing their age when it comes to the hard product and the seat design.
I had hoped to find some significant redeeming qualities in the form of the onboard food and drink, but I wasn’t left feeling too impressed upon disembarking in Vienna.
Do & Co upholds a stellar reputation among the airlines that it caters for, but on this flight with the company’s home airline, the meal service turned out to be unremarkable in quality.
And while I regret that I had missed out on trying the airline’s specialty coffees, the fact that I’m wondering if coffee might’ve been the strongest redeeming factor of the entire flight speaks volumes.
I’d recommend flying Austrian business class for one of two reasons: the convenience of the Montreal–Vienna route into the heart of Central Europe, or the ample award availability that the airline releases in its premium cabin.
Otherwise, I’d rather fly with one of the many other transatlantic airlines that offer more bang for your buck – at least until Austrian takes the step of refreshing its fleet and product in the future.