Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna (ORD to VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


OS 66
Chicago (ORD) to Vienna (VIE)
Thursday, December 26th
Depart: 4:10pm
Arrive: 8:40am +1
Duration: 9h 30m
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 6A

This was the first long-haul segment from a recent trip to Tokyo that I did by booking a 90k US Airways business class ticket to North Asia transiting via Europe. I flew Austrian, Swiss, and Turkish in business class for the first time, and I had overnight layovers in Zurich and Chicago on the way back.

Of all of the airlines I was scheduled to fly on this trip, I was initially most excited to fly Austrian Airlines. I had read that their catering, hard product, and service were phenomenal, and that it was one of the best business class products out there (they don’t offer a first class product). As far as I know, they’re also the only airline to advertise having a coffee menu, and a friend strongly recommended that I get a wiener eiskaffee from the coffee menu.

Unfortunately, in the month of December, there were service cuts to Austrian’s product due to poor staff planning, so many of the things that I was looking forward to did not materialize on this flight. Specifically, the meal service was limited, there wasn’t a coffee menu, and the service as a whole was pretty lacking. Anyway, on to the report.

My inbound flight to Chicago was delayed, so I unfortunately didn’t have much time to check out any of the lounges in Chicago, as my flight was already boarding by the time I had schlepped my way to the international terminal and recleared security. This also meant that the cabin was mostly full by the time I got on board, which made picture-taking a little harder.

I was seated in 6A, and row 6 is probably the least desirable row for the window seats because row 6 is missing a window. The even rows also have the seat closer to the aisle while the odd rows have the seat closer to the window, but 6A was all that was available for a window seat when I had my seat assigned a couple of months prior.

My seat, 6K

My seat, 6A

The seat itself feels new, and there’s a good amount of space per passenger. I appreciate having the “shelf” space next to the seat to place things throughout the flight, and you can use the small amount of floor space to place a small bag and not impinge on your own foot space. The seat controls were fine, although some of the functions felt useless (e.g. “massage” didn’t seem to do much). The seat is essentially an air cushion, and you’re supposed to be able to adjust the firmness or softness of the seat, but the controls didn’t seem to work for me, and I would periodically feel the seat moving beneath me, which occasionally disturbed my sleep throughout the flight.

Seat controls

Seat controls

In-flight power and amenity kit

In-flight power and amenity kit

The in-flight entertainment screen was large, had good resolution, and was a touch screen that was easy to use; however, the selection was quite limited. There weren’t very many movies, and even though they boast over 100 hours of programming, that’s really quite limited in the airline industry (e.g. Etihad has over 675 hours of on-demand entertainment).

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Nice large touch screen for IFE

Open cabin

Open cabin

The table was a little tricky to use at first, because it’s not particularly easy to take it in or out, but there were helpful instructions for the seat. The trick to lower the armrest is also key for sleeping comfort to make the seat feel a little bit wider, as it’s pretty narrow as is.

Instructions for the seat

Instructions for the seat

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this...

Not sure why anyone would consider paying 50 euro for this…

Instead of the normal trolley service for the meal service which would generally offer about 6 choices for appetizers and 3 desserts, the menu offered two choices for appetizer and one dessert, and everything was served on trays. I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal to see what it’d be like. In general, Austrian takes pride in their food offerings since they’re catered by Do & Co and they have an onboard chef, but it seemed more gimmicky than anything else, and the chef wasn’t the friendliest person in the world.

Menu part 1

Menu part 1

Menu part 2

Menu part 2

The chef taking orders

The chef taking orders

I’ll just go ahead and say that my VGML was pretty bad. Yes, I know I should expect these things, but I actually think that United does a pretty good job with vegetarian meals, and I was hoping that Do & Co would do an even better job. Anyway, the appetizer was a salad of iceberg lettuce, the entree was a mishmash of flavorless oversteamed vegetables, and the dessert was just fruit. There seemed to be very little effort involved in the creation of this meal. I’ll also say that the meal service took a loooong time. I waited so long between getting my appetizer and entree that two different flight attendants attempted to clear my tray thinking that I had already finished my meal when I hadn’t even gotten my entree.

VGML starter

VGML starter

VGML entree

VGML entree

VGML dessert

VGML dessert

At the end of the meal, I asked the chef if they had the coffee menu, and he said, “not on this flight”, without any additional explanation. I later found out that others on Flyertalk had reported receiving letters detailing offers of compensation for the diminished service, but there was no such letter on board my flight and no flight attendants were forthcoming as to why there was diminished service. (I later tweeted my disappointment to Austrian, and they said they would investigate follow up, but it’s been about a week and I haven’t heard anything yet).

I put the seat into bed mode, and I found it to be pretty comfortable, although I can see how larger people would find issues with the seat. I’m a pretty small guy, and just lying down on my back my arms touched the sides of the seat, so I found it at times more comfortable to sleep on my side so I wouldn’t feel the narrowness as much. The foot cubby would also be problematic for people with larger feet, as I occasionally felt constricted by the space. But it’s a lie-flat seat, and everyone has direct aisle access, which is a pretty good deal in my book.

Two hours prior to arrival, they served the second meal. My VGML meal was marginally better than the first meal service, mostly because I got a pretty tasty smoothie to go with it. But the hot food itself was pretty flavorless and mushy, so I used the salt and pepper liberally.

VGML pre-arrival meal

VGML pre-arrival meal

All in all, this flight was a huge disappointment. The hard product was quite good–the seat is great for business class, and the in-flight entertainment screen is large and of good quality–but the service was seriously lacking in many respects. The meal service was disappointing, there was no coffee menu, and the IFE options were limited, but the service itself was also pretty terrible, as the flight attendants were almost uniformly unfriendly and inattentive. Nobody would take away trash at the seat, the meal service took forever, I never received refills on my drinks, when I would go to the galley to ask for something the flight attendants would ignore me until I literally had to poke them, and the flight attendants never engaged in pleasantries like saying “you’re welcome” after I thanked them. And even though other people reported receiving proactive offers of compensation, there was nothing on this flight.

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