Austrian: Flying with gifts
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Austrian: Flying with gifts

Traditionally, I’d like to start my flight review with Austrians with some words about the airline. Since 2012 all flights have been carried out by Tyrolean Airways. So don’t be surprised when you see “Austrian (operated by Tyrolean)” written in your ticket. It’s just a brand (the same as Continental has become a brand for United in the US). The Airline is an affiliate of the Star Alliance, postscript - Wien-Schwechat (Vienna International Airport).

Half of the Airline’s fleet is Airbus, which is not surprising. One of the A320 is in historic livery (it’s fashion and you can’t help it). The other is in Star Alliance colors. These are the rules. There was no “New Year” job that day for flying marshals mentioned in Wikipedia and other reviews.

The flight took place in December 2013. We arrived at New Year Domodedovo at a quarter to six. There are no trains or buses at this time, so the only option is a taxi or your own car. DME has done a great job winning round airlines to the airport. However, it has lead to the latter being overloaded, which is especially noticeable at night (most planes arrive between 1 a.m. and 3.a.m.). The passport control and the luggage claim fail to serve such a big number of flights. So night queues in DME have already become a tradition. There are crowds of people around Pre- New Year’s time day and night.

I checked in for the flight through the Internet. By the way, I bought the tickets directly from Austrian (without any additional costs), but I made the reservation and checked in on Lufthansa site. Very convenient. The service is most pleasant there and how fast the site works makes you happy. On my arrival at the airport I decided to exchange the printouts for the ordinary tickets. I did this also at Lufthansa’s counter and I checked in my bag there as well.

Walking around Domodedovo is not exciting. I walked only as far as the toilets. The passport control didn’t take long despite a big number of passengers. They stamped my passport without even looking at me and I went through the security check also without any trouble. I went out to the gates and there it was – the plane was already standing there. A321 aged 18.5 years was delivered directly from the plant and hasn’t been exploited anywhere else. The number is OE-LBA “Salzkammergut”.

The departure lounge was almost full. I decided to take a walk round the shops. I didn’t buy anything in the end but it was a good way to kill the time. I entered the Austrian departure lounge in the clear zone with an intention to beg for some pens with their logo, but ended up with lots of DME branded pens. It’s nice in there with white as a prevailing color. The lounge is in the “corridor” on the second floor opposite the green S7 lounge. It’s easy to find your way in the airport thanks to the signs and after all, it’s not that big.

The boarding started without delays and according to the schedule. I was one of the first that’s why managed to escape the queue inside the air bridge. We were welcomed by a smiling air-hostess and the standard “Europa” style seats. Those who still don’t know these are thin arm-chairs which are the same for both business and economy class.

I took a window seat in front of the wing. It’s still dark outside and Iberia is sleeping next to us. Due to the above-zero temperature in Moscow on New Year’s eve our plane isn’t going through deicing procedures.

While getting ready for taxing and take-off, the air hostesses are walking along the aisles checking the cabin, closing the overhead compartments and explaining the passengers sitting next to the emergency exits why they can’t put their bags under the seat in front of them. It’s a routine. I’m listing through some magazines and there happened to be two of them in the pocket. By the way, apart from the magazines there’s a pillow and a blanket on each seat. The pillow will come in very handy to get some sleep.

Finally the plane starts moving. The pre-flight instructions are shown on the screens and are presented in the form of a cartoon following the latest trend. Most of the passengers are watching because there’s nothing else to do. By the way, the flight is 100% full. The captain goes on the air to say a couple of words and to welcome the passengers.

The taxing doesn’t take long. There’s no queue, that’s why we get to the runway quickly. Some seconds for confirmation and we start the take-off run. It feels like quite a long one. As if it was A380 taking off and not our “shuttle”. The light in the cabin is switched off during the take-off.

After the take off the flight attendants start to prepare the meal. Our flight is being served by three girls and a guy. While they are busy with the food in the tail in the kitchen, a lot of passengers are making themselves comfortable for a sleep. I keep waiting for my food with due respect. Finally, it’s my turn and I get a portion of potato pudding and a yogurt. Then they also bring the freshest bun. It’s interesting that food is served before drinks. It’s the other way round with most airlines. I take a coffee with sugar and cream.

I decided to take my tray back to the kitchen myself and to present the flight attendants with the DME branded pens. I thanked them for their job most sincerely. You see, most passengers, judging by reviews on the Internet, are dissatisfied people who are always demanding something and who reluctantly follow safety requests. I said I wanted to change this opinion about passengers. I also visited a toilet, why not… Anyway, you will demand a photo.

Coming back to my seat I got a … present. Yes, one of the air-hostesses decided to give me something in return. And it was a bottle of Austrian wine. I was delighted. It didn’t last long though – only till the change in Wien.

The rest of the flight went by very quickly. The plane started to descend and the captain and the chief air-hostess went on the air to contact the passengers. While the plane was descending they announced the arrival gate, some connections, local time, weather and other useful information. It was still early morning that’s why we were landing in complete darkness. Having flopped down on the runway (the landing was quite a tough one), we started to taxi to the parking stand.

Special vehicles are already waiting at the stand including buses for passengers. You can also see some planes belonging to Austrian regional airlines. They didn’t make us wait long and soon we were getting on the buses.

On my way to the exit I noticed among other things postcards on the newspaper stands in front of the business class. Real postcards! I took all of them. It’s probably the first airline that promotes itself this way. Postcards with planes are really valuable to me. That was the second pleasant surprise. I thanked the flight attendants for the wonderful job, got off the plane and cast a farewell glance at the aircraft.

There are two main terminals at Wien-Schwechat (Vienna International Airport). It goes without saying it’s the busiest airport in the country. It’s the capital after all. Skylink is being built for A380. The Austrians will move there eventually.

There’s a passageway to the station in arrivals area. To the sides from the central passage there are shops and a post office. They don’t take cards at the post office. There are twists and turns everywhere in this airport. In general, I wasn’t impressed at all. I don’t get why it was awarded the title of the best airport in Central and Eastern Europe. I would give this title to Zurich every year. That’s the place which is both beautiful and comfortable.

They took us directly to the passport control. Our flight wasn’t the only one and there was a long queue. I can’t say it was moving quickly, quite the contrary. I wasted 15 minutes standing in this queue, but I wasn’t asked a single question.

Right after the passport control there are trolleys for luggage (that’s because the exit is to arrivals area). Very convenient. I must mention there’s no transfer between the two terminals (at least from my gate). You need to pass through the green corridor and then go through the checking-in procedures again.

Why is it bad? Because all liquids bought onboard must be confiscated. That applied to my bottle of wine as well. And it’s written in the airport safety brochure that goods from onboard pass the inspection. However, it didn’t … and my bottle of wine was confiscated.

I will never believe that they dispose of unopened confiscated bottles. There are no containers for confiscated goods. They just put the bottle under the table. I bet someone had a good New Year. As for me, I was left without a present even though it was an unexpected one. Apart from that, the inspection went with no trouble.

With my spirits being very low, I didn’t feel like exploring the airport. The rest of the time till my connecting flight I spent sitting at the gate surfing the net. Wi-fi at the airport is free. There are plenty of access points and sockets, so you are free to use it. It’s funny that on my way back the gate location was so that I entered the passport control from somewhere at the side, past the transfer inspection. What can I say here? I know I’ll sound biased but I definitely give the airline a five (top mark), and only a three to the airport (satisfactory) for organizing transfer flows as well. Thanks for reading. Have good flights!
Vote for review:

Austrian Airlines

Airbus A321

Moscow Domodedovo Airport

Vienna International Airport

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