Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a sunny holiday on the beautiful island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Austrian Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Vienna to Mauritius (today)
- Review: One&Only Le Saint Géran Mauritius
- Review: The Oberoi Beach Resort Mauritius
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita
- Review: Shangri-La Le Touessrok, Mauritius
- Review: Eurowings Discover Airbus A330 Business Class from Mauritius to Frankfurt
Today: Review of Austrian Airlines’ B777 Business Class from Vienna to Mauritius
I recently flew Business Class with Austrian Airlines from Vienna International Airport (VIE) in Austria to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) in Mauritius. Austria’s flag carrier – a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group – operates several flights per week to/from Mauritius in the winter months using its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. Austrian Airlines, often shortened to Austrian, has currently a fleet of 83 aircraft, including a small wide-body fleet comprised of 6 Boeing 777 and 3 Boeing 767 aircraft. Most of these B777 & B767 planes were acquired by Lauda Air – which was later purchased by Austrian – and are quite old (with an average age of more than 20 years). These aircraft will soon be replaced by more modern B787 Dreamliner planes, which are more environmentally friendly and less costly to maintain.
Although its flatbed seats are not the best in the industry, Austrian Airlines had always been my favorite airline within the Lufthansa Group to fly Business Class since the carrier had by far the best soft product of any Lufthansa Group airline. An absolute highlight during any longhaul journey with Austrian Airlines was the carrier’s terrific catering from DO & CO – served by an onboard chef. Unfortunately, the concept of “flying chefs” was cut during the pandemic, so I was a little disappointed by the food offering during my flight to Mauritius (since it did not compare to my previous stellar experiences with the carrier). I did enjoy though the exceptionally warm service provided by the cabin crew. And the good news is that Austrian Airlines’ flying chefs are making a comeback in summer 2023 (so the carrier’s amazing food service should be fully restored by then).
Have you ever flown with Austrian Airlines? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip: Vienna (VIE) to Mauritius (MRU)
- Airline: Austrian Airlines
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-200ER
- Aircraft registration number: OE-LPA (built in 1997)
- On time departure: Yes (8:30 pm)
- On time arrival: Yes (9:30 am; + 1 day)
- Miles: 5370 miles (8640 km)
- Flight time: 10 hours
- Seat: 5A
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube video):
- Austrian Airlines Lounge at Vienna Airport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
Austrian Airlines has several lounges at its hub Vienna International Airport. This is a review of the airline’s non-Schengen flagship lounge, where passengers can relax prior to departure on one of the carrier’s longhaul flights. The lounge, which is located directly behind the security checkpoint, has one main entrance but is divided into a separate Business Class lounge and a Senator lounge (the latter can only be accessed by Star Alliance Gold members).
The lounge is basically an L-shaped room, which is rather small and can get very busy to the point that there are not enough seats for everyone. Upon entering the lounge, there’s a rectangular space featuring some high-top tables with chairs on both sides, which gives way to the lounge’s main space where the main bulk of the seats is located. Most of the seats are arranged around coffee tables, and some sitting areas are separated from others by curtains, adding a level of privacy. At the far end of the lounge is a quiet area where six lounge chairs allow for a quick nap or rest. Floor-to-ceiling windows stretching along the entire side of the lounge allow for some nice views of the apron and aircraft movements. Fitted in a Scandinavian type, somewhat funky design, the lounge features furniture in mostly bright red and green colors, which are in line with Austrian Airlines’ brand colors.
A buffet area takes center stage in the lounge. The food selection is decent and includes salads, soups, sweets and cold cuts. Drinks include soft drinks, self serve wine, beer, liquor, coffee and tea. There’s also a second staffed kitchen stand near the lounge’s entrance, with offers a selection of hot dishes (e.g. gratinated ham pasta or fried rice with coriander, curcuma, mustard seeds and pumpkin).
Facilities at the lounge include complimentary WiFi, magazines, newspapers, and shower rooms.
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Business Class on Austrian Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER is located in one cabin in front of the plane. There are 32 lie-flat seats, spread over 7 rows and arranged in a staggered configuration (or so-called Sogerma Solstys layout). This layout feels rather dense as the foot compartment of each seat is located between and under the seats in front. The center seats come in pairs, while the seats on the left and right side of the aircraft alternate from 1 to 2 per row.
The same staggered Business Class layout is also installed on Brussels Airlines’ A330, Finnair’s A330/A340, Swiss’ A340/A330, Edelweiss Air’s A340, and American’s B767 aircraft. This configuration offers some degree of privacy as none of the seat rows quite line up, so nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle. But nonetheless, the privacy in this type of Business Class cabin is inferior compared to the fully enclosed Business Class suites that you find on other airlines, such as Qatar’s A350s or Delta’s A350s (and which seem to become the standard in the aviation industry).
Despite not being fitted with the best seat layout, the design of Austrian Airlines’ Business Class cabin looks beautiful, airy and quite trendy with a striking red-blue-white color scheme contrasting with the dark grey seat covers. The bright red design touches in the cabin reflect the company’s brand awareness. Like almost all major air carriers, Austrian Airlines uses the color palette of its country’s national flag (red and white) for its visual identity.
For the seat map of Austrian Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER, click here.
3. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
All Business Class seats onboard Austrian Airlines’ B777 aircraft feature the same dimensions: they have 152 cm (60 inches) in pitch, a width of 52 cm (20 inches), and a 180 degree recline. All seats have at least one large work surface on the side (where you can set up your laptop), with most solo seats and some paired seats featuring this work space on both sides (a so-called ‘throne seat’). One side of the seat features a power port with international adapters, a reading lamp (at eye level), a panel for the seat controls, and a standard wired handset (located below a flap in the armrest). The console on this side of the seat also holds the fold-out tray table, which is released at the push of a button. In front of the seat is a HD entertainment screen with a foot compartment underneath.
The seat can be transformed in a Lantal air-cushion bed with a length of 2 m (6.5 ft). Although it’s a 180 degree recline, the seat and your lower legs descend into a space carved out for it in the seat(s) in front, below the entertainment screen. This foot compartment is quite narrow, making it hard to switch position during your sleep while not waking up, as your legs will constantly hit the walls. The seats that do not have the ‘throne’ feature have more space for the feet, hence making them a little more comfortable for sleeping. In its lie flat position, the Business Class seat is just 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it feel like you are resting on the ground or in a coffin (because of the high seat walls), and making it uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom.
What are the best Business Class seats?
- The single best seats for solo travelers are the single seats in row 1, 3 and 5 (‘throne seats’).
- Travel companions should go for the paired, middle seats, which all have direct aisle access. There are also paired window seats in rows 2, 4, and 6 but here the passenger in the window seat will have to jump over his/her neighbor’s feet to access the aisle.
What are the worst Business Class seats?
- I suggest to avoid the solo window seats in row 7. Not only are these seats close to the galley (which may cause occasional noise disturbance), they also feature only one work surface on the side (instead of two), so they offer less space as compared to the throne seats.
4. AMENITIES & BEDDING
Austrian Airlines’ Business Class passengers receive the following amenities on longhaul flights:
- A Lufthansa Group amenity kit, which is wrapped inside a reusable tote bag. The kit features the essential travel items (e.g. toothpaste, toothbrush, socks and a single breath mint) as well as some L’Occitane toiletries. To reduce waste, eye masks and ear plugs are not provided inside the bag but are available in the lavatories
- A comfortable, thick pillow
- A stylish, warm and high-quality blanket
- Noise cancelling headphones (which are pretty effective in blocking out the cabin noise)
As already mentioned, Austrian Airlines used to excel in its food offerings, not only with onboard chefs but also by collaborating with DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London and New York. Unfortunately, the concept of “flying chefs” was cut during the pandemic, but they are making a comeback in summer 2023.
A bit to my own surprise, the catering on this overnight flight to Mauritius was rather disappointing, especially the dinner service. The food itself was mediocre at best (a ham roll for starter?) and the portions were tiny. There were still some aspects though in which Austrian Airlines performed well during dinner. For example, a nice touch was that the crew rolled a selection of starters and desserts through the cabin, so for each course (except for the entree), you could always choose what you want. Also, Austrian Airlines has an excellent inflight coffee menu, where you get to choose from different types of Austrian Meinl coffee.
Dinner was served after takeoff, and I choose the following items from the menu:
- Starter: ham roll with toasted dark bread
- Main course: roasted pikeperch with potato field salad
- Dessert: passion fruit panna cotta and fresh fruits
Ninety minutes prior to landing, the cabin crew rolled out a trolley with breakfast items. The breakfast selection included buckwheat Muesli, plain yoghurt, artisan bread, fresh fruit and assorted ham and cheese. For hot dish, there was a choice between scrambled eggs (served with sausage, cheese toast, mushroom and tomato) or caramelised apple pancake with berry roaster. Breakfast service was much better and filling compared to the dinner a few hours earlier.
Each Business Class seats comes with its own 15 inches HD touchscreen. The entertainment program is decent, with a wide selection of films and series in 20 languages (the entertainment is updated on a monthly basis).
7. ONBOARD INTERNET
Unfortunately, Austrian Airlines’ wide body aircraft are not equipped with WiFi. Austria’s flag carrier is probably one of the last remaining airlines in the Western world that does not offer WiFi on longhaul journeys. The carrier only offers internet access in cooperation with Deutsche Telekom on short and medium-haul flights.
8. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: Austrian Airlines’ crew members – with their bright red outfits – are amongst the best, most friendly and most efficient in the world, and it was no different on this flight. The crew on this flight was absolutely fantastic and they did all they could to make the flight as pleasant as possible for all passengers in the Business Class cabin.
# LAVATORY: There are three lavatories for the 32 Business Class passengers. One is located behind the cockpit and two are located in the galley between the Business and Economy Class cabin.
9. MY VERDICT
- Seat comfort (upright): 7/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 5/10
- Food (quality): 8/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- WiFi: 0/10 (not available)
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Overall experience: good (7/10)
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