Impressions Of Austrian Airlines’ 777 Business Class

Impressions Of Austrian Airlines’ 777 Business Class

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Hello from Vienna! To kick off my review trip, I flew Austrian Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER business class from Chicago to Vienna, and wanted to report back with my initial impressions.

It has been years since I’ve flown long haul with Austrian (and even longer since I’ve flown on an Austrian 777), so what was the experience like? While I’ll have a full trip report soon, here are some thoughts on what I loved, what I’m lukewarm about, and what I didn’t like.

Austrian 777 business class: what I loved

In terms of soft product, Austrian offers my favorite business class experience of any Lufthansa Group airline. In particular, the airline does a great job with its inflight catering, and that’s despite the fact that the airline made permanent cutbacks at the start of the pandemic (Austrian no longer has inflight chefs, the service flow is different, and the coffee menu is smaller than before).

But still, Austrian’s catering is really good, way better than what you’d find on Lufthansa and SWISS, and most other airlines flying across the Atlantic, for that matter.

It’s not often you get this elaborate of a meal service on an overnight transatlantic flight. Service began with drinks and rosemary crackers. I particularly like how many local wines Austrian has on its menu — it’s always nice when airlines highlight regional food & drinks.

Austrian Airlines business class dinner service

Then there was a choice of two substantial appetizers, with all kinds of bread options. I selected the tomato, avocado, and buffalo mozzarella starter.

Austrian Airlines business class dinner service

Then there were three mains to choose from. I ordered the Chilean seabass with sautéed spinach, celeriac mousseline, and roasted cherry tomato.

Austrian Airlines business class dinner service

Next up was a cheese plate, as well as a choice of two desserts. I selected the apple strudel.

Austrian Airlines business class dinner service

Last but not least was Austrian’s signature coffee selection, which I’ll cover more in a separate post — it’s an aspect of the Austrian experience that really sets the carrier apart.

Austrian Airlines business class coffee service

There was also quite a substantial breakfast 90 minutes before landing.

Austrian Airlines business class breakfast service

Admittedly many people just like to board an overnight flight and go straight to sleep, and in that case this doesn’t matter. However, this is way better than what you’ll find on other airlines, and you certainly won’t get off your Austrian flight hungry. The crew also deserves credit for keeping the cabin lights off throughout the service, and being really quiet.

Speaking of the crew, they were lovely on this flight. I’ve found service on Austrian to be hit or miss — I’ve had some awesome crews, and some not-so-great crews. This crew was professional, friendly, and attentive.

Austrian 777 business class: what I’m lukewarm about

Business class is all about the seat, and that’s an area where Austrian doesn’t particularly impress. The airline has staggered seats in business class, so the cabin alternates between a 1-2-1 and 2-2-2 layout. Now, as far as Lufthansa Group airlines go, this is arguably quite a good product.

However, this is an area where other airlines (like American and United) offer a better experience across the Atlantic. I do have to say, given that this was a 24 year old jet, it was very well maintained.

Austrian Airlines 777 business class cabin
Austrian Airlines 777 business class seat
Austrian Airlines 777 business class seats

I’d say the non-food and service aspects of the soft product were also just fine. While the pillow and blanket have a cute design, they’re not particularly comfortable.

Austrian Airlines business class pillow & blanket

The amenity kit offered by Austrian is quite unremarkable, both in terms of design and contents.

Austrian Airlines business class amenity kit

The noise canceling headphones offered by Austrian are just okay, both in terms of noise cancelation and comfort.

Austrian Airlines business class headphones

The entertainment selection was also just okay. There were a total of 109 movies and 158 TV shows, though many of the options weren’t exactly new releases.

Austrian Airlines business class entertainment system

I did really enjoy a German documentary about Lufthansa bringing an A340-600 back into service, after it was parked in Teruel for a couple of years.

Austrian Airlines business class entertainment system

Austrian 777 business class: what I didn’t like

I really only have one serious gripe about Austrian — the airline doesn’t have Wi-Fi on its Boeing 767s and 777s, and has no immediate plans to install it either. To not even have plans to install Wi-Fi on long haul jets in 2023 certainly puts the airline behind the times.

Wi-Fi has become a standard amenity on long haul flights, so to not offer that is surprising. Now, in fairness, that didn’t bother me much on an overnight flight to Europe, though I would have felt very differently about it if flying in the other direction.

There’s no Wi-Fi required to enjoy this view!

Bottom line

Austrian Airlines is probably my favorite Lufthansa Group airline in business class. Even though some cutbacks have been made to Austrian’s meal service, the airline still has one of the best business class meal services across the Atlantic.

As far as the seats go, I’d say Austrian’s staggered seats are perfectly okay, though not industry leading. My biggest gripe about Austrian is the lack of Wi-Fi.

It’s expected that Austrian will get some Boeing 787s in the next few years, which should feature a new business class product (matching Lufthansa’s) and Wi-Fi. When that happens, Austrian will truly be a force to be reckoned with across the Atlantic, in my opinion.

If you’ve flown Austrian business class, what was your experience like?

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  1. Chris Guest

    Just a clarification on Austrian (and Swiss) seat layout. It’s 1-2-2 and 2-2-1. So every row has 5 seats and it doesn’t alternate between 4 seats and 6 seats.

    Personally I find the 2 window seats to be ridiculously narrow and sorely lacking in storage on Austrian and I would choose the Lufthansa 2-2-2 config over this any day. I just find the seats on lufthansa so much more comfortable.

    My food experience on...

    Just a clarification on Austrian (and Swiss) seat layout. It’s 1-2-2 and 2-2-1. So every row has 5 seats and it doesn’t alternate between 4 seats and 6 seats.

    Personally I find the 2 window seats to be ridiculously narrow and sorely lacking in storage on Austrian and I would choose the Lufthansa 2-2-2 config over this any day. I just find the seats on lufthansa so much more comfortable.

    My food experience on Austrian was also good, but I actively try to avoid them now and go for Swiss or Lufthansa (ex-MUC) long haul. For me, Austrian has been my worst experience of the 3 - it felt so cramped.

  2. Jeb Guest

    I don’t understand why OS & LXs amenity kits are so horrible & frugal. They could easily get skin care companies from both countries to supply their amenity kits with nice products & the cases they use. Yes LX uses Swiss Army branded cases but the contents remind me of what’s handed out in the main cabin.

  3. Mike Guest

    Small correction: they are bringing back the chefs and with them the full dining experience. Here’s the job ad: https://www.persy.jobs/persy/l/job-9xhqn-a-stellenangebote-Flying-Chef-Koch-m-w-d-Vollzeit-job-in-Wien-1010-Wien

    Source: https://www.aviationforum.at/t20f4943-Fokus-Austrian-28.html

  4. Schar Gold

    I dont use WIFI on planes, honestly flying is the best place to disconnect from the outside world, so I couldnt care less about wifi on planes. but totally get why you would given your job

  5. Arthur Guest

    I like the Do&Co catering as well, and like flying Austrian just for a change (plus, it is much better than United, and the seat is fine for me). Since I am usually flying east (TATL) overnight, the absence of Wifi is not usually an issue for me. And don't forget, since *A, you can also use a Polaris lounge when departing from a US airport that has one.

    Brussels Air is another LH subsidiary...

    I like the Do&Co catering as well, and like flying Austrian just for a change (plus, it is much better than United, and the seat is fine for me). Since I am usually flying east (TATL) overnight, the absence of Wifi is not usually an issue for me. And don't forget, since *A, you can also use a Polaris lounge when departing from a US airport that has one.

    Brussels Air is another LH subsidiary that has an older plane and no wifi, but is also more likely to have saver awards for that reason. Since I am usually flying back to the US on that, Wifi would be an issue unless it is a weekend flight. But I do like their beer menu!

  6. Bagoly Guest

    Good point about the documentary on an unusual aspect of the airline industry.
    I would recommend other airlines focus on such distinctive offerings rather than just more-of-the-same films.
    A focus on both documentaries and feature films about/set in the home country, but in multiple languages, would be logical too.

  7. ArnoldB Guest

    Supposedly the chef and the starter/dessert trolley where you can mix and match will return with the summer flight plan.

    LH CEO also announced that they are in negotiations with Boeing for 787s for Austrian, so probably doesnt make sense to install Wifi on the old planes.

  8. Reinhold Seidler Guest

    I’ve flown Austrian from Chicago to Vienna in 2016 to attend my fathers funeral-after sitting in coach for 15 minutes I could not take the screaming child next to me and I asked to be moved to first class-this was definitely money well spent-super comfortable and great food and drinks
    After going back and forward across the big puddle at least 12 times before-It was the best Atlantic crossing I had,even if it was for a sad occasion

    1. Caleb Guest

      That would have been very difficult as Austrian doesn't have a first class cabin.

  9. Luke Guest

    @Ben, I’ve heard elsewhere that Austrian will eventually get the 5 787-9s originally ordered by Hainan that Lufthansa has just started flying. I got the impression that they would retain the existing hard product on those planes, i.e. super diamond reverse herringbone in business (and not the future LH hard product). Have you heard anything about this?

  10. mauipeter Guest

    Austrian is still my favorite airline, on my routing. I've always had top notch friendly crews, I always chose a throne seat, or the single seat Embraer 195 inter Europe and I don't care about WiFi on a plane. I am surrounded by it all day long and since I only fly for pleasure these days, it's actually a nice break from it.

  11. Elsbeth Guest

    The one time I flew them,long haul I was really excited to get one of the throne seats. OMG too narrow and the seat controls were positioned in such a way that I would get jolted awake when the seat started moving when I accidentally hit them. But the food and service were amazing.

  12. Peter Guest

    I don't like to use WiFi on planes... the only place in the world being offline :-D

    However, I guess it's obvious why Austrian has no plans for WiFi on its long haul fleet. It is the average age... these planes will be substituted sooner or later.

  13. JS Guest

    Lucky - had you taken the avocado from your tomato, avocado and mozzarella starter, put it on some of your pretzel roll, had the FA toast it real quick in the oven - you could have had your beloved avocado toast!! :) :)

    1. glenn t Diamond

      Avocado is NOT toasted in avocado toast! Also using a pretzel roll is unauthentic.

    2. JS Guest

      Well hey - desperate times call for desperate measures when it comes to avocado toast! :)

  14. Martin Guest

    As an Austrian myself I fly Austrian across the atlantic many times and agree with your assessment but have one more complaint.

    Since changing from the Chef on Board System to a regular catering concept the food and presentation downgraded substantially. I habe a few friends who like I - were happy to pay more because of the Do&Co Catering and the first course service from the trolley,….

    The loosing of the chef is...

    As an Austrian myself I fly Austrian across the atlantic many times and agree with your assessment but have one more complaint.

    Since changing from the Chef on Board System to a regular catering concept the food and presentation downgraded substantially. I habe a few friends who like I - were happy to pay more because of the Do&Co Catering and the first course service from the trolley,….

    The loosing of the chef is a big mistake innmy opinion as it was a unique selling point…

    1. Hiro Diamond

      Agreed. Their trolley starter & dessert service was truly lavish and was the highlight of flying with Austrian in the past. Still, the meal looks quite good as many airlines these days don't offer more than one starter and one sweet plate after-meal in business class.

  15. Luis Guest

    I will be evil: I think they brought in their business class lounge food in the business class flights . This would explain the lack of food and choice at Austrian airlines business class lounge

  16. jsm Guest

    I last flew Austrian business class in 2019 from LAX to VIE. Living on the West Coast and traveling to Vienna, this flight is perfect as once on board there is no early morning connection at a different European airport. Having to transfer at LHR, CDG, MUN, ZUR, or FRA is very convenient compared to Austrian's nonstop. I completely agree the catering is wonderful (does it still have the dessert cart?). That was a seasonal flight and I hope Austrian reinstates it.

  17. pstm91 Diamond

    I've always had great crews on Austrian and love the catering. I'm also going to play devil's advocate and say I love that they don't have wifi. It's an excuse to fully disconnect and just enjoy the flight and/or sleep. My prefer

  18. Stuart Guest

    I'm a regular on the IAD-VIE flight. I actually find OS to be perfectly fine. Crews are always fantastic and the food from Do&Co is really great. It's a quirky airline for sure, but it works, the planes are very well kept (even though oldish) and the seats not cutting edge...but I usually eat well and sleep well so can't complain there. The lounge in VIE is adequate if unremarkable, but, again, it does the...

    I'm a regular on the IAD-VIE flight. I actually find OS to be perfectly fine. Crews are always fantastic and the food from Do&Co is really great. It's a quirky airline for sure, but it works, the planes are very well kept (even though oldish) and the seats not cutting edge...but I usually eat well and sleep well so can't complain there. The lounge in VIE is adequate if unremarkable, but, again, it does the job. I like VIE airport as a whole as it's easy and rarely do you get a remote stand.

  19. OneAlphaTwo Member

    You said it yourself…as nice as the catering looks, many people choose to maximize sleep on these somewhat short, Eastbound flights and forgo the meal service, so that becomes a bit of a non factor. With that being said, what is left appears to be a pretty substandard product, especially given how small Austrian’s wide body fleet is.

    The seats (100% agree, most important IMO) look dated and lack even basic J class seat...

    You said it yourself…as nice as the catering looks, many people choose to maximize sleep on these somewhat short, Eastbound flights and forgo the meal service, so that becomes a bit of a non factor. With that being said, what is left appears to be a pretty substandard product, especially given how small Austrian’s wide body fleet is.

    The seats (100% agree, most important IMO) look dated and lack even basic J class seat privacy.

    I don’t care too much about amenity kits, but that’s just pathetic.

    Pretty sure I found a pillow and blanket like that in my grandma’s basement.

    No Wi-Fi in 2023? Seriously? Again, for such a tiny wide body fleet, this is simply inexcusable. As I stated earlier, sure you’d probably want to sleep going eastbound, but I’d want to be able to work going westbound.

    And yet at the end of the day, it’s all about branding. Austrian can be perceived to be a great brand simply because Austria is a beautiful, wealthy country, so imagine what their flagship airline must be like!

    It’s easy for everyone to constantly criticize the US’ big 3 (speaking about int’l J, for context), but for the most part, they’re all superior to this in most ways with the exception of United’s catering. (Even then, at least you could access the Polaris Lounge at ORD to eat dinner).

  20. 02nz Guest

    Incredible that they still don't have wi-fi. Parent company Lufthansa was one of the first (maybe the first among the major airlines) with inflight wi-fi in 2003! As I recall it was so ahead of its time they ended it before rolling it out again years later.

    1. Walt Guest

      Not business class, but recently did jfk to amm economy. Great food and enjoyed the vienese waltz music at takeoff and landing. The comparison with our United return, tlv to jfk was particularly telling, cold congealed cheese/egg mess, yuck.

  21. MidSouthSkier Community Ambassador

    Curious if they weighed your carry-on? A few years ago I was flying out of VIE heading for security and an Austrian employee stopped me, wanting to weigh my small rollaboard. She was quite insistent until I told her I wasn't flying Austrian. I just found it unusual.

  22. 02nz Guest

    Maybe it's changed, but several years ago when I flew Austrian business (same hard product), the coffee menu was not available in the last couple of hours of the flight, as the flights attendants prepared for arrival. That would be a bummer on an eastbound flight, as that's when you need the coffee most! (I think they still had regular brewed coffee or maybe instant for that time, though.)

  23. Syd Guest

    Flew Austrian 767 in a true window seat last summer and it was just a very average and a very unmemorable flight, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    For whatever reason I wasn't thinking of them as part of Lufthansa Group (although I'm well aware they are) and never drew comparisons. Now that you've highlighted it - isn't it funny and outright shameful that 3 of Europe's (and world's) richest countries (in relative...

    Flew Austrian 767 in a true window seat last summer and it was just a very average and a very unmemorable flight, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    For whatever reason I wasn't thinking of them as part of Lufthansa Group (although I'm well aware they are) and never drew comparisons. Now that you've highlighted it - isn't it funny and outright shameful that 3 of Europe's (and world's) richest countries (in relative terms) are represented by a company that doesn't really know how to put your luggage on the same plane as you, let alone offer a competitive business class.

  24. Jason Guest

    I havent flown Austrian transatlantic since shortly before the pandemic (January 2020), but I love their service overall, even if their seat isnt the best. Sad to see the chef and the soup course go away, but overall it still looks pretty good. Agree that the seat needs some improvement. But I still have great memories of my experiences on them.

  25. Lukas Guest

    Thanks for posting! As someone who flies very frequently across the atlantic, I put Austrian and Swiss on the bottom of my list. Yes, the catering is good, but the seat and bedding are catastrophic. The seats are very narrow, quite short and uncomfortable. I honestly think that LH’s seats are better (more comfortable).

    1. Andy Diamond

      I totally agree and would include SN (same hard product) and LH (different type of seat but no better) in the bottom ranks.

  26. Pink Rabbit Guest

    Very few people use Wi-Fi on long haul flights. Too expensive and most companies won’t reimburse it. Plus, if you fly across the ocean for work, the last thing you usually want is to work on plane before heading straight to the office while jet lagged.

    1. JWags Guest

      This is wildly untrue. "Very few"? Ive yet to be on a long haul flight and not seen many people on computers and phones, they certainly aren't all in brick airplane mode.

      And Ive traveled internationally for 4 different companies in 3 different industries, including a Fortune 100 and one that was part of a publicly traded holding company, and none have had any issue reimbursing airplane Wi-Fi. Choose different adjectives when making broad blanket statements.

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Peter Guest

I don't like to use WiFi on planes... the only place in the world being offline :-D However, I guess it's obvious why Austrian has no plans for WiFi on its long haul fleet. It is the average age... these planes will be substituted sooner or later.

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Pink Rabbit Guest

Very few people use Wi-Fi on long haul flights. Too expensive and most companies won’t reimburse it. Plus, if you fly across the ocean for work, the last thing you usually want is to work on plane before heading straight to the office while jet lagged.

3
Caleb Guest

That would have been very difficult as Austrian doesn't have a first class cabin.

2
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