I slept like a baby—make that an Austrian baby.
Tucked in with a fluffy comforter of blue and white checks and red piping, and snuggling up to an almost full-size matching pillow, this Chicagoan was in Dreamland as she flew across the Atlantic, landing in Vienna refreshed and excited to explore this amazing city.
Austrian Airlines began flying the Chicago-Vienna route five times a week last May, offering the only nonstop to Vienna from the Windy City. That convenience alone means a lot to anyone flying out of Chicago in any class of service. For those in business class, it means the full measure of Austrian hospitality and service.
Business class seats in these Boeing 767s recline flat, six across, and everyone has access to an aisle. Push a button to adjust the firmness of the cushion, another to activate the massage feature. Use a remote or touch a 15-inch flat screen to access on-demand movies, TV programs, music, games and more.
Just don’t get so cozy you skip the meal service. Each business class cabin has a “Flying Chef” in white coat and toque. Dinner en route to Vienna (lunch on return) begins with cocktails, French Champagne or Italian prosecco, followed by an amuse-bouche, soup and starters, choice of three entrees, choice of wine (including an award-winning Gruner Veltliner), cheese and fruit, dessert, coffee, digestives or dessert wine.
On my flight to Vienna I had a goat cheese and beetroot salad followed by braised Chicago short ribs that were as good as I’ve had in many Chicago restaurants. On return, the Illinois corn chowder was a true taste of the Midwest. The second meal service included a Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It was a good attempt, but as one of many Chicagoans particular about their pizza, it wasn’t quite there yet.
But anything Austrian is authentic, not the least of which is the coffee service. Vienna is well known for its coffee houses, frequented by artists and the literati in the 18th and 19th centuries and cozy gathering spots for locals and visitors today. Business-class passengers are presented with a menu of 10 coffees inspired by Viennese coffee houses. There’s the familiar variety served with whipped cream (Einspanner) and the classic with foamed milk (Mélange), but also the Maria Theresia with orange liqueur and the Eiskaffee made with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream and served in a tall glass.
All this is served with a smile and gracious Austrian hospitality—a far cry from the service on some U.S. flag carriers I could name. One example: The audio in my seat, 1D, wasn’t working. The flight attendant rebooted the computerized system in an attempt to fix it, but was unsuccessful. There was one other open seat in business class. Would I like to move there now or after the crew finished the meal service? Now, I said, because I like to watch a movie while enjoying a leisurely meal. Although crew members were busy with meal service, they helped me pick up my belongings, which by then were scattered all around my seat and in the overhead bin, and settled me comfortably into a fully-operational seat. No fuss, no bother.
Nonstop service is great for those heading to Vienna or Chicago, but connections to other cities are convenient, too. In Vienna, Austrian Airlines is the biggest carrier and Vienna is its hub for flights to 43 destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. In the U.S., connections are offered through Austrian Airlines’ Star Alliance partner, United Airlines. In addition to Chicago five-times-a-week service, Austrian has daily nonstops from New York, Toronto and Washington, D.C.