I’ve got a ton of posts to crank out on our family vacation to Sicily and Salzburg. I’m hoping to get my butt in gear. Here’s a quick peek at what I expect to cover:
- Getting There. Connecting In Rome And Using Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points Overseas
- Hotel Review: Sheraton Catania, Sicily
- A Return To Taormina, A Beautiful City On A Hill
- Our Favorite Part of Taormina
- Exploring Mt. Etna
- Walking And Eating In Downtown Catania
- A Day In Siracusa
- Priority Pass Lounge At Catania Airport
- Mess after Mess. airberlin To Salzburg
- Hotel Review: Sheraton Grand Salzburg
- Sound of Music Tour
- Walking Around Salzburg
- L’Osteria Restaurant
- Salt Mines at Berchtesgaden
- Cable Car at Untersbergbahn
- Tasty Donuts, Salzburg
- Train To Vienna
- Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Vienna, OMG
- Park Hyatt Vienna Review, Part 2
- Riding The U-Bahn Subway In Vienna
- Schmetterlinghaus: The Imperial Butterfly House
- Haus des Meeres: Aqua Terra Zoo
- Austrian Airlines Lounge, Vienna Airport
- Austrian Airlines VIE-IAD, Business Class Review
- Wrapping Up
My friend Scott has been bugging me for a month to get this review done. Sincere apologies to him and anyone else hoping I’d get off my butt and finish up. We’re in the home stretch now!
One of the not-so-secret benefits of the Star Alliance if you live in the DC area is plenty of access to European flights. I can generally find as many as 4 seats on some combination of United, Lufthansa or Austrian to get our family to and from Europe.
This was my first time flying Austrian Airlines. I was definitely looking forward to it. It’s a great nonstop option for us to get home, and a good connecting option for folks looking to fly United onward from Dulles.
We were booked in business class for the 10 hour flight. The crew was absolutely wonderful with the kids from start to finish. As soon as we boarded they came to check on the kids and give them a few things to keep them occupied.
The cabin is configured in a 1-2-1 setup, as a result everyone has access to an aisle seat. We chose two rows of two in the center section. The center section is staggered. This configuration means your feet are sliding under the large armrest of the seat in front of you.
I’m not the biggest guy in the world but I had no problem fitting in the seat. The foot well would probably be a bit tight for taller folks or big feet due to the configuration. I took a picture with my arms up to give some perspective on width. I didn’t feel like was cramped around the shoulders, but I’m also not the widest guy in the world.
The side tables are quite large. I really liked the amount of space on both sides. I set my iPhone 7 plus on the center armrest so you can get an idea of how big that area is.
When we sat down amenity kits, pillows and duvets were already on our seats. The duvet was very comfortable. My daughter took no time at all getting snuggled up. The amenity kit contains the basics and a couple of extras: socks, eye mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, face cream and lip balm.
The controls for the seat are a touchscreen interface. It’s not super sensitive. My elbow hit the panel a number of times during the flight got didn’t cause my seat to move. I’m not a big massage fan but Michelle appreciated the massage options the chair provided.
There’s a water bottle holder next to the in-flight entertainment screen. I like that location as opposed to turning around to grab it from behind my seat, a common location on other business class seats.
Over your shoulder you’ll find a small reading light, a universal electrical outlet and a USB charging outlet. Additionally, you’ll find the 3-prong headphone receptacle. That’s to use with the proprietary headphones. The headphones they provide aren’t bad. But, if you want to use your own noise canceling headset, just buy one of these and carry it with you. Generally, those 3-prong outlets really only pump out sound through 2.
The in-flight entertainment screen is plenty big and of good enough picture quality. There was a reasonable selection of movies for both adults and children. I really liked that you could indicate to the crew whether you wanted to be woken for meals or not. Apologies for the reflection on these pictures.
Finally, the tray table had plenty of space. I was able to get my computer on there with my meal service to multi-task.
The menu was fairly lengthy. I took pictures of all the pages. Rather than gum up the middle of the review with a dozen pictures of the menu, I’ll post them all at the bottom in case you’re interested.
The crew served us a glass of fresh orange juice and some sparkling wine before takeoff. The slice of orange in the juice was a nice touch.
We sampled pretty much all of the antipasti, including hummus, shrimp and smoked salmon. The smoked salmon was fantastic. The hummus was a nice touch as a starter.
My wife tried the red pepper soup and really enjoyed it. I’m not a big fan of red pepper soup but I enjoyed a taste of hers. I tried the deep friend chicken breast with salad and found it okay, if maybe a tad bit dry.
We chose gnocchi for the main course. The fresh mozzarella on top was a nice touch. It really was a lovely plate. The portion isn’t huge. However, given how much we enjoyed the starters as well as the cheese cart and dessert afterwards, it really didn’t need to be. Still, I did think about asking for a second plate…..
I’d file dessert under the “pretty good” category. I wasn’t blown away by the curd dumplings, but I did think it was cool that they provided the recipe to make at home.
The cheese cart was where I spent most of my time after dinner. There were 4 or 5 really good cheese selections. I did ask for seconds here, unlike gnocchi where I wimped out!
I sampled the smoked salmon tartare for the second course. It was enjoyable. However, the first salmon plate was a better choice.
There were two wine choices that stood out to me. The Sudsteiermark Sauvignon Blanc was a great starter. It worked perfectly with the smoked salmon and shrimp. The dessert wine (Burgenland Beerenauslese Cuvee) was sweet but not overly so. Both were memorable enough for me to snap a picture of the labels to consider tracking down in the US. Michelle enjoyed sampling the coffee menu, though I somehow missed taking a picture of that.
I liked that they divided the kids meals up into multiple courses. Too often they bring the kids one plate. Our kids like to graze, so smaller plates work better for their appetites. They started with a plate of pasta, ham and tomato. Simple, but went over very well with our kids.
The second course was probably the most popular kids meal I see served on airplanes. Chicken fingers. On the one hand, not overly imaginative. On the other hand, almost any kid will eat them (well, except for the United Airlines version).
The fruit plate and ice cream was a nice finish for the kiddos.
The Final Two Pennies
After the meal was over I settled in for a movie and a nap (or maybe it was the other way around?). The IFE kept me abreast of our progress and soon enough we were touching down on-time at Dulles Airport.
We really enjoyed our ride on Austrian Airlines. 10 hours is a long time for anyone to be on a plane, especially kids. The service was warm and efficient. The staff checked on both the kids and the parents frequently without being overbearing.
Both of our children had a great time on the flight. Charlie was all smiles and Cat took the time to draw something the crew got super excited for.
We spent 70,000 United Airlines MileagePlus miles per ticket for the one-way flight in business class from Vienna to Washington-Dulles. I think that’s a great use of miles. It’s hard for a family of 4 to pony up 280,000 miles for a one-way trip to or from Europe if someone doesn’t travel for a living. This is why credit cards are such a big part of being able to fly like this.
Note, I don’t have any credit card referral links on this blog. I frequently recommend the Chase credit cards which earn Ultimate Rewards points. Those are the Chase Sapphire cards for personal use and the Chase Ink cards for business use. They all have a special place in my wallet because they help our family travel to such outstanding destinations as comfortably as we do.
I wouldn’t hesitate to book an Austrian Airlines flight again. They have decent availability, a good business class seat, friendly crews and enjoyable catering.
Side note. If you read this far and like the amenity kit pictures, leave a comment below. I have a few extra somewhere in my incredibly disorganized office I can send out.
Oh, and for those looking to see the menu….