The airline with the best average rating is Austrian Airlines with 7.4/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 34 minutes.More information
Welcome to part 2 of 3 of this series concerning a recent trip I took to Sofia, back in Fall 2019. Perhaps the one good thing that's come from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is the fact that we Flight-Reporters can take advantage of being locked-down and publish some older reports. But I do hope that everyone reading this is healthy and doing well in these difficult times. We'll get through it. With that out of the way, let's get into the report!
The routing for this series will be announced with each new installment. The trip consisted of 3 flights on 2 airlines with 2 types of aircraft, all in Economy Class. Here's how the routing looks like so far:
When I booked this, the Covid-19 pandemic hadn't begun, and airlines were operating normally with their full fleets. However, Austrian how now announced that they will phase-out all 6 A319s, so this may very well have been my last flight on an Austrian A319. With that out out of the way, here's how the final routing looks like on a map, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:
I usually don't head to SOF that much before my flight, as it's a small airport and usually it's quite empty, as well. I hopped on a taxi at around 4:45 PM from the city center, and since the traffic on Tsarigradsko Shose, the only road to the airport was non-existent, I was at the terminal around 15 minutes later.
I didn't stop for photos of the terminal this time and instead headed straight for the Vitosha Aspire Lounge, used by LH, OS, and a few other airlines. If you are curious about what the airport looks like on the inside, check out my other reports from Sofia Airport here. The lounge was moderately busy on the evening of travel.
Finger sandwiches and Bake Rolls are always on offer in the evenings, and I grabbed a few of the former to eat. They were pretty tasty.
Sunset seen from the lounge.
All Austrian departures from Sofia, except for the morning OS800, depart from remote stands for some reason, so I headed downstairs, where the 4 remote position boarding gates are.
The bus ride was short, and soon enough we arrived at our chariot.
Operating the flight was OE-LDD, an A319-112 named Moscow, which was built and delivered to Austrian in March 2005.
I feel like Austrian was trolling me in 2019, as everytime I flew to or from Sofia on one of their airplanes, it was a repeated registration. Nothing worse than a repeated registration in my book…. well, maybe a middle seat, but that's it ? The last time I flew with Moscow was in August 2014, on OS111 from Vienna to Munich.
The cheery male purser greeted all passengers at the door as we made our way into the aircraft. Passing 2A, the seat I was in when I last flew on the aircraft.
My seat this time wasn't far away, though, either. I was in 3F, which is normally a Business Class seat, which meant great legroom.
View of the cabin while waiting for the next busload of passengers. Despite the aircraft being over 14 years old, it felt very fresh and clean.
One of Bul Air's all-white 737-300s preparing for its Bulgaria Air flight to Brussels
Good wing view from my seat.
Once everyone was on board, the captain came on the PA to wish us a pleasant flight. While the flight attendants performed the safety briefing, the CFM56 engines fired up and we began our taxi.
Bulgaria Air E190 which would follow us to Vienna a few minutes later.
Bul Air 737-300 still wearing the Ellinair paint
Wizz Air A321.
Taxiing to Runway 9.
Air Dolomiti E195 departing as the last Lufthansa flight to Munich of the day.
Despite the clear skies and calm winds, our takeoff was really turbulent. I love turbulence, but I'm sure that some other passengers had other feelings about it ?
Once the seatbelt sign was switched off, I headed to the lavatory at the rear. While I don't usually take pictures of the bathroom, I had to for this one. Much to my surprise, it had purple mood lighting and a faux-hardwood floor. Not bad for an A319!
Cabin from the back.
Lots of space to stretch out in row 3!
Austrian logo on the cabin divider.
As is the norm on Austrian, all passengers were given a choice between a sweet or savory snack. I went for the former, and was pleasantly surprised when I received Prinzen Rollen, which I consider to be an improvement over the Manner Wafers, which get old quick. I got a glass of water to drink. Perhaps the one bad thing about sitting in row 3 is the fact that the smell of the hot food in Business Class creeps back… At least I wasn't terribly hungry ? I didn't see what the savory snack was, and while the Prinzen Rollen were a welcome improvement, I still think the Bulgaria Air's catering on the SOF-VIE-SOF route is better, as they provide a full sandwich.
As we began our decent over the Hungarian town of Paks, the captain came on the PA to announce that due to very strong winds from the southeast, we'd be landing on Runway 11 in around 30 minutes. There wasn't much to be seen outside.
As we neared Vienna, I started to worry about my connecting flight, which was supposed to begin boarding at 7:30 PM, 10 minutes after our scheduled arrival. And we were running a little late. But, since I couldn't do anything about it, I decided to just sit back and enjoy the views on our descent.
Vienna Airport. So close, yet so far.
Vienna city center.
Turning right base.
Over the runway.
Touchdown at 7:25 PM, 5 minutes late, after a flight time of 1h21m.
Vacating the runway.
As if things weren't already tight enough for my connection, we ended up pulling into a remote stand, next to this Austrian E195, which had just arrived from Zagreb.
I was one of the first passengers off and took one last shot of OE-LDD before getting in the bus to the terminal.
Our departure out of Sofia had us flying the GODEK 1S departure from Runway 9. We flew towards northwestern Bulgaria, where we reached our cruising altitude of 34,000 feet. From there we flew direct to northwest Hungary. We flew the PESAT 4K RNAV transition before landing on Runway 11.
Did I catch my connecting flight? Stay tuned… Thanks for reading!
This was yet another typical intra-European flight with Austrian
+ Fresh A319
+ A lot of space at Row 3
+ Friendly Crew
+ FlyNet WiFi available
- Smaller snack than what LH and FB offer
OS is not a bad airline for intra-European travel, but I'd still prefer A3, LH, and LX over them.