Good day, stoked to see we can now write FRs in English and French; I don't know yet if I will do that; seems like alot of work even for someone fluent in both languages ^^ We shall see!
Being French and living in Central Europe implies a few flights a year; mainly to see family and to replenish yourself with real food, French food! I'm sure I am not the only French person who sorely misses the delicacies of our cuisine when living abroad.
That being said, we all remain accountable to our choices and the pros outweigh the cons when living abroad. In my case I live in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, just 60km East of Vienna, Bratislava and Vienna being the 2 closest capitals in the world.
I've been here since 2011, back then; CSA operated a direct flight between BTS and CDG; this only lasted 6 months and following their withdrawal I was left with 2 options, BTS-BVA or VIE-CDG.
Not being a fan of Ryanair and the fact that their prices aren't really competitive on that routing; I usually choose to fly out of Vienna, It is more convenient because the bus from Bratislava to Vienna is only 45 minutes versus 75 minutes between BVA and central Paris (not to mention the trains one must take thereafter to get from Porte Maillot to their final destination), and also I can usually get a ride out of CDG to my house, so it's win win for me!).
There are 3 main choices when flying out of Vienna going to Paris. The first 2, Air France and Austrian are the most expensive with prices ranging from 140 euros if you book early enough to 300+ if procrastination runs in your bloodstream ^^
The third option is Fly Niki, now owned by Air Berlin. Fly Niki isn't well represented on this website yet and I will try to remedy to that because in my opinion; they offer much better value than AF and OS combined.
I am in a position where I can usually predict my whereabouts up to 6 months in advance. For that reason I mostly book my flights very early. In this case, my ticket was booked in the end of December 2012. The primary reason for this trip was that I got married in France to my Slovak wife. This also happened to be the Bourget exhibition which I attended and the big Flight Report dinner at le Tarmac. So definitely an exciting trip ahead.
Anyways booking this far in advance means you can get good prices, and while AF and OS were above the 150 mark for this ticket, FlyNiki had a seat sale going on, 77 euros round-trip for their Just Fly ticket category and 97 euros for Fly Classic. The main difference between the 2 is that the cheaper fare doesn't allow you to check in luggage free of charge (you can add it in later for 15 euros per segment) and also you can't pick your seat during online check in, it is automatically selected for you).
Given the meager 20 euros difference, I went for Fly Classic, it's always nice to be able to bring a suitcase, especially when you can bring back some goodies from France, and some model planes hehehe (I collect model planes and have more than 200 of them).
So with this background information in check; welcome to this flight report with the following routing: - 20 June 2013 - VIE-CDG - Fly Niki HG 8734 - You are here. - 02 July 2013 - CDG-VIE - Fly Niki HG 8735 - TBP (To Be Published)
I am no stranger to VIE, been through that airport many times. All things considered, I consider myself quite lucky to be able to fly out of that airport for such a low price given that most international flights out of VIE are way more expensive than, say flying out of Budapest or even Prague for that matter, Budapest is an extremely interesting choice when flying abroad, I've saved in excess of 300 euros per ticket by flying out of BUD compared to VIE. It is a bit of a hassle to get there between the 3 hour train ride and the lack of direct rail or bus connection from the city center to the airport but worth it nonetheless especially when traveling as a couple.
Regardless, today I would be flying out of Vienna, one of the things I was looking forward to in Vienna was to discover the newly opened 250 meter long viewing terrace located on top of the terminal roof. The price is rather expensive though, 4 euros, I only had an hour to spare so I suppose I would've been happier if my stay was extended up there. They even have restrooms so you can take a break without leaving the secured area.
I checked in the night before; as usual, Emergency Exit Seats are not available for selection so I picked a random window seat behind the wings:
I arrived at the airport at 16:00, usually drop off counters with Niki are deserted, well this time it was packed! Here you can see the iconic VIE tower:
Upon check in I made my way to the top to get to the observation deck, you have to go through a metal detector as well as your carry on will be X rayed.
I have to say I was quite impressed by the view, the terrace is super long and spacious; it is mostly angled towards the Austrian Airlines terminal so you can't really see the old terminal except for one of the 2 satellites, too bad since I was leaving from the C gates which you can't quite see here.
It is also quite windy today alas. And to add insult to injury my camera is acting nuts! I will realize this only 2 months later but the main lens I use has a focus problem and to fix that, manual focus is currently the only option, so, I apologize in advance as some of the pics below will be slightly blurry :(
There was not a whole lot of action during my time there; primarily some OS and HG birds, narrow bodies, enjoy the pics below:
767-300 with winglets being towed to the dark side of the airport
Seems like our secret agent lurks everywhere these days ^^ TK 738 bound for Istanbul
Niki ERJ 190
Meanwhile my Airbus has arrived from God knows where, LHR I think.
C Gates (Schengen)
The viewing terrace has billboards such as these plastered about everywhere for educational purposes
It’s a beautiful day!
TK meets HG
Goodbye TK, see you soon ^^
Here you can see a Niki A320 in the new colors, personally I’m quite displeased with this livery, how original the previous Niki scheme was! Thankfully some of the planes still have the old scheme, including the one I am taking! I understand why they changed it, I mean now that they are owned by Air Berlin… But it’s such a boring livery!
Air France skyteam lovery running on “French time” (15 minutes late) to CDG
Air Berlin 738
And here we have the highlight of this spotting session; a Korean Air 777-200 freshly landed from Seoul. I must add that I am quite surprised Vienna has direct flights to Korea… But not to Hong Kong?? How is this possible?
Aeroflot A320 headed back to Moskovia
Still the same Korean bird, don’t you love how beautiful the 777 is?
Another Niki ERJ 190
Anybody interested? :)
TK is here, there and everywhere! I will fly this plane next year from CPT to IST!
What do you guys think of this airport design? I am not sure I like it… Looks very… Dark?
Austrian dominates this concourse
OS in Star Alliance livery
Good bye beautiful bird!
Trying to spot the old terminal, what I believe to be a Ukraine International 737-700
Aeroflot and Niki
I stayed up there for about 90 minutes; as you could see, the action wasn’t great, but better than nothing I suppose; I then made my way back into the terminal building to get to my gate. A few years ago, VIE had the security checks scattered across each gate. Now, at least for the Schengen Departing flights there is one security check for everyone at the ground floor of the airport, it’s quite a maze actually, lots of turns, escalators down, stairs back up etc. Nothing too complicated but definitely room for improvement.
The waiting lounges by the gate area are far from being my favorite. For one thing the architectural design of the terminal has horizontal metal bars preventing you from doing any sort of spotting at the gate. And then you have metallic chairs which are not at all comfortable. I had no problem staying up on the roof until the boarding time commenced at which point I was basically able to make my way to the aircraft without having to sit down at the airport.
Boarding was on time, I had seat 26A. I was unfortunately seated next to a rather large group of Austrian teenagers; maybe 9 of them, and they happened to be pretty annoying…
Thankfully I quickly realized the plane was far from full and I also happened to notice the exit row was empty! So I grabbed my stuff and moved 2 rows down to 24 and was greeted by this pleasant amount of legroom
I could certainly get used to this!
To be fair though; the pitch on the regular seats was ok, definitely not great, I would say 30 inches; definitely adequate for a short haul flight; I mean if you can survive 4 hours on board Ryanair, anything else should be easy peasy!
We pushed back 15 minutes late as there was an apparent problem with the front lavatory door which was resolved in no time.
Push back with Finnair getting ready to escape the heat back north.
Don’t be sad my friend; she’ll be back in no time!
Seems like the ramp got pretty busy since I left! Finnair, Iberia, BA, Tarom, and others, too!
I was attempting to focus on the winglet but my lens had other plans…
Finnair again, and Niki everywhere!
Man, wouldn’t want to be stuck on a 737 for this long flight to Israel! Though I guess 3.5 hours isn’t worse than 4 hours on Ryanair with no food!
Not sure what livery this is, looks like an ERJ 170 or 175 though
Q400 from Croatia. I could certainly spend a week in that beautiful country!
Korean still in front
I was surprised to see another Korean bird on the tarmac, but a cargo ship this time. Next to it, an OS 772.
At this point we are pretty much ready for our takeoff roll, I am still annoyed because I hear all the teenagers still talking, and as you’ll see in the following video which also showcases the viewing terrace, they were indeed quite annoying.
Takeoff: Maybe I haven’t flown enough to make such a comment; but for an A321, the takeoff roll seemed extremely short, I counted 23 seconds, the plane was not full but not empty either, I guessed 65% load factor. Still though it was a pretty cool experience! Scroll to the end of the report to see the full video report.
Here’s one for our dear friend Saraoutou
The first half of the flight progresses pretty uneventfully. As always I find the flight attendants on board to be super competent and efficient. I don’t know why Niki markets themselves as a budget airline because as far as I am concerned you get full service. OK so you don’t get a proper meal like on TK but you at least do get a sandwich, and though it’s not super big, it’s still nice and you get your choice of up to 3 drinks to go with it. It’s usually cheese, ham or chicken And if you ask politely they may just hand out seconds, even thirds or… Well ok, I never pushed my luck past the 3rd sandwich yet ^^ If you’re really hungry (or at least if you can predict that you’ll be hungry when you’re on board, you can preorder full blown meals on their website)
About midway through the flight; things started to get pretty bumpy as you’ll see in the video. It’s not the worse turbulence I've experienced but it was definitely a solid jolt for 45 minutes, the clouds were pretty impressive and I did enjoy it somewhat. But as always, the teenagers behind were being stupid and making weird noises and what not, one of them had an exceedingly annoying voice which seemed to try and fight its way onto puberty while you could detect some high pitches here and there, anyway…..
Descent into Paris
We arrived and it seems like this pilot certainly had a thing for extremes as, following the short takeoff roll, he felt the need to slam on the brakes when we landed, so that was also fast I thought.
The sky certainly didn't look very inviting and predicted pretty bad conditions for the airshow on that weekend.
I was greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a security officer prohibiting me to take photos (so annoying), I guess he saw me take the photo on top of the stairs, I knew someone would tell me but heck, I'm just so annoyed by this ridiculous rule that I did it anyways, and I wanted to get a nice shot of the plane, as a result I had to do it in the bus
And we end this pictorial with a small planet A320!
Thanks for reading, the 14 minute video below shows the viewing terrace, take off, cruise and landing, apologies in advance for the length I was too lazy to edit it, the good news is, there's a fast forward button at the bottom :-D
Vienna - VIE
Paris - CDG
I've always enjoyed flying with Niki. If you haven't tried them out yet and you live close to an airport they serve, I do recommend you giving them a chance. I've flown the VIE-CDG leg on all 3 competitors and this is my favorite, the only downside being that they don't belong to either Star Alliance nor Skyteam.
Regarding my marks: Airline: Given the seat I have I can only give a high mark, unlimited legroom and a window with a view. The crew was good and efficient; as with most Germanic cultures smiles are far and few but they usually smile back if you smile at them. I find Niki attendants to generally be quite young and pretty too^^ They serve some sort of free food so automatically I will give a good mark, but the sandwich was really saucy this time so not the best. Regarding entertaining I appreciate any airline who offers GPS on their flights and they had a cool 3d rendition of where the flight was too, not sure if it was google earth or some other program, I liked it though. We arrived 15 mins late so 2 points taken.
Vienna airport is a very pleasant airport to go through, it's not huge, access is easy from either Vienna or Bratislava, you get complimentary wifi and it's usually very clean; security is always super fast, so they deserve a high mark which can't be aid about CDG though I have to say that arriving at Terminal 3 when you are being picked up is a definite plus since it is smaller. But the ground staff is usually not the best, I hate their stupid no picture taking rule and it's not always clean though this time around things were okay.
I love Niki, try them out! You won't regret it :)
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