Review of Austrian Airlines flight Sofia Vienna in Business

Airline Austrian Airlines
Flight OS800
Class Business
Seat 3DF
Flight time 01:35
Take-off 11 Sep 20, 06:00
Arrival at 11 Sep 20, 06:35
OS   #73 out of 116 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 201 reviews
NewYorker
By SILVER 785
Published on 27th September 2020

introduction


A warm welcome back to my current Flight-Report series, ladies and gentlemen! In part 3 out of 4 of the series, I'll be flying back to Austria after spending 30 days in Sofia, Bulgaria. This series is regarding my first trip back in the air after being confined in Austria for months. Austria is my favorite country on the planet, so I had no issue being stuck there for a while, but as I'm sure you can imagine I jumped at the chance to fly again, even if it was just for a menial trip to Bulgaria.


trip information


Originally, I was meant to fly a simple roundtrip from Vienna to Sofia and back. At the time of booking, the itinerary looked like this:


OS799 | Vienna - Sofia | Embraer 195
OS800 | Sofia - Vienna | Airbus A320


Though instead, flight OS799 was cancelled, and the return flight was operated by a Dash 8.


After a hassle-free process, I was able to change my flight to the current itinerary, which is as follows:


Routing


At the time of booking, OS797 was meant to be operated by an A319, and this flight was meant to be operated by an E195, so it appears that Austrian decided to cut capacity on both of the Sofia legs that I flew.


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The reason I flew this trip in Business Class was solely for the purpose of social distancing. As United's new CEO Scott Kirby says, there is no way to social distance your self on an airplane. That's true in Economy Class, but not in Business Class, and especially in Euro Business Classes, where the seat next to you is empty. I had no idea how full flights would be, and I didn't want to risk sitting next to a stranger who may or may not have had Covid. Spending miles on such a short flight in Business Class seemed like a sin, so I ended up booking a Business Saver ticket on LH.com. The VIE-SOF roundtrip cost around €480, and for no extra cost I was able to add the Innsbruck sectors of the trip. To change my flights, I simply called Lufthansa and within 45 minutes my new ticket was confirmed. I was very impressed with the way the whole situation was handled, and it reminded me why I'm loyal to the Lufthansa Group. With all that out of the way, on the the report!


the morning of departure


At around 4:00 AM, I picked up a Spark Car off the street and started to quick drive to the airport. Spark is an electric car sharing service in Sofia which is really neat. To rent a Spark Car, simply download the app, create a free account, and unlock the car. If you'd like to learn more about Spark, check out their website.


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Another perk about using Spark is that you can park for free anywhere in Sofia. At the airport, there is a dedicated Spark zone, where I dropped off my car around 15 minutes later.


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The Spark zone is steps away from the terminal, just behind the taxi stand.


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sofia vrazhdebna airport (sof)


At the entrance to the terminal, everyone's temperature was taken, and entry was only permitted with a proof of travel (I showed my mobile boarding pass). Once in the terminal, I headed to the Lufthansa Group counters, so I could check my suitcase in.


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The check-in hall.


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Heading to security with the Turkish Airlines flight attendant smiling down on me.


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vitosha aspire lounge sofia


Security and immigration were rather quick, and I headed to the Aspire Lounge.


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I was a bit surprised to see the signs that said "new" on the door and inside the lounge, and I also realized that the Lufthansa logo was no longer on the list of airlines with access to the lounge. Once I got in, the agent told me that they only accept Lufthansa passengers, and not Austrian passengers. I think she was a bit confused, but instead of arguing with her I just showed her my Priority Pass card and was let in.


There was only one other person in the lounge, who I assume was on the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt.


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In order to maintain social distancing, some seats were turned away, so people couldn't use them.


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I took advantage of the lounge being empty and took pictures of the buffet area, which consists of a coffee machine…


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…cold sandwiches…


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…chocolate bars and Bake Rolls…


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Banitsa, a delicious Bulgarian feta cheese pastry…


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…and mini pizzas.


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My offerings, which were pretty tasty.


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boarding + initial impressions


2 minutes before boarding, I left the lounge and headed downstairs to Gate B1.


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Priority boarding didn't mean anything, as everyone was herded into a bus.


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A light load of only 33 passengers meant that everyone fit into one bus, and a few minutes later we pulled up to the Dash 8 that would fly us back to Vienna.


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Funnily enough, the aircraft that would fly me to Vienna was the same one that I flew from Innsbruck to Vienna a month earlier. OE-LGI, named 'Eisenstadt', was built in December 2004, delivered to Austrian Arrows in January 2005, and transferred to Austrian Mainline in July 2012.


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Logo of the world's best airline alliance 😉


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I was greeted by a friendly purser and shortly after found my seat, 3F.


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Legroom was fine, but nothing special.


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Like my two previous flights, the safety card and an airsickness bag were the only contents of the seatback pocket.


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Located on seat 1C during boarding was a box of sanitizing wipes…


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…and the latest edition of the Austrian Magazine, featuring a beautiful picture of my hometown, which seems to be the one sane place in America these days.


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Nice view of the fan.


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austrian 800 - sofia to vienna


Once everyone was on board, the Captain made his welcome announcement and announced a flight time of 1h30m. Shortly afterwards, the powerplants were fired up and we were on our way to the runway.


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Ryanair 737-800 preparing for its flight to Bergamo.


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Bulgaria Air E190 resting overnight and an Ellinair 737-300 (operated by Bul Air).


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Wizz Air A321 to London-Luton.


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Wizz Air A320.


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Taxiing to Runway 09.


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departure from sofia


Rolling takeoff.


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Airborne.


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Left turn towards the north.


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Takeoff video:



The first of many shots of the gorgeous sunrise 😍


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As soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, the purser passed around health declaration forms for entry into Austria. Needless to say they look quite a bit more professional than the Bulgarian declaration forms I showed you in part 2 😂


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breakfast service


Shortly after the health declaration was passed around, as the sun continued to rise, the two flight attendants started the meal service.


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Breakfast is served!


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The breakfast consisted of a delicious open-faced omelette with vegetables, tomatoes, and feta cheese…


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…a croissant, the same strawberry cream dessert from my INN-VIE flight…


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…and a fruit salad.


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I chose orange juice for my drink.


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As the flight attendant passed my seat and proceeded to serve a meal to the fellow in 4A, she realized that she was out of meals. After looking at the load sheet, it turned out that the sitting in 1A self-upgraded, and had already started eating his meal. She immediately sent him back to Economy Class, and took his meal away. Of course, she didn't give the guy in 4A a half-eaten meal, but luckily there was an extra meal in the back. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was warm and definitely wasn't the same meal the rest of the passengers were served. That was actually the first time I had witnessed a self-upgrader in action. Props to the crew for handling the situation so professionally with no drama!


As you can tell, it was another fantastic Austrian meal. I'm certain that you can't have such a nice meal on a Dash 8 on any other airline.


mid-flight


I spent the rest of the flight staring out the window.


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I mean, with such a beautiful view, what else would you do?


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arrival into vienna


As we began our descent near the eastern tip of Lake Balaton, the Captain came back on the PA to announce that we were around 20 minutes away from landing, and that we'd make a straight-in approach to Runway 29.


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Heading into the clouds.


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Cloudsurfing.


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Driving Camp Pachfurth.


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Turning final over Bruck an der Leitha.


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Gear coming down.


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Short final.


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Over the runway.


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Touchdown on Runway 29 at 6:33 AM, 3 minutes early, after a flight time of 1h27m.


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Vacating the runway.


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Landing video:



Pulling into a remote stand next to an Austrian E195 which had arrived from Tirana an hour earlier.


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One final look at my seat.


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I bid farewell to the purser and was one of the first to board the bus to the terminal.


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Nose of the Eisenstadt


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…and her fuselage.


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I love Austrian's tail.


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routing of os800


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We had a straightforward routing to Vienna, leaving Sofia to the east then turning north to pass Belgrade and Lake Balaton towards our destination. We cruised at 25,000 feet.


The bus ride to the terminal was no more than 7 minutes, and then it was time to clear immigration. I was a little nervous, as I didn't know what to expect with the whole Covid situation, but as it turned out I had nothing to worry about. I'll explain the whole experience in the next report, but in the meantime I hope you enjoyed this report, feel free to leave a comment below, and I hope to see you again in the final installation, which will I hope to publish in the coming weeks!

See more

Verdict

Austrian Airlines

7.5/10
Cabin6.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering10.0

Vitosha Aspire Lounge - 2

6.5/10
Comfort7.0
Meal/catering7.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services6.0

Sofia - SOF

7.4/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness7.5

Vienna - VIE

8.2/10
Efficiency9.5
Access10.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness6.0

Conclusion

I don't have much to say other than Austrian made this flight really nice thanks to their catering.

+ Efficient Sofia Airport
+ Friendly crew
+ Beautiful views
+ Fantastic catering
- Not the best Business Class cabin
- No entertainment other than the views

Austrian's hard product is basically the same as all other European airlines (though the Q400 is arguably the most uncomfortable aircraft in the European skies), but their soft product is where they really shine. If I have to fly Business Class in Europe, I'd definitely choose Austrian.

Information on the route Sofia (SOF) Vienna (VIE)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 5 reviews of 1 airlines on the route Sofia (SOF) → Vienna (VIE).


Useful

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

11 Comments

  • Comment 564118 by
    757Fan 593 Comments

    What a delicious looking breakfast for such a short 1 hour 35 minute flight! I'm amazed at the story about the upgrader ... what nerve that someone thinks they can get away with that. Amazing!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Comment 564121 by
    grenouille 192 Comments

    Thanks for this report...

  • Comment 564123 by
    ISTFlyer GOLD 277 Comments

    Hi NewYorker and thanks for this report,

    It seems that Austrian is still offering a really good soft-product during these days. It's also nice to see a hot meal on a Q400 as most airlines do not even bother to install a food heating device on these aircraft.

    Although it's true that the hard product is not the best, Euro-J Business seats with no IFE other than the magazine. ( At least they offer a magazine as most airlines also stopped printing magazines after COVID )

    It's also interesting to see a self-upgrader, I have seen one on UA trying to upgrade himself to EconomyPlus from Economy but the passenger was asked to pay $34 for 4 inches more legroom on a 1-hour flight. Obviously, the passenger decided to return to his original seat. But this situation is much more interesting as the passenger has upgraded himself just in front of the crew jumpseat; I am surprised that the crew didn't realize it before takeoff.

    Thanks for sharing and waiting for the last report in this series.

    • Comment 564242 by
      NewYorker SILVER AUTHOR 107 Comments

      Hey ISTFlyer, nice to see you here!

      It seems that Austrian is still offering a really good soft-product during these days. It's also nice to see a hot meal on a Q400 as most airlines do not even bother to install a food heating device on these aircraft.

      Yes it's true. As far as I can tell, there isn't really much of a difference between OS' service pre-Covid and during Covid, at least in J. I too was also surprised to receive a hot meal on a Q400. I didn't even know that there was an option for ovens on them!
      At least they offer a magazine as most airlines also stopped printing magazines after COVID

      That was another very pleasant surprise which I wasn't expecting. It was much appreciated, for sure!
      But this situation is much more interesting as the passenger has upgraded himself just in front of the crew jumpseat; I am surprised that the crew didn't realize it before takeoff.

      I understand someone self-upgrading to Economy Plus on UA (or MCE on AA or C+ on DL), because it's hard to tell that there is actually a difference in seats. While you could argue that the same thing goes for J on a Q400, 1C was clearly block, and there was a cabin divider. It's interesting to note that when the guy sat down, the purser asked if he was sitting there. He said yes and she believed him, so the crew did initially suspect that something was off.
      Thanks for sharing and waiting for the last report in this series.

      Take care, happy flying, and hope to see you there!

  • Comment 564348 by
    ThomasDutch GOLD 509 Comments

    Logo of the world's best airline alliance

    That would only be true when you use carriers in Asia and Africa haha! In Europe, all alliances will give you pretty much the same shit on any flight with OS, LX, KL and AF probably the strongest of Europe.
    -
    Thanks for sharing this flight report.

  • Comment 565311 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5318 Comments

    Hey NewYorker, awesome report as always! I'm a bit surprised to see buffet items at the lounge without coverings on them during the pandemic, but i imagine they make people wear masks when going to the buffet.

    It's pretty awesome that OS can do J service so well on a Q400 when most carriers don't even try or don't bother blocking the adjacent seat. As you said, in these times of Covid, most people worry about social distancing and being in J should be a guarantee of an empty seat next to you. Meal service looks fantastic for such a short flight, as is so common with OS.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 565348 by
      NewYorker SILVER AUTHOR 107 Comments

      Hi Kevin, and thanks for checking out this report!

      I'm a bit surprised to see buffet items at the lounge without coverings on them during the pandemic, but i imagine they make people wear masks when going to the buffet.

      I didn't think much of it, to be honest, but I wore a mask and there was only one other person in the lounge, but like you say I'm sure that people are made to wear masks at the buffet.
      It's pretty awesome that OS can do J service so well on a Q400 when most carriers don't even try or don't bother blocking the adjacent seat. Meal service looks fantastic for such a short flight, as is so common with OS.

      So true. It's really nice that they still care about providing a nice experience even during these times. It's something that so many airlines should learn from. I guess I'm lucky to have chosen OS for my first trip post lockdown, they really spoiled me 😁 Thanks for stopping by, and hope that you are able to fly again soon!

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