A warm welcome back to my current Flight-Report series, ladies and gentlemen! In final installment of this 4-flight series, I'll be flying back to Innsbruck 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.
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:
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.
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!
After arriving from Sofia and parking at a remote stand, all passengers were taken to the Terminal by bus. Once inside the terminal, all passengers were warmly greeted by members of the Austrian Armed Forces who were asking for the health forms that we filled out on the flight, and for a negative Covid test result. I presented my negative result (which I took and received the day before), and the soldier assigned to me discarded the form, as I'm given to understand that the negative test overrides the need for a health form.
After a brief and friendly immigration encounter, I was off to security. The one thing I hate about Vienna Airport is that there is no security checkpoint dedicated for transit passengers, so everyone ends up going through the same checkpoint. Being early in the morning and having a long connection meant I had no reason to stress, but I've had much worse experiences in the past.
Security took no more than 7 minutes, and then I made my way to the SKY Lounge, which was the only lounge in the entire airport open at the time, due to the pandemic.
When I got there, the lounge was pretty empty, and I snagged a whole couch for myself.
When I visited the lounge in August, a whole part of the lounge was under renovation, though thankfully that was finished, and I was seated right next to a new buffet.
Unfortunately, the lounge started to fill up quite a bit as the morning went on, so I left the lounge and started roaming the terminal.
Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, there were still quite a few flights passing through VIE.
The F Gates, however, still looked eerily empty.
I headed all the way to the end of the terminal and found an empty gate, which I took over for a bit.
After doing reading the news and chilling for a bit, I got hungry and headed to Jamie's Italian to grab a bite to eat. My table had quite a view!
I ordered a Carbonara Pizza, which was delicious, though I wish that the chef went a bit heavier on the bacon 😛
Before I knew it, it was time to board, so I headed to my gate, F15.
Down the jetbridge…
…and to the bus that would carry us to our Dash.
…and OE-LGK 'Burgenland', soon off to Sarajevo.
Arriving at our mighty Q400.
My ride to Innsbruck was OE-LGN, named Gmunden. It was first delivered to Austrian Arrows in 2010 and transferred to Austrian mainline in 2012. Manufactured in September 2010, Gmunden was exactly 10 years old at the time of my flight. This would be my second flight with this aircraft, having flown it before in March 2019 from Innsbruck to Frankfurt.
View of the prop…
…and the fuselage.
I was greeted with a "Servus!" and a smile by the purser, handed a sanitary wipe, and quickly found my seat, 2A, where the legroom was exactly the same as on 2 of the previous 3 flights of this series.
In the seatback pocket was just the safety card.
View of the prop from my seat.
More modern PSU than on OE-LGI.
Unlike my 3 previous which had an average load of 43%, this flight was close to 100% full, which meant boarding took a little bit longer. Once everyone was onboard, Captain Marco, the same captain I had on the first segment of this trip (and who turns out is the fleet chief for OS's Q400s), welcomed us on board and announced that our scenic flight would take 45 minutes.
Soon after, our engines were fired up and we began our taxi to Runway 29.
Left turn immediately after departure.
Not much to see after takeoff.
Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
Before we even reached the mountains, the flight attendants sprung into action with the meal service. Like on all 3 previous flights, a beautiful tray was served.
The meal consisted of 3 sandwiches: 1 cheddar and caramelized onion, 1 tuna, and 1 cream cheese and salmon…
…and chocolate mousse.
Lunch with a view 😍
The meal was delightful, and just the right amount for the short flight.
Mountains and clouds below.
Hallstätter See and the famous village of Hallstatt.
As we flew over the Steinernes Meer, the captain came back over the PA to announce that we had already commenced our descent to Innsbruck, and only 12 minutes of flight were remaining.
Descending through the mountains.
Established on approach.
Over the city limits.
Super scenic short final over Innsbruck.
Over the airport.
Ultra-smooth landing (in Innsbruck?!?! 😆) on Runway 26 at 2:02 PM, 3 minutes early, after a flight time of 52 minutes.
Vacating the runway.
Pulling into our stand.
Deplaning. Just look at those mountains!
Last photos of my chariot.
Not much to say here, we literally flew directly from Vienna to Innsbruck at a cruising altitude of 24,000 feet.
As if mountains and awesome people aren't enough, yet another awesome thing about Innsbruck is the fact that the airport is so damn close to the city center. I was at my apartment less than 15 minutes after touchdown. Thanks for stopping by this report, which will likely be my last of 2020. I'm all caught up on past reports, and I don't have any flying plans for the holidays for the first time in my life. Maybe I'll fly somewhere, but it's highly unlikely. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, and here's to lots of flying in 2021!
Austrian managed to make an ordinary domestic flight in Austria a nice, pleasant experience.
+ Friendly crew
+ Beautiful views
+ Delicious 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.