I was looking forward to flying Austrian from IST to VIE because it will mark the first time for me to fly this carrier. I kept hearing about how wonderful their catering is and I couldn't wait to see what was in store for me.
Once at the airport, I learned that all passengers must clear security before even entering. I arrived 4 hrs ahead of time and upon seeing that the OS counter was closed, I walked towards LH and was told to wait until the OS check-in counter opens. I noticed that on the side all the way at the end against the wall there was a small OS ticketing office. I inquired and the agent suggested me to use the LH check-in kiosk to see if it could print my boarding pass. Thankfully I was able to do so without problem by using the etkt number as reference. I wondered why the ticket agent couldn't do it. Laziness? local protocol? who knows. The important thing is that I had my boarding pass in hand. Then it was time to clear Immigrations and head to the TK CIP lounge.
TK CIP Lounge
This lounge was remodeled in mid 2011 and it sets precedence for other business class lounges. It is very spacious with distinctive areas and several food stations located throughout. As you enter the lounge, you are welcome to check at the desk with an agent or simply swipe your boarding pass at the gate reader. Once inside and straight in front is the library with a shooting pool. If you turn immediately to your right there is a locker room with individual storing cubicles that allow you to set your own combination. I found this to be quite a convenient feature that allows the guest to be at ease and really enjoy the facility with peace of mind. Next to the lockers is a small theater area cordoned off by curtains. Throughout the lounge you will encounter stations for grilled meats, salads and meze, desserts, soups, nibbles for your drinks, fresh fruit and beverages. Some of them like the ones for grilled meats and pide (Turkish pizza) are manned while others are unattended and you just help yourself to what is available. The area in the back with the piano and olive tree are the brightest allowing natural light to flood the premises. There is also a computer area, prayer room, showers and resting rooms. The rest room is tastefully done with sinks that allow water to run in a cascading manner. I also noticed the presence of attendants walking throughout the lounge tidying up the place. The female ones wear a body hugging brown uniform with a short skirt while their male counterparts wear a more pedestrian dark pant, shirt and tie.
I thoroughly enjoyed my layover at the lounge and had quite an enjoyable lunch before my flight. Every frequent flyer must visit this place at least once. One unique feature that I came across in this lounge is a rolling cart that an attendant in chef's uniform pushes throughout the lounge offering different desserts to guests who are seated. This was in the afternoon and I saw it once during my 4 hrs stay here.
The salad station and fruit stations.
Additional pictures of the dessert station and bathroom in case of overeating.
Only in Turkey I have encountered square toilet seats.
The catering at the TK CIP lounge as well as all TK flights out of IST are handled by DO & CO Turkey. This particular branch of Do & Co. was formed in 2007 and ownership is split at 50/50 between DO & CO and Turkish Airlines. DO & CO has a great catering reputation and among its customers are LH First Class Lounge, the EK Lounge @ JFK and Formula 1 events. I left the lounge at about 45 minutes before the flight and walked through the long hallway until I arrived at the gate. Then at the last minute there was a gate change and I hurried to the other side of the terminal. There were 2 agents at the gate and once boarding started everybody rushed towards the front. There was no pre-boarding for elites or business class passengers so it was a bit of a madhouse to get aboard.
Once I settled in and the door closed, I realized that I had the whole business cabin for myself. The purser then took a red pillow from the closet and handed it to me with a smile.
After take off, she closed the curtains and started with the meal service. There was no menu nor choice of meals on today's flight, just a nice meal consisting of diced smoked salmon over chopped cucumbers and tomatoes appetizer, a beef patty with potatoes au gratin with a side of green beans and a caramel flan with raspberry sauce to end the meal. Everything was presented neatly on the tray and tasted great, but I was surprised by the lack of meal choices in the front. The purser then assisted her co-workers in the back and when she came back to clear my tray she asked if I wanted any coffee or tea. I declined and only requested water so she gave me a small bottle.
Arrival into VIE was on time and I presented my passport to the stone faced immigrations agent right after passing through the door. No acknowledgment of greetings or any signs of common courtesy, she just stamped my passport nonchalantly an off I went. Welcome to Austria! If it weren't because I wanted to try OS, I would have skipped passing through this airport altogether. There is something about VIE that does not quite measure up to its European counterparts. IMHO, it feels chaotic and the oddity of having a security check point at each gate seems frustrating at times, not the mention some of the grumpiest people that I have ever encountered in an airport (and I am referring to a previous experience with a tourist office clerk.)
Turkish Airlines Lounge
Istanbul - ISX
Vienna - VIE
I was pleased with my first time experience with OS and the meal I received was delicious. However, I wonder if offering only one meal in J is wise since there are people out there who are vegetarian or chose not to eat beef. I feel that there should be an alternative choice to accommodate those passengers. Having said that, the catering is very good in my opinion with tasteful items that were well presented. Service was good and my purser did her job efficiently and with a smile. As for the comfort of the cabin, those very thin Recaro seats leave a lot to be desired. I am not a fan of them and they can become uncomfortable on a long flight (3+ hrs.)
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