The airline with the best average rating is Austrian Airlines with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 30 minutes.More information
Well hello again, dear Flight-Report community, and a very warm welcome to my newest series! After being on the ground and confined to Austria for 222 days, it was finally time to take to the skies again on April 21st, 2021, for a quick trip to Bulgaria. Boring as the destination may be, I was still beyond excited to be flying again, and to leave my beloved adoptive country of Austria and see relatives in my country of heritage again. And little did I know it at the time of the flight, but I was eligible for a vaccine in Bulgaria, which I received, so this flight marked the end of a bleak year of uncertainty! 😃
I originally booked a basic VIE-SOF-VIE roundtrip for 16,000 United Miles. Upon booking, my routing looked like this:
OS799 | Vienna - Sofia | Embraer 195
OS798 | Sofia - Vienna | Airbus A319
However, I got my vaccine dose, my dad (who I was travelling with for this journey) and I decided to celebrate the occasion by changing the return to a very exciting routing, involving two extra flights, an airport that I have wanted to visit for quite some time, and a new aircraft type for me. Now that the second report has been published, I'll reveal the entire routing:
In addition to the cool routing and being able to fly Turkish Airlines again, this trip was also special for two other reasons: it would include my first flight on an Airbus A321neo, and also, sadly, my very last flight on an Austrian Dash 8, which are being retired next month.
After a very enjoyable day exploring Vienna, I headed to the airport at around 7:30 PM. I took the S7 from the Wien Mitte - Landstraße station.
The train as very empty and quite nice on the inside. Most of Vienna's S-Bahn trains are very new CityJet trains, which are very comfortable as well.
After a 22 minute ride, my train pulled into the Vienna Airport station at 8:11 PM.
After arriving at the airport, I followed the signs to Terminal 3, which in normal times is just the Star Alliance terminal, but during Covid times houses all operations.
There were only 4 other airborne departures that night.
I was shocked and saddened to see just how empty the airport was. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I checked in my bag with a very friendly agent and made my way to security. I was once again shocked to see just how empty it was, as just a year and half earlier I misconnected due to massive lines at the exact same checkpoint.
Needless to say, it didn't take more than a minute to pass through security, and I made my way into an eerily empty concourse.
Just like in the summer, the only lounge open was the SKY Lounge in the Schengen concourse. But I wouldn't be able to visit, as it has already closed.
I had hoped that by 2021 airports wouldn't look like this anymore 😢
The sole flight from the Schengen pier that evening was OS913 to Innsbruck. With nothing to explore, I headed up to the non-Schengen pier…
…which was just as empty.
Only 4 non-Schengen flights including mine, all departing within 35 minutes of each other.
I walked through the concourse a few times trying not to cry about the state of the airline industry before heading to my gate.
From the next gate over, I caught a glimpse of my aircraft. Operating my first flight of 2021 would be OE-LWQ, Austrian's youngest Embraer, named 'Silent Night'. It was built in August 2012, making it 8.8-years old at the time of my flight. Before joining the Austrian fleet in 2017, it flew for Lufthansa CityLine for 4.5 years.
Boarding was called on time, and I made my way down the jetbridge. While still feeling a little down after seeing the emptyness of the terminal, I was also thrilled to be experiencing that feeling again!
A look at the fuselage.
Special sticking commemorating the Christmas carol for which the aircraft is named.
I was greeted by a friendly purser who handed me a desinfecting wipe and made my way to my seat.
Reaching 18A, my home for the next hour and a half.
Cleaning the tray table.
The legroom was quite good for my 5'8 (175cm) frame.
In the seatback pocket were the safety instructions…
…and the new buy-on-board menu, Austrian Melangerie.
Standard Embraer PSU.
Cabin during boarding.
Nice view of the wing and the A319 off to Yerevan.
As you may recall, I flew to Bulgaria in Business Class in the summer, as I was worried that the flights might be full and I wouldn't be able to distance well enough. Those flights ended up being empty, so I figured that I should be fine to fly in the back this time around. Well as it turns out, I was wrong, and the flight ended up being around 80% full. Luckily I was sitting next to my dad, so I didn't have to worry being next to a random stranger. Once boarding was completed, Captain Stefan made his welcome announcement and we pushed back a few moments later.
The last remaining Dash 8s in the Austrian fleet, OE-LGI and OE-LGJ. Sad to see that awesome little airplane being retired from the skies of Austria, but that had been planned since before the pandemic.
As we pushed back, I moved back one row because the guy in front of me kept lowering his mask to talk to his seatmate, and I wasn't interested in possibly getting infected 😜
Taxiing to Runway 29.
Sharp left turn after departure, and a last look at Vienna Airport.
Climbing out over Burgenland.
Cabin after departure.
Just a view minutes after takeoff, the lights were turned on and the crew began preparing for their service.
I took the time to look at the BoB menu.
The menu is pretty expansive and consists of cold snacks…
…traditional Austrian desserts…
I found the menu offer a lot of good things, but a bit on the pricey side. I was looking forward to enjoying the Sachertorte, but unfortunately they didn't have any left, so I didn't consume anything while onboard.
On a night flight like the one I was one, it was a bit annoying to not have form of entertainment onboard. Austrian's Embraers don't have WiFi and I didn't download anything before hand to watch, so I most stared out the window but couldn't see much outside. Ultimately, on such a short flight it's not such a big deal that OS didn't provide any entertainment, but on a longer flight it could certainly be frustrating, and I hope they add some form of entertainment on their Embraer fleet.
While somewhere over Serbia, the crew handed out health declarations for entry into Bulgaria.
Commencing our descent just north of Niš, Serbia.
Cabin during descent.
With the introduction of Austrian Melangerie, OS also decided to copy SWISS and hand out chocolates on descent, which I thought was a nice and cute touch.
Descending further over the suburbs of Sofia.
Overflying the airport.
Established on the Runway 09 approach.
Smooth touchdown at 12:17 AM, 13 minutes ahead of scheduled, after a flight time of 1 hour and 13 minutes.
Vacating the runway.
Pulling into the terminal…
…and into the gate next to a Lufthansa A319.
One last look at my seat.
And into the all too familiar Sofia Airport.
We left Vienna flying what I believe was the SOLLENAU RNAV depature then flew southeast, made a left turn near Osijek, Croatia, and flew more or less directly from there to Sofia. We cruised at an altitude of 39,000 feet.
The arrival procedure was easy enough, though it turned out that my negative Antigen test wasn't valid to enter the country, as Bulgaria only recognizes PCR tests. They told me that I needed to do a PCR test the next morning, which I did. My bag was already on the belt by the time I got there - a first for me in Sofia. Thanks for reading this report, and I'm very excited to continue the series in a few days on another, more exotic airline. Hope to see you there!
My first flight back in the air was very nice, but sad at the same time. Seeing Vienna Airport so empty really hit me, and I hope that soon enough, once more people are vaccinated, it will be back to normal operations. As for the flight itself, it was absolutely unremarkable.
+ Friendly crew.
+ Comfortable Embraer cabin with good legroom.
+- New expansive but pricey BoB menu.
- My choice of food was not available.
- No entertainment.
Like I said, I hope that Austrian will add some form of entertainment on the Embraer fleet, but even without any entertainment they are still a pretty comfortable ride.