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
A warm welcome back to my current series, ladies and gentlemen! As you may remember, in my last series, I flew to Bulgaria and was able to get my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In this series, I'll be taking you back to Sofia with me as it was time to get dose number 2 and have some fun in my country of heritage. Let's dive in!
I was once again travelling with my dad for this journey, and as we needed to be in Zurich, we booked a ZRH-SOF-VIE multi-city itinerary. The following flights were flown as part of this trip:
The fare cost around €160 if I remember correctly.
Despite almost all jetbridges being vacant, my flight from Zurich arrived at a remote stand. As an AvGeek, I was, of course, quite happy about that. With all passengers piled into the bus to the terminal (with no social distancing whatsoever), the journey took a bit over 5 minutes. I figured that we'd be dropped off at an area where transit passengers could go their own way, and terminating passengers to go theirs.
But I was way wrong. There was a bit of a surprise on all the passenger's faces when we pulled up to the non-Schengen arrivals area. Into the terminal we went, and right before us was a border crossing station. There was a bit of confusion amongst the border patrol officers as to why they were dealing with ~160 passengers from Zurich, but once that was cleared up, they just let us through.
I thought that after that we would have to follow signs for connecting flights. But, once again, I was wrong, and all passengers ended up at the baggage claim section. Naturally, many passengers with tight connections were visibly frustrated as they headed upstairs to the departure hall. Perhaps the worst part of the transit experience was that we all had to rejoin the security line for originating passengers. Luckily, my dad and I were able to use the priority lane, but other passengers weren't as lucky.
After the horrible transit experience, I was relieved to reach the lounge and be able to relax for a little bit.
Unlike a month earlier, the main section of the lounge was pretty crowded, with only a few tables being empty. I took a seat in the side section, which was decidedly emptier.
Just like the previous time, however, there was no food being served inside the lounge, instead I got a bag with a sandwich and water to eat on the flight.
Once I cleared passport control (despite being an EU Member State since 2007, Bulgaria is still not a part of the Schengen Area), I passed through the duty-free section. It was still closed, but the lights were on and it looked as though it would soon be opening.
Further down the concourse, other stores were open and there were quite a few passengers, which was a welcome site.
I didn't have to walk far or waste much time, as my flight would be departing from gate G1, and boarding would begin momentarily.
Waiting at the gate to take its passengers to Sofia was OE-LBX, named 'Mostviertel', a 19.3-year-old Airbus A320 delivered to Austrian Airlines in July 2012. For the previous 10 years, it had flown for Finnair under the registration OH-LXG. It is also one of Austrian's A320s with WiFi onboard.
Boarding was done through the automatic gates, and I soon made my way down the jetbridge.
Unlike my previous flight, I was greeting by a very cheery male purser and his female colleague. That's the Austrian Airlines I'm used to!
I quicky found my seat, 9A, at the leading edge of the wing. The legroom was good.
Waiting for me on my seat was a Bulgarian health declaration form…
…as well as a disinfecting towel.
In the magazine holder were the safety instructions card and the Austrian Melangerie menu.
Classic Airbus PSU.
Definitely not May weather outside!
The flight was not very full, and as soon as boarding was completed the captain made his welcome announce, saying that he hoped we all felt "cozy" on board, which I thought was cute ☺️
Soon after that, we pushed back.
I was surprised to see an Emirates A380 at the end of the pier, which apparently had once again started flying to Vienna.
Taxiing to Runway 29.
OE-LPC, an Austrian 777 which I had flown once before in 2019.
Reaching the holding point behind an Austrian A319…
…and ahead of an Embraer.
Passing a field of stored aircraft, which are hopefully back in the air as I'm writing this.
The usual left turn after departure.
Vienna in the distance.
Climbing through clouds.
Cabin after departure.
As soon as we passed 10,000 feet, I pulled out my snack from the lounge.
I can't recall exactly what sandwiches were on offer, but I remember that they were out of my first choice. I got my second choice sandwich, which was a whole grain roll with Liptauer and a pepper. It was quite tasty! I wish that Austrian would keep offering food to go from the lounge for those who are hungry but don't feel like purchasing something from the Melangerie. Unfortunately (or fortunately 😜), a few days after my flight, normal dining was resumed in their lounges.
By the time I finished eating, we were just emerging from out of the clouds. For some reason, we had a very shallow climb rate.
Making a left turn near Osijek, Croatia, as we reached our cruising altitude of 37,000 feet.
A look down at the CFM56 engine. While I generally like the new Austrian livery, I really wish that they painted the engine red, or anything other than plain white.
Not much to see during the flight. While WiFi was working (I saw others using it), I'm not in the habit of paying for it on such a short flight and instead listened to some music.
Commencing our descent north of Niš, Serbia. Around this time, the captain made another announcement, informing us of the weather and thanking us for flying Austrian.
Approaching the airport.
Iskar Reservoir in the distance.
Flying the base leg.
Established on the ILS.
Butter smooth landing on Runway 27 at 3:21 PM, 1 minute late, after a flight time of 1h14m.
Vacating the runway.
Pulling into our remote position.
One last look at my home of the past hour-and-a-half.
Instead of passing them out during the flight, the purser instead was holding a bin of chocolate for all passengers to take as we exited. I asked if I could take two and the response was "of course" and a wink. What I'd expect from an Austrian Airlines purser 😉
Some shots of the aircraft as I made my way into the bus.
We departed Vienna via the SASAL 1C departure and then tracked towards eastern Croatia. From Osijek we flew direct towards Sofia and arrived via the NISVA 1C arrival. We cruised at 37,000 feet.
Thanks for following along on this short report. Stay tuned for the last segment in the coming days!
Overall it was a very average, uneventful flight with Austrian, though the transit in Vienna was less than pleasant.
+ Kind crew
+ A320 with WiFi
- Horrible transit in Vienna
I really don't have much else to add.