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Hello everyone, and welcome to the final installment of my summer 2021 return to the United States. After a long pause to focus on my first semester of university, it's finally time to chronicle the last flight of an awesome - back to my interim home of Vienna, Austria, onboard Austrian's Retro A320 in Business Class. Thanks for joining me, and let's get into the report!
Here's a recap of all the flights that were flown during this trip:
This flight was booked along with UA70 as a United saver award which cost 66k miles.
After deplaning my United Dreamliner from gate G8, at the far end of Schiphol's non-Schengen section, I hustled to my connecting flight, which would be departing all the way on the other side of the airport, at gate B17. I was initially nervous that I might misconnect, given our delayed arrival and my already tightish connection. I hadn't transited through Schiphol in ages, so I was very pleasantly surprised at the ease of my transit!
Passing the famous AMS house of tulips as I made my way to immigration.
Just before I reached the immigration checkpoint, I crossed paths with the United crew that would fly the 787 that I had just gotten off of back to Newark. Was it too late to make a U-turn and join them? 🥲😆
Immigration was a total breeze, and within 10 minutes of deplaning, I was in the Schengen section of the terminal. After having transited almost exclusively through LH Group hubs since I moved to Europe, Schiphol was a welcome change. I'd venture to say that it's the best airport to transit through in Europe, and in the future I'll try to mostly book flights through AMS!
Unfortunately, the Star Alliance lounge was still closed, meaning no premier passengers on Schengen Star Alliance flights had lounge access. Really, in August 2021?! To add insult to injury, I no longer have a Priority Pass membership (hoping to get it again next year!), so I wasn't able to relax in the Aspire Lounge next door. For what it's worth, I reviewed that same lounge in February 2020, so if you'd like to read about it check out this report.
Once back downstairs, I saw another lounge, the Privium Express Lounge, and decided to try my luck there. I asked the lounge dragon if premier Star Alliance passengers could access the lounge, to which I received a blank stare and a follow-up question: "what is Star Alliance?". Seriously? 😂
Not being in the mood to explain the concept of airline alliances with incompetent airport employees, I decided to cut my losses and headed to the gate.
The gate area was already pretty full as I got there, so I ended up being gate lice until boarding was called.
Looking out the window, I was thrilled to see that Austrian's retrojet would be flying me to Vienna! OE-LBO was built in December 1997 and delivered new to Austrian Airlines in February of the following year, making her 23.7-years-old at the time of my flight. She was painted in the retro livery in February 2019, and is named after the impossible-to-pronounce Upper Austrian region of Pyhrn-Eisenwurzen.
While waiting to board, I started chatting with a very friendly Dutch fellow, who asked if I was making a trip report. He was very enthusiastic to hear about that, and I referred him to this website. As boarding was called, I invited him to board ahead of me (he was seated in 1A), to which he responded with something along the lines of "you're going to need an empty cabin to take a picture, so you board first." LOL! I was very appreciative of that, and I headed down the jetbridge.
Reaching the door of the retrojet.
The friendly purser made me wait at the door while she fixed something in the galley, then welcomed me aboard while handing me a sanitizing wipe. I quickly found my seat, 2A.
Legroom was fine, exactly what I expect from intra-European Business Class, but not nearly was good as the legroom in Economy Plus® on United's 757.
In the literature pocket was the safety card…
…as well as the Melangerie menu, which wouldn't be of much use in Business Class.
Old-school Airbus PSU.
Nice view of the wing and engine from my seat.
Boarding was completed fairly quickly, and there were 5 seats taken in Business Class: me in 2A, the Dutch guy in 1A, two other Americans who were on my flight from Newark in 3A and 3F, and a brawny Slovakian chap in 2C, who moved to 2D after takeoff. He'll be mentioned again later on in the report.
Once the door was closed, Captain Manfred added his welcome aboard and announced a flight time of 1 hour and 25 minutes and smooth skies all the way to Vienna.
Shortly after that, the jetbridge was disconnected, and we pushed back.
Taxiing to Runway 18L for departure.
We passed by some cool heavy jets, like this China Airlines A350.
Lining up on the runway.
We held position on the runway for two minutes, then those CFM56s screamed to life as we began our takeoff roll.
Airborne with a very steep climb.
Left turn after departure.
Looking back towards Schiphol.
Cabin after departure.
Takeoff video, enjoy that buzz!
Amsterdam in the distance. Hope to be able to visit the city again soon, as it's one of my favorite places in Europe!
Over the clouds.
About 20 minutes after takeoff, a warm breakfast was served. To drink, I had a cup of coffee…
…as well as a glass of orange juice.
Unwrapped, I found the same exact breakfast I had on my flight from Sofia to Vienna a year earlier.
Close up of the main, which was an open-faced omelet with vegetables, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
The whole breakfast was delicious, but I wasn't able to finish it given that I was still full from my United breakfast.
A look at our engine, featuring Austrian's logo from the 80s.
After the meal was cleared, Mr. Slovak decided that it was time to connect to the WiFi on his phone, but didn't know that he actually had to pay for it. After his phone showed that he connected to the internet, he called the flight attendant to ask why it wasn't working, to which the flight attendant explained that he had to pay for the service. He replied by saying that he wouldn't pay for it, and the flight attendant said that there was nothing she could do about it and left, while Mr. Slovak pouted in his seat. That scene provided for a bit of entertainment during an otherwise boring flight 😅
I spent the flight reading my copy of the constitution, while enjoying the views out the window every now and then.
As we overflew České Budějovice, the captain announced that we had begun our descent and would be landing in around 20 minutes.
We approached Vienna from the north, meaning that the views were far from inspiring.
Passing the Danube on short final.
Touchdown on Runway 16 at 11:30 AM, 15 minutes early, after being airborne for 1h18m.
Vacating the runway.
Reaching our remote stand next to an Austrian Embraer.
One last look at my seat.
The purser and another flight attendant were standing at the door saying goodbye, and I made my way down the stairs to the bus.
I'm always happy to be parked at a remote stand, but I was especially pleased that day, as it meant that I could take some pictures of the retrojet!
Parting shots with OE-LBO from the bus. Thanks for the ride!
The bus dropped us off at the new arrival facility, which is very nice.
The new baggage carousels, however, weren't functioning yet.
I emerged into the arrivals' hall, and just like that my wonderful reunion with my homeland was over, and it was back to boring Austria 😢
We departed Amsterdam via the ARNEM 2E departure from Runway 18L, then flew past the Ruhr Region, north of Frankfurt, and over West and South Bohemia before arriving in Vienna via the NERDU 16 RNAV transition. Our cruising altitude was 37,000 feet.
Thanks so much for joining me for this flight and throughout my return to the United States. I hope you enjoyed reading the reports as much as I enjoyed writing them. I'll be back with one more report before the new year so that I can requalify for Flight-Report gold status in 2022. Until then, all the best, and happy holidays!
An overall uneventful intra-Europe Business Class flight with Austrian Airlines.
+ Super easy transit at Schiphol
+ Friendly crew
+ Tasty meal
+ WiFi-equipped A320
- No lounge in Amsterdam
I'm not a big fan of Austrian, but for intra-Europe flights in Business Class they are probably the third-strongest Star Alliance airline, after Turkish and Aegean.