It was an early start with my alarm going off at 06.00 in the morning. Having been in the bar until 00.30 the previous night, it wasn’t the best of starts. I checked out of the Moxy hotel Vienna Airport (of which there will be a full review later), and headed over to the departures level of the airport.
We were told that there were two specific desks available for us, and indeed there were.
Boarding pass in hand, which oddly had no PNR and no e-ticket number on it, I headed through the almost empty fast track security and up to the Austrian Senator lounge in the Schengen area of the airport, as I was kindly guested in by a fellow Star Alliance Gold member.
The lounge itself was fairly basic, but had everything that was required for breakfast, including a cold cuts, fruit, bread, pastries, coffee, and even some sparkling wine to make a Buck’s Fizz (mimosa for my American readers).
Before long, it was time to head to the gate and boarding.
It was fairly chaotic, but very good natured being a bunch of avgeeks with little hand-luggage. The plane was fairly full however I luckily had a free middle seat for the journey. I was sat in “economy”, however the “business” section was properly 2 x 2 as is the standard for European shorthaul flights.
It wasn’t long before we were off on the short hop to Brussels where we were served a small cold meal and a full bar service. I must point out, this isn’t the standard Brussels Airlines service – as it was a private charter we had “full” service like things used to be.
We arrived at the airport and were split into four different groups, with one and two (me) getting a bus tour of the airport and some of their snow clearing equipment. Had I not seen the set-up at Vienna yesterday, it would have been quite impressive.
We were then taken to the Brussels Airlines maintenance hanger where there was one of the A330-300’s undergoing routine inspection.
The next two hours we had a really fascinating walk-round of every aspect of the aircraft. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable and gave us a fascinating insight as to how they perform all their checks.
They also currently have a mix of A330s with Rolls Royce, Pratt & Whitney and General Electric engines. The one in the hanger had GE CF6’s however will be retired within the next twelve months or so to standardise on a Rolls Royce Trent powered fleet to align with the Lufthansa Group standard.
After the hanger tour we were escorted back to the terminal for lunch in their Schengen area lounge, “The Loft”.
The lounge was already pretty busy, however the arrival of ourselves added a good 120 people to it. I was actually very impressed at both how the lounge staff coped, but also how the very clever design ensured that the noise levels didn’t.
I was actually very impressed with the lounge overall. For an intra-European business class lounge it had some great touches like four “nap boxes” where you could have a lie down. There was hot food like min-pizzas and a great salad bar. It wasn’t quite the standards of the Cathay Pacific first class lounge at Terminal 3 the other day, but still good none-the-less.
Before long, it was time to board our final flight to Palma, Mallorca. We travelled on an aircraft with a special “Magritte” themed livery. As before, we had special catering on board, with some canapés and lots to drink!
Upon arriving at Palma, the rest of the group went onwards to an event at the Park Hyatt hotel, however this was located over an hour’s drive away on the other side of the island. Instead, I stayed with some friends of mine who’d recently bought a house a few minutes from the airport.
This was my first MegaDo. It was certainly an experience getting to see behind the scenes at two major airports, as well as the opportunity to have some very interesting conversations with two of the smaller Star Alliance carriers. The private charter experience was also quite something!
Both Austrian and Brussels Airlines have some excellent products and will certainly be factoring them into my future travel plans.