This is second instalment of a two part trip report that I started a few days ago, reviewing my mini Star Alliance status run at the end of last year, to tip me over from Blue to Frequent Traveller (FTL) status with Lufthansa’s Miles and More programme.
On Christmas Day, the Miles and More app updated with my outbound flights, just tipping me over to FTL. One slightly annoying thing about the Lufthansa programme is that your membership number changes when you get promoted (and demoted) between the various tiers.
A couple of days later, I was ready to head home and was dropped off at the check-in area of Salzburg Airport. Anyone who knows the airport knows that it’s pretty tiny, but very efficient. There’s just a few check-in desks for each airline, however at weekends when there are lots of charter flights, it can get very crowded. Thankfully this was a weekday evening and the place was virtually deserted.
I went to the next available desk, where I checked in my two pieces of luggage; one regular suitcase and one ski bag. I was asked by the check-in lady if I’d reserved the skis. I didn’t realise that I had to. She mentioned that as it was a smaller aircraft, a Bombardier Q400, they normally require it, but today it was fine.
The bags were tagged with both a priority tag and a “HOT” tag, due to the 30 minute connection at Vienna, and with that, proceeded to go through the dedicated security channel for business class passengers which led directly to the small business lounge.
The lounge at Salzburg is run by the airport and serves all airlines there. It’s not the largest space, but at 18.00 in the evening was relatively quiet. There was a coffee machine, a small fridge with some sandwiches, wraps and rolls in it. There were also some pastries left over from the morning by the side, plus a terrine of soup. The drinks selection was fairly reasonable with some average spirits, beers and wines.
After around thirty minutes there, the screens in the lounge changed to boarding, so walked the 30 seconds through the terminal to the boarding gate, which showed as “final call” despite everyone still lining up waiting for their boarding passes to be checked.
Salzburg Airport has no jet bridges, so depending on how far from the terminal building the aircraft parked, you either walk directly across the apron to the steps, or you’re bussed the 200m. In this case, we were being bussed. Being only a Q400, there wasn’t a separate premium bus, nor given the small number of passengers did it matter.
There was the usual free-for all when the doors opened and people exited the bus. However after a few minutes I was safely ensconced in 2F, the first row on the right-hand side of the aircraft, which was also an emergency exit row.
The cabin crew asked me if I was ok in the exit row, then handed me the safety information card directly and asked me to review it and confirm.
Before long the engines spooled up and we were ready to go. Thankfully I’d brought my Bose QC20 noise cancelling headphones with, and even though it was a very short 40 minute flight, they were absolutely necessary! Those Q400s are very noisy!
Five minutes after take-off the cabin crew came around with the service for the short flight; a selection of sandwiches, some cake, and a bar round. I opted for a beer which was actually rather good.
For such a short flight I felt it was pretty impressive. I’d barely time to finish my beer before we were descending into Vienna airport, where we touched down five minutes early at 19.30.
However for the next few minutes we taxi-ed around the airport before finally arriving at our parking stand on-time. However I realised it was a remote stand with just the one bus waiting.
It took around five minutes for everyone to disembark onto the bus which then took us for a short drive to the terminal building.
This left me with 25 minutes to the departure of my next flight.
Following the signs to the “G” gates, I was sent up a couple of escalators. From there, I had to clear outbound immigration as I was leaving the Schengen common travel area. There were four or so staffed booths and a whole bank of empty e-Passport gates. Using the gates, I was through in under a minute.
Like my outbound journey in Geneva, I need to stop for a quick pee, however thankfully this time didn’t hear my name called!
Up another set of escalators and through a duty free shop, I found myself in the main “G” concourse, of which, of course, my gate was the furthest away.
After a brisk five minute walk, I found myself at the gate, with almost exactly fifteen minutes before departure of the aircraft, and even before the screens had switched to ‘final call’. I asked the gate agent if my bag had made it, to which he said yes, and with that boarded the aircraft.
Business class was only two rows for the journey back, with the seat next to me, the only one free.
The two hour journey back was very pleasant with the purser calling all the passengers by name. We received a light meal which was amongst the better short-haul meals I’ve had in Europe recently. Wines were served from full size bottles, all rather good Austrian varieties, and my glass was never less than half full.
We arrived into Heathrow a few minutes early at the main terminal 2A. I was first off the aircraft, through immigration and after les than a ten minute wait, the bags started coming off onto the carousel. My regular suitcase was the second one on the belt, with my skis following on the outsize belt a few minutes later.
Overall, I felt it was a pretty faultless performance from Austrian Airlines. Both flights had friendly, helpful crew, with quality food and drinks. The connection experience at Vienna was as easy as it could be, especially as I wasn’t familiar with the airport. There was no reason for me to run at any point and I didn’t feel stressed with the short connection. Plus the bags made it. Definitely recommended.