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Business Class
4 Stars and 5 Stripes
Merit - Extraordinary
August - 2003
4 Stars & 5 Stripes
Overall - 'Service & Comfort'
The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes®
Arrival at JFK, the heartbeat airport of the western world, with sleek squeaky marble floors and sound control (God knows how they accomplish that…) created as usual a comfortable and welcoming feeling. Austrian Air, which I approached shares their VIP lounge with other Star Alliance affiliate group partners, and turned out to be a veritable pleasure palace considering the diverse display of snacks and beverages available to the discriminating traveler in waiting. I was hungry, what else?
This was the beginning of an 8-hour non-stop flight with the elite Austrian Airlines Grand Class. I noticed a decent looking bottle of 2002 Würtemburger Trollinger Red wine, from Germany. It is a pleasant wine of which the grapes ripen very late, are fragrant, fresh, fruity, have good acidity with a distinctive earthy finish and grow almost exclusively in Württemberg, and I just couldn't resist. As I sipped the Pinot Noir-like Trollinger wine, I wistfully gazed over to the 'wall of vision and sound' to absentmindedly watch the whole host of talking heads as they pitched their wares to a small audience. I enjoyed the VIP - Lounge with the highly trained, friendly personnel providing great service!
Suddenly, the call came through to proceed to the gate for the boarding of Austrian flight 088 scheduled for departure direct from JFK to the imperial city of Vienna. I hurried through the corridors to begin my upcoming reviews of some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the world starting with the Grand Hotel Wien.

“Through a strange twist of fate, I was awarded a special seat in 'Grand' Class ... and I slid into a cavernous seat #2-d next to business traveller Dale who was on her way to Vienna for a pharmaceutical conference. I quietly calculated my good fortune at being placed next to someone who could possibly provide medical assistance in case of a turbulent flight, but this was not to be! Austrian’s capable captain guided our airbus on an effortlessly comfortable flight as if we were floating on a gossamer jet stream.”

Today Austrian has a modern fleet at just 6.2 years; the average age of the aircraft is substantially below the European mean. This makes Austrian fleet one of the most modern (and safest) in the world and the ever-increasing destination choices seem to offer the passenger access to all parts of the globe. Not bad considering it all started on April 1, 1918 when scheduled international air service was introduced by Austria with its first connection between Vienna and Kiev.
The top priority for the companies of the Austrian Airlines Group is to fulfill passenger requirements to the very highest standards.

This means outdoing the competition in every facet of service that the traveler demands while maintaining the unique gentle character of the host country Austria.

I found the service to be beyond the norm, with caring flight attendants accommodating my every request.
Once settled into my comfortable seat, I was immediately offered a glass of Schlumberger Sekt (a delicate sparkling wine from Austria) with a 'gemütliches' smile and special gift of a zippered pouch containing bathroom and sleeping essentials of excellent quality.
Schlumberger Sparkling Brut shines with bright yellow and green reflections, a delightfully refreshing apricot essence, tart smoky ripe fruit, and a flattering abundance of fine-pearled effervescence with a pleasant response. This fine wine becomes sparkling by using the exclusive Methode Champenois a traditional method of making champagne. Well cooled at 8 degrees C on a summer terrace, Schlumberger Sparkling Brut is an ideal aperitif, and goes well with smoked or poached salmon, grilled sea bass, oysters, vegetable quiches, salads tossed with Thousand-Island dressing, and lightly-broiled white meat.
Shortly after came the bilingual menus of 'essen und trinken' and English or German newspapers and magazines.

I ordered dinner from the professional attendant and when the appetizer arrived we began our push back leading us to the take-off sequence. Meanwhile, with Schlumberger flowing like the Danube, I perused the wine list and noticed that it was assembled by Sommelier Ritter of Steiermark Austria who is currently at a fine restaurant in Mayerling just southwest of Vienna. I was now being prepared for the main course by the attendant placing the cutest little salt and pepper shakers (my wife would have said…) and shaved butter in front of me. Lets have a detailed look at what 'airline food' has become in the hands of Austrian Air's gourmet chefs:
  • Amuse: Keta Caviar, Alaskan Salmon roe with hard cooked Quail's Egg. These large grain, red-orange eggs are very mild and succulent in flavor.

  • Hors d´oeuvre: Smoked brook trout in aspic with quark, a type of low fat cottage cheese made in Austria and Germany, with horseradish.
  • Main course: Veal steak in mushroom gravy, tomato risotto and broccoli accompanied by a glass of Riesling Smaragd 2002 Wachstum Bodenstein, Prager Vineyards. This special wine has an exotic fruit nose, multilayered juicy palate, delicate citrus fruit aroma and good balance.

  • Salad: Seasonal fresh mixed green salad with grape tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
After this nearly sumptuous dinner at 30,000 feet, my café mélange arrived with a fresh made apple strudel and I was ready to kick back and test the limits of my most comfortable ergonomic and electrically adjustable seats.
The 57 inch (144.8 cm) seat pitch offers its discriminating passengers two advantages: more leg room and a superior 155 degree recline, along with a seat width of 19.29 inches (49cm).

It seemed as if I was sitting alone in the cabin and as I looked up I noticed that the designers had thoughtfully removed the overhead luggage compartments to provide the traveler with a feeling of extended openness. Why not think of everything?

The Grand Class seat offers also a TFT in-seat video system including 8 video and 8 audio channels with different genres. Also available are videogames, but I decided to read some material about Vienna - supported by the in-seat-reading lamp. It was important to me to be fully informed as to what to do and see while in the 'Heart of Europe' and the flight attendants helped me with some personal recommendations of their own. I even learned of a cute little 'Kaffeehaus' on the Dorotheergasse called 'Café Hawelka' where I must order the unique 'Powidltascherl' a pastry pocket filled with sweet prune-butter.
Heading towards Vienna it is now time for a relaxing nap, the footrest and the 155 degree recline supported me and helped me to fly in relaxing heaven.

I am convinced that Austrian Air understands their business and it seems obvious that the Austrian Airlines Group will continue to offer the utmost in quality service and comfort in future. It is truly a great way to hop over the ocean!
Before landing, snacks were offered by the friendly crew, I couldn't resist - I grabbed my favorite mozzarella sandwich, with another freshly brewed cafe mélange - not bad at all for airline-cuisine.
Austrian Airlines CEO Vagn SOERENSEN,

born December 12, 1959 in Vandel, Denmark.
He is married and has two daughters and one son. He has a Master of Economics from the University Aarhus.

1993 - 1994 Senior Vice President & General Manager, SAS Business Division

1994 - 2001 Senior Vice President & General Manager, SAS Business Systems Division

2001 - 08/2001 Executive Vice President & Deputy CEO

As of 1-10-2001 Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Austrian Airlines Group
John Lomitola: Servus Austria !

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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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