Austrian Airlines A321-100 “Pinzgau” – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
Following a five-day trip to Austria, my son and I flew back from Vienna International Airport (VIE) to London Heathrow (LHR) in economy on Austrian Airlines — flight OS455. We had sampled a serious amount of wiener schnitzel over the last few days and that was important; we had to bench test Austrian’s own wiener schnitzel on the way home.
The airline’s slogan is “We fly for your smile,” and we were hoping to find lots of smiles.
We Fly For Your Smile – Austrian Business Lounge reception at Gate F – Photo: Bo Long | AirlineReporter
We arrived at VIE and made directly for Austrian’s short-haul business lounge at Gate F in Terminal 3 — courtesy of the airline. The friendly receptionist found us on her list and gave my son an Austrian branded set of aircraft Mega Trumpf (top trumps) cards – we didn’t even need to fly for his first smile.
I recently had the opportunity to fly Air Transat’s Club Class on their service from Manchester to Vancouver using an Airbus A330-200.
Club Class on Air Transat is more equal to premium economy on other European carriers, or World Traveller Plus on British Airways; it is not a true business class. That said, there are only two rows of seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, the seats sport a 36-inch pitch, and there is a dedicated cabin crew member; all this makes the cabin feel very personal.
From Manchester to Vancouver – Photo: GCMap.com
Although my flight did not depart until mid-day, I arrived very early at the check-in area which turned out to be a mistake. On a Friday morning, Air Transat also has a flight to Toronto that departs an hour before the Vancouver service. This meant that my flight was not yet open. After a 30-minute wait I was ready to check in. Although Club Class has its own desk, passengers still had to join a general melee to be processed and have passports checked by the handling agent’s security personnel. Having overcome this early problem, the rest of the processing was quick and the staff were polite.
When life gives you lemons, make champagne – Photo: Jason Rabinowitz
Delta Air Lines likes to call itself the “the on-time machine.” Heck, they even filed for trademark protection of that term. Indeed, the airline does have a statistically high on-time performance and completion factor. But what happens when your flight is one of the minority that does get delayed? And what if I actually wanted it to be delayed? Weird, right?
Recently, I had to fly from San Jose (SJC) to New York City. San Jose is one of those oddball cities where the flights back to New York are lacking; just one non-stop exists, and it’s a redeye, which I won’t do. This meant I could get a little creative while booking. I settled on a one-hop journey through Salt Lake City, which would be my first visit to Utah.
During the booking process, the Delta website prompted me several times to upgrade to First Class. For $120, I would be upgraded on both legs of the trip, which isn’t such a bad deal considering I have paid nearly that much for Comfort+ domestically. I took the bait and selected my new seats, expecting to fly on a beat up ex-Northwest Airbus A319 and one of the older Boeing 737-800s with seatback entertainment screens.
The morning of my flight, I was minding my own business, watching TV in my hotel room when I suddenly got an email, text message, and app alert from Delta. Here we go, it’s the delay notification carpet bomb. My flight from San Jose to Salt Lake City was suddenly delayed three hours, meaning I wouldn’t have a chance at making the connecting flight (the last of the day) to New York. It was time to get creative if I wanted to get home.
Air India’s Dreamliner livery – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
Let’s start with the bare facts: India’s flag carrier Air India doesn’t have a great reputation. Whenever I’ve asked people about their experience on the airline, they cite inexplicable delays, poorly maintained aircraft, a non-negligible risk of food poisoning, or rude staff. Or, sometimes, all of the above. As a friend of mine put it, “If my only choice for a flight was Air India, I would just skip the trip and stay at home.”
As an American of Indian descent, I’ve always been a bit disappointed that my ancestral homeland’s flag carrier apparently doesn’t seem to have its act together. As someone who has never flown with the “maharaja,” part of me also wondered whether the airline is actually better than the reputation suggests. I decided to find out for myself.