Four Continents and 37,000 Miles in Two Weeks: Austrian Business Class Lounge Vienna, British Midland Business Class Vienna to London, Great British Lounge London

Trip Report Index


After a quick ride on the City Airport Train I made it to Vienna Airport about 90 minutes before my flight. I had a bit of trouble finding the British Midland check-in area, until I realized that Austrian Airlines handles their check-in.


Vienna terminal


Business class check-in

After queuing in the business class line for about five minutes my check-in was quickly processed and I was issued boarding passes all the way to Los Angeles.

I proceeded to security where there was virtually no line, making for an easy process.

Once through passport control I proceeded to the first Austrian business class lounge I could find, which wasn’t far away.


Duty free shops


Austrian business class lounge entrance


Business class lounge entrance

The lounge wasn’t especially nice or aesthetically pleasing. I was quite hungry as I hadn’t had breakfast, though the extent of their breakfast spread was limited to some croissants.


Business class lounge


Business class lounge


Snack selection


Drink selection


Lots of water!

After spending about 20 minutes there I figured I’d see if there isn’t a better lounge, so started walking closer to my departure gate.

I managed to find another Austrian lounge, though this one was a Star Gold lounge and not a business class lounge, so seemed to be much nicer.


Star Gold lounge

There was only one family in the lounge, and the breakfast spread was much nicer, featuring breads, meats, cheeses, yogurt, muesli, scrambled eggs, etc.


Star Gold lounge snack selection

I settled for some strawberry yogurt with granola and a cinnamon roll.


Breakfast

About half an hour before departure I proceeded to security and then my departure gate, which was D33. Unfortunately yet again it was a remote gate, though at least boarding started on-time.


Gate area

The bus ride had pretty nice views of the tarmac, including of some airlines you otherwise don’t see a whole lot of.


Bus

After a five minute drive we were dropped off at our Airbus 319.


Airbus 319


Airbus 319

British Midland 426
Vienna (VIE) – London (LHR)
Thursday, May 26
Depart: 11:40AM
Arrive: 1:05PM
Duration: 2hr25min
Aircraft: Airbus 319
Seat: 3C (Business Class)

I was quite looking forward to flying British Midland, given that I had never flown them before and that frankly, I wasn’t convinced they were actually an airline (but instead a cleverly disguised frequent flyer program).

The seats were once again typical intra-Europe business class seats which aren’t especially comfortable, though the cabin was fairly empty so I had the set of three seats (with the middle seat blocked) to myself.


Business class


My seat, 2A


Legroom

The first thing that struck me about British Midland was the crew. They have very… interesting uniforms. Their top hats led me to believe they might be part of Lucky Charms’ extended family, or perhaps on a witch hunt… certainly one or the other.


Flight attendant uniform

Boarding quickly went downhill as the guy across the aisle from me settled in. He was loudly finishing some very important business deals, and he wasn’t afraid to make sure the whole cabin heard just how important he is.

Before we pushed back the captain welcomed us aboard and advised us of the flight time of 1hr50min, anticipating an on-time arrival. As we began our taxi the flight attendants started the manual safety demo, though I was more interested in the traffic outside (Korean Air Cargo, Tunisair, NIKI, etc.).


Korean Air Cargo

After a 10-minute wait for takeoff we were airborne and I was quite enjoying the beautiful landscape on departure.


View after takeoff

As soon as we leveled off the service began. The lead flight attendant was serving business class alone, which was perfectly fine given that there were only a handful of passengers.

For lunch was the choice between gnocchi and a chicken dish, and I went with the former. It was served with a small salad, bread, and chocolate tart.


Lunch

I spent the rest of my flight working on my laptop, while the aforementioned self-important businessman spent half of the flight in the loo with a newspaper. At least he wasn’t afraid to hide it.

We began our descent into London about 30 minutes before landing and it was a rather bumpy one, as the weather wasn’t good.


Approach into London

The landing was one of the rougher ones I’ve experienced, given that we touched down with one wheel and were airborne again before finally touching down.


Final approach

I lucked out on this trip as far as terminal transfers go. I arrived in terminal 1 and would also be departing from terminal 1, which meant I only had to run a half marathon to make my connection.


Terminal

While I was primarily planning on using the Star Alliance lounge, I figured I’d pay British Midland’s Great British Lounge a quick visit, since I had heard lots of good things about it.


Great British Lounge

It’s a bit out of the way and as I entered the agents were certainly surprised I made the trek all the way to the lounge when I was flying Air New Zealand, though still warmly welcomed me.

The lounge itself is very stylish, though when I was there, packed.

The lounge has lots of unique seating areas, from relaxation seats, to bar stools, to tables, to couches, to a business center.


Great British Lounge


Great British Lounge


Great British Lounge


Conference room


Workstations


Great British Lounge


Great British Lounge

The snack selection was also decent with soup, salad, sandwiches, fruit, and every unhealthy packaged snack imaginable.


Food selection


Sandwiches


Salad


Fruit and drinks


Chips

The one downside was that the wifi was so slow that it was practically useless, so I quickly left the lounge in favor of the Star Alliance lounge, which was a 10-minute walk away.

Comments

  1. rich (arizona) says

    The logo on the Korean Air Cargo plane looks very much like Pepsi’s logo.

    That bus ride doesn’t quite look as nice as those rides from FRA FCT in Mercedes/Porsches. I’m glad I’ve had that experience once in my life.

  2. Tim says

    Great report Ben! Loved the pix.

    @Ben – why do Euro airlines have business class like that? I know US “First Class” is not that great – but at least we get a bigger seat with better pitch. Why do European airlines block of the middle seat? if you are only going to sell two seats – why not install some nicer seats and give more pitch?

    Some Euro routes can be as long as US domestic routes. Why are all the airlines intent doing it this way?

    Side note – I love bmi’s livery! And the Great British Lounge looks beautiful. Will check it out next month when I am there. Love the decor.

  3. wxguy says

    That Great British Lounge doesn’t look so great. The bev fridge has Pepsi products :( DC with Lime, please!

  4. Jan says

    @Tim
    By having the same seats in Economy and Business Class, it is easier to adjust the curtain, which divides Business from Economy to the rows needed. Unlike US Airlines, there is no wall between the cabins. If a US fligt has only 16 seats, no more first clss seats could be sold. European Carriers could just move the curtain to another row, if they can sell more Business Class seats. This would be impossible, if there was another bigger seat installed.

    Flexibility is the key point

  5. Tim says

    @Jan – thanks for reply. Just seems weird. I mean it’s not business class at all is it. It’s not even Premium Economy as even PremEco gives you a bigger seat with more pitch. You think historical data could tell them how many “business class” seats an A320 needs.
    I’m surprised Europeans pay for these “business class” seats. Probably just a prestige thing. Because you certainly are not buying any more comfort. They should call it “Economy Extra” or something. Or “Economy+50%” LOL

  6. Andy Bluebear says

    How was the food on BMI? And how does their London lounge compare to others, like Virgin’s?

  7. lucky says

    @ Tim — @ Jan is exactly right, though I’d add one more thing. Keep in mind US airlines survive because of their loyalty programs, and a big part of those are complimentary upgrades. So when you have a large, “set” first class cabin, it’s easy to justify by upgrading elites. European airlines are different, in that they don’t provide elite upgrades (except in very rare circumstances), so they can literally tailor cabins based on demand on a particular route. I’ve seen three row business class cabins, and I’ve seen 12 row business class cabins. The flexibility to be able to change it based on demand is huge for the airlines.

  8. lucky says

    @ Andy Bluebear — The food was tasty, especially for a regional flight, so I have no complaint on that front. The lounge was aesthetically pleasing, though can’t in any way be compared to the Virgin Clubhouse, which is MUCH better.

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