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For my return to the US, I redeemed 62,500 Aeroplan miles to fly from Vienna to Frankfurt to Newark, with the shorthaul segment being in Austrian business class, and the longhaul segment being in Lufthansa first class.
I got to the airport at around 8AM for my 10:10AM departure to Frankfurt.
I quite like the departures hall of Vienna Airport, at least for a medium sized airport.
I quickly found the business class check-in area, where there was no wait. I had a bit of an odd check-in experience, as I wrote about in my post entitled “Passport Psychology.”
Basically I spoke to the agent in German, but as soon as I handed her my US passport, she refused to speak to me in anything but English. But I won’t dwell on that too much (again). 😉
From the check-in hall it was a quick walk to security, and I especially loved the view of the Qatar 787 right by the checkpoint.
There was a separate premium security queue, which I was through in a matter of minutes (certainly a more pleasant experience than at Manchester Airport).
My flight was departing from gate F4, so I followed the signage in that general direction, past the duty free shops.
It was actually a bit of a maze to find the lounge — it required going up an escalator and making a handful of turns.
Eventually I found myself at the Austrian Lounge, which had a modern yet neutral reception area.
Austrian doesn’t have a first class product, so I assumed at best I’d get access to the Austrian Senator Lounge, which is for Star Alliance Gold and first class passengers.
But as soon as I handed the associate my boarding pass she directed me to the separate HON Circle agent (where the red ropes are in the below picture), who said she’d hold onto my boarding pass and let me know when the flight was ready for boarding. For those of you not familiar with HON Circle, it’s Lufthansa’s uber-top tier elite status, for those who rack up 600,000 elite qualifying miles every two years.
She then walked me into the separate HON Circle & Lufthansa First Class Lounge. Lufthansa and Swiss are well known for their first class ground services in Frankfurt, Munich, and Zurich, though I had no clue that they had a separate HON Circle Lounge in Vienna… awesome!
As I entered the space, I was the only guest there. It was a really cute lounge, with a dining area in the center, lounge chairs with ottomans by the windows (there were obstructed tarmac views, basically), a few benches with dining tables next to that, and then some more lounge chairs with ottomans facing the TVs.
On top of all that there was a small business center with some PCs.
And then there was a relaxation area with two day beds of sorts.
The lounge also had a small but high quality buffet setup, catered by DO&CO.
There was cereal, yogurt, fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheese, croissants, bread, fresh fruit juice, and then some scrambled eggs and breakfast meat.
In terms of drinks, there was an espresso machine, a well stocked fridge with beer, soft drinks, and water, and then a self serve bar.
There was a friendly and attentive server constantly roaming the lounge, and she almost seemed moderately offended that I didn’t want anything. So I ordered a cappuccino and had a glass of still water to start off my morning — I was saving my appetite for when I was onboard Lufthansa!
Across from the HON Circle Lounge were the bathrooms and showers, which seemed to be reserved exclusively for HON Circle and Senator Lounge guests (not Business Lounge guests, it would seem).
My flight was scheduled to board at around 9:40AM, though it was only around 9:45AM when the friendly agent came by to inform me that my flight was ready for boarding. Off I was!
Austrian HON Circle / First Class Lounge Vienna bottom line
Usually I know full well what my lounge options are when arriving at an airport, though for whatever reason I had no clue that there was an Austrian HON Circle Lounge in Vienna. So this lounge definitely exceeded my expectations, in terms of the setup, food, and service (both the server in the actual lounge, and the lady at reception who held onto my boarding pass and told me when my flight was ready for boarding).
Kudos to the Lufthansa group for offering this!