Austrian Airlines Will Introduce Wifi & Premium Economy

Austrian already offers one of my favorite business class products of any European airline. That’s primarily thanks to their incredible catering and awesome coffee menu.

Austrian-Business-Class-Catering

Austrian-Business-Class-Coffee

The airline recently announced that they’ll launch flights between Los Angeles and Vienna, which I’m excited about for a couple of reasons. First of all, it will be their longest US route, and one of the only US route that’s long enough to actually enjoy their service while also getting some rest on an eastbound transatlantic flight (perhaps along with Miami). On top of that, they’ve had tons of award availability on the route.

Well, it looks like there are more improvements on the wayAustrian will be introducing wifi on their shorthaul flights and premium economy on their longhaul flights over the next couple of years.

Austrian’s new wifi offering

Austrian will install wifi on their first Airbus aircraft by November 2016, and plans on having their entire Airbus fleet equipped with wifi by the summer of 2017. It seems a bit backwards to me that they’re starting with offering wifi on their shorthaul fleet rather than their longhaul fleet, given that it’s much more useful to have internet on a 10 hour flight than on a 45 minute flight.

However, I suspect the wifi service will eventually be expanded onto longhaul flights as well, and that they’re just using the shorthaul fleet as a starting point.

Inflight-wifi

Austrian is adding premium economy

As of now, Austrian’s longhaul planes are in a two class configuration, with a staggered business class product and then economy.

Austrian-Business-Class

Soon the airline will be adding premium economy to the mix as well, though it won’t be rolled out as quickly as the wifi. Instead Austrian will be introducing premium economy between the winter of 2017 and summer of 2018. At least the process is quick once they get started, thanks to the fact that they only have 11 longhaul planes. Here’s how many premium economy seats we can expect on each plane:

  • Austrian’s 767s will each feature 18 premium economy seats
  • Austrian’s 777s will each feature 24 premium economy seats

What remains to be seen is how this impacts their seat counts for existing cabins. Austrian is great about making business class award space available, so I hope this doesn’t lead to a reduction in business class seat count, and in turn, a reduction in award availability.

I suspect this cabin will look similar to Lufthansa’s premium economy seats, which are roughly comparable to what you’d find in domestic first class on a US carrier.

Lufthansa-Premium-Economy

Bottom line

I’m excited to see that Austrian will be adding wifi on their flights, though it’s unfortunate that they don’t yet have clear plans to install wifi on their longhaul flights. Personally wifi is one of the amenities I value most in business class, so hopefully they eventually offer it on longhaul flights as well.

As far as premium economy goes, ultimately it’s probably a smart business decision, even if the impact on frequent flyers is less favorable. If it reduces business class capacity then it could very well lead to a reduction in award availability, which I assume most of us aren’t too excited about. 😉

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. !!! Wifi will only be featured on the Airbus 320 for now !!!

    • Austrian Airlines will offer Internet on board as of mid-December 2016:
    Internet on board Austrian Airlines flights will represent a further impetus for innovation. In November 2016, the first Airbus will already be equipped with Inflight Connectivity (IFC) and tested. Following successful tests, Austrian Airlines passengers will be able to use Internet on board the first aircraft as of mid-December 2016. The entire Airbus fleet is scheduled to be upgraded by the 2017 summer flight schedule. Investments for the project will amount to about EUR 5 million. The future offering of Austrian Airlines and a technology partner is based on the latest broadband satellite technology (Ka band) and offers seamless, reliable coverage on the Airbus fleet. Passengers will be able to make use of Internet access via WLAN with their own mobile devices. In addition to simple e-mail services, it will also be possible to access more demanding applications, including streaming. Austrian Airlines will announce details on the fee model for this service at the time it is introduced. Due to the fact that many passengers consider making phone calls on board to be annoying, it will continue to be forbidden on Austrian Airlines flights.

    *Source (Press Release Austrian Airlines)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *