Great Service and Gourmet Coffee in the Clouds

It’s not often that I rave about the overall service level of an airline. In most cases, the hospitality industry is good worldwide no matter where you go; the difference tends to be the individuals you come in contact with, the ones that go out of their way to provide you with an amazing experience. They offer this level of service because they have great training, and they are interested in their job and the travellers they assist. Institutions and corporations have trouble promoting overall company-wide excellence.

My 9.5-hour flight, from Vienna to Toronto, on Austrian Airlines deserves a positive review. Austrian Airlines recently started flying direct between these two cities. The planes are new, and the interiors are clean and bright. The flight attendants are intelligent and fresh; they actively assist their passengers, and they are almost old school in the way they treat you.

I booked through Air Canada and Expedia a series of flights: Toronto to London (UK) by Air Canada; London to Paris and back by Air France; London to Vienna with Austrian Airlines, an Air Canada partner; and Vienna to Toronto, again with Austrian Airlines. The Air Canada flight was standard. Air France from London to Paris was congested and confusing, chaos reigned while boarding, queues were outrageous, the flight overbooked by connecting passengers. London to Vienna was nice, but nothing spectacular. I had no clue what flying a long-haul flight on Austrian Airlines would be like—since their domestic service within Europe had been standard fare.

I fly a lot and take advantage of being bumped up into business class, especially on long flights of five hours or more. So I was one of those people sitting at the front of the plane in the wide, comfortable seat as hordes of weary travellers carrying baggage slogged to the back, only to fight for overhead space and knee room.

On the plane from Vienna, I saw many of the Canadian participants from the ITIC (International Travel Insurance Conference)  and ITIJ (International Travel Insurance Journal) Awards in Vienna in November 2013. Almost all were in business class.

As I entered the plane, I was greeted by a worried-but-friendly smile from a very efficient flight attendant who guided me to my seat. I sat down in a comfortable chair, a recliner in the air. In front of me was a wide-screen personal television, serving up games, drawing tools, television shows, movies, documentaries and music. I had my own sophisticated touch screen entertainment system. On the seat were two thick and colourful well-constructed blankets and a pillow. And I was surrounded by a personal lighting system. Champagne and drinks were served.

A chef (who happened to be one of the flight attendants) wearing a full-length apron introduced himself and took our orders, explaining to us our choices in detail. The food was restaurant quality and multicourse. Then the best part: They provided us with a coffee menu, explaining the different types of gourmet coffee that they offered. For a tired traveller, it was a nice surprise. An Austrian café in the sky, complete with cakes and pastries.

The seats fully reclined without infringing on others, and many of those around me fell asleep while I took advantage of the entertainment system. I watched movies, drew pictures (have a look below), played video games. The time passed quickly.

When we fight for room for ourselves and our bags, when we have to negotiate different security standards from one place to the next, when all we want to do is get home, Austrian Airlines gets two thumbs up—for caring about the comfort of their passengers and trying harder to make travel a more positive experience.

Drawing Inflight_Map

One Comment on "Great Service and Gourmet Coffee in the Clouds"

  1. Natasha says:

    They need to get a copy of this, you paint such a clear picture, they could use this review for their marketing! I love the idea of a coffee bar in the Sky and I hope that drawing makes it onto a fridge near you! Thanks for sharing.

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