I love flying Austrian Airlines.
Any one of these full-service European airlines is a mile better than the USA-based legacy carriers. Food. Smiles. Comfort. Humaneness.
I am charmed today. And I hope the day stays that way.
At 1.17 a.m. in the USA, my perch is currently the wonderful AMEX/Diners Club lounge at Vienna International Airport.
Vienna does this right. I checked in my bag at the train station and didn’t have to schlep the damn thing (21 kilos today) with me to the airport. The 16-minute train trip from the city center to VIE meant that I had no hassles at all, and I walked directly to the security gate. No airport lines!
And then they opened two new security lines just as I was arriving, so I was waved into a lane with no people waiting. A quick trip up an escalator, with no waiting at passport control, and I’m suddenly in the international departure terminal . . . where the lounge is literally ten steps ahead.
Now if the flight leaves on time, an the connections work in Chicago (always dicey), I should be in Saint Louis by 6.45 p.m.
Of course that means an 18-hour travel day. Such is the price one pays, though.
Flights leaving Vienna within the next hour:
And yesterday I was talking with a German engineering student who is skipping his planned trip to Hungary, and instead going to Slovakia, then to Italy, and then on to Turkey via the Balkans. Train travel is truly international on this side of the Atlantic.
Upon Arriving in Vienna . . .
Oder, Jeff und Trent’s Excellent Adventure
The flight from Amsterdam was uneventful, and on time, two things one expects from Austrian Airlines. They may not be flashy, but they are on top of things.
I was seated on the Fokker 100 in row 7, next to an elderly woman in full Islamic garb. She had more whiskers on her face than I do . . . but I purposefully have a moustache. She also took up more space in her seat than I did in mine. And this aged, moustachioed woman spent the entire trip reading a fashion magazine. I don’t get it.
Nevertheless, we co-existed in peace.
Then when we landed, she wouldn’t get up.
And she wouldn’t get up.
Row 12 disembarked, then row 13.
Finally, she stood. I’m on a cane and in a boot, but I would have left her in my tracks, so slow was her movement.
No one in Vienna actually disembarks to the airport. All three times I’ve been here, we have left by jet-stairs, then been bussed to the terminal. So it was today.
Except for me.
I was met at the bottom of the stairs, escorted to a lift, and placed on a special conveyance for the wheelchair-bound and disabled. Then I was met at the door to the terminal by a man with a wheelchair, and wheeled through the entire terminal where I met Trent at baggage claim.
My wheelchair chauffer then took us through the door to the meeting point, where I had a car waiting.
(I could become accustomed to this.)
I shall call our driver ‘Gunther,’ for I never got his name. He was a large, retired man . . . very voluble, and quite unhappy with the traffic.
We got in the car (another Mercedes sedan, something to which I could become accustomed), and he promptly said “I hope you’re not in a hurry.” I jokingly replied, knowing that the Boston Marathon is tomorrow, “Vienna Marathon today?” He looked surprised when he answered “Ja!”
So between road construction by the airport and the Vienna Marathon on the Ringstrasse (my hotel is on the Ringstrasse), we had a 25-minute journey stretch to an hour. Along the way, Gunther continued to apologize about the delay, and we kept assuring him that all was well. Then his wife called. In German: “I can’t talk now,” and he hung up.
Suddenly then, we were skirting the Danube Canal, and our hotel was in sight.
‘Twas a fun journey today, and a most excellent adventure in various parts of Vienna. I was pleased to see that road crews here include three men doing work and five watching, just like in the US. And I’m pleased to see Schwedenplatz filled with life today, and a gelato place bursting with business, one block from the hotel.
(And lunch? Finally at 2 p.m., we ate at a Spanish place around the corner. YUM doesn’t begin to describe the goodness.)