Great new business seat makes Austrian a decent choice for Europe

By John Walton, October 10 2012
Great new business seat makes Austrian a decent choice for Europe

Star Alliance member Austrian Airlines is revamping its entire fleet with a new fully flat business class seat, which will provide yet another top-notch option for Australians heading to Europe.

Austrian's new seat is similar to the one used on Swiss, Brussels Airlines and Finnair. It's a fully flat business class bed arranged in a staggered layout, which provides for solo traveller-friendly seats and, for what the airline says is 80 percent of passengers, direct aisle access.

Some savvy Australian business travellers already use Austrian's flights via Star Alliance hub Bangkok as a "quick connection" option in Europe.

Vienna's new terminal with a lightning-fast 25-minute connection time and geographical advantage to the east of the main European business destinations mean that you can cut overall travel time and avoid some of Europe's larger, hassle-filled airports.

Bangkok flights -- the most likely connecting point for Australians -- will see the new business class from 6 February under the airline's current plans.

The new seats: staggered, fully flat, direct aisle access

The new seats are staggered so that, in bed mode, the legs of the passengers behind you tuck underneath the armrest and table area of your seat. Don't worry about pongy feet -- it's enclosed on your side, though open on the other side.

They're arranged in either a 1-2-1 or 1-1-1 configuration, depending on whether your row has one of the centre solo seats (which we're informally calling "throne class") or a pair of aisle seats with a table between them.

Seats to the side of the plane are either proper window seats (with a table between the seat and aisle) or aisle seats (with a table between the seat and the window). We reckon most business travellers will prefer the proper window seats.

Austrian's seats recline through the Z-bed position to a flat bed that we're confident is fully flat -- despite the pictures, we've flown on seats like these before and they do feel like you're sleeping on a flat surface. 

(It has to do with the plane flying at a couple of degrees' angle up, so overall the bed feels like you're flat. Yes, we know that airlines and manufacturers spruiking angled lie-flat seats have been using this as an excuse for years, but their seats are 10-20 degrees off horizontal, not just a few degrees like these. Share your own thoughts and experiences in the comment section, though!)

We call PR fakery on this one: the very slender model has her shoulder stuck out into the aisle so far that she'd be bruised whenever a trolley rolled past.

Ditto here. "How far over can you scoot? A little more? Little more?"

Rumour has it that Austrian promises cutting-edge entertainment on their touchscreen monitors. "Rolling in the Deep" somehow seems inappropriate for an airline, though.

Fortunately for someone like you, business traveller, there's a nifty laptop sleeve tucked underneath the monitor to stow your computer.

There's a hand-held mini-controller for when you don't feel like reaching forwards. Note also the seat's controls.

The unusual +/- buttons in the centre right are for the air cushions you can inflate within the cushions if you prefer a slightly softer bed.

A rotating table swings out so that you can get some work done. Or stare fixatedly at the person next to you while they try to get some work done.

Kudos to Austrian for being the latest airline to install fully global universal power points -- and USB power sockets -- somewhere sensible like elbow level rather than underneath the seat or inside a storage box.

We love the snazzy pocket, designed for glasses, mobile phones and those other all-important little things you don't want to tread on in the middle of the night.

Austrian has a thing about triangular plates. Fortunately, the catering is done by Do & Co, one of the world's best catering outfits.

For more picture-laden AusBT photo tours:

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 May 2012

Total posts 30

BAHAHAHAHAHA: "Fortunately for someone like you". Well done, John, well done!

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

See, you could have had it all! ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

I see what you did there ;D

holy moly that TV is huge!

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 128

I've flown the nearly-identical product on Swiss and it's definitely my favourite business seat.

As for the shoulder width, I'm "generously proportioned" and I can sleep comfortably on my stomach in this seat.  I can't say the same for Lufthansa's new business product.

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