I thought that skiing in Verbier would be the only highlight of a trip to Switzerland last January. Austrian Airlines #89 Business Class from Vienna to Newark proved that assumption wrong – but not for the reason you might think.
My Austrian Airlines #89 Boeing 767 after landing in Newark
Disappointment reigned supreme as I packed up my boots and headed to the airport. I had a short flight to Vienna, where a (very) quick connection would have me board my 8-hour flight back to the United States on an airline I had never flown, Austrian. I knew I was going to at least be comfortable, I had redeemed 70,000 Chase Reserve Card Ultimate Reward points to secure a business class seat. Perhaps it was my newness to the Austrian Airlines ticketing procedures and timing, but I could not figure out how to pick my seat. Even after I was told by the agent on the phone that I was assuredly in business class and on the flight, I didn’t know where I was sitting until I arrived in Vienna.
Every seat had direct aisle access, as the configuration was 1-2-1, and incredibly luxurious bedding. I knew I was going to be happy, but the best was yet to come. After everyone had boarded, but before the plane left the gate, a curious man in a goofy (gimmicky) chef’s hat, we’ll call him “Chef,” began to discuss the evening’s cuisine with each of us personally.
Chef wasn’t particularly personable, but he was attentive and took copious notes as he asked a series of questions about our favorite savories, sweets, and drink pairings. He also passed out the flight’s menu.
I have never experienced so much focus on the meal aboard a flight, and I had flown Lufthansa’s wonderful, caviar-laced, First Class flight just the previous week. The focus made sense when we began to be served.
For the first service, I was only asked what I wanted for the main course. I selected the braised short ribs. Chef then started the service by pushing a cart (trolley) around that contained everything on the menu – and what could we choose? Whatever and how much ever we wanted. I chose salmon tartar, pickled octopus, ham/cheese, and new potatoes… yes, four of the six selections and I would’ve had them all if my plate could’ve handled it.
I also took the Austrian beer suggested by Chef as an accompaniment. Each item was delicious, especially (to my surprise) the pickled octopus, also suggest by Chef. After we enjoyed the appetizers, the second trolley came around. It was service by our lovely flight attendant, as I’m certain Chef was busy plating our main courses. The smoked tomato soup was delicious.
Next came the so very tender short ribs alongside a slice of grilled pineapple, a great pairing I had never tried.
The short ribs were made with a red wine reduction and placed upon a delicious latke (potato pancake). I loved it! And if that wasn’t enough, the cheese/desert cart came around with the same limitations as the appetizer cart… none!
After the somewhat lengthy (but reasonable) first service was finished, I managed to watch a bit of a movie and nod off with my head resting on the large down pillow and a full tummy. Ahhhh. It was a perfect way to end my ski weekend. But it wasn’t over. About two hours before landing in Newark, Chef decided to surprise us with his talents once more.
This time, Chef treated us to venison carpaccio atop a honey mustard sauce and below mustard greens. This sat alongside beet cubes and a side of pumpkin mousse. Yum, yum, yum.
I can’t wait for my next flight on Austrian Airlines. I’m even trying to find reasons to route through Vienna soon again, just for the food. Thank you Austrian Airlines for great service, tasty food, comfy bedding and making my flight a reason to actually look forward to ending a fabulous ski weekend!