Vienna Trip – Hotel Bristol

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

The Hotel Bristol is a five-star luxury hotel in Vienna opposite the Vienna State Opera House and is now one of the most exclusive hotels in Austria and arguably the world after being restructured by the famous hotelier Georg Hochfilzer. It has hosted many historical figures including Teddy Roosevelt. The Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson sojourned here at the height of their affair, in 1936; the most sumptuous suite is named after him.

I booked this hotel using the American Express Fine Hotels & Resort (FHR) service that I have access to as an American Express Platinum Card holder. For this hotel it meant booking at the flexible rate rather than the lowest available rate other than that there is no premium to using the service.

By booking using FHR this entitled me to:

  • Noon Check-In
  • 4pm Check-Out
  • Upgraded Room
  • Daily Breakfast
  • 3 Course Dinner & Soft drink at the hotel’s restaurant

At check-in I was acknowledged as being a FHR user and a SPG Gold level member, this I selected High speed internet as my Gold level perk, however in addition to the free high speed internet I was given 250 points as well.

Room 167

Room 167

I was in assigned to room 167 which is on the first floor and the corner along from the Prince of Wales suite which is the hotel’s flagship suite.

The Prince of Wales Suite

The Prince of Wales Suite

Room 167 has a view of the State Opera house.

View from Room 167

View from Room 167

Room 167 was large, with an entrance hallway and a bathroom off that hallway.

Room's entrance hallway, with bathroom off to the right

Room’s entrance hallway, with bathroom off to the right

The room’s decor fitted with the hotel, that is to say old fashioned but was large and comfortable.

Room 167's windows & TV

Room 167′s windows & TV

Room 167's bed

Room 167′s bed

The hotel provided bottles of water every night along with some welcome chocolates.

The hotel also left a note to let you know what the weather was forecast to be the next day.

Weather forecast & welcome chocolate

Weather forecast & welcome chocolate

The room key was large but with the intention that you leave it at reception when you go out and pick it up when you return and this was explained to me, though apparently wasn’t explained to ‘Lucky‘ when he stayed at the more luxurious  sister hotel.

The bathroom was also large with twin sinks, a bath, and a shower.

Twin Sinks

Twin Sinks

The Shower, can you spot the fail ;) (1st world problem).

The Shower, can you spot the fail ;) (1st world problem).

Bath Tub

Bath Tub

The free breakfast that I got by booking through American Express Fine Hotels & Resort was the full breakfast, and was a good spread. The eggs were all freshly cooked to order from fried eggs, to poached, as well as scrambled eggs or omelettes, and were all well cooked.

Hot breakfast options

Hot breakfast options

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

Cereal

Cereal

Cold spread including Salmon, and cold meats

Cold spread including Salmon, and cold meats

In addition to the above spreads, there was also the option of juices and pastries.

Conclusion

If you like old fashioned hotels this is a great choice, with good hotel service and a great location. When I visit Vienna again I will be staying at the Hotel Bristol again.

Have you stayed at the Hotel Bristol what are your thoughts? What hotel would you recommend for staying in Vienna?

 

Vienna Trip – Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Flight Number: OS132

Departure: Edinburgh Airport

Destination: Frankfurt Airport

Class: Economy

The transfer at Frankfurt airport was relatively short, by the time I went through passport control and security again and transferred between the B & A gates, the flight to Vienna was already boarding so no time to try out an airport lounge this time!

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B to A Transfer Tunnel at Frankfurt

However I was able to do a spot of ‘plane spotting’ on my way and was able to capture a Lufthansa A380 and a Lufthansa 747.

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Lufthansa A380 in the background

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A new Lufthansa 747 (look at the engines)

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A SAS plane was our neighbour at Frankfurt

Boarding the Austrian plane was efficient sorry no pics but this was also an Airbus 321.

The crew were younger and friendlier than the Lufthansa crew, the seats were exactly the same as on the earlier Lufthansa flight but with an Austrian logo at the top, again the business class seats were identical to economy except with the middle seat blocked.

Service was efficient, the IFE was again my iPad ;) and as Lufthansa gave me a sandwich, Austrian kindly provided desert, with a choice between chocolate wafer and a non chocolate biscuit, I went for the chocolate option and diet coke.

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Desert :)

On both the Lufthansa flight and the Austrian flight, electronics were to be switched off during take off and landing, with Austrian still saying this was due to safety despite the recent official evidence to the contrary, and they enforced this.

The flight was enjoyable and pleasant, better than the Edinburgh to Frankfurt leg with Lufthansa but again nothing outstanding to make me stick with Star Alliance for my European destinations but also nothing to stop me flying with them again in future.

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Our neighbour for arrival was a fellow Austrian plane.

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A row of Austrian metal and a sister Lufthansa plane as well were awaiting our arrival at Vienna

What are your thoughts? Have you flown Austrian for intra-Europe flights? Would you use them again?

It should be noted that whilst everything was branded Austrian Airways this flight was technically operated by ‘Tryolean Airways’.

Vienna Trip – Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Flight Number: LH963

Departure: Edinburgh Airport

Destination: Frankfurt Airport

Class: Economy

This trip exposed ‘German Efficiency’ as a myth, the flight was late boarding (Due to a late inbound flight, although we were not told this until after we had boarded the flight), it wasn’t the delayed flight & boarding that prompted the ‘German Efficiency’ comment, but rather after boarding Elite & Business class they wanted to board the rear of the plane first, whilst they enforced this at the gate, they didn’t clear line of those people that didn’t qualify meaning that there were people ‘in line’ who shouldn’t have been.

This meant people who did qualify were joining the back of the long line, only to come forward when the exasparated gate staff called out the rows numbers they were looking for again.

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Line for Lufthansa Flight

The plane that would be flying us to Frankfurt was an Airbus 321 (D-AISK).

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Lufthansa Airbus 321

The seats were slimline and the business class seat were identical to economy except that the middle seats were blocked.

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Lufthansa Short Haul Economy Class seats

After boarding was completed the pilot informed us about the delay (even the screens in Edinburgh didn’t acknowledge a delay) and that this had been caused by the inbound flight being late. The flight crew were very good and kept us informed at key points throughout the flight.

The seat was comfortable enough and sufficient room or pitch between the seats, I wouldn’t want to be in the seats for too long but for short haul they were absolutely fine.

The IFE consisted of my iPad ;) and crew were pleasant enough but very business like (some German stereotypes are true) and certainly weren’t ‘hosts’ as Luftansa would like to make out. The food service consisted of a Tomato and Mozzarella sandwich (no alternatives were offered) and a complimentary beverage, I opted for diet coke.

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IFE & Meal service

This was served shortly after take off, and the crew gave us ample time to complete eating our ‘meal’ before collecting the rubbish.

Surely Lufthansa could stretch to offering a vegetarian option and a non-vegetatian option in economy?

Overall the flight was pleasant enough, nothing to scream out, always use Lufthansa for my short haul flights but nothing that would stop me using again in future.

 

What are your thoughts? Have you flown Lufthansa for intra-Europe flights? Would you use them again?

Vienna Trip – Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Parking

I used Secure Airparks to park my car, which is so close to the airport that you can see the plane taxiing from where you park your car. It is then a short bus ride to the terminal, all at the fraction of the price of parking at an airport run car park.

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Secure Airparks Car Park & BA Plane Taxiing

 

The Terminal

Edinburgh airport is no longer run than BAA (the main company that runs airports in the UK) and I believe the new owners do not own or operate any other UK airports so that means they can concentrate on improving Edinburgh.

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Edinburgh Airport with the distinctive control tower as the logo

Check-In & Security

No pictures for check-In or Security I am afraid, however as I checked in 2 hours before the flight was due to depart, there were no queues for the Economy bag drop (I had checked in) online.

The line for security was short and I was through in minutes.

Aspire Lounge (Run by Servisair)

As I was flying with Lufthansa (a Star Alliance airline), I could not use my Cathay Pacific status to get access to the British Airways Lounge, which I believe is the best lounge at Edinburgh (but still nothing special compared to most lounges).

The Aspire Lounge is currently being refurbished so it is not fair to judge it based on its current look & feel. However despite this I would say that this is still better than most (if not all) of the US airport lounges that I have been to (come on USA raise your game!).

The lounge is basic, no airside views, no showers, or staffed bar but does have free food & drink.

Aspire seating, it filled up later

Aspire seating, it filled up later

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Snack Selection

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Drink Selection

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Basic snack selection

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I had a Raspberry yoghurt & Diet coke, whilst I waited

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View from the Aspire Lounge

Next post will be about the flight.

Vienna Trip – Introduction

Introduction

Edinburgh Airport & Aspire Lounge

Lufthansa Economy Edinburgh to Frankfurt

Austrian Airways Economy Frankfurt to Vienna

Hotel Bristol (Vienna)

Lufthansa Economy Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa Economy Frankfurt to Edinburgh

Introduction

I had not booked anything for Easter 2014 (Friday 18th April to Monday 21st April) so in late March, I decided to look around at ideas for a short break, in order to maximise my time at the destination and make it back for work on Tuesday, this essentially meant a short break in Europe.

I was originally thinking Rome, however the costs of flights due to the Easter break were too high for me.  I have already been to Amsterdam and Budapest within Europe, this left plenty of new cities for me to explore. After having a look around at available flights and the cost of those flights, Vienna looked like the best option for me.

This trip allowed me to try Lufthansa & Austrian Airways, and the American Express Fine Hotels & Resort service, which I used to book the Hotel Bristol in Vienna.

Upcoming Trip Report – Vienna

Scotland’s Flyer is pleased to announce that he will be taking an upcoming trip to Vienna.

I will be flying with Lufthansa from Edinburgh via Frankfurt to Vienna in Economy class (Business class within Europe is not worth the price premium in my opinion.)

And staying at Hotel Bristol (leveraging both the American Express Fine Hotels & Resort service and also my Gold level SPG status), I will let you know how that works out during the trip report.

The hotel was named after the British town Bristol. In Vienna it was disproved for the first time that the Bristol had been named after the fourth Earl of Bristol. The Earl lived some 100 years before the opening of Europe’s Bristol Hotels (Rome 1870, Warsaw 1901, Oslo 1920, Paris 1925 and some 50 more), his emblem was totally different from that of the town in Suffolk which has nothing to do with the Earl.

Bristol’s emblem depicts a castle and a ship. Bristol, after all, was the town from where many expeditions put out to sea. The original unicorns were displaced by lions in 1923. Later, in 1932 and 1975, the unicorns appeared again. Today, the emblem bears the lions once again. The motto Virtute et Industria, virtue and industriousness, can be read above our hotel’s entrance door; it is, in fact, the same motto that decorates the emblem of the town Bristol in England.

Have you been to Vienna?

Let me know in the comments section what hints & tips you have so that I and other readers can benefit from your knowledge.

Are you looking forward to my trip report or should I only review trips where I travel Business Class or above?

Let me know in the comments section.

Review/Information About The Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

A Confession

Despite what I have just said about Avios and the BA Exec Club, I have to admit that before I was more fully clued up on how to maximise travel and leverage loyalty programmes, I joined up to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, hence the review.

Still A Great Choice If You Mainly Fly Long Haul In Economy 

I believe that when compared to American & European based airlines that the service  that Virgin Atlantic provides to their Economy and Premium Economy passengers is the best. However whilst their ‘Upper Class’ is good (certainly nothing to complain about), other airlines have now caught up and offer a superior Business Class product.

Therefore you if plan to mainly travel long haul including mostly to the USA, I believe that Virgin Atantic is still a good choice and hence joining their Flying Club would be a good idea.

The Legendary Club Houses

If you fly Upper Class or achieve Gold Status with the Flying Club then you will be able to access the legendary Virgin Atlantic club houses, which are the best airline lounges in the UK and amongst the best business class lounges in the world.

Image Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Image Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

I was fortunate enough to experience the club house when flying Premium Economy thanks to a special offer, and can testify that this is a great lounge.

 

Image Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Image Courtesy of Virgin Atlantic

Collect Flying Club Miles when buying Milk

Like Avios you can opt to transfer your Tesco Clubcard points into Flying Club miles.

Earning Ability

Flying Club members earn 50 percent of miles flown on the cheapest seats in Virgin Atlantic’s economy class. While U.S.-based members are accustomed to earning 100 percent of miles flown even on deeply discounted economy fares, many international airlines don’t give any miles or only 25 percent for discount economy, so a 50 percent earn rate is not out of the norm. Other economy fares earn a full 100 percent of miles flown and Premium Economy class will net between 125 and 150 percent, and travelers in Upper Class can expect a full 150 to 200 percent bonus.

Flying Club has many earning partners with which members can pad their mileage accounts, including hotels, car rentals, financial services, retailers and local partners.

Flying Club Partnerships

Virgin Atlantic is not part of one of the three global alliances, but offers partnerships with a large number of airlines, including Air China, Air Jamaica, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, bmi, Continental Airlines, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, SAS, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, US Airways, Virgin America, V Australia and Virgin Blue.

Virgin Atlantic offers co-branded credit cards to members residing in the U.K. and U.S. The Virgin Atlantic American Express card from MBNA is available to U.K. members.

The Credit Cards

White Credit Card

Reach that dream destination faster with up to 10,000 bonus miles when you apply by 31 March 2014 and spend £1,000 within 90 days of your account opening.

However if you contact me (details at the end), I can refer you to join and you will receive an improved sign-up bonus.

Amex – Earn 1 Flying Club mile for every £1 spent on everyday card purchases

Visa - Earn 1 Flying Club mile for every £2 spent on everyday card purchases

 

Black Credit Card

A £140 annual fee.

With up to 25,000 bonus miles when you apply by31 March 2014 and spend £2,000 within 90 days of your account opening, there’s no faster way to earn miles!

However if you contact me (details at the end), I can refer you to join and you will receive an improved sign-up bonus.

Amex – Earn 2 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent on everyday card purchases

Visa - Earn 1 Flying Club mile for every £1 spent on everyday card purchases

Flying Club Tiers

Status is determined by tier points, which are earned based on the airline and type of fare. Generally, a one-way flight on Virgin Atlantic will earn two tier points in economy, three tier points in Premium Economy and five tier points in Upper Class. Members can also earn tier points with partner airlines, although the amount will vary depending on the partner and length of the flight. For example, most partner airline flights earn no tier points if the flight is under 2,000 miles and one tier point if over 2,000 miles; and one tier point in business and first class if the flight is under 2,000 miles and two tier points for flights over 2,000 miles.

To reach Silver level, you’ll need 15 tier points in a 12-month period; and you’ll need to earn 10 points within the next 12 months to retain that status. Silver level offers members a 25 percent flight bonus, Premium Economy check in, priority waitlisting, discounted parking at Heathrow and Gatwick, four complimentary first class upgrade vouchers for Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express and complimentary Regus Businessworld Gold membership.

Gold level requires 40 tier points; 30 tier points within the next 12 months to retain that status. Gold members receive Upper Class check in and priority boarding, access to Virgin Clubhouses for you and a guest, access to the bmi business lounge at London Heathrow, parking discounts and an extra 50 percent of miles flown. Other benefits include an extra 23kg baggage allowance; 10 complimentary first class upgrade vouchers for Gatwick Express and Heathrow Express; a guaranteed economy seat on any Virgin flight, provided a full-fare ticket is purchased at least three days prior to departure; fast track through security and immigration; a supplementary Silver card to give to a family member and a Family Account, enabling up to six members of your household aged 2 to 17 to earn miles that will be credited to your account.

Join the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club And Get A Great Sign Up Bonus

If you normally fly Economy or Premium Economy class and like flying to the USA, and would like to join the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or are already a member but are not maximising the miles being added to your account and would like a Virgin Atlantic Credit Card then please contact me at Majury1981 AT GMAIL DOT COM, and I will endeavour to ensure that you get a better sign up bonus then if you joined either directly.

Your Experience of Virgin Atlantic & The Flying Club

Have you flown with Virgin Atlantic before or are you already a member of the Flying Club, then please leave a comment and let your fellow readers know!

Information about AVIOS / BA Exec Club

Introduction to Avios

Avios is a points scheme formed from Air Miles and BA Miles in 2011. Many mistake it for a frequent-flyer scheme. Actually it’s a points scheme like Nectar and Clubcard, earnable in Shell, Tesco and by spending on reward credit cards, though its rewards are travel-focused.

Just to confuse people the main Avios, BA Executive Club, and Iberia Plus points are all called Avios. Points are usually worth the same, regardless of the scheme.

Avios says the main Avios scheme’s better for irregular travellers while the BA Executive Club’s best for frequent flyers, offering benefits such as free airport lounge access for members in certain tiers. You can move or pool Avios and BA Executive Club points at any time, so if you change your mind later, it doesn’t matter.

As this is a travel blog, I shall concentrate on providing some information and tips about the BA Executive club.

You Pay Taxes when using Avios

Avios charges passengers taxes and fees on flights, wiping some of the gain. These can be up to £100 for British Airways return flights in Europe.

Yet under its Reward Flight Saver scheme, you pay a fixed £35 fee on most short-haul economy flights, as long as you earn at least one point during the year before you book.

Remember you don’t get Avios for Nothing

Don’t think Avios is giving you something for nothing. Loyalty points schemes are incorporated into pricing policies. So if you are flying with British Airways (or another Openworld airline), sign up to the BA Executive Club so that you can collect the Avios points that you are paying for!

Avios are not just for Flights – You pay no taxes if you use Avios for Eurostar

Swap Avios points for Eurostar return tickets and you don’t pay taxes or charges, which makes it an excellent value exchange. Plus it’s rare to find hefty discounts on Eurostar fares.

Return tickets to Paris, Lille or Brussels all start from 9,000 Avios points (redeem this way and 1,000 Avios points are worth £8ish). You need to book ahead for peak times, as Eurostar only releases a limited number of 9,000 returns for each day – once those have gone, the price in points goes up.

Collect Avios when buying Milk

When you convert Clubcard vouchers into Avios points, £10 becomes 2,400 Avios points. This means £37.50 of Tesco vouchers buys a Eurostar return to Paris. It could also get you to Prague or Milan (plus £35 fee).

But it occasionally boosts this to 4,000 Avios for every £10. So if you’ve no plans to use your points yet, hold your horses until Tesco runs one of these promotions

Using Avios for Business Class Flights is Relatively Good Value

Using your points for long-haul business flights gives you a better cash equivalent return than economy. Plus, while you pay taxes on long-haul flights, on pricey first class tickets these make up a smaller proportion of the overall ticket price.

Check Availability Using Multiple Sources

Confusingly flight availability sometimes varies between the main Avios site and the British Airways Executive Club’s. If you’re struggling to find the flight you want, check availability on both sites and move your points into the scheme with flights available.

You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on Flights or Eurostar

But think twice before you do! As spending Avios points on hotels or car hire. In my research, seemed to give poor value for points – you’re usually better off redeeming on other rewards.

You Don’t Need to Spend Avios on BA or OpenWorld Flights - Aer Lingus

The best British Airways Avios redemption remains for travel on Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin. That’s because British Airways has a distance based award chart, and Boston to Dublin is just under 3,000 miles one-way, making it just 12,500 Avios in economy or 25,000 Avios in business class.

There’s no way to search award availability for Aer Lingus using Avios online, so you do have to call British Airways’ Executive Club call center, though they can pull up availability in a matter of seconds. Boston to Dublin using Avios is the cheapest transatlantic award redemption there is (with any airline) in both economy and business class.

Aer Lingus announced that they’ll be launching service to San Francisco and Toronto — their fifth and sixth North American destinations this April.

If booking using British Airways Avios, the service between Dublin and San Francisco will cost 25,000 Avios in coach or 50,000 Avios in business class one-way, while the service between Dublin and Toronto will cost 20,000 Avios in coach or 40,000 Avios in business class one-way. Given that American Express Membership Rewards frequently has transfer bonuses to British Airways, that can be quite a steal.

Aer Lingus North America Destinations

  • Toronto
  • Boston
  •  Chicago
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco

Summary

I believe that for the UK based traveller, that Avios & hence OpenWorld along with Aer Lingus offers is the best airline loyalty scheme to join.

I hope to be taking a trip to the USA this year and trying out the Aer Lingus product & service so please stay tuned!