At the end of March 2022, Terminal 2 with gate areas B, C and D went back into operation at Vienna-Schwechat Airport. At the same time, the Vienna Lounge, the new flagship of the exclusive lounge area, opened its doors. But what does the new lounge offer in direct comparison to its “competitors” in Terminal 3?
First of all, it should be noted that the Vienna Lounge is currently the only one of its kind in Terminal Complex 1/2. There is currently no alternative in this building, so travelers also have to live with the fact that Priority Pass, Lounge Key and Dragon Pass are not yet accepted due to the lack of contracts. Also, not all the usual credit cards that allow access to the lounge have been implemented yet. If in doubt, you should check the airport's website in advance. In the foreseeable future, however, all common cards should authorize access.
In this article, the business lounge (Terminal 3 Schengen) by Austrian Airlines, the Sky lounge Flughafen Wien AG (Terminal 3 Schengen) and the new Vienna Lounge (Terminal 2 Schengen) of the airport are compared with each other. The selection was made with good reason, because these exclusive waiting areas are accessible to all passengers - for a fee - and are not linked to specific status cards or booking classes.
The all-rounder: AUA Business Lounge in Terminal 3 (Schengen)
The Schengen Business Lounge of Austrian Airlines and the SkyLounge of Vienna Airport are located right next to each other in Terminal 3. They can be reached by elevator or escalator. You do not go through passport control (area G), but you reach the exclusive waiting areas after a few steps in exactly the other direction.
The AUA Lounge is primarily open to Status, Business and First Class passengers of Star Alliance and those airlines with which it has a contract. Austrian Airlines has been accepting this since the beginning of this year also the Chinese Dragonpass. Furthermore, every passenger, regardless of booking class and status, can buy access for 35 euros. This can be done during online check-in, but also on site at the counter.
The business lounge is divided into different areas: dining zone, relaxation zone, work zone. There is also a very small but separate relaxation area. A meeting room can be used for a surcharge, although it is advisable to reserve it in advance if required. There are also showers, although these were recently closed. The wireless internet connection provided by Flughafen Wien AG provides WiFi. This can also be used to access free ePapers.
In the Austrian Airlines lounge, almost all drinks are offered in returnable glass bottles. The plastic containers of the past have long been said goodbye. This not only looks classy, but is also said to be better for the environment. The downside is that many bottles only hold 0,33 liters, so thirsty passengers have to go to the buffet more often. They mainly offer Austrian products, which also applies to the alcoholic beverages.
While Austrian Airlines has a large selection of different types of coffee and pastries, tea drinkers are a bit at a disadvantage. There are only a few pouches to choose from. But you score with a very large selection of fruit, which is arranged like a market stand.
The meals will from the Donhauser catering business prepared. Various warm meals are offered, but also cold snacks such as sandwiches, yoghurt, muesli, snacks and pastries. Efforts are made to ensure that typical Austrian dishes are offered. This should appeal to international travelers in particular. The quality of the food is good, although the taste is not rated, since everyone feels it very individually.
The Austrian Airlines business lounge is significantly larger than the competitor from Flughafen Wien AG, which is located right next door. It is all the more incomprehensible that the toilet facilities are so small that there can be waiting times in front of the toilet at peak times. To put it in plain English: There are too few toilet bowls and pissoris for the quite high capacity that this lounge has.
On the positive side, the Donhauser staff is really on the ball and dumps empty bottles and plates in no time at all. The employees of the catering company are on the move like busy bees: no sooner has a passenger left the lounge than the seat he/she used before is cleaned. Especially in times of Corona, this obvious focus on cleanliness and hygiene will certainly make many anxious passengers feel good.
The Austrian Airlines Lounge is a rudimentary business lounge that should cover the basic needs of most travelers. Those who expect pure luxury here will be disappointed. The exclusive waiting area is ideal for eating and drinking as well as working and relaxing. It's not the lobby of a luxury hotel, but a lounge for transfer passengers and typically business passengers. In any case, Austrian Airlines makes a much better impression than the SkyLounge (opposite). With the new Vienna Lounge you can't keep up with the much larger offer there including an outdoor terrace. If you fly from Terminal 3 and have a card or ticket that is accepted by AUA, or would like to pay the slightly lower admission price than the SkyLounge, you should opt for the AUA Business Lounge. It's bigger, has more to offer and, apart from the toilet, it's not that cramped at peak times. Tip: The left area of the AUA Business Lounge offers a good view of the apron.
There for everyone: Airport SkyLounge in Terminal 3 (Schengen)
This exclusive waiting area was the first to be put back into operation in 2020 after the corona-related closure. It is the smallest of the three lounges compared. However, curiously enough, it has much larger toilet facilities than its competitor.
The SkyLounge's small size is a serious problem at peak times, with comparatively few seats in the dining area. The normal living area and the work zone are not particularly large either. As a result, this lounge, which is accessible with business tickets from airlines with which you have a contract, Dragon Pass, LoungeKey, Priority Pass and all major credit cards that allow entry, quickly becomes overcrowded. Regardless of the airline, status, booking class and tickets, you can also “buy in”: 39 euros are due, whereby there is a discount with the ÖAMTC membership card, for example.
In contrast to the AUA Lounge, plastic bottles are mainly used in the SkyLounge refrigerator. Only mineral water, juices, beer and other alcoholic beverages are available in glass containers. However, the bottles are usually larger in size. The choice of both soft drinks and alcohol is basic and not particularly exclusive. Most products come from Austria.
The coffee selection is also smaller than in the Vienna Lounge or that of Austrian Airlines. There are more types of tea. The dishes are also from from Donhauser, but the selection is smaller in a direct comparison with the two competitors. Usually there is a soup, a meat main course and a vegetarian main course, cold snacks or breakfast, pastries and nibbles. In terms of variety, the other two lounges have much more to offer. The SkyLounge definitely doesn't score well when it comes to fruit.
Of course, the Donhauser staff is also on the ball in the SkyLounge. At peak times, i.e. when this exclusive waiting area is overflowing, the employees can hardly keep up with the tidying up, the dishes and the cleaning. Although DoN has significantly more employees than Do&Co used to, it is still not enough when the subjective impression is that every square millimeter of the lounge is used by the passengers. So empty glasses and plates sometimes stand around longer. It would be unfair to blame the service staff, because Vienna Airport should think about whether it is necessary for this lounge to have extremely tight seating and obviously not really paying attention to whether there are enough seats for all guests. As annoying as it is in the individual case, but when full, then full.
Of course, there is free WiFi in the SkyLounge, which can also be used to download ePapers for free. The network of Flughafen Wien AG is used. Sockets are sufficiently available at least in the work area. As with Austrian Airlines, the range of printed newspapers has been greatly reduced in the course of the corona pandemic.
The SkyLounge is a typical airport lounge, but due to the fact that everyone can shop, it gets hopelessly congested at peak times. It's no longer calm and relaxed. Outside of the rush hours there is usually very little going on, so you can eat, drink, work and so on in peace. However, there is no separate relaxation area like at the AUA or in the Vienna Lounge. There is a box in front of the door for smokers. In general, the SkyLounge is not designed for very long stays, but rather for what feels like half an hour before boarding. Unfortunately, this exclusive waiting area does not offer a view of the apron, as there are no windows to the outside.
The new flagship: Vienna Lounge
By far the largest exclusive waiting area at Vienna Airport is the Vienna Lounge. This is located on the upper floor of Terminal 2 immediately after exiting the security check and Duty Free Shop. It is accessible via a lift. A visit to this lounge is particularly useful if you are flying from B, C or D. It is possible to use these if you fly from F or G, but then you have to use a shuttle bus to Terminal 3. This makes changing terminals tedious. In the future – without a specific date yet – this is to change with a connecting structure.
As already mentioned at the beginning: At present, paying passengers and holders of credit cards with which one already has a contract as well as business class travelers from cooperating airlines can use the Vienna Lounge. Priority Pass, Dragon Pass and Lounge Key are not yet accepted due to the lack of contracts. That is set to change in the near future, although it is fair to say critically that Flughafen Wien AG had almost two years to conclude the necessary agreements so that all access cards would have been accepted right from the start.
The Vienna Lounge replaces its predecessors, which were located near the B Gates, the D Gates or more or less in the same place on the upper floor. Non-Schengen passengers should take this into account, because there is no longer an exclusive waiting area directly in the area of the D gates. The regular admission price is 49 euros for one person or 98 euros for two people. There is an opening campaign for a limited time: 29 euros for one passenger or 49 euros for two passengers.
The Vienna Lounge is definitely generously dimensioned. Compared to its competitors, it offers an almost infinite capacity and is also designed for this: the buffet area has been designed to be extremely large. There are many beer pumps and coffee machines, so there shouldn't be any longer waiting times even when it's busy. The selection of food and drinks is significantly more extensive than in the Sky or AUA BusinessLounge. This applies in particular to the alcoholic area.
In contrast to the other two exclusive waiting areas, the Vienna Lounge uses dispensers to dispense water, cola and co. Bottles are only used for alcoholic beverages and juices. Tea lovers should also get their money's worth here, because there are many different bags. The staff at Donhauser is on the ball here – similar to the AUA lounge.
The dishes also come from Donhauser. There are various hot and cold dishes, breakfast, a rich selection of fruit and local pastries. Here, too, care is taken to provide typical Austrian dishes whenever possible. Incidentally, the dining area of the lounge is divided into two: There is one zone that invites you to eat normally and another that has a bit of coffee house flair. In the latter there are additional coffee machines and pastries to choose from.
The Vienna Lounge also has its own area for children as well as its own changing room. This is really a big plus for families with young children, as the airport has definitely thought of the needs of the very youngest customers. In the differently designed common areas, there is a socket as well as USB and USB-C connections at almost every seat.
Due to the different designs and furniture, it is very obvious that there are zones in which cozy get-togethers or relaxation and rest are more desirable. On the plus side, travelers looking for a little more privacy will find many off-the-beaten-track "corners" that are particularly quiet.
A cloakroom where you can leave coats and/or jackets, showers and beds are available in the Vienna Lounge. The latter must be reserved at reception. Flughafen Wien AG has not skimped on the number of toilets. There is a very large facility near the work zone and another slightly smaller facility on the other side of the lounge. Waiting times in front of the “quiet place” shouldn’t really come here.
The work area already mentioned is significantly larger than at Austrian Airlines or in the SkyLounge and is equipped with different furniture. In terms of color, this stands out from other colored furniture. The design is strongly reminiscent of so-called co-working spaces. Sockets and connections for USB and USB-C are available at every workplace. However, laptops that are charged via USB-C are at a disadvantage. The USB-C cans do not provide enough power to charge the portable computer. It is therefore necessary to switch to the classic charger in the classic socket.
Flughafen Wien AG also provides high-speed WiFi internet in the Vienna Lounge. This can be used to access free ePapers. Printed newspapers are almost non-existent, but this is also the case in the other two lounges. A particularly positive feature is the large glass front, which provides a good view of the gangways of Piers D and C and the small apron in between. You get to see a lot.
It is the only lounge that also has an outdoor area. It's not particularly big, but you can watch the planes from the terrace. Photographers can take one or two photos from this point, because you can stand on a concrete sill - at a good distance from the glass pane - and take pictures over the pane without any problems. However, there is still a lack of attention to detail in the outdoor area, because you could have set up a few tables and armchairs so that you can linger outside. Currently there is nothing except ashtrays for smokers.
And it is precisely these passengers who should now be careful: there have been no smoking areas in terminal areas B and C since the reopening. The "Kammerl", which was located on the edge of the C roundabout, was closed without replacement. The former notices were masked off in black. Smokers flying from areas B or C should now take into account that the outdoor terrace of the Vienna Lounge is the only possibility for a cigarette or pipe before boarding. In zones D, F and G there are still "Räucherkammerl".
The Vienna Lounge is very well done and sets new standards at Vienna Airport, which in the past was not exactly known for good, exclusive waiting areas. There is far more to offer than the SkyLounge or the AUA Business Lounge. If you have to pay regularly and the opening campaign has expired, this will also have its price in the future. There are only three negative points that can be made about the Vienna Lounge: 1.) The fact that no contracts have been signed with common lounge cards and that there is no alternative in this terminal complex is unworthy of an international airport. There was really enough time in two years of corona-related closure. 2.) The "porch" that leads to the outside terrace is neither air-conditioned nor ventilated. By the end of April 2022, it was getting uncomfortably hot inside, as if you were entering a sauna in full gear. This is really not great and the airport should do something about this. 3.) The outside terrace is small, but a few armchairs and maybe tables would be great. You should just take an example from their own subsidiary in Malta, because there is a great lounge terrace on the roof that invites you to linger.
Conclusion: Vienna Lounge top, but awkwardly accessible for F/G passengers
In theory, it doesn't matter which gate area you fly from, because you can use the shuttle bus to switch between the security areas of Terminals 2 and 3. However, you should know where the departure points are and plan enough time so as not to miss boarding. If you want to be on the safe side, you should go to the SkyLounge or the AUA Lounge when departing from areas F and G. The latter has more to offer and on top of that - if you don't have a lounge or status card - a cheaper entrance fee of 35 euros. It's also quieter here, you have a better view and there is more choice at the buffet. Only at peak times should you consider that there may be waiting times at the toilet.
If you fly from B, C or D, you won't make a mistake with the Vienna Lounge. Well, there is no other lounge in this complex. Irrespective of this, the visit is an interesting experience, because one simply does not expect that there is such a large lounge with so many possibilities at Vienna Airport. By the way, anyone who knows the roof lounge of the FWAG subsidiary in Luqa (Malta) will recognize many things. Numerous elements such as washbasins, toilet doors and some furniture are also used one-to-one in Malta. What a miracle, it's the same company.
When visiting the lounge, non-Schengen passengers (D and G) should definitely bear in mind that all of the exclusive waiting areas mentioned are in front of the police passport control. You should take possible queues into account when calculating the time for the walk to the gate, especially in midsummer. This applies in particular if you are in charge of the SkyLounge or the AUA Lounge and fly from D or if you use the Vienna Lounge and fly from G.
In summary, it can be stated that Vienna Airport has achieved a good success with the Vienna Lounge and it is to be hoped that the current high quality can be maintained. In the often overcrowded SkyLounge it is difficult to do this and the sometimes chaotic conditions that used to prevail in the airport lounges in areas B and D should not be mentioned here.