Austrian Airlines (code OS, carrier ID AUA) is the national carrier of Austria (duh) and quite possibly the most boring airline on the planet.


Founded in 1957, Austrian flew its first flight on 31 March 1958 from London to Vienna, Austrian's hub ever since. Like every other European airline, AUA then proceeded to ditch its Vickers turboprops for Caravelle jets, switching over to DC-9's when they came out, and later started buying Airbuses. In 1990 Austrian was partly privatized, after which it promptly gobbled up competitors Tyrolean Airways and Lauda Air, retaining their brands but turning them into cogs in the machine now known as the Austrian Airlines Group. In March 2000 the Group joined Star Alliance.


Not yawning yet? Try flying with them. Flights on Austrian aren't particularly cheap, but neither are they more expensive than the competition. Service on Austrian is average, a notch above Lufthansa, a mile below Singapore Airlines. Amenities from onboard music to catering are average, although they continue to cater to terrorists through providing cutlery made out of metal (gasp!). And Austrian's safety record is average, since while the main carrier hasn't killed anybody since a 1960 belly flop in Sheremetyevo with 31 fatatilies, Lauda Air had a 767 disintegrate in midair near Bangkok in 1991, taking 223 passengers and crew along with it. There was also a hijacking attempt in Berlin in 1997 when a Bosnian refugee facing deportation threatened the crew with a small knife, but he was overpowered by police with no casualties, and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

However, Austrian's marketing slogan, "The Most Friendly Airline", while undoubtedly boring, gets minus points for being grammatically incorrect. Could somebody advise their PR department about the conjugation "friendliest"?

So Why Fly Austrian?

Well, it's not necessarily a bad thing at all in the airline industry to be boring (I would have cited Swissair here, but they made the mistake of going bankrupt), and -- other than that slogan -- it's quite difficult to think of anything bad to say about them.

And Austrian does have one thing going for it: geography. Their hub, Vienna, is the easternmost capital of a Western European country, making it the logical choice for Westerners flying into the region who'd rather not experiment with the likes of Air Moldova. Nearly all traffic to former Yugoslavia, for example, passes through Vienna. For the same reason, Vienna is well located for flights from Europe to the Middle East; odd as it may seem at first thought, the fastest way to get from Helsinki to Tel Aviv is on Austrian. Management has also realized this, and Austrian has expanded its network of destinations quite a bit during the 1990s, so now you can fly Austrian to anointed places like Skopje, Kluj, Kosice, Krasnodar, and Amman.

The other thing Austrian has going for it is that they often (but not always) include an authentic Mozartkugel for dessert in their in-flight meals. Yum yum!

Personal experience