There can’t be many bigger myAustrian fans than Claudia. For several years now, flying and everything around it has been her biggest passion. We met her for an interview, and found out a few exciting details about what’s behind that interest…
You‘re a real Austrian Airlines superfan, Claudia! How did this enthusiasm for flying come about, and what makes Austrian Airlines so special for you?
To begin with I just loved to go planespotting – the enjoyment of flying itself didn’t come until later.
As far as Austrian Airlines is concerned, I set great store by good service and friendliness. Since I live this in my job, I also expect it when I’m a customer or passenger. I‘ve got very little time for low-cost carriers that charge less for the flight ticket than you pay for a taxi out to the airport. There’s something about the whole thing that just doesn’t work for me, and I do think you get what you pay for. You can’t expect to get any real service. But I’m also a bit patriotic 😉
What’s your favourite aircraft in the Austrian Airlines fleet?
Without a doubt the Airbus A320 with the retro paintwork and registration OE-LBP! I‘ve got a thing for retro style in general, and while other airlines use aircraft painted in the style of previous decades, the plane flown by Austrian in the 1958 colours, with the black nose, really did it for me. This aircraft was also the one I took my first flight on after I had beaten my fear of flying.
You actually had a fear of flying? How could you overcome that?
Yes, I never felt happy flying, but it was just necessary now and then, of course, to get to far-flung destinations. Before a planned flight with friends, my partner at the time would drive to the airport with me to show me just how many aircraft take off and land every day – and not one of them falls out of the sky. We did this over and over again, and eventually this turned into an enthusiasm for flying. I turned something negative into something positive, I suppose you might say.
What is your favourite route?
I’ve got no real special preferences there. The approach flight to Nice is very… nice, as is coming into London, where you’ll often have to circle once or twice above the city before getting permission to land. That’s free sightseeing from above, in my book. But I can honestly say that however much I love flying away, I still prefer coming back home to Vienna and seeing the lights of Vienna as the plane approaches the city.
Doesn’t it get a bit boring sometimes, all that flying? How do you manage to keep it interesting?
No, not at all. For me, the journey is the whole point. On a few occasions, I’ve flown a route there and back just to experience flying on a particular aircraft type – the Fokker 100, for instance, shortly before it was phased out of the fleet. I’m already looking forward to my next planned holiday, when I want to try out Premium Economy Class on a long-haul flight. And during the flight, I prefer looking out the window to sleeping. There’s no danger of my getting bored, believe me.
We’ve heard your apartment has a particularly charming touch to it. How have you decorated your own four walls?
I must admit some people might find it slightly freaky… but there’s an aircraft bench seat in my kitchen that was once built into a 777 in the Austrian fleet. I got hold of that and my old Austrian Airlines Jetshop show cabinet at the last aircraft flea market. It’s the same story for a few old framed posters. I’ve painted one wall of my living room in the “aircraft hold blue” from the old paintwork, and mounted small shelves in the form of clouds on the wall, which house very small model aircraft. This wall symbolises my love of the sight of white clouds in a blue sky. But the paint job in my front room is the real blast: I’ve painted it in the colours of my favourite airline: grey below, white above, with two red stripes in between.
What Austrian Airlines collectibles are amongst your most treasured possessions?
My show cabinet is home to a number of model aircraft, as you would expect, of a vast range of shapes and sizes. Since I like the retro style in general, I’m very happy with my latest pieces, which I got hold of from the Jetshop: the retro messenger bag and the 60 Year Jubilee coffee mug.
You’re also on Instagram – and you spot planes with a passion. For anyone who doesn‘t quite get what planespotting is all about, what does it involve? And how did you get into it yourself?
Planespotters are aircraft enthusiasts who have made photographing aircraft their hobby.
You also need a telephoto lens, because you can’t usually get that close to the goings-on, and need to move around outside the airport perimeter fence. There’s a special community in which you can post your own pictures – the Facebook group Plane Spotting Austria, for example. We also keep each other updated if a special aircraft or special paintwork is coming into Vienna. You can find all the details using the app Flightradar24 or from the website of Vienna Airport.
Where’s the best place to go planespotting in Vienna?
It depends on the wind, and the direction the planes are taking off from or landing in. Vienna Airport is very spotter-friendly: there‘s a visitors terrace with a view of the apron and a hill specially created for spotters, which lets you take photographs over the fence and you have good light conditions until the afternoon. There are also holes in the fence which have been specially set up for planespotters along the fence. Usually, though, you get the best pictures if you take the time for a short walk out between the fields and meadows.
Thanks very much for your time, Claudia, and the wonderful interview. We‘re already really excited about where your passion for planes takes you next, and we’ll definitely be following your updates on Instagram!
If you don’t want to wait quite that long, and would prefer to get on a flight of your own right now, just click here to find the right connecting flights: