Vienna International Airport
Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien-Schwechat IATA: VIE) is the busiest and biggest airport in Austria, located just outside the city limits of Vienna on the far side of the City of Schwechat. The airport is the home base of Austrian Airlines and Niki.
Vienna International Airport has one terminal separated into three check-in areas. Check-in 3 is used by the Austrian Airlines Group, Emirates, Qatar and most Star Alliance members. Check-in 1 (formerly known as Terminal 1) is now mainly used by Air Berlin and Niki as well as several other oneworld and SkyTeam airlines. Check-in 2 is being refurbished.
Most European airlines and a significant number of intercontinental airlines have direct connections to Vienna. However, only Austrian Airlines fly to the American continent (New York, Toronto, Chicago, Washington and Punta Cana), and there is direct service to some countries in Africa (Egypt, Libya and Tunisia).
Schwechat is well-integrated into the Star Alliance network, with all European Star Alliance members having a direct connection from their main hubs (usually country capitals), as well as secondary cities. In particular, Lufthansa, the parent company of Austrian Airlines, flies directly to Vienna from all of their bases, including flights by its low-fare sister airline Germanwings from smaller German airports. Those flights can be booked on a single ticket with Lufthansa or Austrian flights.
As the airport is also a base for airBerlin's sister airline Niki, it is a oneworld hub as well. There are direct flights to most oneworld hubs in Europe and the Middle East, including Amman (Royal Jordanian) and Doha (Qatar Airways), from where you can continue onto Asian destinations. Do note, however, that there is no direct flight to Abu Dhabi, the hub for Niki's ultimate parent airline Etihad Airways.
Skyteam also has a significant presence at the airport - apart from flights from European hubs of most members, there is a direct flight to Seoul-Incheon by Korean Airlines.
Low-fare airlines have a rather low presence in Schwechat, apart from Lufthansa Group flights operated by Germanwings. Ryanair prefers to use the nearby airport in Bratislava, as do Norwegian Air Shuttle. EasyJet has a single connection to London Gatwick, Germania operates a direct connection to Bremen, Vueling flies between Vienna and Barcelona and Transavia offers direct flights to Rotterdam.
To get to Vienna, you can use two different railway options (cheaper but slower S-Bahn and more expensive but faster CAT), buses or taxis. If your final destination is not Vienna, it might make sense to take one of the direct ICEs that were introduced in 2014 and will be supplemented with more connections when the timetables change in December 2015.
- S-Bahn (commuter rail) (underneath terminal). 5:00-24:00. S-Bahn suburban trains run on the S7 line to Vienna providing the cheapest connection to the city centre. Take a train bound for Floridsdorf, which departs every 30 minutes, and get off at Wien-Mitte station on the eastern edge of the city centre (25 min). From there the U-Bahn line U3 connects to Stephansplatz right in the core of the city centre, whereas line U4 provides service to Karlsplatz (for the Opera House) as well as the Donaukanal and the Schönbrunn Palace. Transfer is available to the U1 and U2 at Praterstern and U6 at Handelskai. In the future, the S-Bahn will also connect the airport with the new Wien-Hauptbahnhof.
Departure is one level below arrival on a separate platform from the CAT. Tickets can be purchased from the red vending machines. The button to buy single tickets is obvious. If you intend to buy a travel pass for the core zone (Zone 100) for your stay you may do so here and supplement it with an extra VOR 'Außenzone' ticket (€2.00) instead of purchasing the single. Other variants using the zone system are possible (at the VOR homepage, point at Tickets & Preise and click on Wochen/Monatskarten and Tarifzonenplan). Conductors aren't hesitant to fine anyone (€100) without a valid ticket, and being a tourist is not a valid excuse. €4.20 each way.
- City Airport Train (CAT) (underneath terminal). The City Airport Train (CAT) is a non-stop connection to Wien-Mitte (Landstraße) Station taking 16 minutes. It departs at :06 and :36 past every hour. The departure times from Wien-Mitte are the same. The CAT is heavily advertised, but it only has limited advantages over the S-Bahn connection or the buses. It lands you in the Wien Mitte area, which is not entirely central, and from where you still may have to change to other means of transportation to get to your destination. The departures are infrequent enough that you may still be better off timewise taking the S-Bahn from Wien-Mitte if it departs more immediately.
A useful feature of the CAT for Star Alliance and Air Berlin/Niki passengers is the check-in and baggage drop-off at Wien Mitte/Landstraße station, so that if you have a flight later in the day, you can drop your luggage in the morning and enjoy a carefree day in the city. City check-in may be denied from 90 minutes before departure. Members of Miles & More get bonus miles for using the City Airport Train. One way €12, return trip €19 at the vending machines (less if purchased online beforehand, +€2 if purchased on the train).
- Long distance trains: Trains departing for most of Austria initiated service in 2014 with more connections scheduled to open with the change of timetable December 2015.
- Vienna AirportLines Bus (outside arrivals). 5:00-24:00. Direct buses drive frequently between Vienna International Airport and assorted points in Vienna. Operated by Postbus. Tickets can be purchased with cash from the operator. All routes: One way €8, Round-trip €11.
- Morzinplatz/Schwedenplatz line goes to the city center (District 1). Buses every 30 minutes, the trip takes 20 minutes. At Schwedenplatz there is a connection to the underground lines U1 and U4 as well as buses and trams. St. Stephans Cathedral (the very center of Vienna) is a five-minute walk away.
- Meidling/Westbahnhof line is the railway connector, departing every 20-30 minutes and stopping at Meidling Railway Station(30 min.) and Westbahnhof/West Railway Station(45 min.).
- Kaisermühlen VIC/Kagran line goes to Vienna International Center (the UN) and serves hotels in the eastern part of Vienna. Runs hourly and takes 20-45 min. depending upon destination.
- Taxi. Cab fare is not set, so agree before getting in; to anywhere for €25-€30. If you don't care to negotiate, or your destination is at the northern or western edge of the city, a pre-booked flat-rate transfer is likely cheaper and easier. There are several offices at arrivals.
- Shuttle provided by hotel. Select Vienna hotels offer guests shuttle service to and from the airport, usually for a fee that's cheaper than a taxi, sometimes you will share the shuttle with guests from your own or nearby hotels.
Schwechat is not an especially complicated or large airport, but do note that while gates B, C and D are close to each other and the check-in area, the lenghty extension containing gates F and G is physically removed and may require some time to traverse if you have a connection to catch. No travellators or people movers are available to help you do that.
There are three main airport lounges at the Vienna International Airport - the two smaller AIR and JET lounges, as well as the SKY lounge complex divided into the Schengen and Non-Schengen sections. The SKY lounge complex is also where you find the Business Class, Senator and HON Circle Lounges of Austrian Airlines, which can be used by Austrian's passengers with an appropriate flight ticket of a higher class, as well as eligible Miles & More members and other Star Alliance loyalty programmes members.
See here for locations of lounges.
Eat and Drink
A number of gastronomic outlets of various standards is available both airside and landside. Those range from McDonald's and Burger King to concessions run by Vienna's famous delicatessen and restaurants.
Vienna airport has a duty free shopping area with 70 shops. Plan around one hour if you're going to visit every other shop. The shopping area is just after ticket control counters, so you only need to check in before getting to shops, not pass security check nor passport control.
A general grocery store, Billa, can be found downstairs in the check-in area 1. It has Austrian Mozartkugeln and small snacks for usual Austrian prices. Once the check-in passed special prices do apply. In the arrival area there is a Spar supermarket.
Refer to the brochure for locations and tips. Your best bet for receiving tax refund is to find a refund office in the city. Otherwise, indicate that you need to receive tax refund at check-in. You then take any checked luggage containing tax-free purchases to a customs office (right in the check-in area) to get a stamp and drop off the checked luggage; then visit a nearby refund office.
Customs officers don't normally ask you to actually unpack and show your purchases. You will be asked if any applicable purchases are in your hand luggage. Although it is illegal, you may be encouraged to lie to agents, saying that everything is in your checked luggage even if it isn't. This is due to an otherwise tedious process; you have to visit yet another office by the gates. (Especially at the C Gates—there you will have to ring for an officer, wait to be picked up by bus and taken to the a refund office and back to your departure, allow 1 hour for the whole procedure.) Alternatively, you can visit a refund office on arrival in your home country—provided that you visited customs and had your receipts stamped in Vienna. Additional commission or unfavourable exchange rate can apply if refunding in other country.
The Vienna International Airport has on the new terminal comfortable chairs with plugs. The airport provides free and good internet connection without time limit.
- NH Vienna Airport, Einfahrtstrasse 1-3, ☎ +43 1 701510. The only hotel directly within the airport grounds, a walking distance from the Terminal.
- Vienna — the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre