Check your bags downtown before you fly

By Sean O'Neill
October 3, 2012

What do Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow , and Vienna have in common?

Each city offers train service between its international airport and one of its major downtown train stations, and each city offers check-in at its train station.

The best part of Vienna's City Airport Train is its check-in service at the Wein Mitte train station downtown. On the last night of a recent visit to Vienna, I went to the train station, checked-in for my flight, confirmed my seat assignment, and dropped off my luggage. For the rest of the night, I was carefree.

My morning trip to the airport was a breeze. I didn't need to worry about hauling my bag around a subway system during the rush hour. Once I arrived at the airport, I saw people standing in a line to check-in, and the line looked like it would take about 30 minutes to snake through. I smiled to myself that I had stood in line for less than five minutes the night before.

Here are the details:

Vienna's city airport train charges about $20 each for round-trip tickets purchased online at the website There's a catch, of course: The service only works for passengers flying on a narrow list of airlines. Among the airlines included: Austrian, United, and US Airways.

To learn which airlines in Hong Kong offer city check-in, click here.

For Kuala Lumpur info, click here.

For Moscow's service, click here. In winter 2004, Vienna became the first city to offer airport check-in at a train station, according to the Austrian agency that operates the service. I'm glad to see the service is spreading elsewhere.

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Today's travel intel

--Dickens World is set to open next month in Kent, England. This theme park features rides based on 13 of the novels written by you-know-who. The Guardian in London got a sneak peek, and has this gem of a quote from a park official: "Visitors are not going to come here to be depressed so our role is to entertain them. We're not going to have starving babies crawling around on the cobblestones." The park will instead feature a log flume ride that illustrates the happier side of Great Expectations. --See videos on Google maps when you use Venividiwiki (whose motto is "I went, I saw, I share"). This new website lets you pick on a spot on a Google Map and see videos of attractions located there. The selection of videos is strongest for Western European destinations, not surprisingly. You can search by activities, events, places, and other criteria. Try it here. And for Budget Travel's choices of the best tricks to do with Google maps, click here. --British Airways has been named the world's best airline in an annual, comprehensive survey of frequent fliers. Continental won for being the best carrier based in North America. --Treehouse inns allow you to wake up with birds on your windowsill. These cottages, you see, are perched among the branches of tall trees. HotelChatter is highlighting the latest such lodging, Free Spirit Spheres, in this post. You'll find Budget Travel's online video of similar inns with birds-eye views by clicking here. One example is the Out'n'About Treesort, in southwest Oregon, which is less Spartan than the Free Spirit in that it comes with electricity and heat, and usually a refrigerator and sink to boot.