Although airberlin likes to spell its name in lower case, the carrier’s Business Class service on its non-stop flight from New York (JFK) to Berlin’s Tegel Airport (TXL) is not “lower” in any sense the word.
Check-in for AB7249 was fast and efficient at airberlin’s Terminal 8 counter, and after quickly getting through security using the First/Business lane, I was admitted to American Airlines Admirals Club lounge. American is airberlin’s code-share partner in the Oneworld alliance, and airberlin passengers can use the carrier’s “topbonus” frequent flyer award miles on either airline.
The Admirals Lounge on the Sunday evening of my flight was busy, but I took advantage of the free printers and Wi-Fi to get some work done while snacking on veggies, cheese, olives and crackers. Although drinks were not complimentary, the lounge check-in desk provides guests with two free beverage coupons for soft drinks or wine or beer.
Boarding took place at 5:00 PM for a scheduled 5:30 departure, and seating in the A330-200 aircraft was three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration, with two seats in the middle section of the fourth row, for a total of 20 Business seats on this flight in late September, 2013. Drinks and snacks were served prior to take-off, newspapers and magazines were distributed by the cabin crew.
Wheels were up at 5:58, with the normal New York area air traffic causing the 28-minute delay. Dinner was served shortly after lift-off, with an appetizer of shrimp and lentil salad, and a main course of beef fillet mignon with roasted potatoes and buttered green beans. I passed on the cheese plate dessert, opting for a cup of chocolate ice cream later in the flight.
My JFK/TXL flight was still using the “older” Business Class seat, which would have been a fine seat for the overnight flight, except the anticipation of flying in one of airberlin’s new lie-flat seat, with all the high-tech gadgets and thicker cushions, resulted in some disappointment when stretching out for a few hours’ sleep. Although I did manage to fall asleep, the older seat was angled downward and not quite as comfortable as the lie-flat version, but as a frequent traveler I do not want to feel so jaded to complain about a slight discomfort. It was still so much better than coach! I look forward to flying the new, upgraded equipment on my next airberlin long-haul flight.
As we made our descent into Berlin, flying low over northern Germany, the cabin crew cleared away the breakfast plates, a satisfying selection of fruit, yogurt, and warm rolls, and by the time we reached the fresh water lakes west of the city passengers were sitting upright, passports and landing forms in hand.
Wheels were down at 7:35 AM, only five minutes late, and, while many passengers were heading into center city Berlin, others were taking airberlin connecting flights to dozens of its other European destinations.
Review by Ron Bernthal