My airberlin NYC-Berlin flight with the NEW FULLY-FLAT SEAT!

This is my review of business class on airberlin, flying from New York to Berlin.

This is the final part of my review of my recent US trip. Previous articles in this series cover the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, the Swiss First Class Lounge, Swiss First Class in the air, the InterContinental Boston, American Airlines domestic service from Boston to New York and the InterContinental New York Times Square.

I had no intention of writing about this flight before I boarded. After all, I did exactly the same flight – New York JFK to Berlin Tegel, airberlin business class – in February. You can read my report on that flight here.

However, as soon as I stepped on board, that changed. I had got lucky, and my flight was equipped with airberlin’s new fully-flat business class seat!  This is the ‘other’ version of this seat, which is a second-hand seat previously used by Swiss.  There is a different fully-flat seat running on the Abu Dhabi route, which matches the seat used by airberlin’s partner Etihad.

Even better was that the flight was an outstanding bargain in terms of cost. A one-way business class flight from JFK to either Dusseldorf or Berlin on airberlin costs the standard 40,000 Avios points but just £1 of tax!

Before I talk about the seat and the food, here are a few ipad shots:

airberlin fully flat seat business class review

And …

airberlin fully flat seat business class review 2

And …

airberlin fully flat seat business class review 3

What you’ve got is a cabin of 19 fully-flat business seats, mainly in a 2 x 2 x 2 zig-zag layout.

The upside to this layout is that all seats face forward (unlike BA’s Club World) and all seats, even window seats, have direct aisle access. You can see in the middle photo how the people in the middle block can access the aisle without walking over anyone. You also get a big TV as you can see from the top photo.

The downside, compared to Club World, is that the seat is definitely shorter (182 cm, so 5 foot 11 inches – I am 6 foot 2) and it also felt quite narrow. However, it was more than OK for a quick overnight hop from the US.

Food & drink

The food and drink offering on airberlin is, erm, “eclectic” (brussel sprout salad anyone?). It certainly isn’t the sort of thing that BA would serve in Club World, but that’s not necessarily a problem.

At least they don’t embarrass themselves BA-style by trying to serve stuff like roast beef and full English breakfasts which simply can’t be done properly in the air ….

The wine list is similarly eccentric, although not German dominated. No champagne, only prosecco.

This is what was on the menu, inspired by the Sansibar restaurant on Sylt. (Never heard of Sylt? Look it up! It is totally unknown in the UK but is effectively The Hamptons – complete with celebrity quota – transferred to Germany.)

Vorpeise

Prosciutto with parmesan crackers, asparagus tips and balsamic sauce

Shrimp marinated in lemon oil with brussel sprout salad and tomato slices

Heisses Gericht

Baby pok choy and lime rice (‘bok choy’ as the English translation had it!)

Lamb medallions in rosemary sauce with baby carrots, yellow beans and yukon (?) mashed potatoes

Grilled sea bass in lemon oil with green and yellow beans and saffron potatoes

Ravioli filled with spinach and gorgonzola served in a cherry tomato sauce garnished with roasted yellow tomatoes

Nachtisch

Mocha mousse

Aged gouda and goat cheese

Breakfast was a Club Europe-style tray with fresh fruit, a small pot of yoghurt and the floppiest, soggiest croissant ever seen!

Arrival

As ever, Tegel was simply astonishing. We arrived 25 minutes early at 7am. I was first off the plane. Immigration is done at the gate so there was obviously no-one in front of me. And its Tegel, the doughnut airport, so it is literally 30 seconds from the gate to a taxi if you’re on hand baggage.

And its Berlin, so it is 12-15 minutes in a taxi to central Berlin.

Amazingly, I was at Berlin’s central station for 7.20am, just 20 minutes after walking off the plane.

The rest of my day involved a 100 minute, £110, first class rail trip from Berlin to Hamburg, meeting the family, taking the S-Bahn out to Hamburg Airport and a BA Club Europe flight back to London, where disappointingly my kids did not manage to annoy anyone this time!

I ended up doing 8 flight over 9 days:

  • 2 x BA Club Europe
  • 2 x BA Eurotraveller
  • 1 x Lufthansa short-haul business
  • 1 x American Airlines short-haul economy
  • 1 x Swiss long-haul first
  • 1 x airberlin long-haul business
  • …. plus 1 x German ICE train trip in first class!

Time for a rest now ….!

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Comments

  1. Is the free pick up and drop off service only available on the Abu Dhabi route?

  2. how did you book your itinerary? via BAEC? i did only find the 40,000 Avios offer + £64 in taxes…

    • Raffles says:

      Yes, via BA. £64 is presumably the taxes going outbound. Inbound to Germany, as a one-way, they are £1.60 (see, for eg, 24 November JFK-TXL).

  3. You’ve sold me on AB business class, at least in that configuration! I’d forgo a slightly shorter length (I am 1.8m) for the benefit of clambering over somebody to get to the aisle, oh yes, and avoiding the BA Club World dormitory. Pity the new layout is only available on a few flights for the moment.

  4. The AB online timetable has some way to go. In planning mode, I tried to get info for London-JFK for next month and got [quote]Unfortunately no flight was found for the selected travel period.Please note that the flight timetable for the selected period has not yet been fully released. These flights will only be available for booking at a later date.Please select a different travel period or a different destination airport.[/quote]It seems that only direct flights com up rather than connections, at least ex London.

    • Is that cash or avios? If Avios then, yes, you need to look for individual legs. Remember also they fly to Dusseldorf and Berlin (flights leave 10 minutes apart) so check both. I only do Berlin because I need to end up in Hamburg.

      • Hi, Raffles. Thanks for the insight. I was checking cash fares.

        I need to play around with opportunities. Flying via Zurich is an option for me. Checking ZRH-JFK I see numerous opportunities for cash fares. Picking one at random, I see a fare in September of £2,267 including various charges of £447 via DUS. Pay for catering ZRH-DUS including Currywurst for €6 :D.

        The AB fare is not much less than BA’s £2,483 including £419 of extras (including BA1 outbound), though there are lower cost flights on the nonstop AA ZRH-JFK. No APD on the BA fare unless staying >24 hours.

        I’m getting a little ahead of myself and need to think Avios redemptions!

  5. I’ve got an upcoming TXL-JFk flight in December. 40k + £64 was the cost so more than happy with that. Going to Berlin the day before (partly to look around, partly in case of weather delays) and will camp out in the Mecure or something.
    The food doesn’t majorly appeal to me but I’ll try everything.
    Seat map at the time of booking was the 1-2-1 type formation so no idea if new or older seats as they do tend to change planes from what I’ve read.
    Let’s hope “working Girl” is still on their IFE – older movie but enjoyable!

  6. lady london says:

    Is Tegel airport the one the Germans keep trying to close? 1 advantage of Berlin, if connecting to elsewhere in Europe, is that if you have Lufthansa group Miles&More miles, Lufthansa has frequently offered a wide selection of 5000 miles offers to many of their destinations in Europe from Berlin. Sold only as a return but at that price could be worth thinking about even with taxes if it gets you home.

    • Yes, Tegel will be gone when Brandenberg is fully open next year. Be wary of those 5,000 miles Lufthansa redemption discounts – the taxes will still be over £100. Better to use 9,000 Avios return and pay £35 tax.

  7. Roger Stacey says:

    Lamb medallions in rosemary sauce with baby carrots, yellow beans and yukon (?) mashed potatoes

    Yukon gold potatoes are a yellow, somewhat waxy, and flavorful form of potato, particularly good for making potato salad.

  8. Bok Choy is just as acceptable, and probably more widely used. – google and see.

  9. This is the same seat as used on Etihad Airways, who are a shareholder in AB.

    I agree with Raffles that the seat is narrower on the Airbus, haven’t personally noticed that it is shorter, then again I’m less than 6 feet tall.

    AB may not offer the smoothest business class service in the world, but I’ve found them tremendous value, especially where it is an overnight sector and sleep is the main objective.