We have run a few ‘the end is nigh’ stories about airberlin recently. All of the short haul routes which do not touch Dusseldorf or Berlin are being transferred to a TUI-controlled joint venture, and there are rumours that the German Government is encouraging a sale of the rump (long haul plus feeder short haul) to Lufthansa.
The Lufthansa deal may or may not happen. In the meantime, it is business as usual.
airberlin, a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, has just announced a big increase in its US flight schedule for Winter 2017.
The airline has just leased three A330-200 aircraft – two of which came from LATAM – to add to its existing fleet of 14 and this is supporting major improvements in its long-haul schedule. All are being refitted with standard airberlin seating.
This is excellent news for Avios collectors. The taxes and charges on airberlin flights booked using Avios points are very low. A one-way from the US has charges of just £4! A return trip is around £75. This is a substantial saving on the £500+ charged by British Airways on a redemption.
You can read more about airberlin redemptions in this ‘Avios Redemption University’ article here. The only downside, apart from having to get to Germany, is that you cannot use a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher and that all flights are priced at ‘peak’ Avios pricing irrespective of day.
Business class redemption seats are capped at 2 per flight although occasionally more open up later. With a small business class cabin, however, you shouldn’t rely on this. The seating is fully flat and better than British Airways in terms of space and layout.
What is new?
The Winter 2017 airberlin schedule will see the number of weekly flights between Berlin and Dusseldorf and the USA increase by 45% compared to Winter 2016. ‘Winter’ means from late October to late March.
This is a summary of what is changing:
Dusseldorf to Orlando – new for Winter, following its Summer 2017 launch
Dusseldorf to Boston – new for Winter
Dusseldorf to San Francisco – new for Winter
Dusseldorf to New York – frequency increased
Berlin to San Francisco – new for Winter with four weekly flights
airberlin also serves Miami, Fort Myers, Chicago and Los Angeles. All eight US routes now operate year-round.
Unfortunately, there is a snag with the US West Coast flights when redeeming Avios.
Dusseldorf or Berlin to LA or San Francisco is slightly longer than London to LA or San Francisco. This goes over the edge of an Avios pricing band and puts the flights into a higher category which requires more points. A one-way in Business from San Francisco to Berlin or Dusseldorf is 90,000 Avios + £4 rather than (to London) 75,000 Avios + £300ish on BA.
That said, airberlin remains an excellent option for anyone looking for a decent quality long haul flight using Avios with minimal taxes.
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