One of the best Avios redemptions gets twice as easy to find!

airberlin announced on Tuesday that they are doubling the frequency of their Berlin to Abu Dhabi service.  There will now be two flights per day between the two cities.

On the face of it, this is relatively dull news.  If you know your Avios, though, you’ll know that this is very positive.

Berlin to Abu Dhabi is one of the best value Avios redemptions you can get.

Air Berlin

If you fly British Airways in Club World to Abu Dhabi, return, it will cost you 80,000 Avios points plus £514 tax.

If you fly airberlin in Business Class from Berlin to Abu Dhabi, return, it will cost you only 50,000 Avios plus £50 tax.

The saving – if you are prepared to book your own ticket to/from Berlin – is 30,000 Avios and £464 per person!

On top of this, you will also receive free transfers in Abu Dhabi to anywhere in the Emirates, including Dubai!  You will also receive free transfers to and from Tegel in Berlin if you choose not to fly directly on to London.

The reason that Berlin to Abu Dhabi is so cheap is that it just sneaks under the 3,000 miles limit that determines whether a flight is 50,000 Avios or 80,000 Avios return in Business Class. 

The actual distance is 2,862 miles.  Ironically, airberlin also offers a Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi flight, but that is 80,000 Avios return in Business Class as it just sneaks over 3,000 miles.

The best bit of news is that the new flight will offer a daylight option both ways.  The current Berlin to Abu Dhabi flight is overnight arriving at an inconvenient (for a tourist) 7am.  The new service will leave Berlin at 10.45am and lands at 19.50.

Similarly, the new return flight leaves Abu Dhabi at 9.10 and lands in Berlin at 13.00.  Given the modest flight time, this is a flight that is best done during the day.

The only downside with airberlin redemptions on this route is the cap on seats.  airberlin only has 19 Business Class seats on its Airbus A330 aircraft.  You only tend to see two seats per flight released for Avios redemptions, so this is not one that is suitable for a family unless you fly in Economy.

(It is not a bad deal in Economy, of course, given that you only need 25,000 Avios return and the tax is only £50.  If you took the day flights it would be totally acceptable.)

This is current airberlin Business Class seat on refurbished planes.  There was talk of installing the same seat as Etihad on the Abu Dhabi route but I’m not sure if that has been done:

airberlin flat seat

You can book these flights via on the normal Avios booking page.  These new flights are already available for booking for departures from 26th October.

Do NOT try to add a London connection on the same ticket, as you will have to pay long-haul Air Passenger Duty which will add roughly £150 to the taxes total.

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  1. wetboy1uk says:

    HI Raffles, when you say that you can get free transfer to and from tegel how does that work. Is it just for the flights you mention above or is it for any long haul flights you take with them?

    • there is a page on airberlins website. you also have it when arriving in abudhabi and can get to anywhere in uae i believe. it is for any flight that involves abudhabi as a start or finish point, so phuket i think also counts. there are rules on the website ie berlin within a radius of 40km or somethinng like that

      • wetboy1uk says:

        thanks richie, what about the bit from tegel in Berlin that raffles mentions – You will also receive free transfers to and from Tegel in Berlin if you choose not to fly directly on to London.

        • Although a cab to central Berlin from Tegel is only about Euro 20 anyway! I got dropped at Potsdamer Platz in a cab last August when I came in from NYC and the trip was laughably quick and cheap.

        • The T’s & C’s state that: If a Business Class passenger is not a topbonus status card holder, s/he can use the service maximum twice during her/his trip.

          So if 2 of you were flying business class and neither was a status holder, could one passenger book Berlin – TXL and AUH – Dubai (therefore using their allocated ‘2 trips’) and then the other passenger books the same 2 trips on the return leg? Would that work?

        • Logically, that does make sense if a couple are travelling! If that is too much trouble, then use it in Abu Dhabi and take a cab at Tegel, which is dirt cheap and super-quick into the centre anyway. Might be a different story when Berlin Brandenberg finally opens.

    • Only on the Abu Dhabi route because it is a codeshare with Etihad. Etihad insist airberlin offers cars because Etihad does on its own flights.

  2. Hi Raffles – looks great. What is the procedure for taking an Under 2 on airberlin and the avios implications?

  3. Yes but UK to Berlin is 18k in business so its really 68k + another £50 in tax. Still a great discount I agree but you’d need to factor in a big gap in case of delay and misconnect because you wouldn’t be covered as It is on a separate ticket (to avoid the APD). Maybe a night in a hotel both ways in Berlin? The free transfer in Abu Dhabi is amazing though.

    Thanks as always raffles

    • BA would put you on the next flight if you were late into Berlin on the return, that would not concern me. They are are both oneworld members and look after each other.

      Obviously more of a risk going out.

      • Why would they look after each other one way but not the other?

        • They would – but if you miss the flight to Abu Dhabi you could have quite a wait until the next one. If you miss your flight from Berlin to London there will be a multitude of other options to be transferred to.

        • I was wondering that too. I’ve always gone for the mantra that if the bookings are on separate PNRs then you’re not protected (with the exception of AA where they clearly state their Oneworld reprotection policy). Even when doing BA to BA on separate tickets I’ve always left plenty of time (or normally an overnight) just in case. Has anyone had any first hand experience of what BA are like in these separate ticket situations?

        • My brother missed a Lufty connection Munich to MAN last year when the inbound LH was late and on a separate ticket. They would not reroute him via FRA but were happy to put him on the MAN flight that afternoon from Munich.

    • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

      From the flight times of the new flight (10:45 am departure), I suspect that an hotel would be absolutely necessary.
      Maybe not such a great saving

  4. Would like to share my experience…did this route on the Friday before Christmas last year….got 3 economy redeptions Berlin-Abu Dhabi which was good luck. Also from memory, we took the BA flight ~4pm, arriving Berlin at 6.50pm and the 9.50pm AB flight to Abu Dhabi – again redemption tickets. Worked like a dream, except that the current Berlin airport was not fit to spend even a few hours in transit. Can’t praise Air Berlin enough – plane, food and the in-flight entertainment was all good. Particularly liked their bright tv screens – the short BA flight from London-Berlin seemed so outdated in comparision. Also worth noting that I wasn’t clear if economy tickets were eligible to use to Etihad coach to Dubai, but we went to the bus, they saw our boarding pass and said we are eligible. Overall agree that this is one of the best Oneworld redemptions particularly over winter to get some warm weather.

  5. Wish I’d known about the free transfers, we ended up hiring a car to drive up to Dubai last week, kicking myself that the penny didn’t drop with the code share with Eitihad, now in Phuket enjoying the bargain trip before we return home next week.

  6. Slightly OT, but it amazes me how the tax element can vary so widely between carriers and the actual airline through which the redemption booking is made.

    I was looking into Alaska Airlines last night as a way of redeeming on either AA or Emirates as I can convert SPG points to Alaskan.

    I can book a O/W First redemption on Emirates JFK-DXB for 90k and only $17 tax! the miles are slightly higher but $17 tax has to be considered good value. Its a 12+hour flight but should be worth it in First.

    Ideal for a LHR-JFK-DXB-LHR roundtrip.

    • The tax varies because the TICKETING airline keeps it. That is industry practice. Alaska isn’t bothered about taking your money for the EK flight so it waives the EK fuel surcharge.

      At least EK HAS fuel surcharges to waive.

      More shocking is BA and AA. AA does not add fuel surcharges. However, use your Avios to book an AA flight transatlantic and BA adds £350 of fuel surcharges (even though AA does not add them normally) and then pockets the lot. AA doesn’t see a penny.

      • Thats shocking. I always feel for the Avios customer service people on twitter and facebook who are bombarded with abuse about the cost of using Avios for long-haul. Not much they can say to make it sound better

      • ShoNuffHarlem says:

        Thanks for the AB economy props didn’t expect a good review. How is seat pitch? And I still worry they’ll lose my bags as I go to Munich which requires quick change of planes.

  7. ShoNuffHarlem says:

    How is the quality of AB economy long haul?

  8. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Has anyone (presumably on FT) ever worked out the cheapest RTW on Avios? Presumably involves AB in and out of TXL, S7 in Siberia and HNL-LAX on AA.

  9. Aeronaut says:

    But I don’t want to go to Abu Dhabi!

  10. It’s only of passing relevance to this thread, but I noticed the other day while looking at JTR that flights on Niki (which is confusingly described as AB’s semi-low-cost subsidiary) can now be booked through BAEC via avios. Don’t think Niki is on your comprehensive airline list Raffles.
    Seems that they don’t fly to the UK any more (withdrawn from EDI) but they might offer something of interest to the eastern Med bucket-and-spade destinations via Austria.

    • Thanks Paul. I will take a look and add it to the list. That would make 34 airlines I think that accept Avios!

    • Yes, I’ve done that – most recently Berlin to Vienna for 4,500 Avios plus 27 euros, I believe, if my memory serves me correctly. I’ve flown both Niki and Air Berlin and there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the service, to be honest, so neither is ‘lower-cost’ than the other. Getting reward seat availability on either doesn’t seem to be a problem, either.

  11. “You only tend to see two seats per flight released for Avios redemptions, so this is not one that is suitable for a family unless you fly in Economy.” Unless you have the kids fly in economy, have you not seen Home Alone 2?

    In other news, am I correct that you cannot use BAPP 241 on Air Berlin?

    • @ Malcolm – yes, BAPP 241s can only be used on BA’s own planes.

    • Correct, only BA planes.

      Ironically, though, given the tax saving it is still attractive going via Berlin at full rate instead of doing a 2-4-1 with BA at 80k plus (between 2 people) £1000-£1100 of tax!

      • I must apologise as I normally hate it when people correct grammar etc. on the internet, but this is a (ridiculous!) bugbear of mine. It’s not ironic that going via Berlin could be attractive, nor is it ironic that Air Berlin fly from Dusseldorf!

        Though I can’t really criticise people for misusing the word “ironic” when the Alanis Morissette song exists – not one single event sung about actually being ironic! I like Ed Byrnes quote on it – “the only ironic thing about that song is it’s called ‘Ironic’ and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is”.

        • Brendan Sweeney says:

          I’m pretty sure it’s ironic that it’s twice as expensive to use British Airways’ own frequent flier currency to fly on a British Airways plane than it is to fly on a different airline.

          Under the definition:
          “a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.”

          I think that qualifies…

        • That was the entire point of the song! Anyone who needed it explained to them on the internet didn’t understand what it was about.

  12. What is the actual duration of the flight TXL-AUH (how many hours)? Thanks.

    • I’d guess 5+ out and 6+ back but easy enough to check!

      • Thanks, I know, I am just very busy at the moment and thought you might know without further research as you go East regularly 🙂

        • blot-bang-rub says:

          We’ve (me, wife, 8 month old) just got back from doing this route on Tuesday and can tell you that the flights were 5 and a half hours out and 6 and a half back. There are no bassinet positions in Business so junior shares a seat, but on the return there was an empty seat that I moved to after the crew suggested it. At AUH you’re bussed to and from the terminal which is fine on arrival as there’s a special bus for C pax, but on the way home it was a scrum with the rest of the punters through gate 15. At Tegel we were bussed to terminal C (Business pax bus again), so for a connecting flight home, you’ve got a 5 minute walk to the A terminal. The limo service is easy to book and if you have an infant, they will probably give you a Mercedes mini van to carry all your gear in, but ask to make sure. Hope this helps.

        • Yes, it does, thanks. I noticed on several occasions in December (travelling between LHR and Germany) that BA obviously provided a separate bus from the plane to the terminal for us Club Europe passengers. A stewardess briefly stopped the economy pax at the exit door till we had got on the bus and departed. From the disturbed looks of my three fellow CE travellers I got the impression that this was something new (4 passengers on a 12 meter bus really felt a bit awkward). As I said, this happened several times – does anybody know anything about that?

  13. andy stock says:

    25000 avios plus £50 is excellent value in economy.

  14. Great information as ever raffles , can I ask the lucky so and so how’s in Phuket how he got there from dxb?
    Thanks x

  15. I swear I have seen this somewhere on HFP, but is it true that if you order foreign currency on BA using Amex gold rewards, it doesn’t count as cash advance AND you get membership rewards as well? I know that a friend did this using BA credit card but not sure about Amex gold?

  16. ^^further to this, what about MBNA? cuz MBNA amex earns 2.5 miles per 2 pounds so that’s even more than Amex issued amex cards?

  17. Etihad are now launching their own direct route to Phuket – do we think this might spell the end of the AB flight between AUH-HKT, that may also have something to do with the addition of a second flight from Berlin?

    • Interesting. It would make sense for airberlin to drop this, as it will be disproportionately expensive to crew and operate a flight away from your home base. I also assume not many passengers get on in Abu Dhabi for the onward leg – especially now, as locals would choose Etihad over airberlin.