Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Few Avios, little tax – the new Stuttgart / Vienna to Abu Dhabi airberlin routes

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If you are heading to the United States or the Middle East, airberlin is an excellent option.  You will minimise your taxes and, in some cases, the Avios spent.

I wrote a long overview of airberlin in this Avios Redemption University article.  I recommend that you take a look at it if you are not familiar with the airline.

The ‘sweet spot’ on airberlin in Berlin to Abu Dhabi.  Because this just falls under 3,000 miles, you only need 50,000 Avios return in Business Class and 25,000 Avios return in Economy.  Tax will be around £75.

All airberlin Business Class seats now have a flat bed.  On the Abu Dhabi route, you also benefit from a free chauffeur service in Berlin and Abu Dhabi as they are Etihad codeshare routes.

Note that Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi is just over 3,000 miles.  An Avios redemption on this route is poorer value at 80,000 Avios return in Business and 40,000 return in Economy.

The new Stuttgart route

airberlin announced last week that it is launching Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi from December 1st.  There will be one flight per day.

Slighly oddly, it is using an Airbus A320 aircraft.  This is a single aisle short-haul aircraft.  It will be configured with 12 business class seats and 132 economy seats – this means, I imagine, that they are not treating it as a long-haul route.  You simply couldn’t get 12 flat bed seats and 132 economy seats into an A320.

At the time of writing, redemption seats were not loaded into  Great Circle Mapper says that Stuttgart to Abu Dhabi is 2,967 miles.  This means that is should also fall into the ‘sweet spot’ of 50,000 Avios return in Business and 25,000 return in Economy.  If they are not running flat beds then the Berlin service will be far preferable.  If that is not available this would make a good value alternative.

The new Vienna route

airberlin has a sister airline in Austria called NIKI which was once owned by racing driver Niki Lauda. NIKI is launching an identical service to Abu Dhabi from Vienna which starts on November 1st.

Again, it will run daily and use an Airbus A320.

I have seen NIKI flights on before for Avios redemption although this route does not yet seem to be available.  At 2,637 miles it would fall clearly into the 25,000 / 50,000 Avios zone although I have no idea what sort of business class service NIKI offers.

What about Aer Lingus and Abu Dhabi?

I wonder when Aer Lingus is finally going to announce an Abu Dhabi route?  It is quite a while now since Etihad invested in the airline, and the only way that Etihad can make a decent return is to start funnelling long-haul passengers to Abu Dhabi.  The goal should be to persuade Irish passengers flying East not to fly to London for a BA connection.

With airberlin now offering services to Abu Dhabi from Berlin, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Vienna to supply transfer passengers to its major shareholder, it is odd that Aer Lingus is not doing the same.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Andy says:

    Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi from Dublin already though.

  • wobbly says:

    Intersting. But I do not see them on yet. All STR-AUH seem to connect in TXL right now.
    Of course LHR-STR is 9k return in ET.

  • Peter says:

    Small correction, NIKI’s founder is called Lauda.

  • Ian says:

    It appears Etihad Regional ie Darwin have taken over the STN-DUS route. I’ve used the Air Berlin Avios fare a few times to gef to Germany and beyond but can’t find a redemption at all now. It looks like it’s a code share on the AB website.

  • Phillip says:

    Both Airberlin and Flyniki currently only operate single class A320s as far as I know. The number of seats to be offered sound more like the configuration of Etihad’s A320, replacing one of the business class rows with two in economy to change the 16/120 configuration to 12/132 in Business/Economy respectively.

  • Jason says:

    Does anyone know if there is anyway to pre book seats on OW airlines( in business), when redeeming Avios? Ie Air Berlin, or Qatar Airways, to the Middle East. Spoke to BA the other day and they said there wasn’t.

    • xcalx says:

      Air Berlin Business seats can be pre booked free of charge but you do have to call them direct.

      • Nick says:

        I’m flying TXL-AUH in Business with AB in September using Avios. I emailed them with my request and they got back to me within a few days confirming my seat request.

    • Rob says:

      Yes – usually on their own websites using the equiv on Manage My Booking. Always done AB reservations on their site OK using the BA booking ref.

      • Phillip says:

        +1 for AB. Easily done on their site. MH and CX I’ve had to call. QR on their site.

  • Mark says:

    Just to confirm, i need to transfer my Avios miles into my BA account to book a AB flight ?

    Also do i have any way of transferring my AB miles to BA?

    Thanks in advance..

    • Rob says:

      1. Yes, you cant book via
      2. No, but you can book BA flights with them via TopBonus

      • Mark says:

        Thanks very much, for this info…

        It looks like i might take a cheeky little trip and burn some miles..

        TopBonus to get me to Berlin
        Berlin to Abu Dhabi with Avios .com
        Abu Dhabi to somewhere with QR (got 18k miles expiring this year)

        I could have a nice break say in Bahrain or even Manila, with a couple days in Berlin and Abu Dhabi 🙂

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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