airberlin, a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, announced a big increase in its US flight schedule yesterday.
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.
Anika flew New York to Berlin on airberlin last week and that review is coming up soon.
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 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 Summer 2017 airberlin schedule will see the number of weekly flights between Berlin and Dusseldorf and the USA increase from 55 to 78.
This is a summary of what is new based on what I was sent yesterday by the airline:
Dusseldorf to Orlando – new route from 6th May with five weekly flights
Berlin to San Francisco – new route with four weekly flights
Berlin to Los Angeles – increased to three weekly flights
Berlin to Miami – becomes a year-round service
Dusseldorf to Boston – frequency increased to daily
Dusseldorf to San Francisco – frequency increased to daily
Dusseldorf to New York – frequency increased
The new Orlando service is on top of existing airberlin Dusseldorf services to Miami and Fort Myers.
airberlin also flies to Chicago – that services is not impacted by these changes.
There is a snag with the US West Coast flights as the comments below point out. The extra tiny flight distance between Berlin – LA / SFO and London – LA / SFO kicks them into a higher Avios pricing bad. A one-way in Business from San Francisco to Berlin would be 90,000 Avios + £4 rather than (to London) 75,000 Avios + £300ish on BA.
This is the 2nd phase of US expansion following an upcoming step-up for Winter 2016 with Chicago, New York and Miami seeing increased frequencies. Dusseldorf to Los Angeles will also operate this Winter instead of taking a break.
What is not clear at the moment is where the aircraft are coming from. I imagine that Etihad, a 49% shareholder in airberlin, may be supplying a few. As far as I know airberlin does not have any long-haul aircraft on order.
At the same time, airberlin is rumoured to be in talks with the Eurowings subsidiary of Lufthansa about selling its non-core short haul routes. If true, this would see the aircraft and crew operating all airberlin routes which do not touch Berlin or Dusseldorf transferred to Eurowings. This is not an unlikely rumour since such services do nothing for Etihad in terms of providing feed to long haul and airberlin continues to lose substantial amounts of money.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
Until 9th April 2021, American Express is running the biggest sign-up bonuses ever seen on a UK payment card.
You will earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Platinum (apply here) and 50,000 Membership Rewards points on American Express Business Gold (apply here) which is FREE for your first year. Points transfer 1:1 into Avios. Here are links to our reviews:
Here are your other options. There are two official British Airways American Express cards:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)