Nutmeg Avios

Big airberlin US expansion means LOTS of new low-tax Avios redemptions

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 (the photo below is hers) 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.

airberlin new york berlin airplane

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.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Bits: good Accor / Amex cashback deal, other Amex offers, 20% bonus on SPG to AA conversions
Bits: Avios / Tesco competition, 1200 free Avios with PayQwiq, Etihad 'all A380' from Heathrow
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  1. Concerto says:

    Good news, but getting business award seats will still be like looking for hen’s teeth. For their own program, airberlin ask 40,000 miles per direction, which sort of makes up for the high taxes that they charge.

    • Raffles says:

      Oddly I’ve never found it too difficult. You need to remember to check Dusseldorf and Berlin and only look for a direct flight without trying to add in a connection back to the UK.

      • I’ve booked 5 business seats with AB in the last 24 months and never had any problems finding availability.

        • Which cities are you guys finding availability in? I looked at LAX – TXL and SFO – DUS for 1 business class seat for half of 2017 (Mar – July) and didn’t find a single one.

  2. OT.

    Please check any conversion rates for supercard. I’ve just found an American one at under 1.10!

    • rams1981 says:

      Is that in the app? I have to say supercard are imbeciles for changing to Wirecard when the guys they used before were pretty good.

    • Wow, that’s a shockingly bad exchange rate! :O

    • @mkcol says:

      What? £1 = US$1.10???

      • yep!

        Actually below 1.10 – I was rounding up!

        • Oh and the app says I still saved compared to other cards, which is a lie. it makes you wonder how true the statement is on other transactions.

          There is no web site now. only the app.

        • Jason Cousins says:

          The product is the worst one I’ve ever come across. I’m still awaiting for a hotel refund from a month ago and despite numerous promises of sorting it out, and supposedly some compensation, still nothing. They cite ‘technical issues’, but it’s simply not acceptable for a financial product.

        • Awful! Sorry to hear that. I think I will leave my supercard at home for my US trip now.

  3. Robert says:

    Don’t forget that while East Coast prices are smilier to BA peak, West Coast is a very different story.
    Taxes are indeed substantially lower, but you pay for that with Avios, which are not just charged at peak rates, but are more expensive that BA period.

    Looking at some dates next year, BA want 62,500 Avios for a one way LHR-LAX off peak, and 75,000 at peak. AB charge an eye watering 90,000 Avios at all times!

    And then you have IB which is a far better bet with taxes ever so slightly more expensive than AB but 42,500 Avios off peak and 62,500 at Peak.

    • Raffles says:

      How can AB to LA be more Avios than peak date BA?

      This could only happen if the extra few miles for Berlin vs London tipped it into another pricing zone, or if you are adding in a London connection to Berlin which could be done for cash instead.

      • Robert says:

        I don’t Rob, but they are.

        It’s 75,000 peak one way with BA and 90,000 with AB.

        • Robert says:

          And that’s DUS-LAX with AB, no LHR segment added.

        • koroleon says:

          According to gcmap:
          DUS-LAX: 5,689 miles
          LHR-LAX: 5,456 miles
          The Avios chart charges more for flights > 5,500 miles, that’s where the difference comes from. Same thing for SFO. Interesting observation, thanks.

      • From your university article on Air Berlin:

        “Looking at the number of Avios required, some destinations require more than a peak date British Airways flight from London, and some require less. This is because the distance from Berlin, Dusseldorf or Munich to your destination will be different to a similar flight from London, and this sometimes tips the flight into a different pricing band”

        • There we are then 🙂

          I have edited the article to reflect this. Should have read my original University piece again yesterday! You would be surprised how often I google a question and the answer that comes back is from this site …..

        • Your site is so useful. Most of the time headforpoints tops google search results.

  4. @mkcol says:

    Are the Air Berlin flights bookable through Or do we need to phone up?

  5. No sigh of any Canadian routes? Anything to Toronto would really be nice…

  6. Talking of Air Berlin, I have 10,000k+ Topbonus miles that will start expiring before I have any flight to use them on. Are there other ways to keep them ‘live’?

  7. OT – Raffles any ideas when we are likely to see the BAPP increased bonus back?

  8. I have to say I wasn’t massively impressed with AB. Berlin-Abu Dhabi was great for £50K avios business return pre-devaluation but I certainly wouldn’t pay a premium in cash or Avios to fly from Berlin or Dusseldorf over a BA flight from Heathrow.
    Although all seats have direct aisle access I have to say I though Club World was otherwise better. There’s no lounge at Berlin Tegel, other than the standard landside BA lounge if you’re flying from an A gate and the cabin crew were rather officious, telling me off for walking through the galley well between meal services and having a go at me for daring to enter the business cabin to try to return to my seat!
    On the basis of the above comparisons I’d rather pay the extra taxes and fees with BA even without a 2for1 for Lloyds upgrade voucher.

    • Oh and the fact they had (have?) two slightly different J seating layouts on the A330s meant we got dumped out of our selected seats several times pre-flight as well.

  9. In new york atm flew air Berlin from dusseldorf in business class,have to say was quite impressed better layout than ba. shame they only have two reward flights per flight though as there were 4 of us two had to sit in economy, which means it’s my turn on the way home and the missus gets a nice sleep after a hectic week in NYC. Thanks to raffles anyway as I would have never been able to fly this way without his excellent blog and advice

  10. OT Question on status match: I did the status batch with airberlin last year can I do it again on the same account or should I make a new airberlin account? I have do have another flyer program to match it to. Also are there any other good status matches? Thanks