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More airberlin weirdness – Etihad taking over Dusseldorf, airberlin launching Hong Kong

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It seems there are no end to the odd stories coming out airberlin at the moment.  The reason we cover them on Head for Points is that airberlin, as a oneworld alliance member, allows you to use Avios for its flights.  And airberlin long haul flights in business class are pretty good and have only £50 of tax!

We have recently covered the sale of non-core short-haul routes to a new Tui-backed joint venture.  There are also rumours of Lufthansa buying the airberlin long-haul routes and their feeder flights.

This is the latest news:

Etihad is taking over Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi from 26th March

This is a massive win for anyone who booked this route using Avios points as you will be transferred onto Etihad.  It is unlikely that too many people would have done this, however, as it is almost twice as expensive as the airberlin Berlin to Abu Dhabi route.

This is because Berlin to Abu Dhabi is just under 3,000 miles.  This makes it 75,000 Avios + £50 tax return in business class.  Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi is just over 3,000 miles.  This makes it 120,000 Avios + £50 tax return in business class.

airberlin is gearing up to launch Hong Kong in October

Whilst not yet available for booking, the aviation press is full of stories of a new airberlin Berlin to Hong Kong route.

This makes some sense.  airberlin currently flies to a few tourist-heavy destinations such as Cancun and Fort Myers.  Using those aircraft for a route with more business traffic would be logical.

It also doesn’t make much sense.  airberlin currently sells flights to Hong Kong via a connection in Abu Dhabi to Etihad, its controlling shareholder.  This new route would take traffic away from Etihad.

It this does happen, you would be able to travel to Hong Kong in business class using Avios for virtually no taxes.

Here is the clever bit.  Due to local law, there are no fuel surcharges on one-way British Airways flights from Hong Kong to London.  There ARE fuel surcharges if you fly London to Hong Kong to London, because that flight is ticketed in the UK and so falls outside the Hong Kong law.

Assuming the airberlin flights comes off, the following would be very attractive:

London to Berlin, BA

Berlin to Hong Kong, airberlin

Hong Kong to London, BA

Taxes for this itinerary should be under £100 compared to £500 for a pure British Airways Club World redemption.  And you can’t argue with that.  The downside is that it wouldn’t be possible to use a BA Amex 2-4-1 and there are no ‘off peak’ dates on partner lines such as airberlin.

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus 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

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 sign-up 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 (25)

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

  • Wade says:

    OT: Confirming what other people have said before, had return flights to Dubai over new year – outbound on Qantas, return on Qantas codeshare but Emirates metal. Got avios and BA tier points from both legs

  • Mark says:

    Two people could use a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher on the return leg from Hong Kong. Off peak WT+ to CW should work out to just over half the normal avios, peak would be two thirds.

    • Gavin says:

      That was my first thought. I found pretty good availability (booked 3 months in advance to HK in CW) when I used my voucher.

      • RC says:

        I was under the assumption lloyds upgrade voucher was only for BA metal? Is that not true?

        • Rob says:

          Yes it is

        • Gavin says:

          Using the Lloyds voucher for the return leg for 2 people would mean paying minimal or zero tax on BA from HKG-LHR, saving a total of 78000 Avios

  • Dave R says:

    Could you not use a 2-4-1 for the Hong Kong to London flight?

    • Dave R says:

      Ignore this question. I just read todays article about the BA 2-4-1. I didn’t realise that one way flights had to depart from the UK.

  • Daniel Evans says:

    So I’m trying to get to BKK using a mix of Avios and Etihad miles and finding lots of weirdness…

    If I try to book LON > Abu Dhabi via Berlin (AirBerlin) it’s 90,000 + £315 return. How are BA calculating the taxes? As if I was to book 2 flights LON > Berlin is £50, then Berlin to Abu Dhabi is £75 in taxes.

    I guess my question is, can I book 2 flights but get my luggage checked through? I don’t want to have to check-in again in Berlin.

    • Charlie says:

      If you book it on a single ticket starting in the UK you will pay the high APD taxes. Two single tickets, mean the UK sector you’re only paying the ‘specially discounted rate’ of Reward Flight Saver (£35 economy/ £50 business I believe)

      • Rob says:

        You will need to recheck bags in Berlin if you ticket separately to avoid the APD. However, this is little Tegel. No major risk of a misconnect.

    • Daniel Evans says:

      Thanks for the comments – I called BA who say that there is a good chance they can check the bags through but it would need to be done after booking.

      Have decided to splash out £1200 on Oman Air to BKK in Business – I can collect Etihad miles so is very good value.

      • Yan says:

        That’s excellent price if ex-UK and certainly a better product than AB and BA.

        I would take BA CS words with a pinch of salt; most likely it won’t be checked through by airport agents. Plus TXL isn’t well designed for transit purpose.

        • Brian says:

          Plus, if LON-TXL is delayed, then you presumably have no rights regarding the next flight…

    • Polly says:

      Daniel, always better fly your positioning flight the night before. Know it means a cheap hotel, but at least you are in the city ready for your LH. We always use a RFS flight to get there. The same applies of course on return, but if you book the last flight out the day you arrive back, you should be ok. At least you will have had your holiday by then, not so urgent.
      No matter what BA tell you now, they are not interlining bags that are on a different PNR, as yours will be, to avoid high UK taxes, of course.

  • Charlie says:

    If possible for the HKG-LHR flight, I would use the Avios to redeem on Cathay.

    This leaves the London to Berlin flight as the only one actually on BA.

    • Matthew says:

      Or even better, use Alaska miles 42,500 for one-way business HKG-LON on Cathay (choose LGW for the A350). Only need 37,500 SPG points for this taking into account the standard bonus 5,000.

  • Paul says:

    Ok I give up. I have been trying to move some orphan top bonus points to BA. I have been all over the top bonus site but I can’t find the merge button. Any ideas?

    • Alan says:

      Ermm you can’t move them between them as they’re different schemes? 😉 If you have enough you can book flights on each other’s aircraft but you can’t move the points around.

  • Pawel says:

    You can fly redemtion with cheap taxes on Cathey
    30.000 avios economy

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

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