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

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We have run a few ‘the end is nigh’ stories about airberlin recently.  All of the short haul routes which do not touch Dusseldorf or Berlin are being transferred to a TUI-controlled joint venture, and there are rumours that the German Government is encouraging a sale of the rump (long haul plus feeder short haul) to Lufthansa.

The Lufthansa deal may or may not happen.  In the meantime, it is business as usual.

airberlin, a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, has just announced a big increase in its US flight schedule for Winter 2017.

The airline has just leased three A330-200 aircraft – two of which came from LATAM – to add to its existing fleet of 14 and this is supporting major improvements in its long-haul schedule.  All are being refitted with standard airberlin seating.

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 in Business Class last year – here is her review.

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 redemption 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 Winter 2017 airberlin schedule will see the number of weekly flights between Berlin and Dusseldorf and the USA increase by 45% compared to Winter 2016.  ‘Winter’ means from late October to late March.

This is a summary of what is changing:

Dusseldorf to Orlando – new for Winter, following its Summer 2017 launch

Dusseldorf to Boston – new for Winter

Dusseldorf to San Francisco – new for Winter

Dusseldorf to New York – frequency increased

Berlin to San Francisco – new for Winter with four weekly flights

airberlin also serves Miami, Fort Myers, Chicago and Los Angeles.  All eight US routes now operate year-round.

Unfortunately, there is a snag with the US West Coast flights when redeeming Avios.

Dusseldorf or Berlin to LA or San Francisco is slightly longer than London to LA or San Francisco.  This goes over the edge of an Avios pricing band and puts the flights into a higher category which requires more points.  A one-way in Business from San Francisco to Berlin or Dusseldorf is 90,000 Avios + £4 rather than (to London) 75,000 Avios + £300ish on BA.

That said, airberlin remains an excellent option for anyone looking for a decent quality long haul flight using Avios with minimal taxes.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

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

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

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel 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 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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.

(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.)

Comments (41)

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

  • Anna says:

    The Air Berlin ones, I mean.

  • MIM says:

    OT – We’re using Air Berlin on an Avios (business class) redemption BOS-DUS for the return transatlantic leg of a trip for my wife’s 50th birthday in a few weeks.

    Given that we’ll actually be in the air for her birthday, I dropped an email to Air Berlin to let them know. Not expecting anything really, but I know she’d get a buzz if she was greeted on boarding with “Good afternoon Mrs MIM – happy birthday”.

    This is the reply I got….

    “Thank you for your e-mail.
    Please be informed that for this special case, you can book a special meal/drink.
    As well as offering low priced fares, airberlin offers its guests on all flights free on-board services such as newspapers, magazines, snacks, drinks and the opportunity to purchase items from our onboard shop.”

    Oh well…

  • Gillian Adderley says:

    OT: Is it possible to book rewards flights for Alaska that have a Virgin America leg?
    I know that they don’t show up on BA so its a phone booking.

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

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