Air Berlin announced over the weekend that they’re adding some more US frequencies on existing routes starting May 1, 2014, as follows:
Air Berlin’s Chicago to Berlin service will go daily
Presently Air Berlin’s Chicago to Berlin service is 5x weekly, though as of May 1 it will go daily, operating the following schedule:
AB7420 Berlin to Chicago departing 10:00AM arriving 12:10PM
AB7421 Chicago to Berlin departing 3:25PM arriving 7:00AM (+1 day)
Air Berlin’s New York to Berlin service till go from 7x weekly to 10x weekly
In addition to their current daily New York to Berlin service, Air Berlin will be adding an additional 3x weekly frequencies (Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays) with the following schedule:
AB7454 Berlin to New York departing 5:10PM arriving 7:55PM
AB7455 New York to Berlin departing 9:55PM arriving 11:50AM (+1 day)
Air Berlin’s New York to Dusseldorf service till go from 7x weekly to 10x weekly
In addition to their current daily New York to Dusseldorf service, Air Berlin will be adding an additional 3x weekly frequencies (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays) with the following schedule:
AB7480 Dusseldorf to New York departing 5:00PM arriving 7:25PM
AB7481 New York to Dusseldorf departing 9:25PM arriving 11:05AM (+1 day)
Air Berlin has a ton of business class award space over summer to Europe
If you’ve tried to redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel over summer between the US and Europe you’ve probably noticed the lack of good options. American is releasing virtually no premium cabin award space, while British Airways has some space, though imposes huge fuel surcharges regardless of which airline you book through.
Air Berlin has literal tons of business class award space, though. They actually seem to have even more award space than they did prior to loading these new routes into the system. For example, just looking at nonstop availability between New York and Berlin from mid-May till September, there are plenty of dates with availability (marked in blue):
That’s right, every single date in August has nonstop business class availability from New York to Berlin.
Availability is similarly good going from Berlin to New York:
Again, every single date in August has business class award availability from Berlin to New York.
Air Berlin’s new business class product
Best I can tell, all of Air Berlin’s flights to Chicago and New York are scheduled to feature the new business class product as of next summer, which is fully flat.
To be sure a flight you’re eying is operated by the new product, make sure the business seatmap looks like this:
If it looks like this, it’s the old product:
Redeeming miles for Air Berlin:
There are two ways to redeem AAdvantage miles for travel on Air Berlin:
- You can book a partner award, for which American charges 50,000 miles one-way in business class. American allows a stopover at the North American transoceanic city on a partner award. This means if you’re booking Berlin to New York, for example, you could then make New York your stopover point, and at no additional cost add a one-way to Los Angeles, Vancouver, or Honolulu, just to name a few possibilities.
- You can book a distance based Explorer Award, where you’re charged based on the number of miles you can fly. The big benefit of this is that you’re allowed to fly up to 16 segments, and can have as many stopovers as you’d like on such an award.
Booking Air Berlin business class using British Airways Avios
Air Berlin business class is actually one of the best uses of British Airways Avios, given that British Airways doesn’t impose fuel surcharges for travel on Air Berlin.
British Airways has a distance based award chart, and charges just 40,000 Avios for a one-way business class ticket between New York and either Berlin or Dusseldorf, and you’d pay a total of $2.50 in taxes and fees.
Meanwhile they charge just 50,000 Avios for a one-way business class ticket between Chicago and Berlin.
Keep in mind that there’s presently a 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways, which further lowers the cost of a one-way to 32,000-40,000 Membership Rewards points per direction.
So it’s not too late to book business class travel to Europe for next summer. And for a product as decent as Air Berlin’s new business class and at the price that’s available using both American AAdvantage miles and in particular British Airways Avios, it’s a tough value to beat.