Review: Airberlin Business Class A330 Miami To Dusseldorf

Introduction
US Airways Club Tampa
American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport
Airberlin Business Class A330 Miami To Dusseldorf
Airberlin Lounge Dusseldorf Airport
Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance
Etihad Airways First Class A340-500 Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles


I headed towards gate E10 at around 3PM, which is where my flight would be departing from.

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Miami Airport terminal

The “E” concourse at Miami Airport is pretty drab, without many good concessions or seating options.

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Miami Airport terminal

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Miami Airport terminal

The plane was at the gate and seemed to be in the final stages of preparation for the flight.

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Airberlin A330

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Airberlin A330

I stood near the podium, where I swear every other passenger came up to the podium to try and talk their way into an upgrade. In the end there was a German family that was somehow waitlisted for an upgrade, and they got the four remaining business class seats.

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Airberlin departure gate

At around 3:20PM boarding was called, starting with those that needed extra time boarding, followed by business class.

Airberlin 7001
Miami (MIA) – Dusseldorf (DUS)
Sunday, May 25
Depart: 4:00PM
Arrive: 7:00AM (+1 day)
Duration: 9hr
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Seat: 5C (Business Class)

With a total of just 20 seats in business class, airberlin’s cabin is quite intimate. Per SeatGuru, here’s the business class seatmap (though it’s worth noting that my configuration was slightly different):

Airberlin-Business-Class-Seatmap

As I mentioned in my comparison of transatlantic business class products, this plane features Solstys style staggered business class seats. These are very similar to the seats that Alitalia offers on their longhaul fleet, which I flew earlier in the year from Rome to Boston.

Airberlin recently completed the overhaul of their business class cabin, so this product can now be found on all of their longhaul A330 aircraft.

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Airberlin business class A330

Once onboard I quickly found my seat, 5C. I booked my ticket a few days in advance, so was only able to grab an “aisle” window seat.

There are two window seats in each row (one on each side of the cabin), and since it’s a staggered configuration the seat is either closer to the aisle or closer to the window in an alternating sequence. My seat was the one closer to the aisle.

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Airberlin business class seat A330

I can’t even begin to say how much better the “true” window seats are, as they’re incredibly private. So if you fly airberlin business class on this plane, I’d highly recommend doing whatever you can to reserve one of the “A” or “K” seats, as they’re truly in a different league than any of the other seats. Beyond that, the “true” window seats have three windows, while the “aisle” window seats have just one window, and you really have to lean to look out of it.

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Airberlin business class seat A330

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Airberlin business class seat A330

Then there are also the “honeymoon” center seats, where you’re basically seated as close to the person next to you as you would be in economy. That’s great if you’re traveling with someone you want to be that close to, though I wonder what happens when you end up next to a stranger in that configuration. That seems like it could be downright awkward.

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Airberlin business class seat A330

Anyway, back to my seat. The tones were very neutral, so I didn’t love or hate them. The seat was definitely a bit on the narrow side, a feeling which was compounded by the fact that you’re basically sitting “in the aisle” when you have a “C” or “H” seat.

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Airberlin business class seat A330

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Airberlin business class staggered configuration

To the left of the seat were the seat controls, which were reasonably intuitive.

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Airberlin business class seat controls A330

Then the seat had an ottoman, with the entertainment screen located at the very front of it. There was a tray table which dropped down from the left side of the ottoman console.

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Airberlin business class seat A330

That hook could also be used to hang headphones.

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Airberlin business class seat

One of the major limitations of the seat is the lack of storage space. There was a small cubby under the ottoman where you could store shoes, but aside from that there really wasn’t any storage.

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Airberlin business class foot cubby A330

I kind of just awkwardly placed my belongings in the “empty area” to the left of my seat, which seemed like the best option.

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Airberlin business class foot area A330

That’s also where the safety card and power port are located.

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Airberlin business class power port A330

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Airberlin business class seat A330

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding was a pillow, and as soon as I settled in I requested a blanket as well.

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Airberlin business class seat pillow and blanket

The headphones airberlin offers are okay — they’re noise canceling, though a bit rough on the ears.

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Airberlin business class headset and seat controls

Within moments of settling in I was also offered pre-departure champagne, a menu, and an amenity kit.

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Airberlin business class menu, amenity kit, and beverage

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Airberlin business class pre-departure champagne

The amenity kit was fairly nice, and consisted of Institut Karite toiletries. The amenity kit featured socks, eyeshades, a toothbrush/toothpaste combo, and enough body lotion for a sperm bank. Then there were also slippers, which I appreciated (and aren’t offered on nearly enough airlines, in my opinion — I’ll actually take slippers over an amenity kit any day).

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Airberlin business class amenity kit and slippers

There was also a bottle of water waiting in the cup holder by my seat.

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Airberlin business class water bottle

Shortly before pushback the crew came around with some hot towels.

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Airberlin business class pre-departure hot towel

At that point the purser also came around the cabin to introduce herself, welcome everyone aboard, and take drink orders. I thought that was a nice touch for business class.

At around 3:45PM the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard. He advised us of our flight time of 8hr45min, which he expected would put us into Dusseldorf on-time.

The crew was super-friendly, and I could tell right away that service would be good. As they made the welcome aboard announcements, it’s interesting that they said “welcome aboard your return flight to Dusseldorf.” Airberlin is clearly primarily targeted at Germans (and I’d say 90%+ of passengers were German). It’s not often you hear them phrase it that way…

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Airberlin business class cabin

We pushed back 10 minutes ahead of schedule, at 3:50PM, at which point the safety video began to play.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find the 3D person they use in the safety video to be creepy.

Our taxi to runway 8R took about 15 minutes, and at around 4:05PM we were airborne.

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Miami Airport on taxi

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Taking off from Miami

It was a gorgeous afternoon in Miami, so as usual the views were stunning, especially as we climbed out over the coast.

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Taking off from Miami

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Taking off from Miami

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Taking off from Miami

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 20 minutes after takeoff.

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Leveling off

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Airberlin airshow

Our flight path was fairly easterly, in that we weren’t “hugging” the coast all the way up to St. Johns and then starting our Atlantic crossing.

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Airberlin airshow

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Airberlin airshow

Once leveled off drinks were served, along with a ramekin of nuts. At this point dinner orders were taken as well, and at the same time I was asked what I wanted to drink with my dinner.

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Airberlin beverage and nuts

I took the opportunity to browse the entertainment selection, which was fairly extensive.

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Airberlin entertainment system

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Airberlin entertainment system

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Airberlin entertainment system

In the end I decided to watch “Anchorman 2,” which was an acceptable airplane movie. As much as I love comedies, Will Ferrel doesn’t do it for me.

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Airberlin entertainment system

At that point tables were set. The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the wine and drink list read as follows:

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While service is done on trays, I have to give them credit for the fact that they don’t use carts in business class, which Lufthansa does (and it’s always a pet peeve of mine).

The first course consisted of a salad with balsamic dressing, as well as a choice of appetizers. I selected the marinated shrimp with guacamole, cilantro puree, roasted pepper puree, and fried tortilla strips. It was also served with a white roll.

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Airberlin business class appetizer and salad

The salad and appetizer were edible though forgettable, so acceptable for transatlantic business class, in my opinion.

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Airberlin business class appetizer

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Airberlin business class salad

For the main course I ordered the crab cake with red pepper sauce, asparagus spears, yellow pepper julienne, and red skin mashed potatoes. Again, it was edible but forgettable.

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Airberlin business class main course

After that I was offered my choice between cheese and fruit. I find it interesting that they don’t have a real dessert option, which I’m sure my mother approves of. I ordered the fruit, and also asked for a cappuccino to go along with it. I was kind of surprised they had cappuccinos, but I’m 99% sure they actually use a powder mix for them, since they were super sweet.

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Airberlin business class dessert and cappuccino

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Airberlin business class fruit

The meal service was done at a leisurely pace, which was fine by me given that I wasn’t planning on sleeping. My body clock is very much on Pacific Time, so a flight leaving at 1PM PT doesn’t exactly lend itself to maximizing sleep. Beyond that, I found the seat to be quite narrow, and the lack of privacy in the aisle seat really made it tough for me to sleep.

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Airberlin airshow

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Airberlin airshow

After dinner the cabin lights were dimmed and most passengers dozed off a bit. I decided to play around with the entertainment selection a bit longer. When I started watching Taylor Swift music videos on the entertainment system I knew it was time to switch to my iPad.

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Airberlin entertainment

On my iPad I watched a couple of episodes of my preferred shade-throwing TV shows.

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Airberlin business class cabin

My one complaint about the business class cabin is that there’s a single lavatory for 20 passengers. Now some mentioned that there’s another bathroom behind business class and to the right, though I didn’t see that on this particular configuration (as there were other subtle differences between this configuration and the SeatGuru one I posted above). To me that’s just not enough on a transatlantic flight.

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Airberlin business class lavatory

Before I knew it I opened the window and the sun was already rising over the Atlantic just west of France, which is always a glorious sight. I should also note that the crew was incredibly attentive throughout the night, and must have been through the cabin every few minutes to see if anyone wanted anything.

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Sunrise over the Atlantic

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Airberlin airshow

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Airberlin airshow

About 80 minutes out of Dusseldorf the cabin lights were turned on and breakfast service began.

While I didn’t partake in it, the snack menu read as follows:

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And the breakfast menu read as follows:

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Service began with hot towels and a tray of orange juice being brought around the cabin.

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Airberlin business class orange juice

There weren’t any choices for breakfast, though for such a short transatlantic flight that’s perfectly fine, in my opinion. For breakfast they had cold cuts (smoked turkey and salami), fruit, cheese, bread, and croissants. I also ordered another deliciously sweet powdered cappuccino to go along with it.

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Airberlin business class breakfast

Then about 30 minutes before landing the purser came around again to thank each passenger for flying airberlin, and to offer them a chocolate heart.

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Airberlin business class pre-landing chocolate

25 minutes out we began our descent, which was smooth. As usual, the descent into Germany was gorgeous, as I just love the scenery.

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On approach into Dusseldorf

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On approach into Dusseldorf

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On approach into Dusseldorf

We landed on runway 5L at 6:40AM, and had roughly a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.

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Taxiing at Dusseldorf Airport

Already on stand was the Lufthansa A340 which arrived from Newark less than an hour prior.

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Taxiing at Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing at Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing at Dusseldorf Airport

We followed a “follow me” car to our arrival gate, C4, where we arrived at 6:50AM, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

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Pulling into the gate at Dusseldorf Airport

Bottom line on airberlin business class

Airberlin offers a perfectly functional and pleasant business class product. The service was good, food perfectly edible, and hard product also quite good for a European airline. If you can snag one of the “true” window seats then the hard product is excellent.

Of course when it comes to travel on a German airline I still have a love affair with Lufthansa first class, but it’s also not fair to compare a low cost carrier’s business class product to Lufthansa’s first class. And to airberlin’s credit, they now have fully flat beds throughout their longhaul fleet. Meanwhile many of Lufthansa’s planes still feature their old business class product. So all things considered airberlin is doing a better/more consistent job with business class than Lufthansa.

Certainly a great use of miles, especially factoring in that there are no fuel surcharges for transatlantic award redemptions on them, whether booking through American AAdvantage or British Airways Executive Club.

Comments

  1. wwk5d says

    Lucky, how do you find the actual design of these seats compared to the ones on Alitalia and Etihad? It looks like there is nothing restrictive covering your feet when it is in sleep mode, but it seems they had to sacrifice the large arm rest/counter top for that…which also probably makes the seat feel narrower too.

  2. Mike says

    Ben,

    I think you need to man up a bit….
    Complaining about lack of privacy… Good lord when did you last do a 13/14 hour sector in economy??
    Think you should try it once in a while!
    I could understand you complaining if you were actually paying full price.

  3. says

    @ Mike — So it’s a valid complaint, just not on an award ticket? In case the purpose of my blog isn’t clear, let me clarify. I try to provide reviews that are useful to people when deciding which airline to fly. That applies whether they’re flying on a revenue ticket, award ticket, or upgrading. The absolute quality of a product doesn’t vary depending on how you pay for it.

  4. says

    @ @Orlijr — Haven’t done Lufthansa’s new business class yet, though will try that in a couple of weeks. Will report back. Definitely better than Lufthansa’s old business class, though.

  5. says

    @ Hong Kong Airline News — Service and food are definitely better in Lufthansa first class than airberlin business class.

  6. says

    @ wwk5d — Yep, I definitely found the Etihad seat to be more spacious. Same design, but not quite as “spread out.”

  7. JRL says

    @ Lucky — How are you not skeeved out by beverages prepared from the “potable” water tanks on board?

    I’ve heard reports of 5+ inch thick green pond scum lining these rarely maintained tanks. The water often has levels of bacteria which pose a health risk for human consumption.

    Admittedly I’m a high-maintenance but in first class I always ask for my tea/coffee to be prepared with bottled water when possible.

    JRL

  8. Joe says

    May not be something you can comment on, but what is AB like in economy? I’m seeing them come up a good bit on AA award tickets to Europe, and I’d prefer them to BA to avoid the fuel surcharges and connecting through London.

  9. says

    @ Joe — I did walk back there. The pitch looked quite tight, but other than that it looked pleasant enough, with on demand entertainment at every seat.

  10. says

    @ JRL — Selective ignorance on my part, I guess. What I don’t think about can’t hurt me… right? :D

    But yeah, totally agree, it’s gross…

  11. James K. says

    Which airline’s MD-80 is that? It looks like it says Bulgaria, but I didn’t think they had Maddogs

  12. says

    @Joe — I’ve flown AB in both economy and business class JFK-TXL. Since the economy configuration is 2-4-2, and I was flying with a companion, we had enough space and privacy to nap in our two seats by the window. The economy food was decent but forgettable. Definitely a reasonable transatlantic economy flight!

  13. Daniel says

    Holy crappola, is anyone else seeing the woman in green in the third photo down?

  14. says

    My husband and I flew in the “honeymoon” seats on AirBerlin. They were AWFUL. Our elbows touched almost the entire time we sat up. I love my husband, but I don’t want our elbows to touch for a ten hour flight. That configuration was terribly cramped.

  15. Bgriff says

    This route is probably a particularly high share of European-originating passengers since lots of Europeans love to go for a beach vacation in Miami while not that many Miamians have need to go to Dusseldorf. (Whereas a flight like JFK-TXL is probably more of a mix of origins.)

  16. Carl says

    Good review, seems like a solid business class product. Your intro seemed to indicate that they release lots of award space. Do you use AA to search for it?

  17. says

    @ Carl — They do release a good amount of award space (in particular close to departure), and aa.com is the best place to search it.

  18. Huff Daland says

    I’ve been looking forward to your review as I ponied up 100,000 Avios for this cabin MIA-TXL and DUS-MIA in August. The seat maps on both SeatGuru and SeatExpert, as well as AB’s own website, are confusing. I was originally given A seats but didn’t realize it was the same private window seat as K. I changed to K seats via Qatar website with no problems, although one flight I have 4K and the other flight is 5K. Great review!

  19. says

    @ Huff Daland — Enjoy your trip! They do seem to have alternating configurations, where some planes have “A” and “K” seats in odd rows, while others have them in even rows.

  20. Huff Daland says

    BTW I’ve flown charters from that E satellite terminal to Havana (I’m a journalist). I’ll agree that food/beverage outlets there are lacking but fortunately there is a Cafe Versailles. Cuba si!

  21. Alan says

    At first i thought the IFE was showing ‘One Mile At A Time TV’, but it’s just your reflection :-P

    Nice review and well done on admitting that LH isn’t omnipotent! I’d much prefer this flight to an LH business flight in slanty seats and with worse catering!

  22. Arsalan says

    Safety briefing lady definitely looks creepy – reminds me of an evil austin powers-style fembot.

  23. Ivan Y says

    Looks like a good product (esp. since no surcharges) but those screens must be super-reflective. Don’t recall ever seeing so many inadvertent selfies ;)

  24. David says

    AirBerlin sucks big time: it is the Lidl/Aldi (German low cost grocery stores) of the sky. I just flew them because I needed to be in DUS first thing in the morning, so I have no time to fly through Madrid or London, and the new seats did look comfortable enough. At check-in, they insisted in weighting my carry-on, which was 11.2 kg instead of AB’s limit of just 10 kg. After having flown more than 3 million miles, this is the first time such a policy is enforced in a premium cabin. Furthermore, when I tried to ask for some flexibility, they were rude and obnoxious beyond what was granted, forcing me to check-in my carry-on. In conclusion, if you are traveling on business and want to have some consideration for your premium price point, stay away from AirBerlin. It was my first and last time.

  25. says

    Thank you for the review!
    I hope to score an award upgrade for my flight back after a transatlantic cruise. I really hope awards will be available nearer to departure (zero now)…

  26. Cachef1 says

    To those looking for a business class seat – don’t forget AirBerlin’s bidding feature which is great. On most flights AirBerlin offers an alternative if you are already booked in coach. You may bid on a business class seat by going to http://www.airberlin.com/upgrade. Having entered your flight information, you place an offer of your choice – additional amount to fly in business, provided seats are available. There is also an “indicator” of how likely your bid may be successful. If accepted, you are notified by email and your credit card charged for your bid. This can be a win-win feature. You may be able to upgrade for half of the regular business class amount, and AirBerlin now has your coach seat to sell which is an easier sell than business class. I was sure successful and looking forward to my flight this coming week. At which time I will offer my comments on their business class. Thus far their customer service has been terrific.

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