Airberlin Is Doubling Their Regional Business Class Seat Count

A year ago airberlin announced that they were going to introduce business class on their intra-Europe flights. As anyone who has flown intra-Europe business class knows, it’s not a terribly exciting product. It’s typically just an economy seat with a blocked middle and improved food and drinks.

Airberlin has been struggling financially, and they’ve ultimately had an identity crisis as to whether they want to be a low cost carrier or full service airline. It seems like they’re going in the direction of trying to at least offer products tailored towards business travelers. Now those booking a longhaul airberlin business class ticket won’t have to be in economy for the shorthaul flight.

When airberlin first introduced regional business class they just had made the first row business class (and on the A321 it’s 1.5 rows, since the first row has just three seats on one side).

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It looks like airberlin is expanding the business class concept, however. As of September 1, 2017, airberlin will be adding a second row to their intra-Europe business class cabins. Per the press release:

“Our strategy to offer the comfort of Business Class travel at affordable prices on our European flights as well is proving successful. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback, we decided to expand the offer to include the second row of seats as well, and are open to the idea of expanding it even further in future. This is the first of many measures to improve the on-board product. Flying with airberlin will become even simpler and more comfortable for our passengers”, says Götz Ahmelmann, Chief Commercial Officer of airberlin.

“One of the special features on board in the European Business Class is the extensive selection of food and drinks available for the passengers to choose from. As such, we are conforming to the general trend of more personalised services that make each flight into a unique experience”, Ahmelmann continues.

Passengers traveling in airberlin business class get free snacks and drinks that are available for purchase in economy, including meals on flights that are longer than 60 minutes. One other thing that makes airberlin unique is that they’ll actually have more legroom in business class. While an extra 2″ isn’t a huge difference (30″ vs. 32″), it’s nice to see them at least trying to differentiate the product, especially as other airlines are cutting business class legroom and making the pitch the same in economy and business class.

Presumably this means they’ll have to reconfigure the planes to add an extra 2″ of legroom in the second row. I’m not sure where exactly that space will come from (hopefully not from other rows, but I’m not sure where else it would come from). I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I’m happy to see this concept working well for airberlin. While other airlines have flexible business class cabins on intra-Europe flights (where the number of business class seats varies flight-to-flight), it seems like airberlin is sticking to a fixed seat model. For the most part the premium for business class is significant, so I suspect most business class passengers on these flights are those connecting from longhauls.

Have you flown airberlin’s regional business class yet?

Comments

  1. Booking a biz ticket but having to do one of the legs in economy always makes me annoyed. Especislly since there is usually no price difference between mixed class and all business class…

  2. Paying 5x the price just to have a “free” sandwich and nobody next to me (other benefits such as priority boarding come with status anyway) is pretty pitiful. Good on AB at least something seems to work for them.

  3. Flew VIE-TXL in AB Business Class. Flight was operated by Alitalia and there was absolutely no difference between Y and J. One of the flight attendants even asked me if I know why the color of the seat cover in the first row is different compared to the others. Even after I told her that the first row is supposed to be business class I still received nothing.
    Flying CGN-TXL I discovered that there is no real lounge for J-class passengers (except the “exclusive waiting area aka big joke). I wonder which lounge BA is using.

  4. I think their move to increase J makes sense, since this is primarily offered for connecting long haul pax and limiting it to 4 seats (the A321 went to HG with no C in the last restructuring), is actually restricting J sales on the lang haul. Quite often, the xxx to DUS (or slightly less TXL) segment is sold out, but there is some availablity on the long haul. So far my two cents on strategy.

    Now the experience: I so far only travelled one shorthaul J segment on AB, from TXL to ZRH. I truly enjoyed the front row, since seat pitch is terrible on AB. So if they make row 2 J, they probably have to take one row out (as they did on the AB birds going to EW in the restructuring). The catering is basically you can choose any item from the buy on board menu and it’s free in J. In my case, it was a late afternoon flight, so I wanted to have a glass of white wine and the tapas. The tapas were available and delivered to my seat. I really liked them, as this is really the adequate catering for this flight, this time of the day. Much better than say the LH/LX shorthaul J catering which pretends to be a full meal but clearly isn’t.

    However, none of the two white wines was loaded and neither was the champagne/sparkling wine … so I settled for the one (out of two) red wines available … The purser was extremely apologetic and I praised him for the great job he’s doing under such difficult circumstances!

  5. This would have been their chance. Put 2row a 2seat and get a real business class. The market for that is surely there(even on intra-german short hauls).

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