Air Berlin

Surprising: Airberlin Adding Berlin To Hong Kong Flights As Of October 2017

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Airberlin is in a dire financial situation at the moment, and is undergoing a lot of changes. On the most basic level, airberlin is leasing about three dozen of their planes to Lufthansa, in hopes of minimizing losses as much as possible. Lufthansa will use these planes to grow their low cost Eurowings division.

For a long time airberlin’s problem was that they couldn’t seem to decide whether they were targeting business travelers or leisure travelers, and it seems like they’ve finally started to regain their focus a bit. Here’s how they’re presenting their new focus:

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Double Miles On Rocketmiles Bookings With Air Berlin Topbonus

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Rocketmiles is a great website offering returns on hotel bookings. In the past I used it with Norwegian Reward to get ~ $170 back on a two night stay. While their rates aren’t always the best, sometimes the returns are good enough to outweigh the small price premium. They’re partnered with dozens of large airline loyalty programs, including United, Delta and American. Interestingly, crediting to different programs seems to bring up different search results though.

Most milage based programs have the same return per night at the hotels that appear across most searches. That’s why, in most cases, it’s good to credit your stay to Virgin America Elevate or another program that has a high cent-per-point value. Well, through the end of the year Topbonus could actually be the best program to use.

At the moment, Air Berlin have partnered with Rocketmiles to offer double miles on all bookings through December 31, 2016. This means you can earn up to 20,000 award miles per night, which is an incredible return! While I’d usually choose another program, earning a 100% bonus per night is unbeatable.

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The Airberlin, Etihad, And Lufthansa Threesome Heats Up Even More

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I just can’t get over the situation in Germany right now between Lufthansa, Etihad, and airberlin. On the surface this all seems so backwards — Lufthansa is essentially bailing out their biggest regional competitor, and Lufthansa is also finally partnering with Etihad, a carrier they’ve claimed has threatened their very existence for years. But over a very short period of time, that has all changed.

I feel like it’s easiest to explain this in bullet point format:

— Airberlin has been in a horrible financial situation for a while and has been bleeding money with no end in sight
— Etihad owns a 29% stake in airberlin, and has basically threatened to cut them off, which has meant that radical changes are needed
— As part of this, Lufthansa will be taking over 38 planes from airberlin, and using them primarily for Eurowings, which is their low cost division
— It seems odd for Lufthansa to essentially bail out their biggest competitor (since it’s very possible Lufthansa will also lose money when they operate these planes), but the goal is really to keep Ryanair and EasyJet out of Germany as much as possible, and Lufthansa knows that if airberlin goes out of business, those airlines will flood the market

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A Unique Opportunity To Purchase Airberlin Miles For ~1.4 Cents Each

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In August I wrote about how Etihad Guest was offering bonus miles for joining The World’s Finest Clubs, which is essentially a program that gives you special privileges at over 200 nightclubs around the world. Based on the number of bonus miles Etihad was offering to join, it sure seemed like the program wasn’t worth it as such (then again, I go to bed at about 7PM every night, so I’m probably not the target audience for a program that gives you special privileges at nightclubs).

At best, that promotion was an opportunity to pick up Etihad Guest miles for ~2.5 cents.

Well, airberlin topbonus is now offering bonus miles for joining The World’s Finest Clubs, and the value proposition is significantly better. Specifically, you can purchase memberships that get you the following number of points:

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Want To Redeem Airberlin Miles? You Better Speak German

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Airberlin is both a member of the oneworld alliance and also an Etihad Airways Partner, so there are quite a few cool ways to redeem airberlin topbonus miles. You can redeem topbonus miles for travel on airberlin directly through their website. However, if you want to redeem for travel on any of their partners, including American, Etihad, etc., you have to book by phone.

There’s only one small problem — the airberlin topbonus team doesn’t have any English speaking agents, so you can only book your award in German. Topbonus used to have an English-speaking call center, though I guess due to their financial situation and cost cutting measures, they eliminated it a while back.

LoyaltyLobby wrote about this in the past, and airberlin’s PR office claims that they’ll eventually bring back an English-speaking call center. However, there doesn’t seem to be an actual timeline for that happening.

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Rumor: American & Airberlin Discontinuing Codeshare Agreement

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For a long time airberlin has been in a horrible financial situation, as they’ve sort of struggled with whether they want to be a low cost carrier or full service airline. The combination of the two just hasn’t worked well for them.

For several years Etihad has had a ~29% stake in airberlin, which has been part of their strategy of investing in foreign airlines. Unfortunately there seems to be no end in sight for airberlin’s losses, so Etihad has apparently been getting a bit antsy as well.

About a month ago it was formally announced that some big changes would be coming to airberlin. Specificall

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Etihad Guest Aligns Elite Benefits & Cuts Lounge Access For Silver Members

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While Emirates has been focused on growing their own airline, Etihad has taken a different growth strategy. They’re keeping Etihad (relatively) small, and instead investing in foreign carriers. The collection of these eight carriers is known as Etihad Airways Partners, and they serve over 400 cities across six continents.

Etihad has been working on aligning the experiences across airlines as much as possible, including both the onboard product and the frequent flyer programs.

Etihad has just announced that they’re working on standardizing the experience across airlines as much as possible, including with their frequent flyer program. Etihad will begin offering standardizing fare choices across airlines, and already offers flat beds and dine on demand in longhaul business class across all their partners.

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Official: Lufthansa To Take Over 40 Airberlin Planes

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We’ve known for a long time that airberlin has been in a rough financial situation, as they’ve fundamentally had an identity crisis. They couldn’t decide whether they wanted to be a low cost carrier or a full service airline, in terms of their route network, product offering, etc. Despite Etihad’s significant investment in airberlin, they’ve continued to rack up unsustainable losses, and needed a change.

For a while now we’ve been hearing about airberlin’s restructuring plan, which sees them leasing many of their aircraft to Lufthansa. It may seem a bit odd for an airline to lease their planes to their biggest rival, but the two airlines do share one common goal: to keep EasyJet and Ryanair out of Germany as much as possible. So I guess the strategy comes down to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Well, the details of airberlin’s massive restructuring are now official. Here’s the bullet point summary of their changes:

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Airberlin’s New Intra-Europe Business Class Is Now On Sale

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As I first wrote about in early August, airberlin is planning on introducing business class on intra-Europe flights this year. The airline lacks a vision as they continue to bleed money, and seem internally conflicted as to whether they want to be a full service or low cost airline.

In the meantime it looks like airberlin will soon be leasing about a third of their planes to Lufthansa, which will operate all of the airberlin’s routes that aren’t to Dusseldorf or Berlin.

Anyway, as anyone who has flown intra-Europe business class knows, it’s not exactly a glam experience. Instead it’s typically economy with a blocked middle seat in the front of the plane, with better onboard service, as well as priority ground services (premium check-in, security, boarding, and lounge access).

Airberlin was planning on just making the first row of each plane business class, primarily so they can create a better offering for passengers coming off longhaul airberlin flights. It sucks to pay for airberlin’s longhaul business class, only to connect onto a shorthaul flight in economy.

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Airberlin May Soon Be Operating Flights On Behalf Of Lufthansa

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In July I wrote about the terrible financial situation of airberlin, which is Germany’s second largest airline. The airline lost almost $500 million last year, despite oil prices being as low as they are.

They seem to fundamentally be struggling with an identity crisis, as they’re not sure whether they want to be a low cost carrier or a full service airline. Etihad has a 29.2% ownership stake in airberlin, though for quite a while there have been rumors of them wanting to decrease their stake, given no clear end in sight for airberlin’s woes.

At the time we learned that Lufthansa is apparently in talks to buy parts of airberlin. Specifically, they were looking at taking over all of airberlin’s flights that aren’t to/from Dusseldorf or Berlin, and adding them to their growing Eurowings division. Up until now we haven’t really known what that would look like in practice. Would airberlin sell the planes to Lufthansa, and what happens to their employees? Or would they just lease the planes?

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Airberlin Introducing Business Class On Flights Within Europe

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Airberlin has long been in a financial mess, which is probably largely due to the identity crisis they’ve been having. They can’t seem to decide whether they’re a full service airline or a low cost carrier, and their investment from Etihad doesn’t seem to help with that, given that Etihad is generally pretty full service.

For years airberlin has operated a business class cabin on their longhaul flights, but then operates economy only cabins on their flights within Europe.

One issue with offering business class on longhaul flights and not on shorthaul flights is that it makes it rather unpleasant for connecting longhaul business class passengers. If you’re on a business class ticket and need to connect, why would you choose airberlin when your connecting flight will be in economy, all else being equal?

With that in mind, airberlin will finally be introducing business class on shorthaul flights… sort of. Per airberlin’s press release, here’s the logic for introducing a business class cabin:

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Lufthansa Could Buy Part Of Airberlin From Etihad

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Germany’s second largest airline, airberlin, lost almost $500 million last year, which was an increase over their loss the previous year, despite oil prices being as low as they are. Things aren’t looking like they’ll be improving for them anytime soon.

The airline seems to have an internal struggle as to whether they want to be a low cost European airline, or a full service longhaul airline.

If they want to go low cost, they’ll have a hard time competing with the cost structures of other European low cost carriers. If they want to go premium or longhaul, they’ll have a hard time competing with the Gulf carriers.

It seemed like they were going the low cost route, but Etihad’s ownership stake in airberlin has partly changed that, as they’re also trying to cater to premium passengers.

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Earn Up To 10,500 Miles For Referring Friends To Airberlin

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Nowadays it’s pretty rare to see an airline offer free miles just for registering for a frequent flyer program and agreeing to receive emails. It’s also rare for them to offer a referral program, where you can earn miles if you get a friend to sign-up for a frequent flyer program.

Airberlin has been one of the more generous airlines in that regard, and at the moment they’re even more generous than usual.

Through July 31, 2016, you can earn up to 1,000 miles for each friend you refer to airberlin’s topbonus program. Your friend earns the same bonus (which will come in the form of 500 miles upon registration, and a further 500 miles within three days), after they’ve signed up and registered to receive airberlin’s newsletter. There’s no other activity required to take advantage of this bonus.

You earn 500 bonus miles for your first referral, and then 1,000 bonus miles for each additional referral. Each member can earn bonus miles for up to 10 referrals per year; in other words, a member can earn at most 9,500 bonus miles by referring 10 friends to airberlin’s program.

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Discounted Transatlantic Summer Business Class Fares On Airberlin

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Oneworld airline airberlin has a transatlantic business class fare sale for travel this summer. This has to be one of the most poorly promoted sales I’ve ever seen, though.

The front page of airberlin’s website promotes the sale, but when you click on the sale link, it just brings you to the general booking page.

So we’re having to piece together the details of the sale on our own. Best I can tell the discounted airberlin business class fares are available for travel between the US and Europe with departure dates between July 1 and August 31, 2016. There’s a Saturday night minimum stay required. I’d also note that these fares are non-refundable and even non-changeable, which is even more restrictive than usual.

The all-in roundtrip fares are as follows:

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