Air Berlin » Business » User reviews
Class rating 8.2
- Boarding 6.3
- Seat for sitting 9.3
- Seat for sleeping 6.3
- Service 8.7
- Entertainment 8.3
- Food & drink 8.7
- Punctuality 9.0
- Baggage 6.7
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A330 Business class, no correct seat plan.
Berlin to Abu Dhabi at 21.50pm.
I had thought about Air Berlin for a while but not too sure how a business class fitted into a LCC model. But decided to give it a go. Booking was fine, unable to change seat number on line but as I had an aisle seat in row 1 I was happy. There is a chauffeur drive in Abu Dhabi care of Ethihad but to book I call Germany to book.
Check in, Tegel is a funny import it all seems back to front, I understand that it hold have closed but due to difficulties at the new airport , TXL remains open. A bit like a bus station or train station but an easy check in, and escorted to the lounge by an Ethihad representative.
Lounge used is Air France which is above the the BA lounge on the check in side of the airport. A very nice attendant in the lounge, but apart from using as a basic sitting room to have a cup of tea or a drink, I would forget it. Basic biscuits and pure package cakes and crisps, nil else. No lavatories in lounge only those in the public concourse. For boarding collected by an Ethihad representative and escorted to the check in gate. Cursory use of the security scanner by the guard and onto the plane.
A very nice and appeared to be new A330. Business class 2-2-2, a total of 20 seats. I was in 1H also in the front row were parents with a toddler and baby of about 9 months. And before anyone asks, they were very quiet and the parents also managed to get some rest.
As there were lots of empty seats I moved to the centre 2 seats in row 2. The seats were new but not the Ethihad cabin upgraded. But still very nice and new. There were 2 crew in the cabin. I found the crew to be very pleasant helpful and hard working. Abet a little casual, the purser chewing gum. I would say they have not learnt or taught the skills associated with a major carrier in business class.
Per take off juice and champagne, headsets, slippers and a small but adequate amenity bag. Push off late with a manual safety demonstration.
Once airborne a slow drinks round with menus, followed by dinner. This is one area tok equate to a LCC. The table was laid with white linen and then the tray was delivered. The tray had china crockery and metal cutlery. Preset with 2 small starters, the small dessert and a small portion of fresh cheese. Only main course was delivered separately. The starters were a very nice trout mouse and a sliced beef dish. Warm rolls were offered twice. There were 3 main courses, chicken prawns and vegetarian.
The starter of trout was nice, I left the beef. The prawn dish with pasta was delicious, the cheese and mouse dessert were fine. I didn't try the wines but had a glass of champagne. Coffee was offered but never arrived.
The AVOD was very good with the screens stowed in the arm rests. I watched a film and then tried to settle. The programmes of films and tv shows were extensive and had it not been such a short flight, around 5 hours plus I didn't have the time to explore there were also children's shows and games. Again I didn't explore the music channels.
I have never had to try and sleep on a flatbed slope and I now understand what all the negative reviews are about. They are terrible and I didn't sleep despite a lovely soft pillow and nice duvet. The slope oh my goodness what a mess, I sort of settled in between and slept soundly for about two hours. I couldn't find a flight pathway channel on the monitor so had no idea where we were.
Coffee on the go was offered and taken, it was a very decent coffee and welcomed.
Disembarking was easy, onto a bus for the ride to the terminal, just the usual immigration issues with slow lines and poor attitude of staff. Baggage off and through to the waiting Etihad chauffeur drive to Dubai.
I would say a very nice flight with a very willing crew, not at premium standard, with a good product and limited catering.
This is the first time I have taken a long haul flight with AB and it was due to schedule driven needs, as I could get to Berlin with less hassle than anywhere else and they have a late flight out to AUH.
The experience was like the curate's egg, starting with an arrival, by an AB feeder flight, off stand at the shed know as TXL terminal C, which has a great future as a Bauhaus DIY store when Brandenburg finally opens.
After a considerable trek, I got the terminal B and managed to ascertain than Air Berlin does not have a lounge but instead uses BAs, which is rather strange as one might expect an airline with 'Berlin' in the title not to let a foreign airline represent it in its home city.
However, the lounge is not the best, but at least it was far from the madding crowd, which consisted of 4 Polizei and 2 airport security workers trying to deal with a very smartly dressed, middle aged, woman who was enraged and up for a ruck.
When the flight was ready to board, I made my way through security to the gate, which resembled a shopping centre 2 days before Christmas and using tactics learned under such circumstances, made my way to the front of a very long queue to ask them if my 2,400€ ticket bought any priority boarding. The good news was that it did, the bad news was that this consisted of having to push into the main queue and enrage some people, whom I would guess have gainful employment in a car factory and who were not too impressed.
At this stage, I considered asking the blonde lady, who was last seen fighting the police, to sign up as my personal bodyguard, assuming she had avoided incarceration, but mercifully I managed to get on board quickly and find 2G to the left of door L2, whilst the rather large husbands turned a whiter shade of pale as they turned right and saw where they were spending the next 5 hours and 40 minutes.
I was greeted by the purser, who was dressed in a way that would have been entirely appropriate for Bauhaus, not unpleasant, but just strange in a J cabin, being clad in sort of very casual trousers and a sort of sweat shirt top in light cotton of a dark grey colour - he also looked very much like the villain in Never Say Never Again, but turned out to be a great guy and with the young woman also working J class, provided a very warm and friendly service that was the best part of the flight, they were really genuinely nice people and nothing was too much trouble.
Drappier champagne was served on boarding and this is probably influenced by EY owning a large shareholding, as they also serve this wine.
Looking around the cabin, it looked like an economy cabin with the Y class seats ripped out and replaced with angled flat beds, which looked suspiciously like the old LX ones (and the purses confirmed this, when I asked him.) So a little better than LH's current J offer, but not much. Having said that, I did catch 3 hours of zzzzzzs, which is light for me, I'll explain why later. The cabin looked cheap and nasty, but was clean, apart from the lavs which were maintained to BAs LGW 737 standards.
There were no menus, but the amenity pack was surprisingly good, housed in a rubber type of bag that would not look out of place in an S&M catalogue (so I am informed) and which has been re-purposed to the front of my Tumi computer bag, to hold misc stuff - it looks quite cool and kinda matches the laptop bag. I also found a cellophane bag with a pair of light slippers (think 5* hotel) with a non woven shoe bag - thoughtful.
The cheerful captain made a PA saying he expected a smooth flight of 5 hours 40 mins, but to keep the seat belts loosely fastened, just in case. In the event, the belt sign was switched off for the first time as we parked on stand at AUH and the cabin crew were strapped in for a while - bizarre. It was so bumpy that I couldn't sleep and I watched Men in Black 3 on the limited IFE, by which time the turb was slight and a couple of bevs helped to sleep.
Dinner was a choice of duck, beef or pasta and I chose the former, with low expectations. It was served with dumplings, gravy etc and was excellent, I was really surprised.
To sum up, this flight got me there on time, but the whole experience was a bit weird, especially force fitting a loco and a full service airline together.
Would I do it again, not if Etihad was available and I would probably choose others ahead of AB, too, but on the other hand the crew were so nice that I feel a bit guilty saying 'not again.' Having said that, the next crew may not be so nice.
The purser told me that AB are refitting J with EY style seats, so that will be an improvement, but I think AB probably need to decide who they are, who their customers are and how to differentiate the Y/J experience, to grow a premium business.
I travelled from Berlin to New York JFK with AirBerlin, and actually enjoyed their new, much upgraded business class. First of all the cabin is not low-cost, plain Jane style anymore, with only four of five ranks of comfortable 2-2-2 seats, equipped with remote controls, a small video screen and, further back, AC/DC sockets for a laptop. The 170° tilt angle of the 181 cm long is OK for sleeping, though we would have expected real flat beds aboard: the seat slight inclination allows a pleasant rest rather than a comfy sleep.
Good service, indeed. Food and beverage 99% OK: they should replace their "Sekt" by Champagne. A business class without Champagne isn't a business class.
Priority check in and nice lounge in Berlin Tegel. The AA lounge in JFK is rubbish: too many guests, poor snacks, and a couple of beverages per person: not nice for a long transit, but OK for a short one.
The price was so good value that I shall fly with AirBerlin on a regular basis.