After a ten days break, I am back to work and ready to take over 2014 with a full year of global travels and adventures. During this break, first in over six years, we visited Berlin in Germany, over New Years Eve. Since we were going there only for 7 days, we looked for the most direct and easy way to get to our chosen destination, and after some research, I found out that Air Berlin, was the only option, as for that moment, connecting New York City and Berlin, with no stops. This is no longer correct, since now, also United (and Lufthansa with co-shared flights operated by United) fly from Newark Airport to Berlin. But since I am not a big fun of the new United, and I collect most of my miles with the OneWorld alliance, I decided to book Air Berlin and at the same time experience a new product, knowing in advance, that at least was going to be fairly OK, since Air Berlin is part of the ETIHAD Airlines group, carrier we flew last year to Thailand, and which we truly enjoyed. Now my dear readers, sometimes all that shines isn’t golden, and non-stop flights do certainly not equal the best option nor experience.
Air Berlin is indeed competitive in pricing, but reduced fares quite often translate into uncomfortable travel. Of course, as you might have read between the lines by now, unlike our latest experience on Business Class with ETIHAD, this time I had to turn right and fly Economy, which I am fine with, although I much prefer European carriers offering optional Premium or Extra Leg Economy. I mean, with the amount of travel I do per year, it is impossible to always do Business. So I decided to go for the most direct option, and as for the moment we booked our tickets, which was 4 month before NYE, Air Berlin was the only one offering non-stop flights from JFK New York to Tegel Berlin. (approx. 7 hours)
Let me break it down to you and be fair to all ends, so here are the Pros and Cons of our experience flying Air Berlin Economy Class Non-Stop New York to Berlin, and 01 Stop on our way back, connecting in Dusseldorf. BTW, would love to learn more on the current situation of Berlin’s new airport, BER – Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which has been under construction for quite a while and was due to be inaugurated over a year ago. Tegel is one of the worst airports I have seen and experienced within Europe, but I can understand why, since they might not be investing any extra Euros on it, counting on the soon opening of the brand new Airport.
PROS: They do have a rather young fleet, which feels clean and modern, but I must mention, that despite all of the improvements new aircrafts have to offer, this Airbus 330, have omitted most of them. Wide flat screens on every seat with connection to charge your iPod/iPad/iPhone. Average to decent meals, including alcoholic drinks. Two meals per international segment. They do give you a small amenities kit, which was nice to have. Also a bottle of mineral water, from some purified American Falls. (but the amenity kit was only from New York to Berlin, not on the way back)
CONS: Well unfortunately, the list is rather long, being more cons than the pros, which makes me doubt, if Air Berlin Economy will be an option on future flights in between New York and Berlin. Tight seats, tight menu, tight entertainment system, tight bathrooms…. Tight experience overall… would you like me to be more specific? Seats: My usual excitement to fly a new airline, lasted till I walked into the main cabin, and realized there were more seats than space in between them. My seat felt literally like a coffin, which I was more than happy to share with my partner seating next to me for eternal life, but not the same expression from the lady seating on 24 D, sharing her seat with a total stranger. I must be fair and mention that seats on the domestic flights, are much more comfortable and the space between them better, than on the international long-hauls. Take Off: We took off almost an hour late, which you almost expect when flying out from JFK during the winter and holiday season. Thank God I had my magic sleeping pills. So I said to myself, or perhaps it was the captain, after apologizing several times for having us waiting on the runway for over 30 minutes …” Sit back, relax and… ” yeah and deal with the tiny seat you are on. Entertainment system: At least, when I saw the flat screen TV in-front of me, I felt a bit better. It looked crystal clear, wide and colorful. Impression which indeed lasted long enough, since it took them almost an hour on the flight, to turn the entertainment system on, only to find a lame selection of Featured movies, and lots of corny classics, which certainly would work better than any sleeping pill. I must be fair, once again and mention that on our way back, from Dusseldorf to New York, the selection of movies was much better. Bathrooms: I was quite shocked, by the lines to go to the bathrooms, which again were very tight, and just after 2 hours in flight they were in unsavory conditions. I mean what do you expect, with almost 240 passengers to just four restrooms. Bathrooms: Check IN online was not possible on either way, big question mark?, since other European carriers, do allow online check in between the United States and Europe.
Basically that was our experience, I think it is a very fair review on our flight with Air Berlin. I am also happy to mention, that it is almost same feedback I heard from those others on our group, and fellow passengers seating around our area. I will let you decide on your own conclusions. So people, just prefer Non-Stop flights, regardless the experience, just to get to destination. To me travel, should be an experience, from the moment you leave your home till the moment you get back, and that includes my flight and the carrier I choose. Mine is that, flying within this route, on Economy Class, there are way superior options out there to choose from, at same or similar rates, even offering either Premium or Extra Leg Economy. Yes, perhaps you will have to connect somewhere in Europe, but sometimes a short break is better than 8 uncomfortable hours on a Non-Stop flight. I will be posting more on our stay and time in Berlin on the days to come, so stay tuned. Happy to be back !!! CarlosMeliaBlog.com