As someone who lives near Munich for years, Air Berlin (AB) was always something like a „second choice“. Lufthansa offered hundreds of destinations departing from Munich, Air Berlin was present with around five. Anyway, I changed my mind in the last months because I was really pleased by the level of service offered by Air Berlin on domestic flights.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been flying Air Berlin for four times and I did not regret my choice once. It may be the taste of something new but on most of these flights, I had the feeling that Air Berlin is even superior to Lufthansa on domestic flights.
As I’ve been flying from Munich to Cologne and from Munich to Hamburg, I can’t really rate the performance of Air Berlin on international flights (I only flew international with them when I was 16 years old). But more important, on domestic Air Berlin proved to be a really good choice.
In Munich, a journey with Air Berlin starts with something like a bad feeling because Terminal 2 (Star Alliance) is way superior to Terminal 1 (everyone else), but at all other airports the Air Berlin terminal was on the same level as the Lufthansa one. More important, security control and baggage drop-off (I always check-in online) is smooth and does not take much time.
Same for the boarding process which is arranged in a good order (starting with the frequent flyer card holders, followed by the rear part of the airplane and so on). Moreover, the employees are friendly and the number of different newspapers and magazines offered is amazing (at last in Munich, Hamburg and Cologne were “so-so”). I’ve never seen such a good choice as even really expensive magazines were offered for free, not even on a long-haul flight.
All Air Berlin planes I’ve been flying in yet offered the same kind of Recaro seats. They are comfortable (nothing special though) and offer a solid seat distance. Anyway, it may not be enough distance for somebody who is taller than 1.95 meters. But as I recognized, the stewardesses tried their best to help tall people and offered them vacant exit row seats, so they may enjoy more legroom.
While other airlines only offer these seats for an extra charge, Air Berlin seems to be pretty nice to all clients, even if they did not pay for an expensive ticket. That was one of the very positive aspects I recognized during my domestic trips with Air Berlin.
Which really made me smile at my first domestic flight with Air Berlin in the morning (it departed around 6 am) was that they offered a hot snack. It was just a little sweat roll with raisins but it tasted pretty good and was warm (I’m not used to getting hot snacks on domestic flights).
Moreover, they offered free and unlimited drinks on all flights. You may choose between several different juices, water, soft drinks and hot drinks like coffee or tea. The snacks on all other flights have been okay and nothing special (sometimes you’ll just get a chocolate bar, sometimes you’ll get a sandwich).
At all flights I felt like de-boarding went pretty smooth as well. Air Berlin did nothing special but there did never occur any problems. All flights departed and arrived on a finger (gateway?), so I did not have to step into a bus (I hate departing from the airplane and boarding a bus). While my girlfriend and I travel most of the time only with carry-on baggage, I once did check-in a bag. This time there was a heavy delayed (I had to wait for more than 30 minutes), but that may have been a special case as luggage was fast (I already saw baggage coming when I was passing the area with hand-luggage) at all other flights.
After these flights, I decided that I’ll aim for a status on Air Berlin (and oneworld as I do like British Airways as well). So yeah, Air Berlin convinced me in all regards. After Etihad Airways took over, it seems like Air Berlin really stepped up. Especially for all German travelers it may be a good choice to put Air Berlin over Lufthansa as the level of service is on par (if not even better) and the price is superior on close to all routes which are operated by both carriers. Thanks for a good time aboard Air Berlin, I’ll be back soon!