Air Berlin is the second largest airline in Germany and one of the top 10 carriers in Europe, based in Berlin, the German capital. They have roots as a charter airline and a budget carrier, but have evolved and fly worldwide. Read my Facts & Figures overview to see if you should choose them for your next trip!
Who are they? Air Berlin (AB) is based at Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) airport, eagerly awaiting the move to the new Berlin airport as soon as it is finished. They also have a hub in Duesseldorf in Western Germany. Their tagline is “your airline” and they have mostly focused on leisure travelers with a mix of regular scheduled service and seasonal or charter service. They serve a total of 119 destinations in 37 countries, most of them in Europe with a number of flights to the US and rest of the Americas and a few to Asia. They fly a mix of 133 narrow-body and wide-body airplanes as a result of a number of mergers and acquisitions. The plan is to consolidate on an all-Airbus fleet, phasing out remaining Boeing jets and turboprop planes.
While Air Berlin’s main focus has been leisure travel and all short-haul flights are all-economy, they did introduce a fully flat business class on their long-haul fleet for extra comfort! They also operate a number of lounges and preferred waiting areas for their premium passengers and elite members at their hubs.
SkyTrax rates Air Berlin as a 3-star airline (out of 5), putting them on par the big US carriers and many budget carriers, but behind local competitor Lufthansa.
AirlineRatings gives them their top 7 of 7 rating for safety, so you can be comfortable flying them!
Air Berlin is a member of the OneWorld alliance, giving passengers access to over 1,000 destinations around the world as well as a chance to earn and redeem miles and enjoy status benefits on partner airlines. Since 2011 Etihad is the largest shareholder of Air Berlin and they have since stepped up their partnership and codeshare arrangements through Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi.
Why should I care? Air Berlin provides a great alternative for travelers in Germany and the rest of Europe to the established carriers. It utilizes Berlin and Duesseldorf as hubs (instead of Frankfurt and Munich for Lufthansa) and is a member of OneWorld (instead of StarAlliance for Lufthansa). Their frequent flights to American Airlines hubs in the US provide connections all over the Americas and flights to Abu Dhabi, the hub of partner Etihad, provide access to destinations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Air Berlin is especially interesting for leisure travelers, serving many popular vacation destinations and adjusting the schedule seasonally. They run aggressive promotions for cash tickets as well as their rewards program, topbonus, giving lots of chances to snatch great deals!
And if you travel a lot of business in Germany and across Europe, their partnerships allow you to redeem those hard earned miles on premium flights around the world!
What else should I know? While Air Berlin offers all the trappings of the full-service carriers, like a fully flat business class, lounges and priority services for premium passengers and elites, it can’t deny it’s budget carrier roots and can’t shake the “low cost” feel of the airline.
If you are earning lots of topbonus miles and want to use them, make sure to check out their fees on award tickets before booking – the fuel charges can be steep. They do have great promotions on award tickets, so the best deals are during those sales periods!