Cointrin330
Topic Author
Posts: 419
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Sat Sep 30, 2017 12:50 pm

As Air Berlin is about to close down for good, figured I would add this post on my one and only flight on this troubled airline on a route that operated its final flight a week ago and has since been axed, as lessors are taking back the airline's 17 A330-200s.

Last month, I took a two week trip to Scandinavia and made my first stop, Berlin. I chose Berlin because of the ability to use Avios points to book a flight, which I did 9 months before the departure date and the requirements were fairly low. At the time of booking, Air Berlin had scheduled a late evening departure from JFK to Berlin (TXL) at 11:45PM. Very late, but quite convenient, particularly as I was leaving on a Friday. In any case, I had wanted to go back to Berlin after not having been there since 2008.

Three months before scheduled departure date, Air Berlin contacted me and informed us that our flight was changed to the 5:35PM departure, AB 7249 and that there would be no 11:45PM flight added for the summer. After weeks of back and forth with British Airways, who issued the ticket, and me protesting the 6 hour time change in departure, I got BA to offer us 2 complimentary upgrades to an XL seat on the Airbus A330-200. It was well worth the hassle.

Air Berlin AB 7249
Scheduled Departure: 5:35PM
Terminal 8 (American Airlines Terminal) JFK - Gate 5
Actual Departure: 5:17PM
Scheduled Arrival: 7:10AM
Actual Arrival: 6:50AM
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 D-ABYC - Built in 2005

Checked in on line without issue, and proceeded to the gate with about an hour or so to spare before departure. Air Berlin uses the American Airlines Terminal at JFK which in my opinion is the best at JFK when it comes to space, customs and immigration formalities, and general atmosphere, but it lacks decent dining options of the kind you will find in T4.

Boarding was strictly enforced by zone and today's flight was about 95% full. Whoever does the Air Berlin ground handling at JFK is a good group. Their gate staff were pleasant and efficient. The aircraft was spotless clean. Cabin crew greeted us at the door with a smile. The XL cabin occupies the first few rows of Economy Class and has no divider, but the seats feature 36 inches of legroom and that was really nice to have as the main cabin seats are really tight. Small amenity kits were distributed featuring a foil wrap with a nice stenciled drawing of Berlin landmarks. In it were socks, eye shades, ear plugs, and a one time use toothbrush and paste.

Push back was a bit early and we taxied out to the runway with no holding, no wait, and took off right behind a Jet Blue A321 Mint aircraft. I'd say we were airborne about 20-25 minutes from push back. It was a clear, sunny afternoon, and around 80F so perfect flying conditions. I was seated right by the PW engine, and the sound was loud and powerful on takeoff and changed to a whine by the second phase of climb out.

Dinner was served fairly soon after take off, after the beverage service, which did not feature a snack. Food was basic and nothing more, and served on small trays, but I don't fly for the food and had eaten in the terminal prior to boarding so didn't care. The AVOD screens were crisp and clear, and quite large. Movie choices and programming fairly limited but enough to keep me entertained for a 7 hour TATL crossing. Thoroughly got into watching Star Wars The Force Awakens (I had seen it previously) and didn't notice that by the time it was over, so was half the flight. I had no one next to me so had extra space to catch about 90 minutes of sleep. Flight was very smooth. Absolutely no turbulence. Cabin crew made a few passes through the cabin with water.

Breakfast was served about 75 minutes or so before final approach and consisted of a strange mozzarella and tomato with basil sandwich, wrapped loosely in plastic wrap. It almost looked and felt like someone had made it at home. No branding or any other sign that this was Air Berlin product. Everything was cleared quickly. The crew don't use a cart to clean up the small items. They come through with large plastic baskets lined with blue trash bags.

Approach into a sunny, beautiful and warm morning was from the North with a few turns and eventually, we flew right past Alexander Platz and lined up for TXL. Landing was smooth and brakes applied fairly quickly. Taxied past 2 parked company A330's, a few other parked 737-700/800 jets in AB livery, and then a long row of AB A320 family jets, before we went past the main terminal and over to the far left end of the airport, and parked along a fence right by the roadway leading to the airport. Deplaned by stairs and into a bus. Customs was slow and there was a significant line of people in what appears to be a temporary structure. It took about one hour to clear it and it was fine, except for a little girl that vomited on the floor right behind the entrance from the tarmac. After passport control, it was onto a bus and off to our hotel on the Kurfurstendamm for the first part of our trip.

Overall, despite all the negative press and continued operational issues at Air Berlin this past year, this was a great flight. Smooth, on time, pleasant crew, clean plane, and on time arrival. The chaotic connection process at TXL was clearly on display to see and demonstrated part of why this airline, now almost shut down, has struggled to operate reliably. Glad I flew them and sorry to see them go. The flight was a nice start to a great holiday.

Photos to be uploaded shortly from this flight. Trying to figure out how to do it.
 
Frenchify
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:19 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:50 pm

I've found some great airfares last minute as they prepare to make their goodbye. Have been very tempted to do it, but afraid of losing my money and being stuck overseas. Thanks for your report.
 
Cointrin330
Topic Author
Posts: 419
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:05 am

Frenchify wrote:
I've found some great airfares last minute as they prepare to make their goodbye. Have been very tempted to do it, but afraid of losing my money and being stuck overseas. Thanks for your report.


The few remaining long haul routes, which include twice daily JFK to DUS end on Sunday. AerCap Leasing ordered the majority of the 17 A330-200's back in September so many routes began to close around 9/25 including JFK-TXL. The Caribbean and some Florida routes that were disrupted by the hurricanes were also axed quickly and permanently.
 
Cush
Posts: 315
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:42 am

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Fri Oct 13, 2017 2:52 am

Air Berlin won't be missed... I flew on them in January and boy what a mistake... Third world terminals in Berlin, cramped seating (had to sit sideways due to my long legs), crappy food, and hardly any inflight entertainment. Also, the flight crew left a lot to be desired. I'd never fly Air Berlin again. Good riddance!
Fly me to the moon let me play among the stars.
 
djb77
Posts: 245
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2001 4:00 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:14 am

Thanks for posting this trip report, I would love to see your pictures. We used airberlin for a transatlantic hop in economy from DUS<>JFK for our first family holiday in the US in 2011. Back then it was the pre-update hard product which wasn't comparable to what is offered now but still comfortable for the 7-hour flights. We had two excellent flights on their A332 with great (probably ex-LTU) crew, they were what made the airline for me - nothing was too much trouble. Maybe we were just lucky but when we used airberlin again in 2012 for a family holiday on the Black Sea, from Hanover to Varna, the crew was, again, excellent. I really feel for the airberlin crews: I can't imagine what it is like trying to remain motivated for your customers when there is so much uncertainty in the air - no doubt, many of them may not find a job with Lufthansa...
 
LTU330
Posts: 219
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:40 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:47 pm

Cush wrote:
Air Berlin won't be missed... I flew on them in January and boy what a mistake... Third world terminals in Berlin, cramped seating (had to sit sideways due to my long legs), crappy food, and hardly any inflight entertainment. Also, the flight crew left a lot to be desired. I'd never fly Air Berlin again. Good riddance!


Maybe it won’t be missed by you, but it will be by the 8000 staff about to lose their jobs as well as many passengers. How often did you fly Air Berlin and which flight did you fly that gave you such a bad experience ? Air Berlin might not have the best legroom, but it is by no means the worst on long haul. Good riddance is a massive kick in the face to all the staff, based purely on you having a bad flight experience, which by the way could happen on every Airline. I have had bad crews on most Airlines, even in Business Class. It doesn’t mean every Crew is like that.
 
Cush
Posts: 315
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:42 am

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:55 pm

LTU330 wrote:

Maybe it won’t be missed by you, but it will be by the 8000 staff about to lose their jobs as well as many passengers. How often did you fly Air Berlin and which flight did you fly that gave you such a bad experience ? Air Berlin might not have the best legroom, but it is by no means the worst on long haul. Good riddance is a massive kick in the face to all the staff, based purely on you having a bad flight experience, which by the way could happen on every Airline. I have had bad crews on most Airlines, even in Business Class. It doesn’t mean every Crew is like that.


If a passenger is sad to see this pitiful airline go, then they must have very low tastes and standards... Yes, i've experienced bad crew on other airlines, but when you are 2 for 2 with crappy crew on Air Berlin, that tells you something...

I've flown on many airlines in all parts of the world, and I found that the flight crew on Ukraine Int'l Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, and S7 were very nice and helpful. Keep in mind that these are airlines in countries that provide far lower pay and/or benefits than the crazed country of Germany where Unions and Labor Groups cause havoc for anyone trying to operate in the airline industry...

Also, I was excited at the thought of flying into Berlin for my first time, as i've been to many of the other larger cities in Germany, especially Frankfurt and Munich. I was appalled at the condition of the terminal. It was a disgrace! I couldn't believe i was in Berlin, as it felt like I was in some airport in rural Africa from how sad it was...

Again, take a look at other nations and their airports. Baku in Azerbaijan has a BEAUTIFUL facility that rivals many other airports of its size... Also look at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport... Another wonderful airport...

Then look at Berlin TXL... WOW... Temporary gates, awful seating, no dining options except for a cafe with hardly any options, and a temporary cart with some snacks... Yikes!

I've advised EVERYONE i know to steer clear of Air Berlin and Berlin TXL in general.

So, i stand by my statement that Air Berlin will not be missed by anyone.... I mean, if they were a respected airline with a loyal following, they would still be in business... Even my friends who travel trans-atlantic on a weekly basis told me they will always pay extra to avoid Air Berlin no matter what.
Fly me to the moon let me play among the stars.
 
TWA902fly
Posts: 2907
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 1999 5:47 am

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:35 am

Cush wrote:
LTU330 wrote:

Maybe it won’t be missed by you, but it will be by the 8000 staff about to lose their jobs as well as many passengers. How often did you fly Air Berlin and which flight did you fly that gave you such a bad experience ? Air Berlin might not have the best legroom, but it is by no means the worst on long haul. Good riddance is a massive kick in the face to all the staff, based purely on you having a bad flight experience, which by the way could happen on every Airline. I have had bad crews on most Airlines, even in Business Class. It doesn’t mean every Crew is like that.


If a passenger is sad to see this pitiful airline go, then they must have very low tastes and standards... Yes, i've experienced bad crew on other airlines, but when you are 2 for 2 with crappy crew on Air Berlin, that tells you something...

I've flown on many airlines in all parts of the world, and I found that the flight crew on Ukraine Int'l Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, and S7 were very nice and helpful. Keep in mind that these are airlines in countries that provide far lower pay and/or benefits than the crazed country of Germany where Unions and Labor Groups cause havoc for anyone trying to operate in the airline industry...

Also, I was excited at the thought of flying into Berlin for my first time, as i've been to many of the other larger cities in Germany, especially Frankfurt and Munich. I was appalled at the condition of the terminal. It was a disgrace! I couldn't believe i was in Berlin, as it felt like I was in some airport in rural Africa from how sad it was...

Again, take a look at other nations and their airports. Baku in Azerbaijan has a BEAUTIFUL facility that rivals many other airports of its size... Also look at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport... Another wonderful airport...

Then look at Berlin TXL... WOW... Temporary gates, awful seating, no dining options except for a cafe with hardly any options, and a temporary cart with some snacks... Yikes!

I've advised EVERYONE i know to steer clear of Air Berlin and Berlin TXL in general.

So, i stand by my statement that Air Berlin will not be missed by anyone.... I mean, if they were a respected airline with a loyal following, they would still be in business... Even my friends who travel trans-atlantic on a weekly basis told me they will always pay extra to avoid Air Berlin no matter what.


TXL really isn't their fault. BER was supposed to be open by now. Of course, they could choose to hub somewhere else, but Berlin is a huge city that can support a hub, and that was their business. Lagos Airport is the worst major city airport I've been to and airlines still fly there. And as far as their service goes, you are way off. I flew them CPH-TXL-LAX a few years ago and did not find the service any worse than LH. And all that, for a cheap price. So, as you stand by your statement, I am a passenger that will miss Air Berlin.

'902
life wasn't worth the balance, or the crumpled paper it was written on
 
Cointrin330
Topic Author
Posts: 419
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:07 am

Cush wrote:
LTU330 wrote:

Maybe it won’t be missed by you, but it will be by the 8000 staff about to lose their jobs as well as many passengers. How often did you fly Air Berlin and which flight did you fly that gave you such a bad experience ? Air Berlin might not have the best legroom, but it is by no means the worst on long haul. Good riddance is a massive kick in the face to all the staff, based purely on you having a bad flight experience, which by the way could happen on every Airline. I have had bad crews on most Airlines, even in Business Class. It doesn’t mean every Crew is like that.


If a passenger is sad to see this pitiful airline go, then they must have very low tastes and standards... Yes, i've experienced bad crew on other airlines, but when you are 2 for 2 with crappy crew on Air Berlin, that tells you something...

I've flown on many airlines in all parts of the world, and I found that the flight crew on Ukraine Int'l Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, and S7 were very nice and helpful. Keep in mind that these are airlines in countries that provide far lower pay and/or benefits than the crazed country of Germany where Unions and Labor Groups cause havoc for anyone trying to operate in the airline industry...

Also, I was excited at the thought of flying into Berlin for my first time, as i've been to many of the other larger cities in Germany, especially Frankfurt and Munich. I was appalled at the condition of the terminal. It was a disgrace! I couldn't believe i was in Berlin, as it felt like I was in some airport in rural Africa from how sad it was...

Again, take a look at other nations and their airports. Baku in Azerbaijan has a BEAUTIFUL facility that rivals many other airports of its size... Also look at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport... Another wonderful airport...

Then look at Berlin TXL... WOW... Temporary gates, awful seating, no dining options except for a cafe with hardly any options, and a temporary cart with some snacks... Yikes!

I've advised EVERYONE i know to steer clear of Air Berlin and Berlin TXL in general.

So, i stand by my statement that Air Berlin will not be missed by anyone.... I mean, if they were a respected airline with a loyal following, they would still be in business... Even my friends who travel trans-atlantic on a weekly basis told me they will always pay extra to avoid Air Berlin no matter what.


Yes, TXL is pretty bad as far as airports go, sort of like La Guardia, but with a bit more space and long hauls. But that is not Air Berlin's fault, although the condition of TXL and the long delays in opening BER are partly to blame for AB's demise. The cost of running a hub operation at TXL were visibly problematic when I flew into TXL in August. Delays piled up quickly, on a sunny Saturday morning with many missed connections because processing a handful of long haul arrivals at a temporary terminal structure just does not work. Air Berlin's problems ran deep and wide. It never really had a focus on what it wanted to be. Low Cost, Full Service, Lufthansa 2.0. It was none of those things. The Etihad investment is actually what probably did them in, as it likely made AB complacent. Etihad lost boatloads of money on AZ and AB and among the ME3, is the least logical one to be considered a long term growth prospect.
 
LTU330
Posts: 219
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2005 4:40 pm

Re: Air Berlin, JFK to TXL August 2017

Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:01 am

Cush wrote:
LTU330 wrote:

Maybe it won’t be missed by you, but it will be by the 8000 staff about to lose their jobs as well as many passengers. How often did you fly Air Berlin and which flight did you fly that gave you such a bad experience ? Air Berlin might not have the best legroom, but it is by no means the worst on long haul. Good riddance is a massive kick in the face to all the staff, based purely on you having a bad flight experience, which by the way could happen on every Airline. I have had bad crews on most Airlines, even in Business Class. It doesn’t mean every Crew is like that.


If a passenger is sad to see this pitiful airline go, then they must have very low tastes and standards... Yes, i've experienced bad crew on other airlines, but when you are 2 for 2 with crappy crew on Air Berlin, that tells you something...

I've flown on many airlines in all parts of the world, and I found that the flight crew on Ukraine Int'l Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, and S7 were very nice and helpful. Keep in mind that these are airlines in countries that provide far lower pay and/or benefits than the crazed country of Germany where Unions and Labor Groups cause havoc for anyone trying to operate in the airline industry...

Also, I was excited at the thought of flying into Berlin for my first time, as i've been to many of the other larger cities in Germany, especially Frankfurt and Munich. I was appalled at the condition of the terminal. It was a disgrace! I couldn't believe i was in Berlin, as it felt like I was in some airport in rural Africa from how sad it was...

Again, take a look at other nations and their airports. Baku in Azerbaijan has a BEAUTIFUL facility that rivals many other airports of its size... Also look at St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport... Another wonderful airport...

Then look at Berlin TXL... WOW... Temporary gates, awful seating, no dining options except for a cafe with hardly any options, and a temporary cart with some snacks... Yikes!

I've advised EVERYONE i know to steer clear of Air Berlin and Berlin TXL in general.

So, i stand by my statement that Air Berlin will not be missed by anyone.... I mean, if they were a respected airline with a loyal following, they would still be in business... Even my friends who travel trans-atlantic on a weekly basis told me they will always pay extra to avoid Air Berlin no matter what.


So Air Berlin became the owner and operator of TXL ? I thought not. You can't blame anything about TXL on Air Berlin, and if you fly so often and are so knowledgeable about Aviation and Airports you would have known to steer clear of TXL if you are either a long haul PAX or a transfer PAX,. stand by your statement about "no one" will miss Air Berlin. that is utter, utter BS. Then next, don't compare Ukraine and suchlike to Germany unless you have any idea of what it costs to live there and pay taxes there. Why do you think Airlines like Ryanair avoid bases in Germany ? It's because on the money their staff get paid they would be classed as living in poverty. Then, unions ? Where are they in Air Berlin. I don't see them doing anything to save my job or the other 8000 people.

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