Reviews

Air Berlin Business Class Review: San Francisco to Dusseldorf

a stuffed monkey in an airplane

We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com and CardRatings. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.


Air Berlin Business Class Review: San Francisco to Dusseldorf

This is part of the London Weekend Wedding Trip. I needed to get to London for a wedding this weekend and finagled a routing through San Fran. For 57,500 AA miles and roughly $85 I booked LAX-SFO-DUS-LHR in business class. When I initially booked the itinerary the only avail had me traveling all in one day with a layover in San Fran over 12 hours. I went ahead and booked it and waited for alternate flight to open up. One did, the night before, and I snagged it. AA allows you the change tickets without cost ( aside from taxes and fees) if you abide by their routing rules. Since I would only be staying in San Fran for 20 hours before continuing on to Dusseldorf I was ok…you must be under 24 hours to be on the same priced ticket. Yes, it was a long routing, but it ticked off a couple of boxes: 1) I really wanted to experience Air Berlin Business Class and 2) I’d get to review the newly renovated Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 5 of 68

The Deets on Air Berlin Business Class SFO-DUS:

  • When: July 29, 2016
  • Route: SFO-DUS
  • Plane: A330
  • Duration:10 hours 45 mins
  • Class: Business Class
  • Seat: 4K
  • Program: AA
  • Miles Used: 57,500
  • Copay: ~$85

Check in: Easy Peasy nice and breezy

IMG_3689

No one was there. Literally only the desk agents. Air Berlin launched this routing in Mid May so it’s pretty new. I wasn’t checking any bags so I think the whole process took about 3 minutes. Air Berlin flies out of International Terminal A. There are actually two sides to the terminal so make sure you go to the right side. I was also informed that they had a relationship established with the KLM/Air France lounge. That lounge is actually a Priority Pass lounge and I had seen that there were 3 One World lounges as well: Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, and British Airways. I headed straight to Japan Air. Rejected. What?! Apparently they aren’t accommodating Air Berlin passengers. So then I went to Cathay…had I not been One World Sapphire they would have rejected me too! WHAT?! So I swung by KLM/AirFrance…SO Packed I left and had to try my luck at BA…rejected. I had so much time on my hands I actually trekked over the Terminal 3 and tried out the Centurion Lounge. Of all of them…I prefer Cathay. I had really hoped to get into Japan Airlines because I was craving sushi, but what can you do…the door guys said I wasn’t on the list.

Boarding: HOLY FLIPPING SCHMOLEY

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 3 of 68

The last time I boarded through such a palava was in Bangkok where I thought I’d lose an eye trying to get in line. EVERYONE just bumrushed the boarding line when they called priority. Now I may not be German, but even I knew all these frauleins couldn’t possibly be priority. Excuse me, Excuse me, Excuse Meeeeyyyyyyyy. Finallly got through. On to the plane…

The Cabin:

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 10 of 68Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 58 of 68

I was kind of expecting it to resemble Etihad’s Pearl business class, and it kind of does ,except it feels waaaaaaay more cramped. I’d picked 4k because of the privacy, but after seeing the cabin I had to say that the first row window seats are by far the best. They not only have the privacy but also far more room. I’d read where the biggest complaint is space and I can absolutely see why. Miles and I could BARELY move around with our bags down the aisle. And getting in and out of the seat was a delicate dance of balance and ingenuity.

The Seat:

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 7 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 9 of 68

Continuing with the cramped theme. It’s cramped. Just getting in and out it’s cramped. 4k has a little entry way to get to the seat. I picked this seat because it would be private, but the entry way to the seat is so narrow I had to turn sideways to get in and out. Look, I’m still going to lie flat and have a great time, but I’m just explaining this for comparison’s sake. It was the first time I had to contort myself all over the place to snap pics. Miles is so selfish he just laid there while I moaned and groaned 😉

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 12 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 14 of 68 I think I’ve flown AA’s 777-300ER and lost touch with the reality of other business class. It has so much space not only in the seat, but in the aisles, and it has tons of storage space. There was none of that here. I couldn’t find anywhere to put my wallet, tuck my phone away, or stow my backpack at the seat. I will point out they had a nice shoe cubby under the ‘ottoman.’ That served to be quite useful.  I had a whole overhead bin to myself, but that was only cause a man and his wife were sharing one across the aisle. The 3 windows that are exclusive to this seat are incredible and make it feel more spacious than it is. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 34 of 68   The width of the seat was such that it made it difficult to turn when lying flat. Even when upright I’d guess it to be narrower than a domestic first class seat. I’m 6’ and 170lbs… I don’t really see how bigger people could do much in these seats. In fact, my feet, size 12, wouldn’t even fit upright heel to toe. When the seat was in bed mode, I couldn’t find a position that allowed me to actually lay out, I always had to be twisted or curled. Ultimately I still managed to sleep for a solid 5 or 6 hours so I can’t complain too much, but if you’re much bigger than I am… you’re gonna have some issues. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 40 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 41 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 43 of 68Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 28 of 68 I’m sure some of you are out there thinking I’m just moaning and groaning. I’m not complaining, just pointing out comparative features. It’s still lie-flat and I got a great deal, but given the option – I’d choose AA no questions asked. Amenity kit was pretty standard plus some slippers which I found to be a nice touch. Nothing worse than walking to the bathroom in socks and then step in someone’s pee. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 30 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 31 of 68

The Service:

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 16 of 68 I can’t say a single bad thing about the crew. They were super nice, attentive, and very friendly. Pre-flight champagne was served and soon after we got to cruising altitude we started meal service. Pre-meal drinks were offered and the meal was far better than I expected.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food

I’d have to say the best part of it were the scallops. The pasta was mediocre and the dessert was just ok. I was absolutely starving when I got on the plane because the lounges didn’t really have proper meals out and I tried to get into 5 of them. Yes, I spent almost 4 hours at the airport going from lounge to lounge to lounge to lounge to lounge to finally end up hungry and tired. The complete opposite of what a lounge is designed to achieve. Miles is a die hard blogger and despite my many attempts to stop…he pushed on.

Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 59 of 68
warm nuts and champagne
Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 61 of 68
salad and chilled scallops

Scallops on a plane? I know…I was a bit nervous too. They ended up being very good! Bravo Air Berlin. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 62 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 63 of 68 Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 64 of 68

Overall:

It was an easy flight that got me to where I needed to be rested and fed. I’m glad I did it and it’s certainly a very viable option for getting across the pond on the cheap. I’ll be flying BA Club World in about 2 months so I’m anxious to see how that compares to Air Berlin as AA has this beat by a Mile. BTW: I don’t have overly HUGE feet…but as you can see – even my size 12 feet are way too big. Air Berlin Business Class San Francisco - Dusseldorf - 56 of 68

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

a blue credit card with blue lines and white text

Learn More

Affiliate LInk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


4.8
4.8/5
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Annual Fee

$95

Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex®  and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

14 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.