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Flight Review: Air Berlin Looking Much Better with New A330s

May 15, 2014 at 11:47 AM | by | Comments (0)

When we reviewed a flight from JFK to Berlin via Air Berlin a few summers ago, we thought they still had some work to do after joining the One World Alliance. The planes were a bit outdated at the time, but the carrier has since added new A330s and lie-flat business class seats to its fleet for long-haul routes.

Last week, we flew the airline from Chicago to Berlin, riding in economy class one way and business class the other. It was good to see that most of the problems previously reported in economy have been solved thanks to a spruced-up interior cabin with individual entertainment systems. Unlike last time, there was plenty of content (movies, TV, music) to keep our attention, free headphones, and several free alcoholic beverages before and during dinner service.

At the beginning of last year, Air Berlin unveiled its new lie-flat business class seats for long haul flights from Chicago, Miami, and New York to Germany's capital. The cabin had 19 seats with 15-inch personal televisions and an outlet/USB port for charging. The seats were like mini-bunkers, definitely allowing you to sink in and feel cozy. Some seats in the middle row were right next to each other (as opposed to staggered, see pics), and that really created a "tucked-in" type of atmosphere, especially if you know the person next to you. In all cases, the seats had a leg rest that you could use even when you were sitting up straight, and we found the massage feature with two different settings to be a nice touch.

The lie-flat seats are great for sleeping, but part of the fun of sitting business class is the service, food, and drink you are privileged to. In that sense, taking a nap was the last thing on our mind. As an appetizer, we had our choice of a Thai beef salad or shrimp with mango and chili (we chose the former), and for dinner it was either Tuscan chicken (our choice), Asian veggies and Chinese rice, shrimp and scallops, or Fiorelli Basilico. As you can see from the photos, the food was all high-quality, and both dishes were very tasty. For a second meal at the tail end of the flight, a cold salad was served along with the German tradition of coffee and cake.

Air Berlin offers daily, non-stop flights from Miami, Chicago (O'Hare), and New York (JFK) to Berlin. It is now part of One World Alliance, meaning you can earn miles on a number of other frequent flyer programs if your trip to Germany is a one-time thing. Consider this our official blessing that it is once again safe to give Air Berlin a try.

The author was on assignment for another publication when flying Air Berlin, but all opinions are his own.

[Photos: Air Berlin/Will McGough]

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