JONAS
Jonas Rask Eilersen
Air Berlin A330-200 Business Class
Berlin Tegel - New York JFK, Airbus A330-200 Business Class
24th September 2015

Thanks to Etihad Airways’ investment, OneWorld member Air Berlin is now expanding its intercontinental route network to North America and the Caribbean. RASK flew business class on the airline’s flagship route from Berlin to New York JFK, departing Berlin at 1300 and arriving to JFK at 1545.

Check In
I’d come from a Copenhagen flight and my bag had been checked all the way through to New York. However, I was still required to pass by the Air Berlin check-in desk at Tegel and the service there left a lot to be desired. Surly staff – and they couldn’t work out if I had ESTA or not (Of course, I had).
The Lounge
The new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport is yet to open, so I was flying from Tegel Airport. Once completed, Air Berlin will have its own dedicated lounge at Brandenburg – but the airport’s opening date is put back year after year. In the meantime, passengers can make use of the British Airways Terraces Lounge instead, which was spacious and comfortable, with friendly staff and no crowds. Very poor selection of food and drink; but at least the wi-fi worked and it was quiet. Nothing special, however.
Boarding
The comfort didn’t last long: boarding time was delayed, despite the board saying otherwise. We then discovered that there was no priority boarding or security for business class passengers – which meant standing in a very cramped space for about 30 minutes with nowhere to sit.
The Cabin, Seat and Service
Once on board, things started looking up: a friendly steward showed me to my seat. The newly revamped business class cabin was bright and slick. With maximum 19 seats, the cabin is on the small side for long haul, but feels very roomy. I was greeted with plump pillows, earphones for the IFE and a goodie-bag containing L’Occitane products (lip balm and moisturiser), toothbrush and paste and a pair of socks. The seat itself was extremely comfortable and goes fully flat, with plenty of legroom. There are also plugs for electronics and a personal reading lamp. A quilted blanket was provided on request.
Food and Drink
I was offered sparkling wine (Prosecco) or orange juice, and presented with a smart-looking menu. Soon after take-off we were offered a Campari and orange juice and a bag of almonds. The menus on board Air Berlin are created by the renowned Sansibar Restaurant on the German island of Sylt, and contain a dazzling array of choices. For the appetizers, we nibbled on delicious Salmon Tartare with Cucumber and an Asparagus salad. The main course choices were: Thai Green Curry, Brisket of Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Cabbage and Carrot, Prawns ”Sansibar Style,” Tortellini filled with Gruyere, or Roast Chicken. I chose the Prawn dish, which was served on Spaghetti with Vegetable Brunoise and diced tomatoes. All was beautifully presented on china plates.
We were offered bread and drinks throughout. Red wine choices included: a 2006 Vincola Requense ”Palacio” Crianza (Spain)); a 2007 Tenuta Monteti Giganti Buono (Italy) and a 2010 Chateau de Capitoul Syrah (France). The white wine selection was more extensive, with a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc ”Stablemate” from the Excelsior Estate in South Africa and a 2011 San Simone Pinot Grigio.
The dessert option was a mouth-watering Strawberry Crumble Cake – and less inspiringly, some cheeses. A second meal, consisting of Baked Chicken Breast; Potato Salad and Apple Strudel with Cinnamon Cream was served five hours later. This also passed the taste test with flying colours.
Inflight Entertainment
I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the inflight entertainment system: although the system hardware was of good quality (with a 15 inch LED screen), the selection was mediocre. I resorted to watching a movie on my own laptop and reading the ample selection of newspapers and magazines (full marks for variety!)
Arrival
I was well attended to throughout and we arrived only ten minutes behind schedule. The lasting impression was not great: I did not receive my checked-in bag for another 72 hours, and found the local handling agent at JFK to be particularly unhelpful.
Verdict
The newly refurbished cabins and locally created food were a hit, but the Inflight entertainment could be improved. Mislaying my bag was a major no-no, even if it was temporary. In general though, the staff’s attitude was warm and friendly. I would happily fly long haul business class with Air Berlin again.