Back in April, I booked 2 one-way tickets for Kristin and myself home from Prague. I originally booked our tickets using 40,000 American Airline miles and $294.60. Which I thought was a great deal, but as our departure got closer, I saw something.
I was searching American Airlines website for award seats and I saw there was business awards available flying home from Prague. It would cost us a total of 100,000 miles and $123.60. This would mean I’d need to pay an extra 60,000 miles and I began to wonder if I should treat us to an upgraded flight.
The cost of flying Air Berlin business class was close to $9,000! There is zero chance I’d actually pay $9,000 for a flight! I’d gladly pay 100,000 miles though (those were earned by opening 2 credit cards) :-).
I have absolutely no issue flying in coach and we usually do. I’m super tall (65 inches tall) and my little legs have ample space, but we had some miles burning a hole in my pocket.
Couple it with the fact, I believe American Airlines is going to have a large devaluation in 2016, I decided I would try to upgrade our flight.
One issue I thought of immediately, would I need to pay extra fees to change flights? I lack status with any airline, so as a nobody, it is very possible I’d be charged fees.
Why do I lack status?
I don’t fly enough to justify trying to earn status. I’m completely content without status, to me, it’s a luxury, not a necessity.
I reached out to American Airlines via twitter (such a great place to reach companies!). They responded quickly and after a few minutes, they told me I needed to contact their customer service department.
When I sent American Airlines a message, they gave me a phone number to call since they could not complete the change over twitter.
When I called, I got a CSR, Bob,and explained what I was trying to do, but I asked if any fees could be waived. He told he could waive any fees, but also told me since I was wanting to upgrade I wouldn’t have any ticket reissuing fees.
Now, we were using the miles from Kristin’ account and she had about 54,000 miles plus the 40,000 miles they would be credit toward the business class flights. That means I’m 6,000 miles short! Thankfully, I had about 16,000 in my American Airlines account.
In order to transfer 6,000 miles, it would cost $95. It wasn’t ideal, but I thought it was worth it. Even with the extra fee to transfer still going to pay less than the taxes and fees from our original flight. Once we transferred to Kristin’s account, then the old ticket had to be cancelled. This took quite a long time and I actually had to call back.
When I called back I received another great CSR, Philip, who picked up where Bob left off. After Philip started to work on my ticket, he noticed Bob was still working on the ticket issue!
After another 20 or so minutes, my business class ticket was reissued! I was successful in booking Air Berlin Business Class seats with lay flat beds. This was a first for us! The change in ticket took about 2-2.5 hours!
After the tickets were reissued and the miles came out, I noticed we still had 6,000 miles in Kristin’s account. At first I thought this was an error, until I saw the breakdown of the transaction…
I had totally forgotten about the Barclay Red Aviator’s benefit of a 10% rebate! I spent an extra $95 to transfer those miles for nothing! Even running the math in my head, I’m not sure how it worked out that way.
I originally redeemed 40,000 miles so I should have gotten back 4,000 if you are calculating the 10% rebate from the AAviator Red Card. I’m not complaining though.
Even with my unnecessary transfer of miles, I still paid less cash than my original coach ticket.
When attempting to check into our flight, I was able to pick our seats from Prague to Berlin. I was even able to pick our seats from New York to Boston. I was not able to select our seats from Berlin to New York! When I was attempting to select, it kept telling I could select at the airport.
The next day, we were at the airport early (I am very impatient) to make sure we could select our seats next to each other from Berlin to New York. When we got to the airport, there wasn’t a single Air Berlin representative in the area. I was told they wouldn’t be there until 9 am! I wouldn’t have shown up so early had I know that! Lesson learned!
I have no idea why I couldn’t select my seats from Berlin to JFK, but it was extremely frustrating!
When I finally was able to speak to a Air Berlin representative, I was told I would not get my boarding pass or seat assignment until we arrived in Berlin! She tried, but a seat was blocked off and she couldn’t unlock it.
When we arrived in Berlin, we spoke to a representative, who called a colleague to unblock the seat. We had no luck and we were given different seat assignments. Kristin had one of the honeymoon seats and I had a window seat, so I found the individual and asked to switch seats and he changed with no issues. Big thanks to that guy!
We boarded the bus with the other business class passengers and were taken to the plane where we were greeted with candy and a smiles. The boarding process was very quick and easy. It was very different to turn left instead of right when entering the plane!
We were in seats 1E and 1F, but we both felt out of place sitting in the front of the plane. Especially when were were given champagne and orange juice as we were getting situated.
The seats were very comfortable and had massage functions as well. It was very nice to be able to recline for most for the flight and relax.
Soon after we sat down, we were given slippers to wear, which I didn’t think were too bad.
There was a remote to watch shows or play games, but if you were wanting to use the WiFi , you were out of luck. There was no WiFi on this flight.
For me, that was ok, but to not have it offered for an 8.5 hour flight seemed wrong. We even had the option when we flew coach on Lufthansa a week earlier.
Soon after take off, we were asked if we wanted anything to drink. Kristin asked for a coffee and I opted for another glass of champagne. We both received mixed nuts and Kristin also received chocolate! It was still weird being spoiled like this, but it was nice.
When it came time to pick our meals:
For an appetizer I chose the Smoked Chicken Breast with Spicy Avocado Salad and Orange Mango Confit. This was very good and the portion size was just right.
For dinner, I chose the Roasted Chicken Breast with Piri Piri Dressing, Plantain, Green Beans and Indian Mashed Potatoes.
That is the same Bitburger from the picture above :-). This meal was outstanding! I could definitely eat that meal daily.
For Dessert, I had a Plum Nutcake with a Cappuccino
The cake was moist and the cappuccino was delicious as well! Again, the portion size was just right.
A few hours later, we were given another meal and it was great. I don’t recall exactly what it was, but it consisted of pork, cheese, quinoa (I think), and ice cream with fruit. This was very good again.
The meals were all fantastic and we were both drinking cappuccinos frequently.
Sitting in business class was very nice, I admit I felt out of place sitting up front and being waited on constantly. The seats were very comfortable and being able to recline the seat was very nice.
The flight attendants were very attentive to us and made sure we were take care of at all times. I would say we received very similar attention while sitting in coach on Lufthansa though.
I’m fairly confident I had the massage chair on for about 7 hours of our 8.5 hour flight. My favorite part, was being able to lay completely flat! There’s something about laying down completely that just felt awesome! This definitely made sleeping very easy to do!
About 6 hours into our flight, Kristin and myself both started to have headaches and we both thought it was from looking at our Ipad. Once we exited the plane, both of our headaches were gone within 15 minutes. I’m not sure if it was the air in the cabin or looking at the Ipad, but it seems odd it went away soon after we departed the plane.
The flight itself was very smooth and there were no issues. We even landed about a half hour earlier than expected.
It was a very nice use of our points to fly business class back home. The seats and food were fantastic and the crew was awesome. The issue of seat selection bothered me and that would be my largest negative.
I felt spoiled flying business class and even though it was awesome, I will still fly coach without hesitation and won’t change my habits to fly business/first class more often. We both considered this to be a nice treat, but we prefer to make more trips from our points.
Kristin thought the coach experience on Lufthansa was better than the business class experience on Air Berlin. I can’t say I disagree with her. While the seat was obviously better on Air Berlin, Lufthansa had a better crew (Air Berlin crew was still outstanding).
Have you flown Air Berlin business class? What did you think of it?