Despite a late night out in Copenhagen, I still made it up with my first (of 2) alarms at 7:30am, showered, had breakfast, and was on my way to the airport. It was a five-minute walk from the Hotel Hebron to Central Station, and I had to wait about 15 minutes for the next train to the airport given it was early on a Saturday morning. The train was an older one, so it didn’t have wifi like my train from the airport had, but it was still a painless journey and by 8:55am I was at the airport for my 10:55am flight to Berlin.
My Airberlin flight was pretty cheap, about $60, and I didn’t pay for any extras, knowing I’d just have a carry-on and it was a short flight. Interestingly, when I booked the ticket, the fare class I purchased (Z) would not have earned any miles in American’s AAdvantage program. But one strange positive change from the devaluAAtion of August 1 was that I would now receive 25% base miles and 50% EQM. (Once the EQD system kicks in, I would be credited at a rate of 5%.) So as a 213 mile flight, that means I’d get 50 miles! Yippee! (AA doesn’t give an elite bonus on AB flights for some reason- perhaps its membership in the Etihad alliance?)
As a Oneworld Sapphire member, I had access to Fast Lane security, which went smoothly, and then dumped me into a big duty free shop. The shop is run by Heinemann and Co., a German operator of duty free shops throughout Europe. If you join their loyalty program, you actually get a 10 Euro voucher every year on your birthday, good for an entire year with no minimum purchase. Unfortunately I didn’t see any toys, but I was able to buy two bottles of water and some candy for my office and for my nephews – and they actually gave me 10 Euro cents cash in change.
There are tons of shops and restaurants in the modern CPH terminal, so it’s a pretty decent airport to kill time in.
I was curious to check out the lounge situation, though, as it appeared I had access to three different lounges between my Sapphire status and my Priority Pass membership. Two of the lounges are connected by a single check-in desk – the Aviator and the Apartment – so I headed there, and was at the lounge by 9:20am – less than two hours after I woke up. The Apartment was supposed to be the nicer of the two, and, sure enough, with my Airberlin boarding card and my Aadvantage Platinum card, I was directed to the Apartment. It wasn’t huge, but nice and pretty empty. The food display was pretty small, though I wasn’t hungry, so it was fine. The spread was pretty much breads and rolls, cheese, and yogurt.
There were weird little tables throughout the lounge that were pretty, but not very sturdy or level, as I placed a glass of water on it that shortly landed on the floor, and later watched another guest do the exact same thing. So I moved to the larger communal style table and had another water, a cappuccino, and a piece of bread before heading to the gate area.
My flight to Berlin left from the “A” gates, which were really far away, and seemed like they were in another airport entirely as it was dead. There was plenty of comfortable seating and restrooms in that area, but little else.
I had been assigned seat 2A – a “preferred” seat since Airberlin hadn’t launched its short-haul business class yet, though my boarding pass had me boarding in Group “D.” Since I had only become a OneWorld Assigned seat 2A, which was a preferred, but somehow in boarding group D, the last group. Boarding pass still showed my Ruby status. I was prepared to show my new Platinum card on my phone, but it didn’t matter. Indeed, I was the only one who boarded with the priority group, and was the first on the plane. The flight attendant actually asked me to wait when I got to the door, which I realized was because the Flight Attendants were sitting in the cabin and snacking.
I’d flown Airberlin short-haul once before, last summer from Cologne to Munich, and the experience was pretty much the same. The plane was a standard A320 with slimline seats. There was power and USB outlets in between each seat.
The flight was a mix of Germans, Danes, and Americans, with a particularly loud group of Danes around me, though I still managed to sleep for most of the flight, skipping the buy-on-board service.
We landed at Tegel at a remote gate, but there was no action for what seemed like quite a while. The captain came on and said that a terminal was closed for security, which seemed a bit weird. But about 20 minutes later, the portable stairs came, and passengers were handed lovely Airberlin branded lindt chocolate hearts.
Upon getting to Tegel’s C-terminal, the degree of the problem became quite clear, as it was a zoo. It turned out that Terminal D/E was closed for some reason, so all the passengers from Airberlin’s terminal D/E were being processed at Terminal C, leading to lines stretching all the way around the terminal. A shame that Berlin’s new airport, initially scheduled to open in 2011, is now unlikely to open until 2018 – at the earliest.
It was a bit of a walk over to the bus stop, which is by Terminal A, but the public bus (route TXL) was pretty easy to take from Tegel to the Zoo Station, not far from the Intercontinental, where I’d spend 2 of my 3 nights in town.