Update at 5:49 PM ET on 12/20/13: Many commenters are saying they’ve had problems with aa.com showing “phantom award space” on airberlin flights. I have never had that experience, so I was surprised by the reports, but I’m sure they’re accurate. My advice changes in light of this info. Search for airberlin award space on ba.com, then book on aa.com or ba.com depending on the miles you want to use.
“Reports of the award space’s death have been greatly exaggerated.” ~Miles Twain
Right now, you can lock in an incredible vacation to Europe for Summer 2014 for only 50k American Airlines miles roundtrip and award space is wide open!
Award space to Europe for Summer 2014 has been bad since award space was loaded onto award calendars several months ago. (Awards are generally bookable 11 months in advance.)
But things are looking up. And just like last year–when I declared that airberlin award space was a gold mine to Europe for Summer 2013–airberlin is again a gold mine of award space to Europe for Summer 2014.
Break out your American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios, you’re going to Europe this summer!
Where does airberlin fly in the US and in Europe? What miles do you need to book awards on airberlin flights? How good is the award space picture? What simple trick can get you a big discount on your award?
airberlin is a oneworld alliance member with hubs in Berlin (TXL) and Dusseldorf (DUS), Germany. As a member of oneworld, American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios have access to airberlin’s award space at Saver prices.
Where airberlin Flies
- New York
- New York
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Los Angeles
- Several Caribbean Destinations
From both Berlin and Dusseldorf, airberlin has flights throughout Europe with great award space.
Where to Search airberlin Award Space
airberlin award space is searchable on aa.com and ba.com. I find aa.com much quicker to search, so I search aa.com exactly as I outlined here.
How to Book airberlin Award Space
You always book with the airline whose miles you’re using. Neither American Airlines nor British Airways collects fuel surcharges on airberlin award flights.
If you’re using AA miles, book on aa.com. If you’re using Avios, book on ba.com. In either case, I would search on aa.com first.
Should You Use Avios or American Airlines Miles to Book airberlin Space?
Decide which miles to use based on how many you’ll need, how many of each you have, and what your future award plans are.
How many miles do you need?
American Airlines charges 30k mile from North American to Europe one way in economy (see below for how to pay only 20k) and 50k in business.
British Airways charges for every segment based on distance. New York to Berlin is only 20k/40k Avios one way in economy/business. Los Angeles to Dusseldorf is 25k/50k Avios one way in economy/business. Add on connecting flights and the price keeps ticking up.
So some itineraries are cheaper with Avios and some with American miles. Taxes should be identical with either type of miles.
How Many of Each Do You Have?
American Airlines miles and Avios have very little in common except their partners. Since they are so different, they have very different strengths. It’s nice to have each on hand to maximize their strengths, so all things equal, use the miles you have more of.
What Are Your Future Award Plans?
One of the main determinants of what miles I use for an award is what miles I don’t want to use in order to save them for my next award.
If my next award were Los Angeles to Honolulu, I’d save Avios for that and use American Airlines miles to Europe. If my next award were New York to Hong Kong in First Class, I’d save American Airlines miles for that and use Avios to Europe.
How Good Is the Award Space Picture?
In economy, almost every airberlin flight from the US to Europe and vice versa has Saver award space. Some flights operate daily and some only a few times a week, but when the flights are operating, award space is open in economy.
In business class, award space isn’t as wide open. To me, this isn’t a big deal because airberlin business class isn’t particularly great, and I don’t have a trick to get it for cheaper than it “should” cost like I do for airberlin economy space (see below.)
airberlin doesn’t have first class.
Check out these screen shots of award space on selected routes. Green days have economy award space and blue days have business class award space.
New York <-> Berlin, June 2014
Los Angeles <-> Dusseldorf, July 2014
Fort Myers <-> Dusseldorf, August 2014
How Can You Book airberlin Award Space on the Cheap?
American Airlines has a quirk, such that if you live in New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Fort Myers, you can book a trip in the middle of summer to anywhere in Europe for only 20k American Airlines miles one way. That means the roundtrip would be only 50k miles, which is an incredible deal to Europe in the summer when airfare tops $1,000.
Read all about the trick in 20k Miles to All of Europe All Summer.