Quick Comparison: American, airberlin, Iberia in Business Class
I recently flew airberlin to Düsseldorf and Iberia back from Berlin via Madrid. Here is a quick comparison, based on one flight each for airberlin and Iberia, and many flights on American (I realize, not fully fair). I omit lounges, since they are the same. Boarding/deplaning was fine for all three. I can't remember much about IFE -- not so important for me.
General Service: Friendly on all three airlines, but on airberlin I seemed to have more problems getting a glass of water, or a wine refill. On American, I have to fight the FAs' attempts to refill my glass.
Seat: Iberia has a very comfortable lie-flat seat (though I only took a nap on a day flight), while airberlin has angled lie-flat like American. I can sleep angled, so ok, but clearly Iberia is the best of the three.
Food: I had one of the best meals ever on an airplane (including Cathay First) on Iberia: roast suckling lamb in red wine sauce. Moist, flavorful, appealingly presented (a tidy square). I generally like food on American, though it is nothing special. airberlin seemed a little uninspired: there were two tiny appetizers (feta cheese and melon, and crab), plus sea bass. As I recall, all served at once.
Wine: I usually like the wines on American, there are interesting choices (for example, a lot of German Rieslings recently, which I tend to like a lot). They are wines I would be happy to drink with a simple meal mid-week in NYC (at home or in a restaurant); they retail for $15-$20. Plus American has sherry. But Iberia had a choice of three sherries! The FA had me try them all. The Old&Plus Oloroso was delicious (and apparently quite pricey if I am reading the websites right). airberlin had no German wine at all; instead, Italian standards that retail for about $10.
So, in summary, airberlin is an acceptable option but not great; American is fine and I have no complaints about them; and Iberia was a very pleasant surprise which might justify changing planes in Madrid once in a while.
Programs: oneworld emerald (AA EXP 8MM), SPG life plat, HY plat, Esselunga Fìdaty Card
Thanks so much for the comparison. What I gather is that AB is in the same category of AA, and IB is a tad above.
I have taken many flights on IB and agree with the last statement.
I also fondly remember IB's desserts, which in my experience are very good (although I pretty much stopped flying them since the JBA, as BA serves SFO directly while IB required an extra connection). If they started a SFO service (ha!) I'd take it without hesitation!
IFE (which is important to me) is also vastly superior on IB than AA, which is old and grainy on the 777 and not even built-in on the 763s.
I just had my first experience on Iberia and enjoyed it, though I can't say that it was very different from AA business class. The seat, at least on the A340, is quite similar to the AA seat - lie-flat rather than fully flat and equally comfortable (or uncomfortable, your choice) for sleeping. The IFE is newer and, therefore, the screen quality is better though the choice of movies seemed more limited. The service was excellent - on each flight the purser introduced himself to every business class customer at the beginning of the flight and the FAs were attentive, though in a similar way to most AA flights. This may reflect my lack of sophistication but I like the AA food and the Iberia food was similarly good. I do like Spanish wines and Iberia might have a slight advantage in this category. But, all in all, I'm happy anytime someone is willing to pay for me to fly business and I'd opt for either AA or Iberia.
a big selling point for IB is that they offer a great airport experience at MAD, especially compared to LHR. i've found MUC and FRA good for transit airports (at least on LH) and would have similar hopes for the same german style efficiency at DUS on AB. please tell me it's not a big ol' mess like TXL is in berlin.
was dusseldorf your final destination or did you connect? lounge? i'd be curious how that part of the experience was.
I just had my first experience on Iberia and enjoyed it, though I can't say that it was very different from AA business class. The seat, at least on the A340, is quite similar to the AA seat - lie-flat rather than fully flat and equally comfortable (or uncomfortable, your choice) for sleeping.
IB J seats go fully flat and horizontal unlike AA which is sloped. They also have more distance between rows so you can actually get out from a window easily.
What I gather is that AB is in the same category of AA, and IB is a tad above.
Actually, I meant to say that AA seems a bit above airberlin in terms of service, food, and wine, but not much (after all, there is not huge variation in these products). As cesco.g said, given that airberlin comes from the LCC realm it is actually a positive surprise that airberlin is not worse.
i've found MUC and FRA good for transit airports (at least on LH) and would have similar hopes for the same german style efficiency at DUS on AB. please tell me it's not a big ol' mess like TXL is in berlin.
I find DUS to be as nice as FRA, but more efficient due to its smaller size.
I'd take it any day over a LHR connection.
Appreciate the trip report of IB and AB's TATL J product. Due to their former LCC heritage, one thing AB lacks is a solid lounge at their hub airports (DUS/TXL). Some people complain about AA's AC lounges, but it is certainly better than nothing. IB lounges are nicer, although they are just "business class lounges". Hopefully AB will build some decent lounges at DUS and BER.