Flying AirBerlin Codeshares with AA Comments and Questions

 
Old Sep 4, 14, 4:56 am
  #1  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,273
Flying AirBerlin Codeshares with AA Comments and Questions

Hi,

I just flew DUS->CTA as AA code share and will fly CTA->DUS->LAX on Sunday all on AB metal but coded as AA.

Comments
=======

Firstly, just be warned that AB is a low cost carrier so don't expect too much of them in terms of quality and service. Think paying for everything on flights, taking buses to the plane, routes run every other day, delayed flights and wacky behavior. On the flight out there was delay of 1 hours after we boarded. The FA tried to get a congo line started to pass the time ...


Secondly, AB and AA are not well connected. I flew to DUS on AA metal but the AA checkin agent was unable to get me a boarding pass for DUS->CTA! Her comment was that AB likes to control their own boarding passes ...
This is a major issue but I was very lucky that passport control at DUS did not ask for boarding pass. The AB lounge would not let me in until I got one though.

Questions
======

Has anyone checked in to AB for flying intra Europe and then onto the US? What should I expect as a OneWorld Saphire. In particular:

. How do I handle IRROPS and missed connections? Do I go through AA or AB? Remember its AB metal but AA ticketed.
. Does AB have fast track lines for Sapphires at checkin?
. Do they respect baggage allowances for free baggage?
. Any idea how far in advance to check in? Very little info from AB on this info.

Last edited by inpd; Sep 4, 14 at 5:20 am
inpd is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 7:32 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,781
thanks for the heads up, I was just on the phone with AA booking an award on AirBerlin
Rome to Zurich.. I think I will take the train..
fotographer is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 9:19 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Programs: AA ex-EXP (buh-bye!), HH Gold, SPG Gold, UM Go Blue
Posts: 543
I do the AB/HG -> AA connection frequently so I think I can help. My favorite connection is at DUS since you don't have to re-clear security. There is a transfer desk right between the non-Schengen and Schengen areas so not getting the boarding pass ahead of time should not be an issue and the immigration agents don't care anyway.

First of all, AB/HG is a LCC but I find them pretty efficient and the on-board experience generally fine. Often better than domestic AA.

. How do I handle IRROPS and missed connections? Do I go through AA or AB? Remember its AB metal but AA ticketed.
Since you are flying only on AB metal, I think AA cannot help you at all. AB will do the best they can, but I wouldn't expect much (I would also not expect to be completely hosed, either.)

. Does AB have fast track lines for Sapphires at checkin?
I have seen business class checkin at almost every station (even small ones, but not sure about CTA) and yes, you can use it as OWS.

. Do they respect baggage allowances for free baggage?
Yes, but you may have to have a print-out ready from the oneworld website. But they have been integrated for a couple of years now, and I think most of them are aware. I (OWE) have never had any problems with this.

. Any idea how far in advance to check in? Very little info from AB on this info.
You can check in online 30 hours before the flight. I usually check in online to get the best seats I can, then pick up BP at the airport.
Wollstonecraft is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 9:29 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Programs: AA ex-EXP (buh-bye!), HH Gold, SPG Gold, UM Go Blue
Posts: 543
Originally Posted by fotographer View Post
thanks for the heads up, I was just on the phone with AA booking an award on AirBerlin
Rome to Zurich.. I think I will take the train..
It is really not that bad. I have taken AB/HG intra-Europe in many configurations and it is pretty consistently just fine. The only problems, as noted elsewhere, are with luggage at TXL. Rome to Zurich is a long and boring (but beautiful) train ride and I certainly wouldn't skip AB if time was the issue.
Wollstonecraft is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 11:11 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Roswell, GA
Programs: AA EXP 2.8m,Lifetime PLT, Hilton Diamond, IHG PlLT, SPG Gold
Posts: 2,781
Originally Posted by Wollstonecraft View Post
It is really not that bad. I have taken AB/HG intra-Europe in many configurations and it is pretty consistently just fine. The only problems, as noted elsewhere, are with luggage at TXL. Rome to Zurich is a long and boring (but beautiful) train ride and I certainly wouldn't skip AB if time was the issue.
thanks for that, in terms of luggage, I along with my wife have not checked a bag in years, even for trips that last 2 weeks.
Thinking about the train, since we will be making that journey in late December, the views might be quite nice..
fotographer is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 11:36 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA LT Gold
Posts: 2,834
Originally Posted by inpd View Post
I just flew DUS->CTA as AA code share...

Comments
=======

Firstly, just be warned that AB is a low cost carrier so don't expect too much of them in terms of quality and service. Think paying for everything on flights, taking buses to the plane, routes run every other day, delayed flights and wacky behavior
DUS-CTA is 2hrs 40mins.
I wonder what you were expecting for such a short flight?

In terms of quality, for a smilar flight, any USA airline will offer either a very old plane/falling apart, or a very new plane but EXTREMELY cramped. AB planes are in decent shape, really nothing there that is worse than the USA airlines aircraft.

In terms of service, at least in Air Berlin you get a free snack or a small piece of chocolate. The flight attendants are professional and not jaded (perhaps due their young age). Compare that to grumpy AA flight attendants.

LCC charging for everything? What does AA not charge for? AA charges for bags, seats in the front, etc. So AA is a low cost carrier too? What does AB charge for that AA doesn't?

Buses. Well, welcome to Europe!!! Taking buses to board a narrow-body plane is not uncommon at all in most european airports. Avoiding AB won't take you away from boarding with buses. Even LH (one of the largest airlines in the world) uses buses in its MUC and FRA hubs. Personally, I think the random boarding order in Europe works great and is really quick and efficient. No complaints.

Regarding delays, etc, I don't think a one-time experience can tell what is the historical performance of a specific route/airline. And AA is not free of delays or IRROPS.

So, saying "avoid AB" for an intra-europe flight is a little bit of an exaggeration. Your complaints can apply to any airline/anywhere. It is not really worse than any other carrier, at least in my experience.

As far as IRROPS, I was once on TXL-MIA-LAX and the TXL-MIA (AB) was delayed so that I would miss the last MIA-LAX (AA) flight of the day. Air Berlin took care of re-booking me but they re-booked me on Delta for MIA-LAX (I think via ATL). So I called the EXP desk and they got me on a flight on AA but for the next day. Nonetheless, when arriving in MIA, the AA airport agents had a problem issuing my BP as it appeared I had a double reservation, somehow they sorted it out and I flew on the AA flight arranged by the EXP desk (not the DL flight booked by AB).
carlosdca is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 12:37 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: NYC
Programs: DL Diamond, AAdvantage EXP, Hyatt Explorist, HHonors Diamond, Avis First
Posts: 7,328
I had a great experience as OW Emerald in Y on DUS-JFK last summer. The purser personally came back to me after take off offering me a cocktail of my choice in real glassware like J class and continued to come back and check on my to see if I needed anything else above the typical Y class services (which also were very good). The only thing I noticed was legroom was VERY tight and I was in one of the first rows of Y with no one sitting next to me.
AANYC1981 is offline  
Old Sep 4, 14, 2:55 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: LAX
Programs: AA: EXP Hilton: Gold, SPG: Gold, Hyatt: Plat
Posts: 193
I have had nothing but good experiences both intra-europe Y and TATL J. No reason to avoid flying AB...
lax555 is online now  
Old Sep 5, 14, 1:25 am
  #9  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,273
Thanks for your comments and answers to my questions. I agree the flight attendant are good, but they are still a low cost carrier not comparable to Luftansa and other full service carriers.

Full service isnt to do with planes or flight attendant service rather service like regularly flying a route and ground operations. I tried calling them about the upcoming Italian air controllers strike and other issues and the agent didn't seem to know much about anything. I asked to speak to a supervisor and she said there were none. That to me is not reminiscent of a full service carrier. AA has its faults, but it still is a full service carrier.
inpd is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 2:42 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Berlin
Programs: BA Silver, LH FTL, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 47
I am Airberlin Platinum (=Oneworld Emerald) and like AB way better than Lufthansa. I also regularly fly AA codeshares (but the other way around: AA flights marketed as AB).
All OW benefits apply on AB and are usually well honored (except on some fully chartered flights). Fast lanes on both checkin and security exist in most locations. Baggage allowances also work fine.
On the minus side:
- Boarding passes between AB and AA are always a problem because they use different booking systems which are not well interconnedted. Usually reserving a seat (including status benefits for seating) works at booking time, but changing it later is difficult. Online checkin is 30 hours if you can get hold of the Amadeus booking code.
- Irrops handling in TXL is not good. Don't know about other airports
- Generally TXL is not a great airport for changing flights. This applies to everything from security to boarding (priority lines do not fit at the gates) to baggage.
But in terms of in-air service I like AB way better than LH, in both domestic/European Y and intercont J (AB does not have F, and J only on intercontinental flights). I also like the new J seating on AB a lot (it's the same as Etihad's)

Regards,
Stepfel
stepfel is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 4:51 am
  #11  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,273
Originally Posted by stepfel View Post
I am Airberlin Platinum (=Oneworld Emerald) and like AB way better than Lufthansa. I also regularly fly AA codeshares (but the other way around: AA flights marketed as AB).
All OW benefits apply on AB and are usually well honored (except on some fully chartered flights). Fast lanes on both checkin and security exist in most locations. Baggage allowances also work fine.
On the minus side:
- Boarding passes between AB and AA are always a problem because they use different booking systems which are not well interconnedted. Usually reserving a seat (including status benefits for seating) works at booking time, but changing it later is difficult. Online checkin is 30 hours if you can get hold of the Amadeus booking code.
- Irrops handling in TXL is not good. Don't know about other airports
- Generally TXL is not a great airport for changing flights. This applies to everything from security to boarding (priority lines do not fit at the gates) to baggage.
But in terms of in-air service I like AB way better than LH, in both domestic/European Y and intercont J (AB does not have F, and J only on intercontinental flights). I also like the new J seating on AB a lot (it's the same as Etihad's)

Regards,
Stepfel
Thanks for your comments. I agree with them all, particularly the bit about AA and AB ticketing systems not talking.

I'm at T-30 hours and this time AB cannot give me AA boarding passes. Fortunately, I have a long lay over in LAX so that won't be a problem. The agent I talked to on the phone could't helped and even warned me not to check bags (she said they'd get there, but not on my flight!). I really appreciate her frankness as I was going to check my carry on.

A carrier's in flight service is not reflective of whether its a LCC. Southwest has one of the best in flight service I can recall, but its still a LCC.
inpd is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 7:12 am
  #12  
c_d
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: BER, SAT, AUS
Programs: Feels like FO (AA EXP)
Posts: 1,611
A couple of points from my experiences with AA/AB:

- remember that although many European immigration and security agents do not ask for boarding passes, however American do
- I had bags wrongly tagged and terminating in DFW instead of SAT twice (originating from TXL)
- every single time I had to discuss with AB in TXL that I indeed may check 2 bags for free
- they always complain about bags being beyond 50lbs regardless of whether this is ok according to OW perks
- no AB BP from US-->FRA means that you need to leave the secure area, changer terminals, get a new BP at AB ticketing and go through security again, remember that when timing your connections
- AB sometimes has irritating routings, like ATH-CFU-TXL or a change of planes in ZRH : those tiny stations sometimes only have 1 AB flight a day, IROP usually means you're stranded
- do not trust having all OW perks extended to you, especially in TXL the BP frequently is printed without any reference to your status, apart from DUS I have nerver encountered an AB counter or kiosk in the secure area
- AB backend software is horrible. If you put your AA FF# in the booking, you often cannot select seats prior to T-30, with an AB FF# you can - I had one flight credited to TB instead of Advantage although I changed the booking back to my AA FF after selecting the seats
- use AA Twitter to quickly learn the AB PNR
c_d is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 12:19 pm
  #13  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,273
Originally Posted by c_d View Post
A couple of points from my experiences with AA/AB:

- every single time I had to discuss with AB in TXL that I indeed may check 2 bags for free
- do not trust having all OW perks extended to you, especially in TXL the BP frequently is printed without any reference to your status, apart from DUS I have nerver encountered an AB counter or kiosk in the secure area
- AB backend software is horrible. If you put your AA FF# in the booking, you often cannot select seats prior to T-30, with an AB FF# you can - I had one flight credited to TB instead of Advantage although I changed the booking back to my AA FF after selecting the seats
Amen.

For an airline that touts their oneworld membership whenever they can (i.e. its on their logo in most places) you'd think they would understand what it meant to be in oneworld wouldn't you?
inpd is offline  
Old Sep 5, 14, 4:42 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Programs: AA LT Gold
Posts: 2,834
Originally Posted by inpd View Post
Thanks for your comments. I agree with them all, particularly the bit about AA and AB ticketing systems not talking.

I'm at T-30 hours and this time AB cannot give me AA boarding passes. Fortunately, I have a long lay over in LAX so that won't be a problem. The agent I talked to on the phone could't helped and even warned me not to check bags (she said they'd get there, but not on my flight!). I really appreciate her frankness as I was going to check my carry on.

A carrier's in flight service is not reflective of whether its a LCC. Southwest has one of the best in flight service I can recall, but its still a LCC.

Good luck and hope you can get your BPs and check bags all the way through once you are at the airport. I have always done so and have never had any issues at the airpot.

It is not the end of the world if you can't OLCI, right?

For seat assignments, you can call AA (if ticketed with AA) and ask them submitt a request. IME, the seat request has always stuck, no issues either (my seat requests were done at time of booking though, never close to departure time)
carlosdca is offline  
Old Sep 6, 14, 1:22 pm
  #15  
Suspended
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,273
Originally Posted by carlosdca View Post

It is not the end of the world if you can't OLCI, right?

)
But I can't check in online. AA says see AB. AB site says see gate agent. All of this is because it's AB metal ticked on AA and is a code share.
inpd is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: