Airberlin may be chums with both Virgin Australia and Qantas – the former through a bespoke partnership, the latter via the oneworld alliance – but the German carrier treats the frequent flyers of each airline very differently when it comes to lounge access.
Here's what you need to know before getting turned away at the door!
That heading would more accurately be written as lounge, singular, because airberlin operates just one lounge as we know it.
That lounge is located at Dusseldorf Terminal C and it's open to Platinum and Gold frequent flyers from both Qantas and Virgin Australia, along with Emerald and Sapphire-grade members from other oneworld airlines such as American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines).
Airberlin also plans a flagship lounge for Berlin's new and much-delayed Brandenburg Airport, which is now expected to open sometime in 2014.
Airberlin Exclusive Waiting Areas
In addition to its more formal lounge, airberlin also offers what it terms 'Exclusive Waiting Areas' at Berlin-Tegel, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Munich airports (click here for specific locations).
These are more like a low-key 'express lounge' than a full-blown business class lounge – hot and cold drinks, comfortable chairs and handy AC power sockets are the limit of pre-flight creature comforts.
And this is where things get tricky. Silver, Gold or Platinum card holders in Airberlin's topbonus frequent flyer scheme can use these waiting areas, as can Virgin Australia's Velocity Gold and Platinum members under their new partnership.
Virgin gets in, Qantas and oneworld stay out
But Qantas and oneworld travellers do not have access to the waiting areas, even if they boast top-tier Platinum/Emerald status.
That seems to fly in the face of oneworld's standard policy of frequent flyer access to the lounges of all member airlines, btu we've double-checked this with both airberlin and oneworld.
So what's the deal?
Simply put, those waiting areas don't qualify as airline lounges, which means they're not subject to oneworld's lounge access policy.
"Airberlin's exclusive waiting areas fall short of the definition of an airport lounge" oneworld spokesman Michael Blunt explained to Australian Business Traveller.
"They're essentially a part of the main departure hall reserved for airberlin premium customers."
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