Airberlin's lounge & "exclusive waiting area" access explained

By David Flynn, July 22 2013

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!

Airberlin lounges

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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David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Thanks David!

OW needs to ditch Air Berlin and recruit another Central Europe carrier.  There is a general incongruence between Air Berlin and the other OW carriers. I do not think it is a good fit.

It's business model and ethos seems more in line with VA, therefor making for a more equitable alliance.

Question is, are there anymore carriers in Central and Eastern Europe not already a vassal of LH?

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 197

Not sure I would agree that AB should be tossed out of oneworld. Flying intra-EU, their service is better than BA, and they provide more food/drink than IB do. LX would have been the best pick but their fallout with BA ruined their entry to oneworld. 

These "Exclusive Waiting Areas" are certainly not up to the level of a lounge. It's basically a fenced off part of the terminal, so it's no quieter. The refreshments are miserable - nothing alcoholic available. I don't really think oneworld elites need access to them anyway. You would be hard pressed to find an airport that has these waiting areas and no oneworld member lounge.

Madge, I agree regarding LX.

I wish key members of these alliances can put their egos behind them and appreciate the big picture.

Within our region there could have been much synergies between MH, CX and QF to carve out the region between them. It's a real pity that they've been unable to overcome their differences.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 128

CX and MH cooperate to an extent

as for QF they refuse to work with MH or CX but instead want to compete with them in their home markets ( Hong Kong) not exactly a friendly move!!!

I still do not get why QF refuses to codeshare with KA and instead with MU to SIN

OW maybe the best alliance in terms of average airline quality and for airlines lesser overlap routes but the unifiers is basically BA and AA the rest just tag along with them and do not partner much with each other

F8
F8

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 72

Thanks for an informative article, David. It explains why the card reader at Berlin Tegel's Waiting Area wouldn't accept my QF Platinum card. No problem though - the next passenger let us in with his Air Berlin card! The Waiting Area was far from impressive: hopefully they will have something better at Brandenburg Airport when/if that ever opens.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Feb 2011

Total posts 6

The AB Lounge in DUS is nothing to write home about and only allows 2 hours free WiFi access and then you have to pay!  I used it on a flight with Etihad.

In TXL, I use the BA Galleries Lounge and had no issues getting in there.  That said, the check-in agent said I could use the Waiting Area but I didn't try it so do not know if I got access. 

The other AB oddity is that their top tier members get a complimentary hot meal and alcoholic drink but offer does not extend to other OW members!

02 May 2012

Total posts 2

Is it worth noting that both AirBerlin (& subsequently yourselves) have been using a photo of the Finnair Lounge in Helsinki in articles/marketing materials for AirBerlin's own lounge?


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