Reviews

Review: Airberlin 'Exclusive Waiting Area' lounge, Hamburg Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 20 2015
Airberlin 'Exclusive Waiting Area' lounge, Hamburg Airport
Country

Germany

City

Hamburg

Airport

Hamburg - Fuhlsbuettel

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

Airberlin

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Fast and free wireless Internet
  • Tarmac views
The Bad
  • No access for Oneworld Sapphire, Emerald members
  • BYO food and snacks
X-Factor
  • Escape from the main terminal with a quiet place to work
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Airberlin's 'Exclusive Waiting Areas' are one of a kind: they're not lounges per se, but they're a step up from your typical and otherwise boring experience at the boarding gate.

Open to elite frequent flyers of Virgin Australia and Etihad before short hops with Airberlin, travellers are treated to a quiet place in which to work, check their emails, sip coffee and catch up on the day's news.

With locations in major German and Austrian cities such as Berlin, Düsseldorf, Munich and Vienna, we stopped by Hamburg Airport to see what the Exclusive Waiting Area had to offer – here's what we thought.

Location & Impressions

Once you've passed security screening and have entered the terminal proper, walk forward towards the aircraft gates and then turn right at the final corridor.

You'll spot the Exclusive Waiting Area sign next to the foreign exchange outlet at Gate C8, with the stairs leading up to the entrance.

It's not your conventional airport lounge, but being away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal gives guests considerably more privacy than in the Exclusive Waiting Area at Munich Airport, which ultimately makes the space feel a little more lounge-like.

Access

Throwing a spanner into the works, a Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold or Platinum card won't get you through the door – despite Airberlin's Oneworld membership and the alliance's lounge access rules for Sapphire- and Emerald-tier members.

Why? Exclusive Waiting Areas aren't deemed 'lounges', and thus don't fall under the regular access rules.

Instead, Airberlin admits only its high-paying passengers and high-ranking frequent flyers, and that of Virgin Australia and Etihad. Here's the full list:

  • Airberlin business class guests
  • Economy travellers on an Airberlin FlyFlex fare
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum guests
  • Airberlin Topbonus Silver, Gold and Platinum cardholders
  • Etihad Guest Silver, Gold and Platinum members

Staff don't man the entry, so just scan your boarding pass or swipe your frequent flyer card to waltz on in – and if that doesn't work, there's a phone nearby to call for help:

We found that if you're visiting the lounge by way of your Virgin Australia Velocity status, you'll need to swipe your membership card to enter rather than scanning the boarding pass – even if the Velocity number is attached to your Airberlin booking.

Dining

Remember how this "isn't a lounge", according to Oneworld?

They've got a point – your beverage choices are limited to soft drink, tea and coffee. Period.

We certainly welcomed the latter during our pre-sunrise visit and admittedly went back for seconds before trudging towards the boarding gate, although the only food available is that for sale out in the terminal.

Work

Airberlin's Hamburg Exclusive Waiting Area is a surprisingly quiet place to get some work done before a flight – whether that's syncing your emails or buckling down for some serious keyboard bashing.

There's fast and free Wi-Fi, and each table is both on its lonesome and at a perfect height for sitting and using a laptop:

Many seats also have power points nearby.

Okay, so you have to bend your knees to power up, but let's not pretend that your charger doesn't reach the tabletop!

Relax

Aside from a TV tuned to a German-language network – as you'd of course expect in Germany – magazines and newspapers are available to pass the time:

Among the reading list is Focus, Grazia, Elle, oh, and Playboy...

Don't sweat the time – boarding calls are made when your aircraft is ready, and a convenient flight screen stands at the exit to remind of your gate number.

Again, this is far from a regular airport lounge, but as Exclusive Waiting Areas go, Hamburg Airport is home to one of the better ones.

Unlike the Exclusive Waiting Area in Munich, this facility has wireless Internet rather than a sea of Ethernet cables.

The difference is negligible for laptop users, yet it allows tablet-wielding travellers to logon and surf with ease – a huge plus when iPads are essential kit for many business travellers.

Being one floor above the regular terminal also does wonders for both privacy and noise, with plenty of the former and barely any of the latter if you exclude the odd boarding call.

It's certainly a raw deal to deny Qantas and Oneworld frequent flyers their morning cup of coffee when they're travelling with a Oneworld airline, but the bigger loss is having nowhere to set up and work while you're on the road.

But if you're on that magical door list, there's no denying that a visit to the Exclusive Waiting Area sure beats waiting at the boarding gate.

Also reviewed: Airberlin 'Exclusive Waiting Area', Munich Airport

Chris Chamberlin was travelling as a guest of Airberlin and Etihad.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Greg84

Greg84

03 Nov 2014

Total posts 89

Travelling on a QFF award flight last year was granted access to these waiting areas...I had assumed it was due to being QFF Gold, but they must treat the award flight as a Full Economy ticket...

Propofol88

Propofol88

QF Platinum

24 Jan 2013

Total posts 141

I wonder if they censor the playboy centrefold....  :D

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

It may beat waiting at the gate, but does it beat going for a stroll around the terminal?

Really, apart from being "exclusive" I can't see the point. Unless you really want a cup of tea and a Playboy.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

If you want somewhere quiet to wait or need to get some work done before your flight, then it sure beats wandering around the terminal – but if you're bored then you could probably do both.

(That said, there's a nice cafe on your left as you're walking from the security checkpoint to the Waiting Area, so certainly stroll there first for a nice pretzel if you have time!)

Hugo

Hugo

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

I'm proud to say I don't think I've ever done any work at an airport. Leave that to the photocopier salesmen of the world.

nix584

nix584

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 250

If you have a Business ticket or status, why would you just not stay in the lounge until you had to board?

jianga

jianga

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Feb 2015

Total posts 129

So if one has an AB flight with QFF on the booking, but also being a VA Gold, would you still be able to use the waiting area?

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

i have not flown with them so ask, do they actually have lounges or just these so-called "waiting areas" 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

Airberlin has just one 'lounge' of its own which is in Dusseldorf International – all others are 'waiting areas'.

(That said, if you're flying with Airberlin in a terminal that also has a lounge of another Oneworld airline such as British Airways, Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers could also use that lounge in line with Oneworld rules.)

In other airports, Airberlin uses the lounges of its partners or contract lounges.


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