Abu Dhabi to Berlin
The loyalty scheme
Topbonus (Oneworld alliance, points also can be with Etihad)
Business, seat 4D
6 hours, 40 mins
The business class cabin features a 1-2-1 layout. Seats have 20 inches width (50cm) with a pitch of 60 inches (152.4 cm). The seats convert to lie-flat beds for sleeping, with a length of 72 inches (182 cm).
In business class, two checked bags up to 32kg each, plus two carry-on bags of up to 8kg each and one personal item.
Interlocking seats puts every second seat on the aisle, so couples should aim for a middle odd number, which gives them a private booth feel (not so private if you're in there with a stranger). Other seats put passengers on the aisle, which gives less of a private feel than some business class cabins. There's plenty of leg room and I can put my feet up on the ottoman without having to convert the seat to lie-flat mode. The seat also has a massage mode with various settings.
For a business class seat, there is limited storage space for your items during the flight (aside from the overhead bin) and the seat pocket for the safety card, to the side of the seat itself and near the floor of the cabin, is a little difficult to reach.
The amenity kit (from Wunderkind) features socks, toothbrush and paste, earplugs, eye mask, lip balm and moisturiser.
Noise-cancelling earphones are provided and there's a good range of recent release movies and TV shows in English. The controller features a trackpad for making your on-screen selections, though a button pad would probably be easier, as it's not particularly accurate. There's also power in the seat if you prefer to use your own device.
The flight attendants are friendly and attentive, ensuring passengers are comfortable and happy with their dining options and deliver duvets to anyone who is ready to put their seat flat and sleep.
The two appetiser options are beef pastrami with horseradish creme fraiche, or stuffed vine leaves with hummus, paprika and walnut creme. Of the four mains, I go for the grilled beef tenderloin with potatoes and mixed vegetables. For dessert, it's opera cake with raspberry and chocolate garnish. The meals are solid business class fare, if not outstanding.
There's also a wide range of snacks available at any time for business class passengers throughout the flight, ranging from simple chocolate bars and cookies, through to more sophisticated fare like duck breast slices on rye bread or camembert with baguette.
A nice touch on the drinks menu are the "airplane cocktails" – aviation-themed concoctions with names such as the "Airman on the rocks", "Sparkling Airman" and the "Berlin Breeze".
One more thing
Air Berlin is the second-largest carrier in Germany, after Lufthansa, and flies to a wide range of European destinations from its Berlin hub. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad is the airline's largest shareholder.
Air Berlin's business class is not quite at the top tier of premium cabins offered by some of the top Asian or Middle Eastern carriers, but its seats, service and food are likely to satisfy all but the most demanding of pointy-end flyers.
The writer flew as a guest of Air Berlin.
See also: World's best airline for 2016 named