The first advantage this airline had in comparison to the typical 'RyanAirs' of the world is that on both legs of the journey we didn’t have to queue at all to check in our bags. In Budapest airport, on the way back, I was reminded of the usual hours of waiting around as I walked past hundreds of people queuing for EasyJet, Wizz and RyanAir flights. I couldn’t hide the smug grin as I strolled up to the lady at the check-in desk who was waiting to serve me with a friendly smile (smiling staff? hummm…another thumbs up for Air Berlin).
There was no hassle at the boarding gate either. No tetris luggage-measuring exercises, no suspicious glares at me or my hand luggage and nobody looked me up and down to make sure I wasn’t trying to smuggle in an extra bag under my coat. In fact, the same women who had checked us in was also at the boarding gate and was still happy to serve us with her wide smile.
My husband was a little scared when he saw the size of the plane as it was the smallest plane he had ever travelled in. In fact, it was a Q400, a twin-engine plane with visible propellors, the smallest of the Air Berlin fleet with a capacity of 76 passengers. To make it worse I had chosen wing seats for us so he had a perfect close up view of the spinning blades.
It was all 'plane' sailing though and during take off and landing we had some spectacular views of both cities. The calm and quiet flight lasted about an hour and a half, just enough time to make it worth waiting for the plane and not too long to get a numb bum. The seats were comfortable and the decoration did not give you a headache as it was neither bright fluorescent yellow nor cringeworthy orange.
The cabin crew seemed relaxed, calm and friendly and the service was quick but without the mad rush to get through the cabin with the refreshments tray so they can go on to sell you lots of useless crap after charging you a fortune for a tiny coke and a minuscule hot panini. To top it off we got a complimentary juice and apple flavour biscuits during the trip. On leaving the airplane you also get offered a very nice Air Berlin chocolate heart to remind you of the pleasant experience.
All in all I felt satisfied with my short but nice Air Berlin trip and I would recommend flying with them if you get chance. The only disadvantage I can see is that their routes are more limited than other airlines but if they fly to the place you want to go, check 'em out. By the way, Budapest is a wonderful city to visit and perfect for a weekend get away from Berlin :D
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