Having finished my new website recently, I was ready for vacation! I wanted to get away from the cold winter weather in Germany and go somehwere with a beach, good infrastructure and shopping malls – having a good friend in Miami it was clear to me that Florida would be my first choice. I had been in Ft. Lauderdale three years ago, when I went on a cruise and I still remembered that February was the perfect time to head to the Sunshine State that has two oranges on its car number plates.
I initially planned to take the Lufthansa Airbus A380 from Frankfurt, but the security staff in Frankfurt went on the strike the day before my departure and it was absolute chaos at the airport. There was no way I was going on any Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt from Germany to the US, as they were all completely overbooked. I spent hours and hours searching for flights and it was absolutely hopeless… There was only one tiny chance to get onto a flight from Berlin Tegel (TXL) directly to Miami Int. (MIA), which was much better than all the other routes I had planned with one or two stops in the US and travel times of up to 24 hours.
After taking a bus at 04.45 am to Berlin, I reached the airport well before departure and after a bit of waiting time we actually got very last two seats in Business Class on flight AB7210. It was such a lief and the pressure from the past days and the insecurity on when and how we were getting to Miami was finally gone! Berlin Tegel is way overcrowded these days and has exceeded its capacity by at least 100% and it became obvious past security control. Each gate has its own checkpoint and waiting area and people had no space at all to wait once they were cleared through security, it was horrible. The aircraft was late on arrival from Miami and at the scheduled boarding time they were still busy cleaning and fueling it, but in the end we had a departure delay of only 30 minutes.
Today’s aircraft was D-ABXB, one of 14 Airbus A330-200s in the Air Berlin fleet. It is the second oldest A330 with Air Berlin, even though it was only delivered to the airline on 13 July 2011. It started life with Sabena from Belgium in 2000 as OO-SFT, then flew with Lufthansa as D-AIMD, as well as Swiss as HB-IQQ. It now has 20 seats in Business Class and 274 in Economy which is a toal of 294, compared to 230 when it was with Lufthansa.
Once airborne I laid back and enjoyed the inflight entertainment. The storable screens were not that big, but the HD display was great. It was quick and the touch screen responded very quickly. Unfortunately it hung-up five times during the 10 hour 40 minute flight and had to be restarted again every time. The display at the seat next to me could not display black well, but showed little red dots instead. So in the end it was not as good as I first thought, which was a bit disappointing. Let’s take a look at the route map and the flight data to find out where we are…
Meals and service
Soon everybody was ready to have something to eat and I was looking forward to see what Air Berlin comes up with. The starter consisted of a seasonal salad and Pastrami Salmon with Pesto flavoured Potato Salad. It wasn’t as good as it sounded, but the main course soon followed and it was excellent. I have rarely had such a good hot meal on board of an aircraft. I went for Chicken Breast in Coconut Lime Sauce and asian noodles and it tasted just like in a good asian restaurant. My neighbour had a Tilapia filet with Pesto Rosso, mashed potato and veggies. I had a Nougat Tartlet for desert and while its presentation needed some improvement, its taste was okay. Just before landing the flight attendants served a small dish and I picked the Cajun Chicken which again was not terrific, but okay for a small snack. In between you could always get chocolates (like Snickers or M&Ms) or salted mini pretzels. So here are all the different dishes:
The flight time on this route is already very long simply due to the distance from Berlin to Miami and we had some strong head-winds so it took even longer. Time enough for three movies and a good nap. The problem was that the seats could not be brought to a full-flat position and you would always slip down. That was really uncomfortable and the seat pitch was so narrow that a person of my size could lay down comfortably in any way – again a real disappoint. I also have to say that the flight attendants were not up to speed and the way they did things was not Business Class standard. It was obvious that they would usually serve tourists and why it is totally okay to act natural and not be stuck-up, they simply were sloppy and it seemed they were simply not trained-well. But I was happy to be on board because I made it to Miami in the first place! As I was seated in the middle, I never had the chance to take some pictures during approach, but here is an image taken over the Atlantic and one passing the Bahamas.
We landed on runway 09 at Miami International Airport about one hour late, but I didn’t mind as I landed safely there and the sun was shining, the temperature just right, I am staying at the beach… – what else could you want?