British Airways: LHR to TXL

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Director enjoys a hassle-free British Airways business-class flight from Heathrow to Berlin Tegel with the UK’s flag carrier

The city was effectively sealed off from the rest of the non-communist world for 40 years during the Cold War, but Berlin now enjoys arguably one of the most strategic business locations in Europe – a prime gateway for emerging eastern European markets with every major EU economy only a day’s truck drive away.

Much-hyped super airport Berlin Brandenburg was set to be an immaculate aviation hub to complement this location. However, since construction began in 2006, it’s been beset by distinctly un-Teutonic inefficiency and controversy, with costs spiralling northwards of €5.4bn (£3.9bn). Originally slated to open in 2010, it’s now estimated 2018 could be more feasible.

With locals feeling this besmirches the city’s reputation, until then flights from the UK land at one of two airports: Schönefeld in former East Berlin and tiny, and somewhat shabbier, Tegel. British Airways flies more than 40 times a week to the latter. Director sampled the carrier’s Club Europe service to see if an upgrade elevated the experience of the 1 hour, 45-minute hop…

British Airways check-in

Heathrow T5 check inWe breezed up to Zone H at Terminal 5 and checked in our bag. In Club Europe, two free cases are allowed compared with BA’s Euro Traveller economy service, which charges £40 per extra bag if not booked online in advance. The fast-track lanes were ironically clogged, but friendly BA staff – alert to the non-fast-track-like nature of this system – ushered us towards the final lane of ordinary security (where two pilots were putting baggage through), assuring us it’d be quick. It was – the experience took a mere four minutes. 9/10 

Boarding

Club Europe grants customers access to Terminal 5’s Galleries lounge, which offers bountiful work spaces and coffee break-out areas. From there, it’s two escalator trips downstairs to the departure gate, A17. 8/10

The seat

BA Heathrow to Berlin seatSat in seat A2. The 2:2 configuration (the middle seat was left unoccupied with a ‘central console table’ shared between the two seats – part of Club Europe’s recent overhaul), combined with BA’s leathered upholstery, gives the cabin a refined air. However, the more fastidious customer may have spotted a coffee stain on the armrest. 9/10

In-flight experience

We were offered warm towels, though no welcome drinks, by the BA cabin crew, who dealt with boarding efficiently. In-flight food was a healthy mezze spread with cauliflower, beetroot, quinoa and salad, plus chocolate mousse dessert and coffee. 10/10

Arrival

A combination of bad weather and a 25-minute delay meant our flight was sent to another Tegel gate, necessitating a bus to ferry passengers to the airport’s baggage carousels. But, as Tegel is a mere 8km taxi ride from the city centre, this was soon forgotten about. 6/10

Verdict

The expense of upgrading for such a short flight is justified by the bag allowance, affability of BA crew and the fact that Berlin is a cheap stay 42/50

Details 

BA flight 984 from Heathrow to Berlin Tegel

Return lead-in fares are as follows, including taxes and carrier charges:

£328.01, Club Europe; £109.01, Euro Traveller, regular fare; and £89.01, Euro Traveller, hand baggage only

To book or for more information, visit ba.com

Doing business in Berlin

City guide to Berlin

 

About author

Christian Koch

Christian Koch

Alongside his work for Director, Christian has written features for the Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Times Style, The Independent, Q, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, ShortList and Glamour in an eclectic career which has seen him interview everybody from Mariah Carey to Michael Douglas through to Richard Branson with newspaper assignments including reporting on the Japanese tsunami and living with an Italian cult.

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