Cobblestone Flight Review: CPH-TXL/SAS vs TXL-CPH/AirBerlin


I know that the airport terminals as such have no direct bearing on the airlines’ service levels or the experience of the flights themselves. But, neverthless – a quick comparison of terminals 3 in CPH and TXL. More or less, the only common denominator is the terminal number.

CPH is (in my biased eyes, admittedly) a Danish designed, sleek, nice woods and steel and polished stone airport. OK, food and waterholes are solidly on the very expensive side – what you get when you cross Danish general price levels with the lack of alternatives to go to once you’re trapped airside.

Tegel’s Air Berlin terminal reeks of discount airline – raw (well, almost) concrete, exposed steel girders in red anti-rust paint, a couple of small, deeply uniteresting quick food stalls in a corner.

And oceans of travellers, many more than the otherwise good number of chairs can accomodate. Travellers, by the way, that would confirm every one of Ryan Bingham’s preconceived notions about once-in-a-while travellers. I had a bit of luck in that the boarding card screening guy looked at my suit and directed me to a very empty security line. I got through while some of the people before me going in were still at the other lines, going “Oh, I need to take my belt and my jacket off?”

Note: I don’t mean that in a condenscending way. I just see airports enough to want to get through them as fast as possible with the minimm of fuss. And while I do realise that many, many people might even take airports as an exciting experience 😉 – and maybe because of that – a lot of them take ages to get through. Bless them and godspeed on their travels!

The Copenhagen – Berlin trip is not long. 55 minutes in the air, altogether, including going up and coming down. Basically that meant no rolling trolley service in the SAS A319 on the outbound trip – just a smiling stewardess handing out a small juice brick. Fair enough – more or less had time to drink it before recollecting happened. One downturn was that something had slipped – the exit row designation on 10F on the SAS app check-in the day before had moved – in any case, exit rows were 11 and 12 on the actual plane. Graphics error on the seat map, a change of plane type in the meantime (as has happened to me on Lufthansa), maybe even I was sleepy enough to screw up (don’t think so – am religious on my seat pickings…). Anyway, again, it was 55 minutes. Not good but not catastrophic, either.

IMG_5104Berlin – Copenhagen, then. We waited a bit longer than to the scheduled boarding time – only effect of which, as I could tell, was that a somewhat harried young lady could draw a deep breath and realise she’d make the plane 🙂 In any case, even if we departed late Air Berlin managed to get us in ahead of schedule. Always a plus!

And even if the flight time were thus shortened, the Air Berlin crew actually managed to drag carts – three of them at least – through the aisle, offering coffee and sweet or savoury snacks. Well managed!

There’d been no hope for getting anywhere near an exit row when I checked in the day before via the AB app – which, by the way, was a smooth process and had the boarding pass in Passbook on the phone in no time, just as I like it. Sweet. But at least I had an aisle seat and though the pitch isn’t worth hurrahs, it wasn’t perceptibly different from SAS’s.

IMG_5112And to round off the experience, a smiling cabin crew lady offered os chocolate hearts on the way out of the front. Nice touch 🙂 So I’d say that on the flight part, Air Berlin does nose ahead – on the total experience, including the oh-man-discount terminal that Air Berlin operates from in Tegel and which is likely their main base – I’ll call it a bit more even.

But two event-less flights, arriving on time and with no hassle. That counts in both trips’ favour! Over and out and remember to fly safely!

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