After the completion of ITB Berlin (more on the conference later), I was scheduled to meet my family in Portugal for some brief vacation time. Interestingly enough there is only one nonstop flight between Berlin and Lisbon. That flight is operated once or even twice a day depending upon the season of the year and costed almost double, all the other flight options. It was right after the conference had ended, so the rates were insane on TAP especially when counting checked bags.
So when I saw an all inclusive 125 Euro “SMART” fare on Eurowings from Berlin to Lisbon (with a 50 min stop in Cologne), I immediately bought the ticket. In case you were wondering, I ultimately credited this flight to my United MileagePlus account and earned 100% on miles flown. The interesting part about Eurowings’ flights are that you only have to pay for the SMART fare for one of your flights to receive the benefits for all of them. This usually means savings of anywhere between 30-40 Euro and the SMART fare includes the following: The drive to Berlin-Tegel took roughly 20 minutes with little to no morning traffic. While most German airports are modern and some of the best anywhere, that is certainly not the case for neither Berlin nor Frankfurt. Tegel (famous for the Berlin airlift) has certainly seen better days.
There is no doubt that Berlin is desperately in need of a new airport for not just extra capacity, but to hold its face as one of Europe’s major cities. The opening of Brandenburg Airport and the scandal surrounding the construction are frankly bits of a joke and an embarrassment to the German people. The date for the final opening keeps getting pushed back every month. The latest update puts it at Fall of 2020 if not early 2021.
Anyway, the nice thing about the airport is that the size of it lends itself to breezing through to the gate. Finding a seat near the departure gate is miserable anyway so no point in showing up too early. Eurowings operates an Airbus A319 on this route and I was able to score seating in the third row of the plane termed “BEST” seating for one of my flights and exit row for the other.
The seating arrangement on the flight is 3-3 just like any other European carrier and the seats are slimline much like seats on the parent airline: Lufthansa.
Overall, it felt more spacious than it was actually was, but certainly more uncomfortable than seats on U.S carriers because of the slimline or cardboard nature of the seats. These are definitely the worst kind of seats for long haul flights and for people with back issues. The seats were also used as mediums for advertising. i saw all sorts of travel agency and rental car company ads on the seatbacks.
About 15 minute after takeoff, the FAs came around and handed snack boxes for those passengers that seemingly had this included. It consisted of a slice of carrot cake and some water in a juice box. The service was very efficient for such a short flight and the carrot cake (purportedly from a local bakery) was actually pretty good. I don’t the buy the entire local bakery part since I was handed the same thing on my flight to Lisbon, but I can’t complain considering it beats anything we get on domestic flights within the US.
The flight from Berlin to Cologne took no more than 50 minutes and we landed before I could even take a nap. Transferring planes at Cologne was really straightforward and I was easily able to make my next flight despite it being only a 50 minute layover.
My flight from Cologne to Lisbon clocked in at just under 3 hours so I had plenty more time to get work done. Internet on Eurowings is actually free for 10 minutes for everyone, after which you have to pay a very reasonable 7 Euros if you want to just get work done. Service actually comes in two tiers: high speed and streaming speed (for Netflix, YouTube etc). I found that even the lower tier service was pretty darn fast when compared to what you get with Gogo. I did a speed test if you guys want to check it out:
Getting a few articles and catching up with work pretty much meant my flight went by in a jiffy. Landing in Lisbon itself was a scary affair with winds gusting up to 50-60 mph. I could literally feel the pilots struggling with the wind to land the plane on the runway. I have to say that it was one of the most remarkable crosswind landings I’ve ever experienced. There was considerable applause afterwards and I even congratulated the captain on such an awesome landing on the way off the plane.
Now we were officially in Lisbon during one heck of a stormy week!
Eurowings has some great deals on intra-European flights and I would not hesitate to fly them again even if it meant transferring flights in Cologne. The Wi-Fi is fast, the transfers in Cologne are easy, and the service is courteous if not efficient. If you find nonstop flights to be too expensive, this is certainly the way to go. I personally thought buying the “SMART” fare was worth it, but YMMV.
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Review: EuroWings “SMART” Class Berlin-Lisbon (via Cologne)