Captivating Croatia: Part 3 – Air Berlin Flight to Croatia

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Emily:  I’ve wanted to go to Croatia for the last several years.  I heard wonderful things about the country and how beautiful (and relatively affordable) it was compared to the rest of Europe.  It’s located in Eastern Europe and is just a few hours from Venice, Italy, making it a great side trip.

Last year, my friends and I organized a group trip to visit Rovinj, a small coastal town on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia.  It’s a gorgeous town full of romance.  Everything is stunning there, from the streets to the houses.  The food is also excellent.

We went for a kizomba dance festival.  Later in the trip report series, I will introduce you to kizomba and describe what an incredible dance it is!  The dance festival was amazing and Croatia is definitely a place I want to return and spend more time exploring!  The trip’s retail cost was ~$17,000 but I paid ~$900.

Air Berlin Flight

All Set to Fly Air Berlin From New York (JFK) to Dusseldorf, Germany!

Captivating Croatia Trip Report Index:

Air Berlin Flight Using American Airlines Miles

One of the best routes to reach Rovinj, Croatia, is to fly to Venice and take a bus or a boat to Rovinj.  I booked the flights to Venice using American Airlines miles.  It cost 30,000 miles 1-way plus ~$18 in taxes and fees!

The retail cost is about $1,000 for a 1-way ticket, so using miles saved me a lot of money!  I was also lucky to find Air Berlin seats between New York and Venice (via Dusseldorf).

You can use American Airlines miles to book Air Berlin flights because they’re both members of the oneworld alliance.

The other option was British Airways but they charge so much in taxes and fees.  Here are some ways to avoid British Airways flights when you search for award seats using American Airlines miles!

Air Berlin Flight

I booked the flights in March, or ~4 months in advance.  I tried searching for Business Class, but no award seats were available.  I kept checking back, especially during the week prior to departure, but didn’t have any luck.

I checked various US departure cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington, DC.  I also checked different European arrival cities like London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf.

The final route was from Austin to New York, New York to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to Venice, and then from Venice to Rovinj.

The seats were just like domestic coach.

Air Berlin Flight

New York to Dusseldorf Is ~7 Hours Flight Time, and Coach Was Comfortable

We received a small pillow, a very thin blanket, and an amenity kit.  You may want to bring an extra blanket…I was very cold for most of the flight, even after covering myself with 2 blankets and a travel towel.

But, I was very happy for the price!

Air Berlin Flight

Note to Self:  Bring an Extra Blanket or Sweater Next Time!  It Was Chilly!

We even had our own TVs.

Air Berlin Flight

You Won’t Get Bored With the In-Flight Entertainment on Air Berlin!  There Are TV Shows, Movies, and Games Available

The TVs came with a USB port on the side, so you could charge electronics.

Air Berlin Flight

Keep Your Batteries Charged With In-Flight USB Ports

The headphones they gave you (free) were very poor quality, so I used my own.

For dinner, we could choose between pasta or chicken.  I got the pasta option.

Air Berlin Flight

What Mysterious Meal Lurks Under This Foil Cover?

The pasta was excellent!  I was pleasantly surprised.  Despite its appearance, it was very tasty – better than some of the food I’ve had in Business or First Class on other airlines!

Air Berlin Flight

It Looked a Bit Like Cafeteria Food, but This Pasta Was Actually Delicious

The chicken dish came with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  My friend said it was pretty good!

Air Berlin Flight

I Guess Coach Food Isn’t Always Pretty, but This Meal Was Tasty Too!

The flight was only ~7 hours, and we received dinner shortly after we took off from New York (JFK).  About an hour or 2 before landing, we were served breakfast.

Air Berlin Flight

The Light Breakfast Before Landing Was Just Enough to Keep Us Going

You Can Do It, Too!

My favorite way to get to Europe from the US is with American Airlines miles.

There are plenty of ways to earn lots of American Airlines miles.  And check out our series on using American Airlines miles.

It could also be worth using an award booking service to book the flights for you if your route is complicated or award seats are hard to find.

1.   Using American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

A flight from the US to Europe costs:

  • 30,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 57,500 American Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 85,000 American Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Remember, you can use American Airlines miles to fly on American Airlines and oneworld partners like British Airways, Air Berlin, etc.

2.   Using United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines Award Chart

To fly from the US to Europe, you’ll pay:

  • 30,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in coach
  • 57,500 United Airlines miles 1-way in Business Class
  • 80,000 United Airlines miles 1-way in First Class

Note:   United Airlines partner award flights in Business and First Class are 70,000 and 110,000 United Airlines miles 1-way, respectively.

Here’s my series on how to use United miles.  And this post will show you all the ways to get to Europe using United Airlines miles!

Getting the Miles and Points

The easiest way to get miles and points for Europe is from credit card sign-up bonuses.

If you are new to collecting miles and points, start off by reading our Beginner’s Guide and applying for 1 to 2 credit cards to get comfortable with the process.  I apply for 3 to 5 cards every few months, but do what you are comfortable with.

If you have questions on how to complete the minimum spending requirements, check out my tips on meeting minimum spending.

1.   American Airlines Miles

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Card – 50,000 Mile Offer

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Executive Card – 50,000 Mile Offer

Link:   CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select Card – 50,000 Mile Offer

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

If you want more American Airlines miles, you can earn 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card or CitiBusiness AAdvantage Select card after making $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.  The $95 on each card is waived the 1st year.

You can also earn 50,000 American Airlines miles with the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card after spending $5,000 within the 1st 3 months of account opening.

The $450 annual fee is NOT waived the 1st year, but comes with Admirals Club membership with guest privileges, priority boarding, and 1 free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions traveling on the same domestic itinerary.

These perks can offset the annual fee, especially if you fly often on American Airlines!

And remember, you can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.  When you move 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, you’ll earn a 5,000 mile bonus.

So the sign-up bonuses on the AMEX Starwood personal and small business cards are a terrific way to earn more American Airlines miles!

2.   United Airlines Miles

Link:   United MileagePlus Explorer (Personal)

Link:   United MileagePlus Explorer (Small Business)

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Ink Plus

United Airlines miles are easy to earn!  That’s because they’re a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.  So you can move Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available) to United Airlines instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

And if you have 1 of the cards mentioned above, you can also indirectly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Cash to United Airlines!

Or consider the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer personal and small business cards.

Keep in mind, Chase is changing their application rules for airline and hotel cards.  So if you’ve opened ~5+ credit cards in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for airline cards like these starting in April 2016.

Bottom Line

Using American Airlines miles to fly Air Berlin was a great option!  Flying to Europe for less than $20 was a steal because regular priced 1-way flights are ~$1,000.

Flying coach on Air Berlin was comfortable (just bring a blanket or a sweater!) and I was happy to save miles for future trips.

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7 responses to “Captivating Croatia: Part 3 – Air Berlin Flight to Croatia

  1. I had heard horrible things about Air Berlin, but I had a really good flight with them in September. We flew Miami to Dusseldorf to Rome, in economy. We booked this using AA miles. The in-flight entertainment system was great. They served us champagne shortly after take-off, a decent dinner and breakfast, and handed out heart shaped chocolates as we exited. The only issue is their check on baggage limit of 15 lbs, which was strictly enforced. I came prepared with an empty backpack and my wife and I spent about 45 minutes repacking until we were within the 15 lb limit. I heard horror stories about Air Berlin losing bags so I wanted to make sure we didn’t check in anything important.

  2. @ scott- Thanks for sharing your experience. I was very happy to avoid British Airways’ fuel surcharges. I didn’t have any baggage issues.

  3. It’s Dalmatia Coast…not Dalmatian. It has nothing to do with dogs.

  4. check on or carry on limit of 15 lbs?

  5. @Ankur–I meant to say carry on limit.

  6. I am trying to understand you paid only 30k miles for this:
    “The final route was from Austin to New York, New York to Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf to Venice, and then from Venice to Rovinj.”

  7. @ Jack- I paid 30k miles for Austin to Venice. Here’s a link to the American Airlines award chart: https://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/american-airlines-award-chart2016.jsp