Is It Time For A Brandenburg Or Tegel Adventure?

Filed Under: Travel

As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I’m in Berlin for the time being. While I’m not planning on doing a lot of travel while based here, I do feel like there’s one important thing I need to do as an avgeek. I’m just trying to decide on the best approach, and I’d welcome some feedback as to what you guys would most like to read about.

It’s a historic time for Berlin aviation

Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport is supposed to open at the end of this month, only about a decade late and many billions of dollars over budget.

Brandenburg Airport opening (should it in fact happen) might just be one of the five most shocking things to happen in 2020, and that’s saying a lot (in fairness, personally I think much of the news we’ve seen lately hasn’t actually been surprising, so…).

Given that I’ll be in Berlin both when Brandenburg Airport opens and when Tegel Airport closes, I figure I have to go somewhere or do something to cover this milestone (for what it’s worth Germany has phenomenal testing for travelers coming from high-risk areas).

Berlin Brandenburg Airport is opening, at last

Goodbye Tegel, hello Brandenburg, or both?

I guess it makes sense to approach this in two parts — there’s the possibility of flying out of Tegel Airport before it closes, and there’s the possibility of flying out of Brandenburg Airport when it opens…

Tegel Airport options

A couple of airlines have scheduled some noteworthy Tegel flights:

For the Eurowings experience only aisle seats are left (it sure would be nice to have a good view during the “risky, vomit-inducing” takeoff from Brandenburg), and for the Air France flight only economy seats are left in the full fare economy bucket (economy is fine of course, but at that price, meh).

Look, I’m not the planet’s most sentimental person, so I’m not actually sure I’m that interested in taking a last flight out of Tegel. Like, good riddance to the airport. Perhaps the more interesting option is to fly out of Brandenburg Airport, since it will (hopefully) offer an all new experience, and it would be valuable to report on.

Brandenburg Airport options

As far as I know there’s not any special first flight out of Brandenburg Airport, or anything. For that matter, even if there were, I’m not sure I’d want to take it. I generally prefer to review “normal” flying experiences rather than celebratory flights. So I went through the Wikipedia page for Brandenburg Airport that lists airlines & destinations…

As I went through the list, I think my reaction to most airlines can be summed up by the picture on the left. And then I got to Iraqi Airways, and my reaction to that can be summed up by the picture on the right.

Then I ended up down a rabbit hole of admiring Iraqi Airways’ 747 first class, until I realized that it doesn’t appear the airline is flying to Berlin at the moment. Oh, and also odds are that just about no one in my life would be thrilled by me flying through Iraq right now.

Anyway, back to Brandenburg Airport…

I suppose the most interesting thing to review would be the airport and lounges as such, so perhaps just flying Lufthansa to Frankfurt or Munich and back would do the trick, since it’s about the airport rather than the flight.

Is there anything else that would be particularly interesting?

  • Qatar Airways probably has the most “glamorous” flight out of the new Brandenburg Airport, as it flies a 787-8 to Doha, though I’m not sure where I’d connect beyond there (I’m open to suggestions, keeping mind that I don’t actually intend to be gone very long)
  • Luxembourg is one European country I haven’t been to, and Luxair will fly from Brandenburg, so it might be worth going for a day to see the country; I haven’t yet looked into the coronavirus situation there, etc., but am stating this purely based on looking at destinations on the list that could be interesting
  • While several other intriguing airlines are listed on Brandenburg’s Wikipedia page, it doesn’t actually look like they’ll be offering service in the coming weeks (for example, Air Moldova, Georgian Airways, etc.)

Qatar Airways flies Boeing 787-8s to Berlin

Bottom line

In the coming weeks Tegel Airport is closing and Brandenburg Airport is opening, or at least that’s what they want us to believe. šŸ˜‰ While any major new airport opening is exciting, the opening of Brandenburg is particularly noteworthy, given everything that has happened up until this point.

I definitely feel like I need to check out Brandenburg Airport, so if anyone has any requests, I’m open to them…

  1. I would take the flight to Paris and maybe a return Brandenburg. And for flying out maybe Croatia via Doha

  2. Good riddance to Tegel?? Itā€™s certainly got its quirks, but terminal A is basically everything a city airport should be: close to the center, you can arrive like half an hour before boarding and still make your flight, and you can be outside *seconds* after getting off the plane. Iā€™ll be happy to be proven wrong when Iā€™m flying again, but I think BER is going to be a huge step down.

  3. Would love a good review of new airport and maybe a review of a long-haul flight during the continuing pandemic would be interesting.

  4. Just took my last flight out of Tegel today to Athens. Was more sentimental than I expected. I understand all the good reasons why it should close and it all makes sense, but it’s sad never the less..

  5. I remember that you wanted to do a mediterranean cruise last May.

    Therefore you could fly to Italy or Greece to take a mediterranean cruise.

    Costa, MSC and Tui Cruises are all offering a variety of cruises right now.

  6. Moldova had 1,121 new cases of COVID today with a population of 4 million. Germany had 4x that number of new cases today with 20x the population. Maybe not the time to fly to Chișinău.

  7. Something else worth doing for avgeeks: the exhibition “Living the City” in the Tempelhof airport ( Skip the exhibit, and admire the airport — all signs still up, check-in desks for Cirrus and InterSky, and others which may be fake) and you can walk out onto the tarmac (where there is a DC-4 “Rosinenbomber”). We walked out all the way to the fence between the airport and the public park, and got a great view of the airport.

  8. When you go abroad make sure to check the RKI website if you need to quarantine afterwards… (and if you donā€™t know call the Health Department)
    So a domestic would probably be the easiest option, but who knows if the LH Lounge at BER will be Open?
    Just today I participated at a BER test and the airport looks gorgeous. Itā€™s not as compact as Tegel but Berlin needed something new. The start will probably not go down without problems, but thatā€™s expected.

  9. According to some news outlets, Germany, and for whatā€™s it worth, Europe are seeing an increase in the number of COVID cases? If thatā€™s true, do you think that it the right time to travel?

  10. While Ben (Lucky) may typically cover lounges, an overall tour of the check in area and gates would be interesting.

  11. Certainly take advantage of your situation. I’m simply happy to have flown into of Tempelhof prior to its closure and both in and out of Tegel. I’m looking forward to returning to Berlin via BER as soon as Americans are allowed to actually travel again!

  12. You should fly to Malta. Its capital Valletta and the country as a whole are probably the most underrated destinations in Europe. A quick ferry trip to Gozo is also fun.

  13. How about taking the DAT (Danish Air Transport) link to SaarbrĆ¼cken? Off the beaten track, and possibly a new airline to review.

  14. I grew up in Kleinmachnow and have lots of fond memories of Tegel. It was where I took my first flight (to ZĆ¼rich). Iā€™ll miss it for nostalgic reasons.

  15. Only a few days to get memories of Tegel. (Too bad it won’t stay as a city airport). BER will be around the rest of your life.

    You have more chance of being struck by lightning than catching covid on an airplane.

    The Montenegro coast has my fascination.

  16. What about flying to Sofia on Bulgaria Air? They have a real business class on their A319s, Bulgaria is handling the pandemic very well, and there are two awesome Bonvoy properties in Sofia, as well as a brand new Hyatt…

  17. All true business travellers will miss TXL. Absolutely the *best* for coming late for your flight and still making it; and getting the hell off the plane and out of the airport in seconds when you arrive after a long week somewhere else. Jeez, your partner can actually park right in front of the gate where you get off the plane, no $ necessary. From landing to taxi to gate to your car in 10 minutes? I’ll take that for 1000, Alex.

    Who cares about the lounges and shopping and all that sh*t when what you really need is speed and convenience?

    I’m *interested* in what BER will be like — longer to get there, that’s for sure — but Elijah, Gregor, Phillip et al are right: TXL will be sorely missed.

    PS – And I miss Tempelhof, too!

  18. Last Lufty flight out of TXL might be interesting. (Maybe they have some gimmick planned for the flight or the lounge closure?) It’s also pretty much fully booked, though. From what I can see, all eco bookings classes but Y are full on LH1955.
    Personally, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach. If they have some interesting equipment changes or award intentory opens up for either LH1955 or AF1235, I might jump on it.

    As for checking out the new BER, I’m pretty laid back. IMO, there’s no particularly significant first flight. So I might just book some *A flight on Nov 8 or Nov 9 to check out the new LH lounge. Ticket prices are fairly reasonable.

  19. The problem is that yesterday all of Berlin went above 50 cases per 100,000 people in the past 7 days, and so will have to be added to the RKI list, so going somewhere else in Germany would require 5 day quarantine and two tests :/ So you might only be able to to fly somewhere and immediately return.

  20. With most parts of Europe being on Germany’s high-risk list, I’d recommend booking a flight to Sweden, preferebly GOT.

    One of few EU states which Germany still considers low-risk, they have one of lowest number of new cases per capita in the EU and they strike a great balance of keeping the pandemic seriously while mantaining fairly normal day-to-day life. I’ve been here for several days now, people respect physical distancing very well (the first place in Europe where I actually experienced it) and ill people seem to be really staying at home, while at the same time we have a great time with places being open and no-nonsensical Covid theatre. The only trouble is that good restaurants and bars are quite busy so we sometimes struggle to get a seat at peak times.

    Probably the best place to be right now. Both enoyable and very safe.

  21. I say go to Luxembourg, it’s a very nice little place for a daytrip, you could even overnight in the quite nice Sofitel there, which has a top floor restaurant with beautiful views of the city

    Luxair are a quirky little airline, full service but also expensive – the use Miles and More but are not in *A etc.

  22. @Paul Gesting:

    Most of Germany’s feradal states (“Laender”) do not have a quarantine requirement for domestic travel, even if you’re coming from a risk area.

    The exceptions are Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, and Rhineland-Palatinate, which do have quarantine requirements.

    Note that some states prohibit people from risk areas to stay in hotels, though. It’s strange regulation, though. If you are coming from a risk area (say, Berlin-Mitte), you may not stay in a hotel in Bavaria but an AirBnB would be alright.

    Right now, the numbers are exploding everywhere in Europe. There are efforts in the EU for a more coordinated approach with regards to covid-19 regulation. We’re in dire need of a harmonized approach.

  23. Ummmm…..While I understand your desire to travel, maybe take a trip within Germany? E.g. Take a flight from BER down to Munich and the back up with the ICE? This way you could review the airport “experience” during Covid, get a flight in and spent some time in a different part of Germany while enjoying a new train connection without having to endure testing / quarantine? You could even make a challenge out of it: e.g. city-centre to city-centre – which is faster? Plane or Train?

  24. Hi, Lucky. I was working in Germany in the early ’90’s when they shut down Reim in Munchen and opened the new airport outside of town. The old field was used for concerts and other events for a year or two before the site was redeveloped. I saw a Tina Turner concert there, with the stage set up at the end of the runway. It was fantastic!!! Do you know if there are any such plans for Tegel before it is redeveloped? There’s nothing like partying on a runway!!

  25. I’d say go to Luxembourg; Luxair still offers full service with Luxembourgish “Champagne” in Y class even on short flights. It is also a miles and more partner and the Q400 is always interesting to fly. The city itself is very beautiful and easy to see in one day.

    Only problem, Luxembourg is currently a Risikogebiet for Germany; the COVID situation is under control and numbers are more or less comparable or even lower than in Berlin. No problems for entering the country as Luxembourg was always against travel restrictions (free tests are available though at the airport if you wish), you may have to quarantine when going back to Berlin.

  26. Go to Muscat. Itā€™s a quick hop from Doha. I would love to be on the last flight out of Tegel. I was supposed to be there on one of the planned last days years ago and of course that didnā€™t happen. Tegel is a special place and will always bring fond memories, even though it was it in great shape.

  27. If your main goal is to check out the airport, you can achieve that without taking unnecessary flights. Just purchase the cheapest one-way flight, check out the airport, leave, and throw away the ticket.

  28. Given landing/takoff slots are prob not an issue at present, why not contact a local aero club and hire a small 6 or 8 seater . Take you mum ,family (and Winston) and a few aunties and just do a some touch and go’s at each airport on the closing day. If you contact the airports first they might even waive the fee for you.

  29. There used to be a flight over Tempelhof which departed from Schƶnefeld using a DC-4 or DC-3. Even had its own terminal with a check-in counter & waiting room. The flight circled over Tempelhof in both directions so all passengers could get great views of the runways & terminal.

  30. I never really ever got over the sadness of seeing Kai Tak (HKG) close in 1998. It was the greatest ā€œin cityā€ airport ever, with the most exciting approach across Kowloon to the checker board & then the sharp right banking turn on to the runway stretched out ahead in the sea.

    I was lucky enough to be in the CX or QF cockpit 4-5 times on that approach and also landed there 50-60 times in the 1980s and 1990s. I can imagine that Tiegel closing will just as sad for many regular users.

  31. There is a special Lufthansa Airbus 350 scheduled on Nov 7 between MUC and TXL. Might be worth it as a little farewell…
    LH 1954 MUC TXL 1900 2010
    LH 1955 TXL MUC 2110 2220

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