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Air Berlin is a member of the oneworld alliance and is generally known for being a useful option for those looking to redeem Avios for flights to the US and Middle East because it doesn’t charge carrier surcharges on Avios redemptions. Something that the airline is less known for is being 49% owned by Etihad, the Abu Dhabi based carrier, and that’s probably why the airline has just announced a new program.
Airberlin Introduces A Stopover Program In Abu Dhabi
Airberlin has announced that, starting immediately, it’s offering 2 nights for the price of 1 at over 50 hotels in Abu Dhabi (and 5 in Dubai) for passengers flying from Europe and connecting to an onward Etihad flight from Abu Dhabi. As if that wasn’t enough the deal appears to offer certain activities at a 2-for-1 cost and, the hotels I’ve looked at, include breakfast as well!
The exact wording from airberlin is as follows:
The promotion gives travellers two nights in Abu Dhabi for the price of one. Accommodation starts at US$37. Visitors have the pick of over 50 hotels in Abu Dhabi and five hotels in the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai. The offer applies only in conjunction with a connecting flight with Etihad Airways or one of its partner airlines. Once there, many of the attractions in the stopover are free of charge for a travelling companion. Activities are grouped into categories, including beaches, weddings, shopping and spa holidays.
The full terms and conditions can be accessed via the airberlin Abu Dhabi stopover page but these are some of the more important ones:
- The “Stopover programs” are available to guests from all origins on the Etihad global or Etihad Airways Partners (EAP) network when transiting via Abu Dhabi to any destination on the Etihad global or EAP network. The offer is only available for transiting guests.
- The offers are valid on Etihad Airways Partner operated flights provided that at least one of the two flights link with Abu Dhabi (inbound or outbound).
- The stopover conditions of the applicable fare of your ticket will apply, including additional charges for adding a stopover plus any applicable taxes.
- A minimum of 2 nights stay is required and the Abu Dhabi Stopover can be booked on both directions. The complimentary Premium Stopover can only be availed in one direction and the second stay will be payable by the Guest at the Abu Dhabi Stopover rates. Additional nights can be booked in conjunction with the complimentary Premium Stopover at the applicable rate.
- The offers are only valid for adults traveling on return tickets and the lead person on the booking must be at least 21 years old.
- All accommodation must be pre-booked prior to the arrival date at the hotel. Hotel reservations must be made a minimum of 72 hours (3 days) prior to arrival for the request to be processed.
- A maximum occupancy of two adults and one child below 12 years on existing bedding is applicable for Abu Dhabi Stopover. Extra beds are available upon request and will be payable directly with the hotel. It is not possible to upgrade to a higher class of room/suite as part of the Stopover program.
- Tours and Attractions are subject to availability at the time of booking. The ‘2 for the price of 1’ tours and attractions offer must be booked in conjunction with the hotel offer and cannot be booked independently from the hotel booking.
- 24hrs check-in/ check-out provides that guests will have access to their room from the moment they arrive in Abu Dhabi for 24 hours through to the following day. That means that guests who check in at 8 pm can check-out at 8 pm the next day. (Only valid for hotels who offer 24hrs check-in/ check-out.)
- Etihad Airways/ EAP/ Hala Abu Dhabi reserve the right to cancel any Stopover booking that does not meet these terms & conditions.
- The offers are not available for guests whose final destination is Abu Dhabi or Dubai.
- The offers are not valid for guests originating their journey from the United Arab Emirates.
- The offers are not valid for unaccompanied minors or children travelling without an adult over 21 years of age.
A headline on the the airberlin Abu Dhabi stopover page would appear to suggest that the 2 for the price of 1 is valid only on Economy Class bookings…..
….but that’s not the case as evidenced by this whole section in the T&Cs (I’ve edited it for brevity):
Premium Stopover– specific Terms & Conditions
- The offer is valid for bookings made in any Fare Choice within First or Business Class, except for frequent flyer redemption bookings, award upgrades or cash plus miles promotions.
- The offer is valid for travel & hotel accommodation all year-round, excluding Blackout dates during major events (e.g. Formula 1) and conferences. Please check at the time of booking.
- The offer is only valid for adults traveling on return tickets and is applicable on one direction only via Abu Dhabi.
I’m actually starting to wonder if this is something Etihad has offered for a while and I just haven’t heard of it….
The Abu Dhabi Hotels
I’ve got to confess that when I first read about this I immediately thought “oh yeah? I bet the hotels are either terrible or vastly overpriced” – I was wrong.
I didn’t spend too long playing around with options on the hotel booking page but I spent long enough to learn two things:
- The Dubai offers aren’t really worth the travel time from Abu Dhabi
- The Abu Dhabi offers can be fantastic
For the purpose of this exercise I picked out a few random dates and compared the price offered by the “stopover” deal to what the hotels were charging on their own websites. This is what I found:
Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi (I stayed here last December)
The stopover deal:
Note that the price quoted is the “total package price” so that’s the cost of a two night stay at the Ritz-Carlton if you book through this promotion.
The hotel website:
The stopover package saves over $250 and includes breakfast!
I decided to see if that was a one-off or if I could find any more good deals….so I carried on:
The InterContinental Abu Dhabi
The stopover deal:
The hotel website:
Per Google’s currency converter 1,192.80 AED is equal to $324.75…
I checked a few more hotels and, while some of the hotels like the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi didn’t offer quite such good discounts……
….the airberlin offer still saves travelers cash at every example I tried.
I’ve never heard of this offer before but, as I mentioned earlier, I’m wondering if this is something Etihad has offered for a while and airberlin (as an Etihad partner) are now just joining in on the deal. Regardless, this looks like something that a lot of people should be able to make good use of.
I already think that Etihad offers some of the very best service and Business Class cabins on the market so I’m more than happy to connect in Abu Dhabi if it means I get to fly on their aircraft. Now, at these prices, I’m more than happy to thrown in a couple of nights in Abu Dhabi as well.
The one thing to consider is how this plays with whatever hotel status you have. You’re probably not going to have your status recognised at most of these hotels but, then again, when you have breakfast thrown in and prices are up to 60% cheaper do you really care that much about hotel status? I don’t!