To get to Germany for my latest visit to Berlin, and my first time ever in Leipzig, I had to fly from New York City and while on the ground, needed to take a train between the two cities.
It was my first time flying Air Berlin and my first time ever using a RailEurope pass so I wanted to share my experiences with each.
Air Berlin treated us (Carol, Matt and myself) well from the beginning by giving us complimentary lounge access even though we were flying in economy. Once onboard, I was really pleased to find that every single seat (again, even in economy) featured USB charging ports and a free entertainment system. We were also given pillows, blankets and an amenity kit. Not all of these things are standard on international flights but I was glad to see that they are on Air Berlin. Once we deplaned, we were also gifted with a chocolate in the shape of a heart. It turns out, that’s a little thing that Air Berlin always does as a small way to show their gratitude for guests. It might be small, but it meant a lot to me. They could have simply shoved us off board without a word as so many other airlines do these days.
Our RailEurope passes entitled us to a certain number of train journeys within a certain number of days anywhere within Germany. The pass we had, included our initial journey already taken care of and, required that I book my own journey online for my return from Leipzig to Berlin so that I could fly out of Berlin back to NYC (for which would be alone). Though I had to pay a small booking fee, it was quite substantially less than it would have been if I had purchased the one-way journey on my own without a RailEurope pass and it also included a seat in first class, something I wouldn’t have paid for on my own. On the forward journey from Berlin to Leipzig (with Rachelle, Matt and Carol) we were able to have our own carriage in first class. Essentially it was a table with four chairs enclosed around us but not above us. This was a terrific setup since we’re all friends who wanted that dedicated time to catch up and compare notes on our Berlin experience without the bother of other passengers. We were able to close a door and be quite private. It wouldn’t have been the same if we’d been seated separately. The only thing that was negative in any way about the experience is that we were offered coffee at one point and led to believe it was complimentary since we were in first class. In fact, it was five euros per cup, a fee we thought was quite extraordinary given what that amounted to in dollars for a mug only half the size of a normal cup, which we didn’t even get to keep. Otherwise, the journey was quick, painless and easy to figure out. The scenery too was lovely. I was so engrossed in it, I didn’t even capture a photo. But I did get sunrise, on my way back alone.
My favorite way to see Europe is by train because I love watching the countryside change as you fly from city to city. Unlike American trains, European trains are fast, clean, well maintained and always on time. It’s a mode of transportation I highly recommend no matter the experience level of a traveler.
My thanks to Air Berlin and RailEurope for hosting us during this trip. As always, all opinions are my own and I did not guarantee coverage in exchange for services or products. // All images in this post captured with my Samsung NX30 camera through their #Imagelogger program.