The new Berlin Brandenburg finally opened in 2020 after repeated delays. It is now the only airport serving Berlin, with all airlines moving there. As a regular user of the old Tegel Airport, I had been keen to try its replacement - and I recently had the chance with a British Airways flight to London Heathrow.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Berlin Brandenburg Airport is a large airport situated around 18 kilometers south of the center of Berlin. It opened in October 2020 as a replacement for Berlin’s other airports - Tegel, Schonefeld, and before that, Tempelhof. Construction and opening of the new airport were delayed significantly. The airport was originally planned to open in 2012.

Like many travelers, I liked Berlin Tegel Airport (shown in the picture below). It was located close to the city center, and its unusual hexagonal construction (with gates arranged around a central open area) meant for very quick departure and arrival.

With this fondness for the old airport, and having heard a lot about the construction delays and problems with the new one, I was not expecting to like Brandenburg Airport. I very much did, however. It is a much different experience to Tegel, but smart and well-designed.

Arrival and airport experience

The airport is well-connected by train from any of the Berlin main stations. If coming from the west of the city or the main station, the quickest way to reach Berlin Brandenburg is to change to the direct express train from Berlin Ostkreuz station. This currently runs every half an hour. It took me around an hour to reach the airport from Berlin Zoo Station. It would take about 40 minutes from the east – starting at Alexanderplatz or Ost Bahnhof.

The Train at Berlin Brandenburg.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simplle Flying

British Airways, along with other full-service airlines, operates from Terminal 1 at Brandenburg. Terminal 2 is a smaller terminal directly attached to Terminal 1, used by low-cost airlines. Terminal 5 (which used the former Berlin Schonefeld Airport buildings) was closed in 2022.

Outside the Berlin Brandenburg airport terminal.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

Terminal 1 is a vast new construction. There is one large hall with check-in desks arranged in a series of “islands.” There is also extensive use of general self-check-in machines, which more and more airlines are joining.

Inside Berlin Brandenburg airport terminal 1.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

The British Airways check-in desk was in aisle 5. As usual with British Airways, there were separate desks for Euro Traveller (economy) and for Club Europe (business class) plus oneworld status members. There was almost no wait for either when I arrived just over two hours before departure.

The British Airways check in area at Berlin Brandenburg airport.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

Check-in staff confirmed for me (there is limited information on the website) that check-in opens two hours before flights - but with many flights in the afternoon, it is usually continually open. British Airways does not yet participate in the self-check-in and bag drop facilities at the airport.

A new way of handling airport security

The security experience at Berlin Brandenburg deserves special mention. The airport introduced a new measure in August 2022 to reduce queuing and improve the airport experience, known as BER Runway. It is worth noting that there is also a separate fast-track security for business class passengers and certain elite members (British Airways passengers can use this).

The BER Runway security area.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

BER Runway allows any passenger to book a time slot for security. These can be booked up to seven days in advance. It is, so far, the only airport in Europe to offer such a facility. With a fixed number of slots every 15 minutes, it should keep waiting time to a minimum.

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In theory, this is a good idea – as is anything that reduces airport queues and waiting times. There are some practical issues, though. Firstly, as it is open to any passenger, will you be able to get a slot? I booked three days in advance, and there was good availability. However, I did check again the night before and on the day of my flight, and slots were fully booked all day. I suspect as awareness of the service increases, more people will book.

Just outside the BER Runway security line.
Photo: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

The fixed time slots can also be a challenge. Passengers have a window of ten minutes before and after their booked time to use the facility. As this is obviously after check-in, though, it is hard to predict exactly when you will arrive. The last slot for non-Schengen bookings is 1.5 hours before departure too – and check-in for British Airways only opens two hours before. If it is busy, this is going to be tight.

In any case, BER Runway was easy and efficient, and there was only a very short queue. My line did close for 10 minutes for a “security incident,” which likely offset any time-saving – a good reminder that even with facilities like this, you still need to allow plenty of time.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport and lounges

The airside experience was also good. There are plenty of seating and food and drink options, and some great apron and runway views. It was quiet for this afternoon visit.

The current lounge situation at Brandenburg is also unusual for such a large airport. There is a Lufthansa / Star Alliance lounge, but other airlines all use a central airport lounge - the BER Tempelhof Lounge. There is no British Airways lounge (there was at Tegel) nor any other oneworld airline lounge.

A sign pointing towards lounges at Berlin Brandenburg airport.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

There is currently no access to this lounge for Priority Pass cardholders (nor for any other lounge membership programs), but this may change as more facilities open up at the airport.

Inside the Berlin Brandenburg airport lounge.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

The BER Tempelhof Lounge is large, with quite a minimalist setup. There are several different seating areas, including desks and semi-lie flat relaxation seating. While the central area is a bit dim and lacks natural light, plenty of seating areas to the sides offer good open apron views.

Inside the Berlin Brandenburg airport lounge.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

Food and drink are offered self-service buffet style. There was not a large selection at the time of my mid-afternoon visit, but the quality was good. I particularly like it when lounges offer locally appropriate options – so I was pleased to see Franziskaner Weissbier on tap, along with Curry Wurst (a Berlin favorite) and pretzels.

Inside the Berlin Brandenburg airport lounge.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

British Airways to London

The lounge area has a separate exit for non-Schengen flights with its own passport control. This is a great feature, helping you plan how long it will take to reach the gate. It took just over 10 minutes to leave the lounge and reach the British Airways boarding gate. The flight boarded on time but was then delayed about 20 minutes on the ground. As this was during the June 2023 NATO Air Defender 23 military exercises, and we had been warned about extensive delays in Berlin and Hamburg, this was not bad.

A British Airways aircraft parked at Berlin Brandenburg airport.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

We have reviewed British Airways' short-haul service before. The cabin on all British Airways' A320 family aircraft is the same – identical rows of seating with a flexible divider to change the split between the economy and business cabins.

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Seats are arranged 3-3 (with the central seats not used in business class). Unusually for British Airways flights these days, this flight was not full, and the middle seat was empty for me.

Insdie the British Airways A320 cabin.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

There are a few different seat types in use, depending on the age of the aircraft. This flight had a slightly older design, with thicker seats and adjustable headsets (which I prefer to the new slimmer seating).

Inside the British Airways A320 cabin.
Photo: Justin Hayward / Simple Flying

Service was very much as expected. We were offered a bottle of water and a small packet of pretzels. Further food and drink can be ordered from the buy-on-board service from the new Speedbird Café selection, which replaced the Marks & Spencer offering after the pandemic.

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This was a good opportunity to try out the new Berlin Brandenburg airport, It is early days for the airport, but I was impressed on this visit. Have you used the new airport? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.

  • British Airways, Cabin Crew Training, Customer Service
    British Airways invited Simple Flying to experience cabin crew training first hand. Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying
    British Airways
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier
    London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport
    Year Founded:
    Airline Group:
    Sean Doyle
    United Kingdom