Air Berlin TopBonus Award Redemption Level And Surcharge Changes Effective September 1st 2017

Air Berlin Topbonus has informed their members via email that effective September 1st 2017 there will be changes to their award redemption rates as well as the associated fees for mileage awards.

The surcharges for award redemptions will be reduced across the board while some of the award levels go up, requiring more miles than before to issue an award ticket.

Topbonus has always been charging pretty high award surcharges when trying to redeem the miles even though that’s a practice in line with their European competitors.

This change now brings the fees down to more realistic levels with a moderate increase in miles required.

You should check your email inbox for the relevant communication from Air Berlin:

Dear Topbonus member,

topbonus improves redemption conditions for award flights and upgrades.

New as of now:

We’re reducing the additional payments significantly, e.g.:

  • from approx. €235 to approx. €135 in the US
  • from approx. €69 to approx. €39 within Europe
  • from approx. €55 to approx. €44 within Germany

We’re offering long-haul award flights in Economy and Business Class, without any additional payment.

We’re introducing award flights and upgrades from all booking classes, even in European Business Class.

As of 1st September:

  • You can book an upgrade in advance via the Service Centre or directly at the airport for the same mileage value.
  • The mileage values for award flights and upgrades are changing. The new values are available here.

The pricing for awards will only be available starting September 1st so let’s hope that these ‘additional payments’ as they call it already include all taxes and fees which are significant ex Germany.

The Current Mileage Table is valid until 31st August 2017

As of now: You can use your miles for free flights also on longhaul flights, both in economy class as well as in business class. In addition, we are pleased to announce that you can also use your miles to book topbonus award flights and free flights in the European Business Class and for upgrades on shorthaul and mediumhaul flights.

To compare, this is the current mileage redemption chart (for Air Berlin flights):

The new Air Berlin redemption chart effective September 1st 2017 is valid as follows:

You can also access the oneWorld partner airlines award chart here which can be used as reference for redemptions with all all partners which I’d consider the better choice for redeeming topbonus miles.

Two weeks ago I wrote an article for our series Award Success about a Topbonus redemption from Bangkok to Helsinki using 80,000 miles in Business class (see here).

There are very little to no changes as far as partner awards are concerned based on the materials Air Berlin made available so far.

Prices for fuel went down worldwide to some of the lowest levels in 15 years, yet many airlines still continue to charge very high surcharges which is essentially just a shameless money grab. One of the worst is Lufthansa Miles&More as well British Airways Executive Club where you can easily end up paying 600 EURO for a round trip award ticket in First/Business Class. The more connections the more fees and surcharges you end up paying.

Conclusion

While it’s good that Air Berlin Topbonus lowers the cash amount that customers have to pay when redeeming a ticket this will sort of absorbed by the increase in mileage required per Air Berlin ticket. Depending on how you value your miles it even became more expensive.

I’m not a big fan of the Air Berlin Topbonus program even though it has some sweet spots for customers such as being able to collect status miles when using the German Air Berlin Credit Card. This can be useful if you’re able to run large transactions and obtain status with very little flight activity.

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