Update: Air Berlin Topbonus Stops Both Redemption AND Accrual Of Miles Until Further Notice

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The sage of Air Berlin’s Insolvency and their spun-off loyalty program Topbonus enters another level as the loyalty program has now posted a notice on the website that the option to collect miles has been stopped as well.

Members of the program have already lost the option to redeem their miles since last when when news of the insolvency of the stricken carrier went public.

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen with Topbonus but there are increasingly voices that say the program will likely disappear though nobody has elaborated yet how that’s going to happen since it’s a separate company.

Here is the notice from the Topbonus Website (See here):

We cannot currently (since Saturday, 19. Aug.17) guarantee that your miles will be credited. We have had to suspend mileage accruals and redemptions pending clarification of the situation.
We are working hard to resolve the matter as soon as possible and hope for your understanding.
Thank you for your patience.

I wonder if current flights operated by Air Berlin are credited properly to other oneWorld frequent flyer programs or if the company has stopped the transmission of that data as well considering they have to reimburse their partner airlines for these miles. Maybe one of our readers has a transaction from the last couple of days credited to another FFP?

At the same time the news section of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Boerse Frankfurt – see here) mentions that an Air Berlin spokesperson told the dpa news agency Etihad doesn’t intend to continue operating the Topbonus program at all. Etihad holds 70% of Topbonus and Air Berlin 30%.

Even if this an accurate statement it’s unclear how this would work out for Etihad. Topbonus is a British Ltd. company and the Terms & Conditions (see here) of the program outline that members would have 18 months to redeem their points in case the company would decide to shut down Topbonus altogether.

3.2. Discontinuation of the program:

In the event of the topbonus Program being discontinued, topbonus Ltd. shall be entitled to issue due notice to terminate membership of the topbonus Program (see section 3.1.). The same applies in the event that the topbonus Program is replaced by another program. In this case the member is also entitled to give notice of termination in accordance with section 3.1., however, in such case miles already collected can be used up until 18 month after due notice of termination has been received by the member. The same applies if the operator and issuer of the topbonus Program should change.

Topbonus isn’t insolvent or bankrupt, Air Berlin is. Maybe (certainly) legal experts will examine the situation and decide what avenue Etihad can take with this in terms of terminating the program entirely without providing any compensation for the members or if they want to transfer existing accounts/miles into Etihad Guest (and if then at which exchange rate).

Conclusion

There are many options right now but none of them do really look promising for the members, especially those with large balances left on their Topbonus account. At the same time this situation was a writing on the wall for quite some time and people really should have taken care that their miles are being used up before it comes to this point.

If Etihad wants to keep any goodwill with frequent flyers, maybe even acquire new customers then they better keep the members miles at least in some way. Of course there are a variety of options they can play around with. Etihad Guest Awards are quite expensive even compared to Topbonus and that doesn’t even include a possible devaluation during a transfer process.

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