After Air Berlin as an airline has filed for insolvency last week a spokesperson has now also confirmed that the Frequent Flyer Program Topbonus would also file for insolvency as early as today.
Definitely no good news whatsoever from Air Berlin for both customers and employees since the news of the insolvency broke.
Today the worst fears of the Air Berlin Topbonus members members came true as part of the announcement that their miles will be completely worthless now.
When I wrote 5 days ago that Air Berlin froze their frequent flyer program (see here) I had no idea that indeed the end of Topbonus and the loss of everything would be just days away.
But today the time was up. First came an article at the daily germany paper Handelsblatt announcing the filing for insolvency was just hours away and then just now Air Berlin posted the following notice on the Topbonus website (see here):
It’s a somewhat weak argument to cite ‘airberlins current situation and the consequential impact on the frequent flyer program’ when it comes to filing for insolvency. Do they still have fund reserves? What is Etihads responsibility as a 70% owner of topbonus?
The Handelsblatt article (access here – in German) cites the Air Berlin executive was pretty clear in his remarks.
Frank Kebekus said that “customers who haven’t used up their Topbonus miles will be left empty handed” as “the program has been stopped”.
There are plenty of open questions and in my opinion not totally clear if Etihad can simply absolve themselves of any responsibility in this affair. They bought Topbonus and will likely have to deal with the fallout somehow.
Air Berlin management and the owners for sure have gambled away a lot of sympathy and emotional capital with this move. Should the entire mileage balance really disappear I can’t see any of the affected customers returning to the ‘new Air Berlin’ or whatever will come out of it.
I suggest people to keep records of their balances including screenshots and of course their membership card to proof the status of their Topbonus account if required. It could be possible that there are some status match opportunities in the making so stay tuned for that.