A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email regarding Topbonus issued Airberlin award ticket for November travel with non-refundable hotel reservations.
Here’s the question from the reader:
I have a trip coming up, where several things could go wrong:
1. My flight is booked on Air Berlin, using my TopBonus miles; by the time of my flight (early November), AB might not be around anymore. I assume if I get a refund, I would be getting the miles back, which might be useless or impossible even (Topbonus might not survive). What could I do in this situation, or am I just screwed?
2. My destination is Barcelona, and the dates of my flights (arrival and departure) are both scheduled for potential airport strikes; in either case (flight canceled or delayed), will I be compensated for my flight? or my hotel bookings? (hotel bookings are non-refundable) I assume AB is not going to compensate me if they are no longer around. Will the hotel refund me if flight delay is caused by strikes, or airlines going under?
It is very likely that Airberlin on its current form won’t be around in November. The Airberlin has likely been divided by number of airlines.
Sebastian wrote earlier today that Topbonus itself has now been placed in liquidation (access here). Redemptions were already stopped week ago. It now looks likely that the Topbonus miles are completely worthless.
I had a look at the reader had left the comment from Germany. It shouldn’t be that expensive to buy return ticket in case that the airline won’t operate the flights come November as long as they can be purchased few weeks before.
Hotel is not responsible provide refunds that are caused by airlines or strikes by airline or airport employees. If there are flight delays or cancellations (not bankruptcies), the airline is required to provide duty to care in case the passenger is in need of overnight accommodation.
Note that hotels don’t have to refund because they are third party. Some may provide refunds or provide credit that the guest can utilize for later stay. These are entirely on voluntarily, however.
Luckily these airline bankruptcies don’t happen every day or year. The last big ones were when Spanair (Star Alliance) and Malev (Oneworld) collapsed in Europe.
It is interesting to see if the other formerly Etihad backed airline Alitalia will have the same fate as Airberlin. It would be very advisable for all MilleMiglia members to burn their miles as soon as possible. That program is also majority owned by Etihad that seems to be pulling the plugs from unprofitable investments at the moment.
I hope that the reader can have their Barcelona vacation come November whether flying there on Airberlin or on some other airline. Lovely city to visit.