Airberlin ended its operations on Friday last week but Topbonus loyalty program continues to operate albeit still in administration. Topbonus is 70% owned by Etihad Airways and thus should have a way out of the current mess.
Oneworld made a statement that award tickets issued before Airberlin went into administration back in August would be honored as issued (Airberlin Topbonus members haven’t had access to them after administration begun). Airberlin also made a statement that their administration shouldn’t affect tickets already issued. This appears not to be the case, however.
Here’s the email from the reader:
Today I had a very bad experience with Bangkok Airways at Bangkok airport.
I got an award ticket from Topbonus Air Berlin 6 month ago (Bangkok to Koh Samui) for my wife.
I saw the ticket in Bangkok air system .
I also got a letter from Air Berlin topbonus that all the awards which are on other topbonus partner airlines are still valid although they are insolvent.
The other 2 awards i had on Cathay pacific i used in the last few days without any problem but surprisingly Bangkok Air says they have different regulations.
I thought that kind of issues are dealt with by common international regulations but the the Bangkok air staff told me today they do not care about international regulations but only their own regulations.
I find that hard to believe.
The 1. Check in staff gave up with me after 5 minutes and the disappeared into thin air.
The lady who took over NAME REMOVED just ignored all my story and told me if my wife wants to fly she need to purchase a new ticket.
I then called for the supervisor , another disappointment no interest in my problem just pay for a new ticket.
The lady is NAME REMOVED.
I then ask for the station manager , she refused to call him or connect me. I asked to at least give me a report why she does not want to accept my ticket , she refused and disappeared too.
By the way i showed her a email by Bangkok Airways to ask her for precheck in and also the letter by air Berlin confirming the ticket is valid , all in vain.
So I ended up buying a new ticket for my wife.
Could you please advice me whether they are right or they should have accepted my ticket.
What can I do against a Thai based carrier , I am living in Germany.
All very frustrating.
Here’s what Topbonus emailed on August 25:
And here’s what Oneworld says (access here):
The problem is that it doesn’t really matter what Topbonus says about the ticket validity. The ticket certainly has been issued.
It is entirely different matter, however, whether the operating carrier gets paid anything after they operate the segment and turn the electronic coupon for settlement through the IATA clearing house.
I would assume that Oneworld has made a decision here that it is better for the alliance in the long term that they honor the tickets as issued regardless whether the operating carriers get paid for the flights or not.
It is unclear if the reader has any recourse against the Bangkok Airways here. I would assume that the replacement walk in ticket probably cost $200 to $300 at max. The reader could perhaps file a claim with Topbonus.
These airline bankruptcies tend to be messy. Some passengers end up being stranded in faraway locales while others only have worthless eticket receipts on their email inboxes. Remember to always pay using a credit card so you have at least charge back protection.
I would say that this Airberlin liquidation and winding down overall went quote smoothly as it was not shut down overnight. There are always passengers that end up losing money and being inconvenienced.