Etihad Airways was defunct carrier Air Berlin’s most important shareholder with 49% of the shares, but Etihad did nothing to safe Air Berlin from bankruptcy. All Air Berlin’s operations will cease before October 28, 2017.
Therefore, members of Topbonus, Air Berlin’s frequent flyer program, had lost all hope they would be able to redeem the miles they still had in their frequent flyer accounts.
Thus, it came as a surprise when Etihad created a special page on its website where Topbonus members can redeem their miles through November 17, 2017 for flights on Etihad. The travel period runs until March 28, 2018.
As a balm for their wounded feelings they even need to spend fewer miles than before. Roundtrips from Germany/Switzerland to Africa, the Gulf States, the Middle East and South and Central Asia now cost 50,000 miles instead of 70,000.
Roundtrips from Germany/Switzerland to South East Asia and the Far West will now require 70,000 miles rather than 80,000-90,000. And roundtrips to Australia now cost 100,000 miles instead of 120,000. One way tickets cost half of the number of miles.
In addition to the miles they will need to pay a cash amount for taxes and airline imposed fees (including a fuel surcharge despite the low oil price). The carrier imposed fees are typically the lion’s share.
A paid roundtrip Frankfurt-Sydney on Etihad in December 2017, for example, will cost €1,335. The fuel surcharge alone – imposed by Etihad - amounts to €320. Other fees and taxes amount to €183, while part of this amount also consists of carrier imposed fees.
The same ticket will cost a Topbonus member 100,000 miles plus €458 in cash for taxes and fees. In this case Etihad does not specify the taxes and fees, so it is unclear whether the fuel surcharge will be the same for Topbonus members paying in miles and cash compared to a paid ticket.
Most airlines started charging fuel surcharges when the oil price rose, but did not reduce the surcharge when the oil price collapsed. By doing so they created a situation in which members of their frequent flyer programs had to pay a sizeable part of their “free” reward tickets in cash on top of the miles.
Tags: Topbonus, Air Berlin, frequent flyer program