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TopBonus Review: Airberlin’s Frequent Flyer Program

Airberlin is a German airline, not as popular as Lufthansa but it is among the largest operating in Europe. The airline joined the OneWorld alliance in 2012 but is still offering its TopBonus program with a number of other airlines. At the moment, the program awards 500 free miles to every new member signing up and boasts of over 120 partners to earn and redeem TopBonus miles on. Let’s have a closer look at how the program works and what it has to offer.

Earning points

Members of TopBonus earn a fixed number of miles on flights depending on the ticket class for short-haul flights. On long-haul flights, the miles earned are based on the distance of the flight as well as the fare class. Flights within one country earn 125 miles in Eco Saver while Eco Basic fares earn 500 miles and Eco Flex earn 1,000 miles. For flights within Europe, Eco Save fares earn 250 miles, Eco Basic earn 1,000 and Eco Flex fares earn 1,500 miles per flight.
For long-haul flights, an Eco Saver fares earn 25% TopBonus miles of actual miles flown, Eco Basic earns 100%, Eco Flex earns 150% while a business class ticket earns 200% TopBonus miles of flight distance. Members of TopBonus can also earn miles on hotel stays, car rentals and flight tickets on partner companies. To earn points faster, Airberlin offers co-branded debit and credit cards that earn award miles for every payment.

Redeeming points

Members of the TopBonus program can redeem their flights for free flight tickets on Airberlin, NIKI and other partner airlines. To get free flight tickets on Airberlin or NIKI, you will need 7,500 TopBonus miles for a one-way domestic flight within a country and 10,000 miles for a one-way flight within Europe and 15,000 miles for Europe to North Africa or Middle East flights. Flights to Gulf states cost 20,000 miles; to North America, East Africa and South Africa cost 25,000 miles; Central Americam Indian Ocean and Carribean destinations cost 30,000 miles while a one-way flight to Southeast Asia costs 35,000 miles.
To redeem a business class ticket you will need 150% of the miles required for the same flight on a coach flight. The airlines often offer discounted redemption plans called TopDeal tickets that awards tickets for as little as 3,000 TopBonus miles for a domestic flight. Companion awards are 50% cheaper but both award tickets must be booked together at the same time for the same flight. TopBonus members can also use their miles to upgrade fares from 15,000 miles to upgrade from a coach to business class on a one-way ticket. The points required vary depending on the carrier, flight and class.
Besides flight tickets, between 5,000 and 10,000 TopBonus miles can also be redeemed to cover the costs of taxes and fees on award tickets. These miles cannot be redeemed for other awards including car rentals, hotel stays or merchandise and cannot be transferred between members or donated.

Elite membership

The TopBonus program has Silver and Gold memberships. The Silver level membership requires 20,000 status miles or 24 flights on NIKI or Airberlin within a year while Gold membership requires 40,000 status points within the same period. These membership levels offer great benefits and bonuses to its members including extra bonus miles, priority boarding and check-ins, additional baggage allowance and fees and service charge waivers.

Pros

• High availability of award flight seats.
• Generous awards such as 50% discount on companion awards.
• Option to redeem miles to cover fees and taxes.
• Discounted TopDeal awards are cheap and flexible.
• Increasing ways to earn miles as more partners join the TopBonus program

Cons

• Low miles earning potential for cheap flights.
• Miles expire after 3 years except for Gold members.
• Redeem miles for flights, flight upgrades or related charges on Airberlin or NIKI airlines only.

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