BIZARRE: Air Berlin No Longer Flies, Offers Elite Status Matches

Air Berlin filed bankruptcy on August 15. Their final transatlantic flight caused controversy on October 17th. They shut down completely on October 27.

The airline’s frequent flyer program was a separate company. topbonus was spun off at an insane valuation as a way to:

  1. Funnel additional cash to the airline without Etihad running afoul of foreign ownership rules
  2. Exercise additional control over the carrier despite Etihad’s minority stake (tail wags the dog)

The program still exists. Through tomorrow only you can redeem miles for economy travel on Etihad and you have to pay fuel surcharges.

air berlin is no longer a member of oneworld, and the airline itself no longer flies, so topbonus elite status doesn’t get you much.

However this is just bizarre. air berlin has long offered status matches. Reportedly they continue to do so. This week there was a reported success matching Aegean Gold status to topbonus Gold.

The rules for status matching in recent times included that US-based members had to actually have an air berlin flight to be eligible. That’s no longer possible. But eligible Europeans can get a match, which at this point is really just for shits and giggles.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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