Airberlin filed for insolvency recently, and though its loyalty program, Topbonus, is a separate legal entity, it was natural to see it make a similar move because its health is tied to the success of the airline. It’s currently impossible to earn or redeem miles, even with a Topbonus credit card. I imagine this would only increase its financial strain since issuing miles is the primary source of income for a loyalty program. So today Topbonus sent a follow up email to its members trying to convince them that it’s not dead …yet.
- While you can’t earn or redeem miles with Topbonus partners, access to the account remains open so you check your balance. Hooray.
- You can call customer service. Just don’t ask them for help using any of your miles.
- The Airberlin credit card issued by Landesbank Berlin remains valid, but you won’t earn any miles. Instead you can participate in a 5% cashback offer. (This might actually be worthwhile.)
- Topbonus even clarifies that it continues to receive reports from its airline partners regarding miles earned. But it won’t credit them to your account.
None of this is particularly encouraging. It looks like a bank run. Sure, your money is there, but you can’t use any of it and you can’t be sure that it will still be there next week. Topbonus’s positive spin isn’t so encouraging when you look closely at their choice of language. I don’t like to see words like “ideally” and “viable”. This means that there are also many non-ideal and non-viable scenarios that might occur instead.
Ideally this means that despite the insolvency proceedings you will not lose any of your miles at all. We will reopen the mileage credits in the programme as soon as we have found a viable way of being able to offer redemption options to you again. … As collecting and redeeming presuppose each other, we can only reopen mileage credits as soon as we can also offer you options of redeeming them.
The most amusing part is that the email ends by asking you not to sue them.
As long as the insolvency proceedings have not been opened, which is expected to start at the beginning of November 2017, we kindly ask you to refrain from making any claims.
I would not touch Topbonus with a 10-foot pole right now. While I hope that things do work out and any existing miles are reinstated, it would be unwise to continue to credit additional travel and purchases to a program that might not be able to issue any miles earned. Even if a “viable” path forward is found, it might come with a hefty devaluation that undercuts the value of those rewards.