Air Berlin is the second largest airline in Germany and one of the top 10 in Europe. While I had never flown with Air Berlin, I had heard about their many cash and miles promotions. So I looked into it and signed up for Air Berlin’s reward program topbonus to prove that you can collect enough miles for a flight without ever setting foot on plane or applying for a credit card! Read on to see if Air Berlin’s topbonus program would make sense for you!
Reach – how far will it take me? Air Berlin serves 119 destinations in 37 countries, with a focus on Europe and some long-haul connections to the Americas and Middle East.
As part of the OneWorld alliance, you will have access to over 1,000 destinations served by the partner carries. Air Berlin also has an equity partnership with Etihad, giving you one-stop access from Air Berlin hubs via Abu Dhabi to Asia, Africa and many more places.
Earning – what do I have to do to earn points? Points earning with topbonus is based on a mix of flight segments and distance based earning: For domestic and European flights, you earn a fixed amount of points for each flight based on the class of service, ranging from 125 miles in the cheapest fare class for a domestic flight to 2,000 miles for a European flight in the most expensive fare class.
And if you thought you got it all figured out, there are different earnings tables for each partner airline. They are also based on the distance flown and a class-of-service multiplier, for example for Etihad ranging from 25% to 400% in their stellar First Class!
Similar to the reward programs of most full-service airlines, you can also earn miles with a range of hotel and rental car companies or apply for a credit card or buy insurance in Germany and Austria.
But what got me started in the topbonus program were some of the more unusual points earning opportunities, for example you can earn points for writing hotel reviews on holidaycheck.com or for just signing up for a duty free shopping club or other partner programs, none of which required a purchase! I was able to earn enough points for a short-haul flight just with those activities, without spending a penny!
Air Berlin also sometimes runs points promotions to purchase points, allowing you to top off your account for the flight you desire or for a bundle of specific flights, for example around Europe.
With all these options, Air Berlin makes it easy for the infrequent flyer to participate and earn a meaningful reward. I think that’s great marketing for an airline targeting the leisure market!
Redeeming – what do I get for my miles? Based on Air Berlin’s network, the redemption for tickets on Air Berlin flights is rather easy: It starts with 7,500 for a domestic economy one-way flight and topping out at 40,000 for a business class one-way flight to Asia or Central America at 45,000 miles. It is important to know that Air Berlin frequently offers top deals promotions, making award tickets on specific routes at reduced mileage rates, sometimes as much as 75% off! So, only 1,500 miles can get you a free one-way ticket!
For partner redemptions, there is a separate chart, also based on regions. It has reward values for any region-to-region connection offered by OneWorld or other Air Berlin partners, making it a little more complicated:
The rates are similar to other OneWorld carriers. You will have to look hard to find a great deal for your miles, as you’ll have to pay taxes and fees, generally including fuel surcharges on top of your tickets. While they might not be as bad as on British Airways, they significantly reduce the value of your miles!
My recommendation is to save your miles for one of the top deals sales or for premium cabins on long-haul partner flights to make the most out of them!
Status – what perks will I get? The topbonus program offers a total of four tiers, with the base tier “Classic” available by signing up. Silver is earned after 25,000 miles (or 24 flights), Gold after 50,000 miles (or 60 flights) and the top Platinum tier after 100,000 miles! Those levels are very comparable to other programs, nothing unusual here.
You can find all the benefits in the table below. They include typical earnings bonus for higher tiers, as well as priority check-in, boarding and security as well as additional luggage allowance.
A few of the more unusual benefits are the empty seat next to you as Gold or Platinum member. Considering that Air Berlin doesn’t have a business class on short-haul flights, it’s nice to know that you will not only get access to an XL Seat with extra legroom, but have room to stretch to the side! As a Platinum member, you get 2 international upgrades to business class and free gourmet meals from the buy-onboard program!
Air Berlin also offers status match to other programs, so if you have status with a competitor and are thinking of giving Air Berlin a try, you can get your status matched and fly them with full benefits from day one – a generous offer fewer and fewer airlines make these days!
What else is there? The topbonus program reflects the status of Air Berlin somewhere between a low-cost leisure carrier and a full-service network airline: Fortunately for miles & points fans, the reward program is modeled after network carriers and offers plenty of miles earning potential and comparable perks for frequent travelers.
My favorite perks of the topbonus program are the innovative way of earning points through so many means, especially for less frequent flyers. My other favorite are the frequent top deals promotions, giving you a chance to score reward tickets at steep discounts, making at least partially up for the fuel surcharges.
Most of the basic travel functions on Air Berlin’s web site work really well. I’d recommend that United (or any number of other airlines) recruit Air Berlin’s web site staff and do over their sites! Everything is easy to understand, easy to use and functional.
Unfortunately there are limits for more advanced functions, so you’ll for example have to book partner awards by phone.
If you live in Germany or Austria, you should sign up for topbonus, even if you only fly Air Berlin every once in awhile. With the many options to earn points without flying, you can quickly get enough points for a free flight – and spend them at a reasonable rate during the top deal promotions!
If you are living somewhere else in Europe or travel to Europe regularly, I’d also recommend to sign up, just so that you don’t miss out on miles earning opportunities. Air Berlin makes it easy to keep your miles alive and growing, so there is very little downside to signing up.
And, even for somebody like me, who partly signed up because of my blog, I found myself looking regularly at sales and promotions, so the reward program is doing its job for Air Berlin! Try it out!