This is the final instalment in our series on how Australian travellers can make the most of Airberlin’s flexible Topbonus program which offers frequent flyer perks with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways.
(If you've missed the first article we recommend reading that first, as the details of the Topbonus program can be a little complicated.)
Now it's time to delve into how Etihad Airways flights can used to top up your Topbonus status – which in turn means that travel on Etihad can bolster your frequent flyer status with Etihad competitor Qantas and all other Oneworld airlines.
How's that for a quirk of the frequent flyer fates?
Earning Topbonus status miles via Etihad Airways
Topbonus members have carte blanche to collect status miles on flights operated by Etihad Airways, provided that Etihad's EY code appears on the ticket.
Most fare types will earn status miles, but keep in mind that if you're booking on an EY code, only flights operated by Etihad or Airberlin (not other Etihad partners such as Virgin Australia) are eligible to accrue miles.
Virgin Australia flights – such as EY6891 from Sydney to Melbourne – aren’t operated by Etihad so they won’t boost your Topbonus balance.
Earning standard Topbonus miles
The basic mileage earning rates for Etihad flights on both Topbonus and Etihad Guest are identical (below) – although unlike Etihad Guest, elite Topbonus members don’t earn bonus miles on Etihad flights.
Click on the tables below to expand the images.
Also, Topbonus miles can’t be redeemed for flight upgrades with Etihad.
Topbonus perks on Etihad flights
Topbonus Silver, Gold and Platinum members receive priority check-in and boarding when travelling with Etihad.
In Abu Dhabi, Airberlin Gold members have access to the Al Reem Lounge in Terminal 1 while Platinum members can access the Etihad Pearl Business Class lounge.
Outside of the UAE, Gold and Platinum members can make themselves at home in the Etihad Pearl Business Class Lounges in Dublin, Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Manchester.
However, some Etihad lounges – such as those in Paris and Washington, along with lounges not owned and operated by Etihad Airways – aren’t included on the access list.
Additional baggage allowance
Topbonus elites flying to most destinations in the Etihad network receive an additional baggage allowance where the ‘weight concept' is used – which includes the airline's Australian flights but excludes flights to the USA and Canada.
Silver members receive an additional 10kg, while Gold and Platinum members will see their luggage allowances boosted by 15kg and 20kg, respectively.
Final thoughts on Topbonus
With premium perks such as lounge access for Qantas, Oneworld, Virgin Australia and Etihad flights, Topbonus certainly has a lot to offer many Australian travellers.
The most significant drawback: Virgin Australia flights are ineligible for Status Miles, which means the more that you actually use your Virgin Australia benefits, the lower your chances will be of retaining that status (and those lounge access benefits).
However, if you frequently find yourself in business or first class on Etihad and want that travel to be acknowledged across the Oneworld alliance, then Topbonus has its merits.
On the domestic front, if you mostly fly with Qantas but occasionally find yourself on a Virgin Australia domestic flight, you’re sure to enjoy the lounge access benefits that Topbonus provides.
But if your employer has a ‘best fare of the day’ (BFOD) policy and your travel is split roughly 50/50 between Qantas and Virgin, you’ll do well to keep both your Qantas Frequent Flyer and Velocity Frequent Flyer accounts active, given the status benefits afforded to Velocity members – as well as the ability to retain that status.
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