As we've previously detailed, Airberlin's Topbonus program serves up frequent flyer perks with both Qantas and Virgin Australia.
Having already looked at the opportunities for Qantas and Oneworld travellers to leverage their Topbonus card, this second instalment of our three-part Topbonus series examines the Virgin Australia connection.
(If you've missed the first article we recommend reading that first, as the details of the Topbonus program can be a little complicated.)
Topbonus and Virgin Australia Velocity
The partnership between Airberlin and Virgin Australia includes a reciprocal 'earn and burn' arrangement for each airline's frequent flyer scheme along with the usual creature comforts such as priority checkin and lounge access.
As explained in part 1 of this series, by crediting some of your Qantas and Oneworld flights towards a Topbonus account you can earn Topbonus Gold status, which equates to Virgin Australian Velocity Gold.
So right off the bat, you could have Gold or even Platinum status with Qantas plus the equivalent of Gold with Virgin Australia. It's a handy way to keep a foot in both frequent flyer camps.
Topbonus status miles on Virgin Australia flights
One hurdle is that while Topbonus members can earn points or 'standard miles' on flights with a Virgin Australia (VA) code, 'status miles' aren’t available.
Status miles are Airberlin's version of status credits, which are used to help determine your frequent flyer ranking.
Fortunately, Airberlin codeshares on selected Virgin Australia flights, including some international services.
When you're booking flights as part of an international itinerary, look to select the ‘AB’-coded flights if given a choice, because status miles can be earned on these services.
As a side note, Etihad (EY) codeshares on Virgin Australia services aren’t eligible for any mileage accrual – so if you're crediting a trip to Topbonus, avoid these and settle for the VA code.
Earning regular Topbonus miles
Topbonus uses the distance travelled to calculate mileage earn, so passengers on short flights will feel the pinch – particularly if flying on a cheaper economy ticket, which earns miles at only half the normal rate.
For example, a Brisbane-Sydney Saver Lite fare will earn approximately 234 Topbonus miles, though a traveller could be earning at least 5 points per $1 spent on the fare if crediting to Velocity Frequent Flyer – likely to result in a bigger haul.
Lounge access, priority queuing
As a Topbonus elite member, you can access any domestic Virgin Australia lounge when travelling with the airline, though unlike Velocity elites, access is only available before departure – not upon arrival.
Nor is lounge access available before Virgin Australia’s international flights, because lounge arrangements with Air New Zealand and other Virgin partners do not extend to Airberlin’s Oneworld elites.
On the brighter side, even Topbonus Silver cardholders are given access to priority check-in and boarding, offering a leg-up over Velocity Silver members because Virgin Australia restricts these benefits to Golds and Platinums.
Additional baggage allowance
Top-tier Topbonus travellers receive an additional baggage allowance on most Virgin Australia flights, including Saver Lite (seat only) fares on domestic flights.
On domestic and international short haul flights, the following baggage privileges apply:
Click on the table below to expand the image.
A different allowance applies to the airline’s Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles flights:
Taking everything into account, if your travels see you with Virgin Australia at any great frequency, we’d advise against swapping from Velocity Frequent Flyer to Airberlin’s Topbonus scheme.
However, if your travels are often within oneworld but you sometimes venture across to Virgin Australia, Topbonus has many useful benefits for Australian travellers.
Next in our Topbonus series
In the final part of this series we'll look at the Airberlin-Etihad partnership and how Etihad flights can be used to reach or retain your Oneworld frequent flyer status.
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