Airberlin’s days as a budget airline appear to be over. Today it is one of the staples of oneworld and has several partners outside the alliance as well. With all these connections, members of its frequent flyer program Topbonus have the option of spending their miles on a variety of carriers all over the world.
But the airline’s roots as a budget regional airline haven’t completely disappeared. It remains very competitive on flights within Europe, offering great redemptions on short flights and periodically offering outstanding “Topdeals.” Travelers looking to save a few miles while visiting more places should also pay attention to airberlin’s generous stopover policy.
When Should You Use Topbonus Awards?
There are a few sweet spots in the Topbonus program. Although a round-trip ticket between North America and Germany can cost as little as 50,000 miles, airberlin adds considerable fuel surcharges. That’s why it’s best to book short trips. Flights within Europe, for example, begin at 7,500 miles.
There are three other great features of the topbonus program:
- You can get a companion certificate allowing your partner to fly for half the miles
- On some flights, you can pay all the taxes, fees and fuel surcharges with miles
- They offer Topdeals on select intra-European flights for only 1,500 miles
Partners bookable online:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Etihad Airways
Partners only bookable by phone:
- Bangkok Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Grand China Airlines
- Hainan Airlines
- Japan Airlines (JAL)
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines
- TAM Airlines
- Virgin Australia
When to book by phone
- Flights on partners not bookable online
- Complex itineraries involving stopovers
See below for our phone booking tips.
How to Search for Airberlin Award Seats Online
Go to the airberlin homepage and click on “log-in” in the upper right corner. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be met with the welcome screen. Go to the “topbonus” tab at the top and then select “redeem miles.”
The next screen gives you several options for redeeming your miles. In addition to booking a flight, you can book a companion ticket, look for topdeal tickets, transfer your award flight to another person, or upgrade to business class. You can also shop at the topbonus Shop, but that redemption option does not typically offer a good value for miles.
If you know what airline you want to use, click “airlines.” Remember that if the airline you want is not bookable online, you’ll have to call. If you’re not sure which airline you want to book, there is an option on the right called “book an award flight” that lets airberlin decide the best way for you to fly to your destination.
If you’re looking for a transatlantic flight, remember that airberlin and some of its partners impose hefty fuel surcharges on long flights. So watch out for the extra charges when you’re booking. On the New York to Munich round-trip flight below, they’re charging over $500.
But on this award flight between Los Angeles and Vienna, the fuel surcharge is only $88:
The itinerary has complex routing, though:
You’ll fly on both Etihad and Niki. Outbound the itinerary goes through Zurich and Abu Dhabi, and inbound, Munich and Abu Dhabi. It would be a long journey, but it would also be a great way to take advantage of airberlin’s liberal stopover policy. You’re allowed up to two per one-way flight, depending on the total distance traveled. As an added bonus, you’d get to fly on Etihad, which is a superb airline.
For simpler routing between North America and Europe consider redeeming topbonus miles on American Airlines. It cost 10,000 miles more for a round-trip flight than on airberlin, but there aren’t any fuel surcharges for flights to Europe.
How to Confirm and Book Airberlin Award Flights Online
After you pick the flight, just click “redeem miles and start flight booking.” Enter your personal and payment information and you are done.
More Redemption Options
On some airberlin and Niki flights, you can pay for your whole trip with topbonus miles, including taxes and additional charges. Depending on the cash portion of your bill, this can be an excellent option. Combine that with the 50% off companion ticket, and the deal is even better.
Here is a flight between Munich and Venice:
While the cost is relatively low at 20,000 miles roundtrip, the taxes and fuel surcharges add up to $258. If you use the companion ticket, two award seats would run you 30,000 miles and roughly $516.
However, if you choose to cover the cash portion with miles and use the 50% off companion certificate, you’d pay 52,500 miles and no cash.
That works out to a redemption rate of 2.5 miles per penny, which is very good for an economy seat.
- Airberlin’s U.S. phone number: 1-866-266-5588
You’ll have to call airberlin to book flights with many of their partner airlines. In addition, airberlin’s online booking tool only allows you to search for one day at a time and often doesn’t allow you to complete complex itineraries, including flights with stopovers. It’s worth trying to book online first, but you should call if you don’t see the options you’re looking for. The good news is that airberlin agents are generally very knowledgeable and helpful.
Important Award Booking Considerations
- High fuel surcharges on long-haul flights
- Airberlin charges extra for many things, including checked bags and assigned seats
- Check for extra charges when booking award flights as they vary by airline
- Up to two stopovers allowed per one-way flight