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Old Apr 25, 17, 2:26 am   #1
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Question What happens to partner award tickets on AB ticket stock, if AB goes out of business?

We have all seen the news on AZ today and AB is in a somewhat similar situation, maybe 3 months behind.

Main question: Does anybody know what happens to AB-issued award tickets on partner airlines (745 ticket stock), if AB goes broke before the scheduled flight?
  • I know Topbonus is a separate company and majority-owned by EY
  • Tickets are issued, miles have been deducted from account, PNR has been provided, booking can be accessed on partner website (QR)
  • Fees/taxes have been paid in full using credit card

Is the partner airline obligated to honor the issued ticket, regardless of the financial situation of the issuing airline, or are there other influencing factors to consider, e.g., has the payment to the partner airline already been provided by Topbonus, etc.? (when does payment usually happen? at time of ticket-issuance?)

Next logical question: What happens to remaining Topbonus balances in any of the likely scenarios that can happen to AB?
  • Program discontinued/miles invalidated
  • Program merged with EY Guest
  • Redemption restricted to Etihad Airways Partners (esp. if AB stays in business but leaves *O)
  • Required mileage increased (factor 5-10) to discourage members from redeeming for flights
  • Conversion to Miles&More after LH takes over (ongoing talks between LH & AB have been reported)
  • ...

Thanks in advance to anyone shedding light on this!
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Old Apr 25, 17, 11:05 am   #2
  
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Tickets will lose it's validity in such a case.
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Old Apr 26, 17, 11:20 am   #3
  
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Hard to tell. In previous cases some airlines would honor issued tickets as a courtesy - but in some cases only paid tickets - not awards. In others - all tickets lost all value.

Your credit card typically protects you with paid tickets as the service is not delivered. You can dispute the transaction and request a refund. Some countries also have consumer protections in place. With miles obviously, this is not the case.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 4:12 am   #4
  
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Airberlin does not own Topbonus anymore.
So I don't really see the connection between AB going out of business and Topbonus.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 7:04 am   #5
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MultiFlyer View Post
Airberlin does not own Topbonus anymore.
So I don't really see the connection between AB going out of business and Topbonus.
True, but once a ticket gets issued on AB ticket stock, a payment goes from Topbonus to AB and AB becomes obligated to provide you with the transportation, either themselves or by paying another airlines to do so. If AB goes bankrupt, the ticket on their stock becomes worthless. Not necessarily so the miles on the Topbonus account, since it is a separate company. However, they will no longer be able to issue tickets on AB stock, so the question would be what else you can buy with Topbonus miles?
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Old Apr 29, 17, 6:09 am   #6
  
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Can you elaborate why a ticket which has been payed from TB to the operating airline (CX, ...) become worthless?

Award tickets are usually payed immediately.
I don't think that TB is doing this differently.

Of course AB tickets for AB flights will be worthless.
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Old May 1, 17, 1:43 pm   #7
  
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Originally Posted by MultiFlyer View Post
Can you elaborate why a ticket which has been payed from TB to the operating airline (CX, ...) become worthless?

Award tickets are usually payed immediately.
I don't think that TB is doing this differently.

Of course AB tickets for AB flights will be worthless.
Because airline tickets have to be issued by airlines, according to IATA policy. TB tickets are issued as AB tickets (745 stock), even if all flight segments are operated by other airlines. TB, similar to other frequent flyer programs, can't issue tickets on other ticket stock (e.g. CX). Similarly, all M&M tickets are issued on 220 stock (LH).
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Old May 8, 17, 9:04 pm   #8
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Unlike Alitalia (whose immediate future is, arguably, uncertain), there seems to be little short term risk of AB going out of business. Etihad, for whatever reasons, recently gave them more cash. I wouldn't sweat it on partner award tickets being honored. The bigger risk would be cancelled flights due to further restructuring.
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Old May 9, 17, 10:47 am   #9
  
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Or cancelled flights due to the ground handling mess in TXL (I estimate about 10% of my recent flights with AB via TXL have been cancelled -- But I also have to say that in 2 out of 3 cases they rebooked me efficiently on a connection that was faster and easier than the original itinerary).
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Old May 9, 17, 1:20 pm   #10
  
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And if AB goes bankrupt in the next 12 months (what is not likely), topbonus still owes you miles or flight.
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Old May 10, 17, 2:28 am   #11
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
Hard to tell. In previous cases some airlines would honor issued tickets as a courtesy - but in some cases only paid tickets - not awards. In others - all tickets lost all value.
Can you give an example of that?

In the most recent "large" European airline failures - Spanair (Star Alliance) and MalÚv (oneworld) - no tickets, either revenue or award, were honoured after failure. Special "rescue fares" were made available - in some cases, only for travel in the 3 days immediately after collapse - but in NO CASE did any airline honour issued tickets as a courtesy - new tickets had to be bought.
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Old May 10, 17, 3:52 am   #12
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Originally Posted by MultiFlyer View Post
Airberlin does not own Topbonus anymore.
So I don't really see the connection between AB going out of business and Topbonus.
???

You can either look at topbonus as a "travel agent" that deals almost exclusively with Air Berlin; even when it issues tickets for travel on a different airline, it is issued on Air Berlin stock.

If this means that there is "no connection", are you therefore similarly saying that you similarly don't see a connection between AB going out of business and , say, Expedia tickets issued on AB stock?

You could also look at topbonus as a "loyalty scheme" whose sole customer is Air Berlin. [topbonus DOES NOT function as a loyalty programme for any other airline]. If that sole customer goes out of business...do you really not think there are severe implications for topbonus?



There is an outside chance that, in the event of failure of AB (or AZ), that Etihad Loyalty would roll those accounts into Etihad Guest. But that's a very big if. Etihad is already on the hook for billions; you could look at it in the sense that "another few hundred thousand Euro in liabilities won't matter - especially if they can be converted into good Etihad flyers"; alternately, Etihad may decide that taking on any further debt other than what it is legally required to accept (and these other airlines' FFPs are in no way required to be continued in the face of collapse of their airlines) is not what it wants to do. Certainly, with Alitalia, it appears that EY has decided not to invest/waste another cent on them; I don't think expecting FFPs to remain intact and untouched beyond the collapse of their airline is a very realistic outlook.

Even if it did make some gesture like this, I would certainly not count on any issued topbonus redemption tickets being honoured (except, perhaps, those issued for Etihad metal).

Last edited by irishguy28; May 10, 17 at 3:57 am
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Old May 10, 17, 10:13 am   #13
  
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Originally Posted by irishguy28 View Post
Can you give an example of that?

In the most recent "large" European airline failures - Spanair (Star Alliance) and MalÚv (oneworld) - no tickets, either revenue or award, were honoured after failure. Special "rescue fares" were made available - in some cases, only for travel in the 3 days immediately after collapse - but in NO CASE did any airline honour issued tickets as a courtesy - new tickets had to be bought.
Though a long time ago - I remember that under certain circumstances some Ansett Australia tickets were accepted by QF, SQ and a few others. I believe UA did not cancel Aloha award tickets when they went under.
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Old May 11, 17, 3:54 am   #14
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
Though a long time ago - I remember that under certain circumstances some Ansett Australia tickets were accepted by QF, SQ and a few others. I believe UA did not cancel Aloha award tickets when they went under.
I found this Qantas travel advisory issued on September 14 2001, the day that Ansett grounded its fleet.

Customers holding Ansett tickets issued before September 13 for travel on Qantas flights had these tickets honoured. I can only imagine that, given the limited relationship between Qantas and Ansett, the number of such Ansett tickets issued for Qantas flights was quite small....

All other tickets were not valid for being endorsed onto Qantas flights.

For customers on pure Ansett tickets who had already commenced travel and were "stranded", Qantas endeavoured to accomodate stranded Ansett-ticketed passengers up to the following Thursday only on a space-available basis. This, however, probably reflects the unique nature of the domestic Australian market and there are scant parallels with the Italian or German markets...I can't see Lufthansa either deciding out of the goodness of their heart to accept AB tickets, or being required by the German government to do so.

Last edited by irishguy28; May 11, 17 at 4:05 am
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Old May 12, 17, 10:25 am   #15
  
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I'ts most likely like "Dumb and Dumber".

Her: "The chance of me going out with you are 1 in a million"
Him: "So there is a chance!"
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