Bits: Etihad closes Heathrow spa, airberlin Topbonus suspended

News in brief:

Etihad closes the Six Senses Spa in its Heathrow lounge

Etihad has announced that the Six Senses Spa in its lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 will close on 31st August.  This is very short notice for anyone with a premium cabin flight booked.

To be honest, the spa became irrelevant for most people a while ago when charges were introduced for Business Class passengers.  When I flew the Etihad First Class Apartment in March (review here) I did get a free treatment, but only a 15 minute back and neck massage.  Longer treatments would have been charged.

I get the feeling that these changes sapped away much of the demand.  It was a nice, albeit small, facility however.

Etihad says “We will soon be introducing more areas for you to relax, as well as some new food and drink options to make your lounge experience more convenient” but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

This is a London issue only.  Nothing changes with the spa services offered in the Abu Dhabi airport lounges including the First Class Lounge & Spa and Etihad Business Class Lounges in Terminal 1 and 3.  You can find out more about those lounges here.

Etihad lounge london six senses spa

airberlin’s Topbonus loyalty scheme now suspended

The big airline news last week was the slide into insolvency of BA’s oneworld partner airberlin.  The airline has been given €150m by the German government to effectively tide it over until it can sell itself off.  Flights are still operating, tickets are being sold and in theory this will continue until at least October.

The airberlin loyalty scheme, Topbonus, is actually majority owned by Etihad.  It (over)paid for it as a way of injecting money into the airline by the back door.  In theory this should mean that miles are secure because the scheme is not in receivership.

It may be insolvent, of course, depending on how much money it is owed by airberlin and what reserves it has on hand to meet redemptions of existing balances.

As of Saturday, Topbonus is suspended.  The website states:

We cannot currently (since Saturday, 19. Aug.17) guarantee that your miles will be credited. We have had to suspend mileage accruals and redemptions pending clarification of the situation.

We are working hard to resolve the matter as soon as possible and hope for your understanding.

Thank you for your patience.

If you have an airberlin or other oneworld flight coming up, credit it anywhere except Topbonus.

If you have Topbonus miles, don’t count on being able to redeem them for flights again.  It is very possible that Topbonus announces, in future, you can only redeem miles against a shopping catalogue of overpriced goods.  If you are lucky, Etihad will offer to convert them into Etihad Guest miles but I wouldn’t count on it.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. OT – anyone tried coming off a long haul F at T5 and through the UK border to use arrivals lounges, then back through First Wing to CCR before a domestic connection? We are both BAEC Silver connecting to CE on domestic so wouldn’t have “rights” to use the First wing for our onward flight but we will have access to Concorde Room for our layover. It’s 3 hours so have plenty time to do this.

    Also just wanted to say thanks for the knowledge and expertise I have accrued from the site and the contributors over the last year or so that has put me in the position to ask this question. First World Problems etc…

    • Yes. Did it a couple of weeks ago.

      Coming off F flight seems to enable you to use First Wing.

      First Wing leads into F lounge; you’ll have to walk on through to CCR.

      We have no (ie blue) status; I believe it’s the class of long haul flight that governs lounge access.

    • Clarence says:

      Earlier this year we arrived from SIN in F and went the CCR for 3 hours before our domestic connection to BHD. Champagne at 0700 and another large breakfast was great.

    • I think a cabana in the CCR might be more comfortable than a shower in the arrivals lounge…

      • What’s the chance of booking one of these? Hen’s teeth or possible?

        • When’s your flight? If it’s a month or more, a decent chance. Call YouFirst…

        • Decent chance. Cabana should be booked at same time as making the booking. Only spa treatments open up at t-28 (or thereabouts).

          • Thanks all. We knew we could use Concorde Room but didn’t know about the F wing if the domestic border queue is excessive and we went landslide.

            Flying in the next few days – got a late Avios upgrade to F from CW – so I’d say zero chance of cabana.

  2. OT – Does anyone know the latest on the hidden 20% bonus on Clubcard -> Virgin Atlantic conversions please? Is it still running and is it for one conversion only etc.

    Thanks

    • I converted £10 Tesco vouchers last week as a tester followed by £80. Both received the 20% bonus shown as ‘Award Summer Bonus’ on my account.

    • Nick, I did a test conversion & a larger one 2 weeks later. Received a 20% bonus with both

      • Thanks both for letting me know – I’ll do a tester and for any others interested report back

    • Still seems to work for some (all?) but still not mentioned online and no emails to members ….

      • I must say that’s my slight concern – given Virgin’s propensity for removing points down the line I’m still wary of doing a transfer until it’s announced somewhere…

    • I did several conversions across various accounts in the last few weeks. All got the 20% bonus.
      I’m also worried about Virgin clawing them back in a few months time so want to redeem them all as quickly as possible!

    • Worked for me over the weekend.

    • If anyone still watching this comment thread for me it worked on two transactions done on 21/08 and 22/08. Thanks H4P for the tip off

  3. To make things worse the Topbonus devaluation is just around the corner(1/09).
    I have 80k points that I probably won’t be able to use before it happens 🙁

  4. Do you think it is safe to book an an air berlin avios flight on ba.com for next year? Take the chance the flight will happen.

    By ‘safe’ I mean I would at least get a refund of the avios if the flight was say cancelled after air berlin broken up etc?

    Thanks

    • Yes, I think you’re safe. You can cancel anyway up to 24 hours before departure and BA won’t pay AB until after you’ve flown so they are not out of pocket.

      BA may even reroute you on BA from London.

      • “BA may even reroute you on BA from London.”

        Clutching at straws here Rob, but do you think they would even if your flight was ex-DUS (for example)?

        Clutching at more straws, but what if you wanted to change the date by a day too?

        Just weighing up my options 🙂

        • Possible, and if they say no it might work as a two-stage change. Let them move you to DUS-LON-XXX and then later call and drop DUS (and pay the APD of course).

  5. The White Pen says:

    Out of interest, does this impact the validity of OneWorld status with TopBonus, in terms of lounge access etc. on OW airlines? Off-topic-ish: when I first started flying frequently, I put all my segments into Malev’s programme. 40 segments in, and on a Tuesday, I gained OW Sapphire status. Yay! The next day… Malev went bust. So I had to start all over again with BAEC. Luckily G class redemptions with Airmiles counted as revenue flights… if I recall, the bulk of the next 40 segments were G class, and worked out at about £38 per segment net.

  6. Etihad is doomed I say. In some ways, it is a victim of its own success as it raised the bar very high at very reasonable cost. Yet years later, we see the bar being lowered significantly and costs rising whilst other airlines somewhat steal their thunder.

    I can live without an extra olive on my plate and even mutter under my breath at the reduction in the cheese plate but some of their wines are now downright awful, their food has gone backwards, they have massively devalued their loyalty programme and withdrawn their chauffeurs.

    Add in that their product on some planes is now quite old and their prices often look very OTT.

  7. topbonus status levels in oneworld are still valid, right? Have Sapphire until November via them.

    • Only as long as AB keeps paying the bills to BA etc for lounge access ….

      • Klaus-Peter Dudas says:

        I thought it was the operating airline that had to pay the bill for lounge access? So that using AB status to get into the CX lounge on a BA flight means that BA paid CX and AB pays nothing to anyone?

  8. LHR T4 Lounge

    I have Priority Pass and want to use T4 lounge (departure).
    There are two options, Plaza premium and Sky Team lounge.
    I am not keen for alcohol, but looking for decent curry if any of them offered.
    Any ideas which one should be my first port of call?

    On other note, liked the menu choice at LHR T2 Arrivals yesterday.

  9. The irony of paying several k for a biz or 1st flight then whining about spending a few quid on a massage

    • Henry Freund says:

      Not whining if there’s no option to even pay, that’s the issue. The lounge is being closed and removed and the staff let go.

  10. Henry Freund says:

    Shockingly short notice for their customers seeing as the staff there were told at the start of March

  11. Peanutuneap says:

    I’m surprised there’s not been more comment about the collapse of AB. Seems like Heading Points has been quite keen in singing their praises over the years for good redemption, low taxes, etc, etc.

    Now the airlines is gone it is only a ‘bit’

    • We did a full article last week and another half-article on Topbonus. What else is there to say? There is very little in the press which is hard fact and running reams of speculation is pointless. No-one who has booked a redemption using Avios is going to be out of pocket. I doubt more than 1% of our readership has a Topbonus account, and that is probably the 1% that lives in Germany and can get better info from local sites.