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‘Couldn’t make it up’ #2: bmi regional gives out topbonus miles – but you can’t spend them

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OK, this one is going to get complicated.

bmi regional (their lack of capitals, not mine) was launched in November 2012.  After British Airways acquired the ‘original’ ex-British Midland airline, it generously sold the name and the website to a new UK carrier.

bmi regional was set up to link secondary business centres across Europe to major hubs.  It has a fleet of 20 Embraer 135 and 145 aircraft. The airline now operates over 400 scheduled flights a week across 46 destinations in 11 countries.

topbonus (again, no capitals) was the old airberlin (no capitals) frequent flyer programme.  In an attempt to inject money into airberlin without breaking EU rules on foreign investment in airlines, Etihad bought topbonus from airberlin for a disproportionately high price.

When airberlin went bust a few months ago, it turned out that it hadn’t been paying topbonus for the miles it had issued.  To keep cash in airberlin, Etihad / topbonus only asked for money when miles were redeemed.  This meant that, with airberlin bankrupt, topbonus itself had to go into administration – it had a massive liability (mileage balances, which would cost it money when members redeemed) but airberlin was no longer around to pay.

I was pretty certain that the scheme would be absorbed into Etihad Guest and balances converted into Etihad Guest miles.  I was wrong (so far) – Etihad seems to see some sort of future for topbonus as a German-focused coalition loyalty programme with varied partners.

So, until a few days ago, topbonus was a loyalty scheme which only allowed you to collect miles on Etihad and only allowed you to redeem miles on ONE thing – a ‘€49 plus 5,000 miles’ hotel voucher.

Last week, surprisingly, German regional airline Germania was added as a new topbonus partner – see here.

And then, a couple of days ago, bmi regional was added too.

This is what you will earn when flying bmi regional:

Details are on the topbonus site here.  In summary, you will earn:

250 miles per sector on ‘Sale’ tickets

500 miles per sector on ‘Classic’ tickets

1,000 miles per sector on ‘Classic Plus’ tickets

2,000 miles per sector on ‘Executive’ tickets

However, there is a snag

You can ONLY earn miles if you book your bmi regional tickets via

Tickets booked via the main flybmi website or via a travel agent do not earn any miles.

And you can’t spend the miles …..

To reiterate what I wrote above, you cannot currently spend topbonus miles.  There is literally nothing – unless you want to pay €49 plus 5,000 miles for a hotel voucher – to spend them on.

Even bmi regional is hiding this new partnership away

If you look at the bmi homepage, there is no mention of this new relationship.  Nothing.

For clarity, topbonus status benefits do not apply to bmi regional, if you still have a shiny topbonus card from the airberlin days.

It is all very odd indeed.  If you are booking flights on bmi regional then, of course, you might as well use the new booking link and earn some miles with topbonus.  They might, one day, be worth something.  Just not today.

Comments (19)

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  • Ian Booth says:

    Dear Mr XXX

    The year is drawing to an end. It was a challenging year for you as a topbonus member as well as for us as the topbonus team, especially in recent months. However, we were able to re-establish many new offers in key areas of our programme:
    Collecting miles with new airline partners
    Starting from this month, award miles can be collected not only with Etihad Airways but also on all flights with Germania and bmi.
    Please click here for route networks and miles collection tables.
    Redeem miles for reward flights
    We are working hard on re-establishing this option in the coming weeks.
    Collecting miles with partners on the ground
    For an overview of all active miles collection partners on the ground – including our hotel and rental car portals – please click here.
    Redeem miles in our topbonus Pop-up Shop
    The topbonus Pop-up Shop continues to be open for you. More than 20,000 members have already used the opportunity to redeem their miles for vouchers and gifts.
    In 2018, we will continue with topbonus with full steam ahead. We are working on expanding our options to collect and redeem miles within the coming weeks and months.

    Stay with us – it will be worth it!

    Happy holidays and thank you very much for your trust and loyalty.

    Best wishes

    Anton Lill
    Managing Director

  • losingtrader says:

    And this is somehow different than buying cryptocurrencies as a long-term investment?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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