Another Program Plays Monkey See, Monkey Do

Etihad Guest has been a surprisingly generous program, more so than their competitors in the Middle East region in my opinion.

They’re a Citibank ThankYou rewards transfer partner, and their award availability is good (I’ve always booked my Etihad awards through American AAdvantage, however).

Effective July 8, Etihad is making some major changes to its frequent flyer program — along the lines of rewarding premium fares more than cheap ones (although rewarding everyone less overall) and becoming less generous especially for premium cabin upgrades and redemptions.

Adjustments to mileage earning. (“Five fare classes will now offer more miles than they do today, and two will offer fewer.”) It really is that some go up and others go down, and not uniformly ‘fewer miles for cheapest fares and more for the most expensive’. Although it does skew in that direction.

Premium cabin redemptions cost more miles.

  • Long haul economy redemption (over 6000 miles) mileage prices go down 25%
  • Business class redemption prices for flights under 6000 miles go up
  • First class redemptions for all flights go up.

Upgrade prices are going up, and ‘Breaking Deals’ fares will no longer be upgradable

Surcharges on all redemptions

  • The term fuel surcharge will no longer be used, replaced with ‘carrier surcharge’
  • Etihad added these to certain routes before, now they will apply to all routes.
  • The surcharge will be per flight segment: $50 per economy segment, $100 per business class segment, and $150 per first class segment.

Here’s the new mileage redemption calculator. Roughly speaking we see the biggest increases for business class medium and short haul awards, although premium cabin awards are mostly going up.

Honestly, it could be a lot worse, and Etihad’s program remains most generous overall in the region in my view.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Does any of this impact American awards on Ethiad?

    Perhaps passing along the fuel surchage?

  2. This is bad news again….some of the changes – especially the surcharge is huge compared to the past. Used to pay $29 one-way in Business and that jumps to $100. More than 300% cash increase which is massive.

    Etihad is a loss-making airline and so this is one way to recoup the investments and to “prove” they are not govt dependant.

    Hopefully their service will improve.

  3. So do we have any idea whether or not AA will be passing on those new per segment surcharges to us?

  4. @HoKo at this point there’s nothing to suggest that they will, these are fees for redemptions through Etihad’s own program only.

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