Etihad Revamping Frequent Flyer Program In June

Etihad is a fantastic airline to fly, and it’s moved out of its pure cost-cutting phase that it entered after losing billions of dollars per year on a premium expansion strategy that included buying stakes in some of the world’s most troubled airlines (like now-defunct air berlin and Jet Airways, as well as Alitalia).

I’ve traveled with Etihad using American AAdvantage miles to and from the Mideast as well as to the Maldives about half a dozen times as well as to India and even to Australia. Their inflight product is excellent – from standard business and first class to their First Apartment on the Airbus A380.

And Etihad’s new terminal in Abu Dhabi features outstanding dining in its first class lounge.

I was excited by Air Canada Aeroplan adding Etihad as a partner. I have a nice Aeroplan miles balance.

However, Etihad has stopped allowing access to its business and first class awards until 30 days out from travel. That makes AAdvantage and Aeroplan of limited use for many members in redeeming for Etihad’s excellent experiences.

It also means many of you will turn to the Etihad Guest program, because their points are accessible: Etihad is a transfer partner of American Express, Citibank, and Capital One.

And it means that upcoming changes to the Etihad Guest program in June are important to watch.

New redemption pricing for Etihad awards, with ‘around 70% of routes seeing a decrease’. Earning rates won’t change. Apparently these pricing changes apply to economy and business class. (Their first class pricing, then, should remain nuts.) Examples that have been shared:

  • Abu Dhabi – London in economy drops from 32,000 to 30,000 miles
  • Jeddah – Abu Dhabi in business drops from 30,000 to 20,000 miles

Elite status changes will include elimination of segments as a means of qualifying; a new top tier Diamond level that requires $150,000 in spend on top of qualifying miles; and new choice benefits for all elites (“Silver will get a choice of two benefits, Gold members will get four and Platinum members, five”).

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. You’re missing the big one. Miles will now expiry after 18 months of inactivity unless you have an Etihad or partner flight credited. You can’t extend expiry any longer via a card points transfer etc.

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