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Etihad Guest cheat sheet for using your miles

by on Fri July 15, 2016 • 2 Comments
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Airlines you can book and where to find award space

You can search and book Etihad’s own flights using this page on Etihad’s site. There’s no login required to search for award space.

All partner flights must be booked over the phone on (877) 690 0767, but you can search for space using the alternative sites below. They are sites of partners of each partner, and the space you see for award flights on those sites should be available for awards when you use Etihad miles.

RegionAirlinesWhere to search award inventory?
AfricaAir SeychellesCall Guest Service Centre
AfricaRoyal Air MarocCall Guest Service Centre
AfricaSouth African Airwaysana.co.jp, united.com
East AsiaANAana.co.jp, united.com
East AsiaAsianaana.co.jp, united.com
East AsiaHainan Airlinesalaskaair.com
East AsiaKorean Airairfrance.us
EuropeAir SerbiaCall Guest Service Centre
EuropeAir Berlinbritishairways.com
EuropeAlitaliaairfrance.us
EuropeBrussels Airlinesana.co.jp, united.com
EuropeCzech Airlinesairfrance.us
EuropeEtihad RegionalCall Guest Service Centre
EuropeFlybeCall Guest Service Centre
EuropeUkraine International AirlinesCall Guest Service Centre
Middle EastOman AirCall Guest Service Centre
North AmericaAmerican Airlinesaa.com, britishairways.com
OceaniaAir New Zealandana.co.jp, united.com
OceaniaVirgin AustraliaCall Guest Service Centre
South AmericaGOLCall Guest Service Centre
South AsiaJet AirwaysCall Guest Service Centre
South AsiaSri Lankan Airlinesbritishairways.com
Southeast AsiaBangkok AirwaysCall Guest Service Centre
Southeast AsiaGaruda Indonesiaairfrance.us
Southeast AsiaMalaysia Airlinesbritishairways.com
Southeast AsiaPhilippine AirlinesCall Guest Service Centre

Tip: Partner awards must be booked at least 14 days in advance.

 

How much do awards cost?

Etihad awards are priced primarily on distance, but there is no fixed price chart. The best way to check prices is to go straight to the Etihad website and search for flights.

JFK to Abu Dhabi, for example, requires 46,765 Guest Miles each way in Economy Class. From LAX, 57,180 Guest Miles are required. From London, “only” 31,022 Guest Miles are required.

Partner award costs vary significantly depending on the airline.

To view partner redemption price charts, go here and select the airline you’d like to view. Each airline has a viewable PDF file detailing routes/regions/cost. Typically, Etihad’s prices to book a partner flight mirror what the airline charges members of its own frequent flier program.

It also tends to follow the reward structure of the host airline’s program (distance pricing vs region pricing for example), which makes Etihad Guest miles behave almost like a transferable points currency and can open up interesting values we talk about below.

While award seats on Etihad can be booked online, partner award redemptions will require a call to Etihad Guest Service Centre at (877) 690 0767.

Business awards require roughly double the miles of an Economy award. For example, Business Class redemptions New York-Abu Dhabi cost 88,391 Guest Miles, while a business ticket to/from LAX-Abu Dhabi will run 108,076 Guest Miles.

Does the thought of flying in Etihad’s “The Residence” appeal to you? For just over 1.8 million Guest Miles (1,846,788 if you must quibble over exact figures), you can snag a one way award between New York and Abu Dhabi in the El Dorado of mileage redemptions.

In nearly all cases, using American AAdvantage miles is a better bet for Etihad flights than Etihad’s own miles. You can’t get into The Residence, but you can get into First Class and Business Class for reasonable prices.

What are fuel surcharges? Surcharges apply as follows on Etihad flights (approximately): $80 each way North America-Abu Dhabi in Economy; $130 in Business Class; $180 in First Class. It also passes on fuel surcharges on partner flights when the partner imposes fuel surcharges.

Award change and booking fees

Changes and cancellations are permitted.

Cancellations requested less than 24 hours before departure and no-shows forfeit all miles and surcharges.

Cancellations requested 24 hours or more before departure are subject to a 10% (mileage) refund fee.

Date changes are permitted at a cost of AED 100 (approx. US$27).

No telephone booking/service fees apply.

Changes and cancellations can be requested from the Etihad Guest Service Centre available at: (877) 690 0767.

When are award seats made available?

Award seats can be booked 330 days out. Availability that far out is another matter…

You must book partner awards at least 14 days before your date of travel.

Can you waitlist awards and upgrades?

No

What stopovers are allowed?

Stopovers cannot be booked. However, tickets on Etihad flights are priced per segment, so New York-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi-Mumbai costs the same amount of Guest Miles as New York-Mumbai connecting in Abu Dhabi. Taking a “glass half full” perspective, unlimited stopovers are permitted, but they’re not truly free.

Most partner awards are priced by award region, so flights aren’t charged separately.

What are the best award values?

  • A North American will likely see the best value via redemptions on Etihad’s partners, rather than Etihad itself. While Etihad’s redemption rates to the Middle East and South Asia are competitive, costs to Oceania and Asia are extremely expensive (relatively) and involve a circuitous routing.
  • American Airlines redemptions are an attractive option, especially as Etihad’s table hasn’t tracked AA’s own recent award cost inflation. Any domestic US itinerary costs 12,500 miles each way in Economy and 25,000 in Business / First class. And yes, that includes Alaska/Hawaii. If crossing a national border within North America (designated as Mexico, USA, Canada, Caribbean), the cost is slightly higher at 15,000 miles in Economy and 30,000 in Business. Still not a bad price if our neighbors to the north in Toronto want to escape the Canadian winter for, say, Hawaii.
  • North America – Asia is a bargain on AA compared with Etihad. 50,000 miles each way will get you to Japan or South Korea in Business Class, while 55,000 will cover most of the rest of East and South East Asia. That’s much better than circa 150,000 Guest Miles, each way, to go between New York and Hong Kong on Etihad’s own flights.
  • Brussels Airlines offers one of the best gems of the program. A round-trip New York-Brussels costs 21,972 Guest Miles in Economy and 36,620 in Business.
  • Seattle-Tokyo on ANA in Business Class can be had for 54,000 miles + $52.10 one-way, or 30,000 miles in Economy. San Francisco or Los Angeles to Japan is 63,000 miles one-way in Business Class or 37,000 miles in Economy. ANA flights are priced according to distance bands (for example, a Los Angeles – Tokyo flight is 5,451 miles in distance, which falls into the 5,001 – 6,000 mile price band for ANA flights, which allows Business Class awards for 64,000 miles one-way).
  • Virgin Australia offers good availability within Australia. Redemptions are based on distance, which means that the best values (versus paying cash) are on abnormally expensive domestic and regional routes. Virgin Australia routes to/from Christchurch (Gateway to NZ South Island; post-quake construction), Queenstown (Adventure Capital of the World), Hamilton Island (Great Barrier Reef Tourism) are the perfect examples.
brusselsbizclass

Brussels Airlines business class

Upgrades and how much they cost

Etihad allows members to upgrade eligible revenue tickets by one cabin class.

To upgrade from Economy into Business Class, there are three levels of eligible Economy revenue buckets. For a flight between New York and Abu Dhabi, U, V, and G fare buckets (Economy Saver) can be upgraded for 83,252 Guest Miles.

The Economy Value fare buckets – L, Q, M, and K fares – would require 62,439 Guest Miles. The most flexible and expensive Economy Freedom fares, Y, B, and H, can be upgraded for 41,626 Guest Miles.

Using the same New York-Abu Dhabi example, any revenue Business Class ticket can be upgraded to First Class for 62,439 Guest Miles.

As with most upgrade schemes, the buyer will need to consider the cash differential between the Economy bucket in question and the cheapest business ticket (and possibly competitor fares). Upgrading an Economy Saver ticket for 83.2k Guest Miles when an outright Business redemption costs 88,391 Guest Miles seems like a poor value, considering that even the cheapest Economy return NY-Abu Dhabi would run $800+.

Alternative miles to book Etihad flights

American AAdvantage miles can be used to book Etihad flights at reasonable prices. You can also use ANA Mileage Club miles, or Korean Skypass miles (which is a transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards), among others.

What are Etihad miles worth?

When used well, for good American Airlines redemptions or some ‘Guest’ level redemptions on Etihad flights, you can get about 2 cents or more in value out of Etihad miles.

But as a baseline, Etihad is a unique program in that Guest Miles can be redeemed for any seat, whether or not Guest Seat award space is available. Etihad’s effective “exchange rate” works out to nine-tenths of 1 US cent ($0.009) cash value per Guest Mile on Economy bookings and 1 cent on Business bookings.

Examples: a one-way ticket between New York and Abu Dhabi in Economy would cost $1,024.30 or 110,556 Guest Miles + $29.30. A round-trip in Business Class between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi would cost $8,228.36 or 814,300 Guest Miles + $85.36.

Credit Cards that earn Etihad miles

While Etihad does not offer a co-branded credit card in the US, cards part of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou can transfer points to Etihad. Transfers from Amex Membership Rewards are usually instant, but beware that transfers from Citi ThankYou can take around 6 days, which means award space could be gone by the time the miles are posted to your account.

Hotel points that transfer to Etihad miles

  • Accor: 4,000 Points to 2,000 Guest Miles
  • Hilton: 10,000 Points to 1,000 Guest Miles
  • Hyatt: 2.5 Points to 1 Guest Mile
  • IHG: 10,000 points to 2,000 Guest Miles
  • Marriott: 10,000 Points to 1,500 Guest Miles; better conversion rates for higher value exchanges up to 140,000 Points to 35,000 Guest Miles.
  • SPG: 1 point to 1 Guest Mile. Bonus of 5,000 Guest Miles applies per 20,000 Points transferred. No minimum for SPG Platinum members; 1,500 Point minimum for SPG Gold members; 2,500 Point minimum for SPG Preferred members.
  • Shangri-La: 1 Point to 1 Guest Mile

Can you book awards for others?

Etihad does not restrict the booking of award tickets for others.

Can you transfer miles?

Miles cannot be transferred between members.

Can you buy Etihad miles?

You can’t buy Etihad miles for your personal account. However if you’re a business owner, you can buy miles in bulk for reward incentives.

When do Etihad miles expire?

Etihad Guest Miles expire after a period of time depending on status within the program. Etihad Guest (base tier) members’ Guest Miles expire 2 years after the date of earning. Guest Silver members have 2.5 years before expiration. Guest Gold and Platinum have 3 years before expiration. Mileage expiration cannot be extended.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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2 thoughts on Etihad Guest cheat sheet for using your miles

  1. Corey Malone

    I don’t believe your prices are correct for Seattle-Tokyo in ANA Business Class. The numbers you are showing are one-ways, not round trips. But if I’m wrong, I would be very happy =]

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Corey – Indeed – now fixed. “Mileage values in the table are for one way journeys only. Return journeys will be double of the values of one way.”

      Reply

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