Etihad Guest is the frequent flyer program of Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways. Etihad's North American gateway cities to Abu Dhabi are; New York JFK, Washington IAD, Toronto YYZ, Chicago ORD, Dallas DFW, Los Angeles LAX and San Francisco SFO.
- Opens reasonable reward inventory on Etihad flights
- Partners with 26 other airlines offering earn and redeeming privileges for rewards
- Partners with American Airlines with great reward redemptions values
- Reasonable change fees on Etihad redemptions
- Saver rewards allow 25% of total points to be paid in cash at .009 cents per point
- Often offers bonuses when transferring points into program
- Rewards are distance flown mileage and segment based
- North American departures limited to 7 cities
- Reward redemption fares are high
- Partner rewards are generally expensive with a few exceptions
- Points must be used within 2 years for standard members or they are forfeited
- Cancellation fees are 10% of original point total
- Changes are not allowed on Partner rewards
- Mileage calculator is not accurate
Etihad Airways Saver
The Etihad Guest program for flights on Etihad aircraft are distance based redemptions. Specifically they are based on the exact miles of each segment. Etihad only flies to Abu Dhabi (AUH) from North America. Furthermore virtually every flight they operate departs or arrives in AUH. They do operate first freedom routes out of Singapore to Brisbane and Beijing to Nagoya. Therefore a trip from New York to Mumbai includes a transfer in AUH. This reward is priced as two separate rewards, JFK-AUH and AUH-BOM even though it may be on the same ticket.
Etihad does not publish a reward chart. The website has a mileage calculator. (The results given from this calculator are often a few hundred points lower than what will be required.)
This compiled table used the mileage calculator to give a general idea of how redemptions are structured. It shows the logic behind the pricing.
If your destination is not on the chart you can estimate how much it will cost by determining how many actual flight miles are being flown and applying these rules:
Flights <5,000 miles:
- Economy : Mileage times 9.12
- Business: Mileage times 19.39
- First: Mileage times 25.77
Fights >5,000 and < 6,000: (Tokyo only city):
- Economy: Mileage times 9.08
- Business: Mileage times 16.10
- First: Mileage times 21.40
Flights <6,000 miles or all Western Hemisphere flights to AUH:
- Economy: Mileage times 6.82
- Business: Mileage times 12.88
- First: Mileage times 17.14
An example to go from Dallas to Male in Business class, one way:
- DFW-AUH = 8,071 miles times 12.88 = 103,954 plus
- AUH-SEZ = 2,002 miles times 19.39 = 38,819
- DFW-AUH-SEZ = Approximately 142,773 points
Etihad Airways Standard
When searching for an Etihad reward you are looking for "GuestSeat" availability. GuestSeat is their saver reward and is what would be available to partner airlines such as the American AAdvantage program as well. Etihad also has two standard rewards called Open Seat Classic and Open Seat Flex. Both are based on market fares.
With Open Seat rewards you only need 1 point to start. The remaining required points are charged at about .009 cents each. However if you use all points that is the redemption value, less than a penny a point. This particular search shows the paid fare for a first class seat as well as an Open Seat Classic reward. In the end the cost was identical.
Etihad Partner Airlines
Etihad partners with 26 other airlines allowing you to earn and redeem points. Many of these redemptions are expensive compared to the airlines own program or other alliance partner redemptions. However there are some interesting deals. This is not an exhaustive list.
- ANA business class from the west coast to Tokyo is 63,000 points one way.
- Asiana business class from Los Angeles to Seoul is 59,000 points one way.
- Brussels Airlines business class from New York to Brussels is 36,620 points one way.
- Garuda Indonesia business class from Shanghai to Jakarta is 42,000 points one way.
- Virgin Australia business class from Sydney to Melbourne is 13,800 points one way.
- Virgin Australia business class from Melbourne to Perth or Auckland is 21,800 points one way.
While these examples are international routes, the potential for short haul flights from points within Europe or other areas of the Eastern Hemisphere may exist. To view these opportunities visit the Etihad Partner page.
American Airlines - Partner
You can book American Airlines rewards with Etihad Guest points. To be clear, these awards ARE NOT Oneworld carriers you may find on an AA.com reward search. These rewards are only for American Airlines aircraft and their subsidiaries bearing a non-codeshare AA Flight number.
Economy Off-Peak dates are as follows:
- North America - Hawaii: January 12-March 8, August 22 and December 15
- North America - Europe: October 15 - May 15
- North America - Japan/South Korea: October 1 - April 30
- North America - Southern South America: March 1 - May 31 and August 16-November 30
American rewards redeemed with Etihad points have some excellent values compared to American's own reward chart. However for premium rewards where America aircraft have 2 class cabins; first and economy, American will charge the Business/First value and Etihad will charge the First value as the ticket code is "Z".
American Airlines international premium rewards with Etihad points can be a great value.
Surcharges / Taxes & Fees
As with all reward tickets, taxes and fees must be paid.
Etihad imposes a carrier surcharge on their flights. This is not a standard YQ fee as Etihad fares do not include that charge. The fee is a for reward tickets and is higher on GuestSeat saver tickets than it is on Classic or Flex rewards.
For economy class tickets the fee is typically less than $100USD. For premium business and first class redemptions the fee is usually around $200 but can be in a range of $100 to $250. The fees are segment based, so if you are traveling from point A to B, but must connect through Abu Dhabi, you will have 2 segments and 2 fees.
On-line bookings do not incur a service fee. Call center bookings will incur a service fee to be "advised at the time of booking". I have personally booked an Etihad partner reward with the call center and was not charged a booking fee.
Changes / Fees:
- One name change from the member to a third party.
- Date change based on availability. Fee is 100AED or about $28USD. Must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Fee is per ticket.
- Route change requires a cancellation of the ticket and redeposit fee which of 10% of the ticket point total and a new ticket issued. Fee is per ticket.
- Cancellations with refunds must be requested within 24 hours of departure and the fee is 10% of the rewards point total. Cancellations or no-shows forfeit the points.
- Tickets are valid one year from date of issue.
For Partner rewards, Terms and Conditions state no changes may be made once ticketed.
The 10% point cancellation fee can be extremely expensive. For example, a round-trip business class redemption from JFK to AUH is 176,782 points. Cancellation forfeits 17,678 points. At a value of 2.5 cents each (which is what you can buy them for from a number of sources) means it will cost $441.95 to cancel your flight. Even at a penny per point it's $175.
For travel on Etihad aircraft using Etihad searches, tickets can be booked no later than 3 hours prior to departure. Partner rewards must be booked a minimum of 14 days in advance.
Infants / Children
Infants sitting in the lap of an adult require 10% of the adult fare point total as well as applicable taxes and fees. Children over the the age of two require an adult ticket . Children under 18 require consent of parent or legal guardian.
Cash and Miles
As with Open Seat rewards you can use Cash and Miles for GuestSeat saver rewards. However you are limited to 25% cash and 75% points. In order to get to the booking page to see this option you must have enough points in your account.
Etihad charges the same .009 cents per point on Cash and Miles for GuestSeat rewards as it does on Open Seat rewards. This is a fantastic deal. For any Etihad redemption it is recommended to pay only the 75% point requirement and the rest in cash. Your points are worth more than .009 cents.
Etihad Guest points have narrow dates for when they must be used. If you fail to use the points within these windows the points are forfeited. Validity windows are based on Etihad Guest tier status:
- Guest members: 2 years
- Guest Silver members: 2.5 years
- Guest Gold/Platinum members: 3 years
The actual expiration date is the last day of the month which they are due to expire.
Unless you fly Etihad to earn points you must only transfer the required number of points required for a redemption otherwise you could lose those excess points.
Etihad Guest members from the same family may pool points for reward travel. One person from the family is designated as the head member and must be at least 21 years of age. This individual controls all reward bookings. All related family members within the parent tree on both sides can be members, included step children, nieces, nephews, grandparents as well as one person of "household help". A maximum 8 people can be in the membership.
Stopovers / Open Jaws
Because Etihad tickets are mileage/segment based, stopovers and open jaws are generally without concern. However if you want to put a reward onto a single ticket to avoid extra change fees, the stopover can be arranged by the call center. The policy states that connection time must be no less than 8 hours. Etihad does not provide any accommodations in the event the first possible connection is longer than 8 hours.
Etihad provides limousine service to the departure airport and from the arrival airport for First Class saver rewards and Business Class Open Seat rewards on Etihad aircraft. The reservation must be booked online and at least 24 hours before departure. Chauffeur Service is not available on Etihad rewards redeemed through partner programs such as American's AAvantage.
This service is available in 40 cities and distance limitations apply. Call Etihad Global Contact Center for more information. The USA number is 1-8777-690-0767.
Etihad.com Reward Search
From the home Etihad Airways page select "Etihad Guest" the highlight the "Spend Miles" tab. You don't need to have an Etihad Guest account to search for rewards, although each time it will ask you to log in. However to select a reward and move into the booking process you need to log in as well as have sufficient points to cover at least 75% of the requirement. For Open Seats you need at least 1 point.
The Mileage calculator is supposed to tell you exactly how many points are needed. It is not accurate. It is also confusing. Make sure the "GuestSeats" tab is highlighted then open up the "by destination" arrow at the bottom.
In this example I've entered JFK to JNB in economy. The result was 82,328 points for a one way trip. This does not include any fees.
When searching for a reward always make sure you've selected "Book Flights with Miles". The website has a tendency of returning to the standard fare booking page.
Often you will have to search in segments. Entering a JFK-JNB route produced this result.
Searching individual segments gave a valid reward. Notice the total points is 82,481 where the mileage calculator returned 82,328.
While the results page has a weekly calendar that can be adjusted earlier or later, to change class you have to modify search and start over. All in all it is not the best search engine but certainly not the worst.
For Partner rewards you must contact the call center. To search availability for a specific flight on a partner airline, check an alliance partner's' website. For example, looking for an American flight check British Airways. If you are looking for a Virgin Australia flight check Delta. ANA check United, etc.
You can use Etihad points to upgrade on their flights. A chart is not published. Find out how many points it takes to upgrade with using this link.
These are the Upgrade rules and restrictions.
You earn points paying for Etihad flights as well as on their 8 Partners. For Etihad flights use the mileage calculator. Earnings are based on fare class booking codes.
You can also earn 500 Etihad points just by joining their program.
Etihad does not have any US based credit cards. However UAE issuers ADIB and ADCB have cards that may be issued to non-UAE residents and offer substantial bonuses. Initial bonuses can be 50,000 Etihad points up to an additional 50,000 for various other requirements. If you have an interest in earning Etihad points, or travel to this area of the world frequently, these cards might be worth investigating.
The link to these cards.
Etihad has excellent transfer partners. Additionally they often have transfer bonuses where an additional number of points are added as a bonus. These amounts can be 20%, 25% or other amounts. Taking advantage of these promotions is a great way to stretch your points.
- Citibank Thank You Points: 1:1
- AMEX Membership Rewards: 1:1
- Starwood Preferred Guest: 1:1 (Plus 25% bonus on 20,000 increments)
- Hilton HHonors: 10:1
- Hyatt Gold Passport: 2.5:1 (Bonus after 50,000)
- IHG Rewards Club: 5:1 (Minimum 10,000 IHG)
- Marriott Rewards: Tiers with 5:1 lowest and 2.8:1 highest
- Le Club Accor: 2:1
- Shangri-La Hotels: 1-1
- e-Rewards: $25 - 500 points
For a complete list of hotels where you can earn Etihad points follow this link.
Etihad has a partnership with Rentalcars.com where you can get multiple points per dollar spent on car rentals based on your Etihad Guest tier. In addition you might earn points with Hertz and Budget.
You can earn Etihad Guest points when booking hotels on these sites:
Etihad does not have a point purchase program other than being allowed to purchase points for up to 25% of a saver reward ticket or 99.99% of an Open Seat ticket (meaning you only need 1 point to qualify). In the case of the saver program the cost of a point is less than a penny and is a great option.
If you avoid the pitfalls of this program, and a specific objective is fulfilled, then the Etihad Guest program can be a good option. An ideal scenario would be a specific reward you want is available with either Etihad or a partner, is fairly competitive in price and you can get a transfer bonus of your multi-source credit card points into Etihad Guest. Keep in mind however, in general Etihad is the most expensive in terms of points required per mile flown on their aircraft, the stiff cancellation penalties imposed if necessary and the fact points expire quickly when making your decision on whether or not to collect points in this program.