Changes to Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme are a mixed bag

By David Flynn, June 3 2015
Changes to Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme are a mixed bag

Etihad Airways is the latest airline to tweak its frequent flyer scheme, and as is so often the case the changes to Etihad Guest hold upsides and downsides for different travellers.

Here's a rundown of the changes, which come into effect from July 8, 2015.

Fuel surcharges are out, carrier charges are in

"The fuel surcharges that have traditionally been levied on some GuestSeats into Abu Dhabi will be removed", Etihad says – but don't cheer too soon.

There'll now be a new 'carrier charge' added to all GuestSeat bookings of US$50 per sector in economy class, US$100 per sector in business class and US$150 in first class.

Earning Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad airfares fall into one of a bewildering 13 ticket classes, from the cheapest economy seats to that plush 'penthouse in the sky' known as The Residence.

Five of those fare classes – including first class 'R', business class 'D' and three economy categories – will in future offer more miles than they do today, whilst two fare classes – business class 'Z' and economy 'E' – will offer fewer miles. Click here to see the full list on Etihad's website.

Using Etihad Guest Miles for 'GuestSeats'

A number of seats on each Etihad flight are set aside for 'purchase' by redeeming Guest Miles or a 'Miles plus Cash' mix (up to 25% of the fare can be paid for).

As of July 8 there'll be a shuffle in the amount of Guest Miles needed for GuestSeats, with 'sectors' of 6,000 miles emerging as the break point.

To put that into perspective: it's just under 7,500 miles for a flight between Sydney and Etihad's hub at Abu Dhabi, and just over 3,400 miles between Abu Dhabi and London.

You'll need more Etihad Guest miles to buy your business class seat under 6,000 miles, although for sectors beyond 6,000 miles (which covers all flights between Australia and Abu Dhabi) you'll need 25% fewer Etihad Guest miles than today to book an economy seat.

The amount of Etihad Guest Miles needed to snare a seat in First Class will increase across all flights.

More GuestSeats per flight

"In line with the growing demand from members, the minimum number of GuestSeats available in Business Class on some of our highest demand routes will increase by 20%" the airline promises, citing an extra 1,000 business class seats each month "on popular routes."

There'll also "be a minimum of five GuestSeats available in Economy Class on every flight."

Using Etihad Guest Miles for OpenSeats

From July 8 you'll be able to trade your Etihad Guest Miles for the airline's lowest available "breaking deals' airfares in business class and economy.

There's also be a member-only discount "of up to 30% on the commercial fare" for business and first class on popular routes – such as Abu Dhabi to Sydney, London, Istanbul and Bangkok – but with the caveat of contributing "a fixed minimum number of Etihad Guest Miles towards the fare".

Using Etihad Guest Miles for Upgrades

This one's going to sting a little. On the whole, the number of Etihad Guest Miles needed for an upgrade will increase, while miles will no longer get you an upgrade from 'breaking deals' economy or business class fares.

Also read: The unofficial Etihad Guest guide for Aussie frequent flyers 

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

NZ Elite

03 Jul 2014

Total posts 109

Does the carrier charge apply to redemption tickets booked on partner airlines like Virgin Australia? Will be booking some shorthaul J class flights soon and would rather not get stung with US$100 charges...

Wonder if VA will also start classifying certain business class tickets as 'ghetto business' with a 1.15 earn rate? I'm sure it's only a matter of time. I have some EY flights booked that fall into that Z bucket in late July :(

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

We asked this of VA earlier today – there are currently no plans to change earning or redemption rates for Velocity members travelling with Etihad.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 47

This may seem like a stupid question, but how can you tell what class of flight your booking is?  I've got a business class trip to Europe later in the year, and I have no idea if it's discount business or normal business.  Can I check somewhere on the booking confirmation?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

If you load up your booking on the Etihad website, look for a link with something like 'fare rules'.

Then at the top should be 'fare basis' (or similar) – generally the first letter of that is your fare class, so compare that letter with Etihad's table to see where you stand.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

Sadly it appears EY have gotten dizzy with their new F and J offerings without letting them translate into actual BIS.


Lots of recent double and triple points offerings to sweeten the changes which have generally not come through for members.


EY in a nutsheel? Awesome inflight, awful on the ground.

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