Etihad Airways is further winding back its complimentary chauffeur drive service to exclude tickets booked using frequent flyer points, such as from the airline’s own Etihad Guest program or partner frequent flyer schemes like Virgin Australia Velocity.
Currently, these travellers – along with most fare-paying pointy-end flyers – are entitled to complimentary airport transfers within the United Arab Emirates, such as from Abu Dhabi Airport to their in-town hotel, or indeed anywhere within the UAE, including Dubai.
However, from April 1 2018, Etihad journeys booked using frequent flyer points will no longer be eligible for this service, and these passengers will need to make their own way to and from the airport in Abu Dhabi.
Etihad previously offered chauffeur service in most overseas ports for business class and first class travellers, including in Australia, but scrapped this in July 2017 for both paying and points-booking guests, except for jetsetters flying in The Residence.
Declining chauffeur services on points-based bookings isn’t unheard of in the airline industry – some carriers like Virgin Australia (to Los Angeles) and Virgin Atlantic have taken this approach for years – although Etihad’s neighbour and biggest competitor, Emirates, continues to offer chauffeur service worldwide for business class and first class flyers at no extra cost to the traveller.
Emirates also provides this service for passengers who have booked their ticket using Emirates Skywards miles or Qantas Points, although other points-based bookings, such as through Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan, don’t receive complimentary transfers from Emirates.
This further reduction in chauffeur services is the latest in a string of cuts and devaluations from Etihad Airways, which recently increased the number of points needed to book flights and to upgrade, shuttered its Style & Shave salons in Abu Dhabi, axed pyjamas in business class and halved the benefit periods for Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum members from 24 to 12 months.
The ability to convert points from the Coles Flybuys program into Etihad Guest miles has also remained suspended since December 2017.