Etihad axes chauffeur drive service on reward bookings

By Chris C., February 22 2018
Etihad axes chauffeur drive service on reward bookings

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.

Read: Etihad axes global chauffeur drive for business, first class

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.

Read: When will Coles Flybuys and Etihad Guest get back together?

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 54

another cut by the so called "boutique airlines"

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 173

More like "boutique to budget" airline! Am looking forward to their food kart and pay as you go on board menu which will no doubt soon be introduced for all classes - surely this can't be to far away!

Is this for flights after 1 April, or bookings after 1 April ?

I made a booking using VFF points late last year, for flights in July this year. Will this affect me in Abu Dhabi ?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2443

As your booking is with Etihad, questions regarding that booking will need to be directed to Etihad: the information we have only states "from April 1".

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

A whole new definition of flying reimagined. Are they seriously intent on announcing a cut each week until its a LCC?

22 Feb 2018

Total posts 8

Word from people in Abu Dhabi is that Etihad is on its final legs and will be taken over by Emirates. Best to book anything with EY on credit card in case they go bust and your funds are protected.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 91

That seems somewhat sensationalist to me. What are your sources?

Would VA reward flights on EY be honored by EK in case of any eventual takeover?


23 May 2014

Total posts 119

Abu Dhabi is a far richer Emirate than Dubai - for prestige and face reasons they wouldn't allow a takeover by Emirates.

Etihad's hard won reputation however is indeed suffering death by thousand cuts. I worry most about what must be happening to the quality of the F&B.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 31

What is your source? I very doubt that an airline like Etihad can simply be absorbed by Emirates.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 233

An airline that offers a product such as “the apartment” is light years away from a LCC, refresh yourself with JQ product.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 9

I called Etihad this afternoon and asked if the withdrawal of the chauffeur applied to bookings ticketed prior to 1 April (mine was ticketed in October 2017 for travel September 2018). The agent, who I think was based in their AUH call centre, wasn't able to provide an answer. They undertook to seek advice and get back to me but I'm not holding my breath.

I've booked Blacklane from the hotel to airport on the assumption the withdrawal will apply to all reward tickets.


03 May 2013

Total posts 672

The CEO James Hogan stuffed up Ansett, Gulf Air and now Etihad.....will he 4th time lucky as an airline CEO?

24 Apr 2014

Total posts 271

You save your points through loyalty, and then when you redeem, they treat you like a second class citizen.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jul 2017

Total posts 2

What happens if a couple are travelling in first class or business and on 1 reward fare + 1 paid fare? Can they be chauffeur driven free together or must they travel separately, 1 paid and 1 free?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

21 Aug 2013

Total posts 138

@Madison177204 I flew EY First ZRH-AUH then First Apartment AUH-SYD a little over a month ago with my partner's booking made using AA points (they're a partner of EY - unusual, I know) & mine using my EY points. They had no problem with me travelling in the chauffeur with him (as I was not eligible for it on my own technically, due my relocation being a partner booking) nor, indeed, did they have a problem with my sister-in-law & niece (who weren't even travelling with us or Etihad for that matter) also travelling with us in the van they thankfully ended up providing. Call them & ask politely; we asked for a van & were declined, so prepared if it were necessary for the two others to be transported separately with a family member from our pick-up point. However a minivan ended up turning up on the day for all four of anyway! YMMV.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 52

Only flew Etihad once in 2015 BNE/SIN/AUH and AUH/KUL and SIN/BNE and the chauffer service was great even from Abu Dhabi airport to Dubai in a nice A6 at the time. Great service, dine on demand nice lounge in AUH shame all the cutbacks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 17

If you want to stuff up your business, hire James Hogan, honestly how this man keps his job is beyound me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2015

Total posts 5

Flew VA MEL-PER then EY PER-ZUH in J late last year. Service in the air and on the ground, from both airlines, was exceptional. Best I have experienced on the ground and on par in the air with SQ - with much better seats/beds.

Having been QF/OW Platinum for many years, I have now switched all my travel to VA (and partners). Yet to be disappointed.

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