Etihad has revealed a big shakeup for its frequent flyers, with the Etihad Guest program planning some significant changes from 9 October.
Most Australian Etihad passengers will be socking their trips on Etihad away to Virgin Australia's Velocity frequent flyer program, since the two airlines are partners.
But if you swing the other way, and put your Virgin Australia domestic flights towards Etihad Guest instead, here are the main changes that'll impact Australian business travellers:
- The miles you need to redeem for a seat are being "optimised" (as the airline puts it) with some routes going up and some down in the miles you'll need. Abu Dhabi to Sydney is going up, while Abu Dhabi to London is going down. So if you're looking to book, be smart about when you book each leg, before or after the new rules go into effect on 9 October.
- All economy seats will be upgradeable to business with miles -- no matter which booking class (fare bucket). That means that even the cheapest seats can be turned into a business class seat with miles.
- All members will be able to upgrade from business to first class. This used to be a lurk of Etihad's most frequent flyers, but such democracy comes at a cost: the number of points needed to fly out of Australia goes up. In the case of Sydney to Abu Dhabi, it almost doubles from 31,500 miles to 57,988 miles. Ouch.
- Entry-level Etihad Guest members get 5kg of luggage allowance, while elite allowances remain the same: 10kg for Silvers, 15kg for Golds, and 20kgs for Gold Elites.
- Lower-level frequent flyer miles will expire sooner: two years for entry-level members, and two and a half for Silvers. Gold and top tier Gold Elite members will still get three years of mile validity
For the full raft of changes, plus a Q&A, head over to Etihad's page explaining the new system.