Etihad Airways is no stranger to Australian frequent flyers, with its Abu Dhabi hub a regular port of call for jetsetters hopping over to Europe or throughout Asia and the flourishing Middle East. Its house loyalty program is ‘Etihad Guest’.
Though not exactly a household name down under, the scheme does deliver solid benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles on the ground and above the clouds, together with a generous bonus simply for signing up to the program.
In addition, you can use Etihad miles to book flights on a cavalcade of partner airlines. Virgin Australia is on that list, as are Air New Zealand and ANA.
It works in the other direction too: Velocity members can redeem points for flights across the Etihad network, including on those lavish first and business class seats, although it’s worth noting partner redemption rates have recently changed.
- What is Etihad Guest?
- How to join Etihad Guest
- Where and how can I earn Etihad Guest miles?
- How many Etihad Guest miles can I earn?
- What are Etihad Guest Tier Miles?
- What are the Etihad Guest membership tiers?
- What are the benefits of Etihad Guest status?
- Do Etihad Guest miles expire?
- How do I spend and redeem Etihad Guest miles?
- What’s the best way to spend Etihad Guest miles?
- Do I need an Etihad Guest membership card?
- Frequently asked questions
What is Etihad Guest?
As the frequent flyer program of Etihad Airways, Etihad Guest allows members to earn and spend miles on a range of activities, from flights and hotel stays to car hire and more.
Miles can also be earned via credit card spend in a number of countries, including Australia. Typically, credit card holders would first accrue points in their card issuer’s own loyalty program, and then convert those points into miles with Etihad.
How to join Etihad Guest
Free to join, anybody can sign up for Etihad Guest membership via the Etihad Guest website.
After joining you’ll receive your Etihad Guest membership number, which can be linked to flight reservations, credit card points transfer schemes and more to start earning Etihad Guest miles.
Following your first flight, you’ll also receive a bonus of 500 miles.
Where and how can I earn Etihad Guest miles?
Whether you’re a frequent flyer or frequent spender, there are plenty of opportunities available to earn Etihad Guest miles.
Earn Etihad Guest miles in the air
As you’d expect, miles can be earned on most Etihad Airways flights. Even though Etihad isn’t a member of a global airline alliance, the Etihad Guest program boasts a number of other airlines too, on which you can earn miles.
In Asia Pacific, these include Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, and SriLankan Airlines.
Air Canada and American Airlines are also on board – both of which fly to Australia – with Air Serbia, Air Europa, Brussels Airlines, El Al, Gulf Air, Hainan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Oman Air, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia and SAS Scandinavian Airlines completing the roster.
Just a quick note, if you’re flying with codeshare partners, you’ll only earn Etihad Guest miles when booked on an Etihad (EY) marketed flight.
If your flight number starts with EY, you can earn miles on the flight.
Earn Etihad Guest miles on the ground
On the ground, Etihad Guest miles can be earned across many hotel bookings and hotel loyalty program points transfer programs.
These include direct hotel bookings via the likes of Agoda, Booking.com, and Rocketmiles, as well as points conversion options from Accor Live Limitless, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards, Shangri-La Circle and World of Hyatt, among other hotel partners.
Need to hire a car? Etihad Guest miles can also be collected via both Avis and Budget car rentals.
Earn Etihad Guest miles using credit cards
Though Etihad Airways is based in the United Arab Emirates, it’s still possible to earn Guest miles via credit card spend with participating banks and card issuers across the globe.
In Australia, select credit and charge cards issued by American Express, Citibank, CommBank and Diners Club allow spenders to indirectly earn Etihad Guest miles by converting points earned via the card issuer’s own loyalty program.
Some programs have better conversion rates than others. American Express Membership Rewards, for example, offers a 1:1 conversion whereby 1,000 Rewards Points equals 1,000 Guest Miles. Diners Club, on the other hand, delivers a rate of 2:1.
Similar opportunities exist in other countries, so be sure to check with your bank to see whether Etihad Guest miles conversion is available to you. It’s usually the ‘big name’ brands that allow this, rather than smaller banks and credit unions.
How many Etihad Guest miles can I earn?
The number of Etihad Guest miles available to you depends on how you’re amassing them.
In the air, you’ll generally earn miles based on the distance of your flight, cabin class booked and the type of fare purchased. Ergo, expect to rake in more miles on longer routes in fully flexible business class than shorter ones or by flying in a cut-price seat.
For example, a one-way flight between Sydney and Abu Dhabi pulls in 15,012 Guest miles on a business class Choice Plus fare, versus just 9,758 on a Value fare in the same cabin.
The same applies when flying on partner airlines, though it’s worth nothing that each partner has a different mileage earning rate. It’s usually note as rewarding as flying Etihad directly.
You can check the earning rate for each partner on Etihad’s Miles Calculator.
Those looking to boost their miles balance through credit card spend will generally earn points in the respective loyalty program based on how much you’ve spent. That said, you can supercharge your earning through applicable sign-up bonus offers for new customers.
Note also that most banks don’t apply a straight 1:1 conversion rate on points transfers to Etihad Guest. Transfer rates of 2:1, 2.5:1 or even 3:1 may instead be in place, so do a little research before signing up.
For instance, points transfers through the CommBank Awards program adopt a rather average 3:1 conversion rate. This means a balance of 100,000 Awards points would fetch around 33,333 Etihad Guest miles (that’s 100,000 points, divided by 3).
Want to book an Etihad award ticket but find yourself short on points? You can also purchase Etihad Guest miles online at a cost of $0.02 per mile – up to 100,000 miles per year, or 150,000 miles per year if you’re a Platinum member.
What are Etihad Guest Tier Miles?
Etihad Guest members can earn two types of miles. Standard 'miles' are those that are earned to be spent on rewards – for example, earning miles via your credit card, to spend on a reward flight.
Tier Miles, on the other hand, are Etihad's equivalent of status credits. These are earned in much more limited ways, and exist solely to measure your progress through the program's elite tiers.
What are the Etihad Guest membership tiers?
Above Etihad’s entry-level Bronze tier, the program’s public status levels span Silver, Gold and Platinum.
Beyond these, Etihad also maintains an unpublished VIP level: Etihad Guest Exclusive, which is only provided by invitation, and cannot be directly unlocked, regardless of how many Tier Miles you may collect.
For the public levels, status can be reached in two ways: earning Tier Miles, or racking up the required number of Tier Segments (think of these as ‘eligible flights’ in other programs) within a 12-month period.
Here are the Etihad Guest elite tiers, and what it takes to earn them:
Etihad’s tier level requirements are noticeably easier to achieve than the competing Skywards frequent flyer program of Etihad’s UAE neighbour, Emirates.
Once earned, Etihad Guest elite status (Silver and above) is valid for one year: during which time you’ll need to meet the retention requirements above in order to hold onto that status.
What are the benefits of Etihad Guest status?
A raft of Etihad Guest benefits can be unlocked simply by joining the program, with these perks escalating as you progress up the loyalty ladder as follows:
- Etihad Guest Bronze: free inflight Chat WiFi (limited to messenger apps such as WhatsApp, We Chat etc), ability to purchase lounge access (and flights) with miles, and both seating and meal preferences kept on file and offered where possible.
- Etihad Guest Silver: free inflight Chat WiFi, plus earn 25% bonus miles on Etihad and eligible partner airline flights, and upgrade for 25% fewer miles at the airport. Plus, get priority check-in with Etihad, extra checked baggage, and access to the Al Reem Lounge and Etihad network lounges at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.
- Etihad Guest Gold: Benefits of Silver, plus global access to Etihad and partner airline lounges including Virgin Australia, free inflight Chat Wifi and 25% discount on Surf WiFi (unlimited access for browsing), plus 50% off airport mileage upgrades and earn 50% bonus miles on Etihad flights. There's also priority boarding, higher checked baggage, and more.
- Etihad Guest Platinum: Perks of Gold with a higher 75% mileage bonus on flights, completely free inflight WiFi, even higher checked baggage limits (varies by route), access to Etihad’s first class lounge, and like Gold, complimentary chauffeur service on eligible mileage-based flight bookings.
For the full list of benefits, head to the Etihad Guest website.
Do Etihad Guest miles expire?
In most cases, Etihad Guest miles have an 18-month expiry period from the last time you earned or spent miles.
With this in mind, someone who travels once a year wouldn’t see any miles expire under current policies, but those travelling less frequently, say every two years, could lose points if they’re not careful.
For Etihad Guest Bronze, Silver and Gold members, it’s possible to pay to have the expiry date extended – but of course, simply converting a few points across from an eligible credit card or hotel loyalty program would also reset that expiry counter.
The miles of Platinum members technically do not expire, so long as their status is retained. Once the member drops to Gold or below, the 18 month validity period kicks in.
Of course, to maintain Etihad Guest Platinum status, you need to be actively travelling, making the non-expiry of miles less of a ‘benefit’ than a simple by-product of the traveller’s habits.
How do I spend and redeem Etihad Guest miles?
The many ways in which to redeem Etihad Guest miles are mostly the same as how you acquire them, including hotel stays, car hire and, naturally, flights.
When jetting off on Etihad, the below redemption chart comes into play:
For example, an award GuestSeat from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi can be yours for 60,000 miles one-way in economy or 110,000 miles in business class.
If travelling onwards to London on the same booking, you’ll part with just 92,000 miles in economy and 180,000 miles in business class overall.
Redemptions is possible on experiences such as hotel stays, car hire and more, in addition to eligible Etihad partner airline flights, including on the likes of Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand. However, it’s worth noting the partner redemption rates have recently changed.
While previously adhering to a route-based redemption chart, Etihad now sets the number of miles required by distance-based zones for all of its 20-odd partner airlines. The new rates are as follows:
As an example, a one-way Sydney-Melbourne or Sydney-Brisbane flight in Virgin Australia business class is now set at 10,000 Etihad Guest miles, or a 27% drop from the previous rate of 13,800 Guest miles.
Using the previous Melbourne to Abu Dhabi example – a distance of 7,235 miles – a one-way flight would set you back 75,000 Guest miles in economy, or 140,000 in business class.
As well as outright experience bookings, it’s also possible to redeem miles on an upgrade to business class or even first class, subject to availability.
Depending on your flight, upgrade options may include:
- Economy (Saver, Classic and Flex) to business class
- Business (Classic and Flex) to first class
On the same Abu Dhabi-Melbourne flight, for instance, 66,000 miles can get you a business class upgrade from the most flexible economy tickets, as can 88,000 miles from the least-expensive Value fares.
Upgrades from Economy Sale to business class are not available, nor are any upgrades from economy class to first class.
Also, note that it's not possible to upgrade Etihad Airways flights using frequent flyer points from Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer or any other partner airline program.
What’s the best way to spend Etihad Guest miles?
Given the number of ways to spend Etihad Guest miles, a mile used is always better than a mile expired: but some redemption methods prove more rewarding than others.
As Etihad Airways is known for excellent inflight experiences in business class and first class, these are often highly sought after by Etihad Guest members (and therefore harder to get). If you’re happy in economy though, you’ll have a much easier time finding a seat.
Most partner reward flights must be booked over the phone. However, a select few can be made online, including Virgin Australia and American Airlines, with more to be rolled out in future.
Do I need an Etihad Guest membership card?
Etihad Guest members have access to a digital membership card via the Etihad website or mobile app, which can be presented if required: but usually, simply quoting your Etihad Guest membership number is all that’s needed to earn miles around the world.
Membership cards may be of better use for higher-tiered Gold and Platinum members seeking to access benefits with partner airlines, which may not have their reservation system integrated with Etihad, meaning your Etihad Guest status may not be reflected on the boarding pass.
Frequently asked questions
Can you join two Etihad Guest accounts?
Etihad Guest allows related members to create an Etihad Guest Family Membership profile, to which their individual Etihad Guest frequent flyer accounts can be linked.
Up to nine family members can join each Family Membership profile – then when it's time to book a holiday, the designated ‘head of the family’ can pool everybody’s miles together and spend them all on a single booking.
Each member of the family can also spend their own miles as desired, without going through the family system: but be aware, when linked with a Family Membership, the head of the family can access and spend your miles at any time.
On the earning front, each member continues to accrue miles (as well as Tier Miles and Tier Segments) on an individual basis.
Can you use Etihad Guest miles to upgrade on other airlines?
It’s generally not possible to upgrade on flights operated by partner airlines using your Etihad Guest miles.
However, depending on the airline, you may instead be able to purchase an upgrade using money or by spending miles from another frequent flyer program, such as Virgin Australia Velocity, to upgrade on Virgin Australia flights.
Can you convert credit card points into Etihad Guest miles?
As above, yes you can, provided your bank or credit card issuer is partnered with the Etihad Guest frequent flyer program to allow this.
In Australia, credit card points transfers to Etihad Guest are possible from American Express Membership Rewards, Citibank Rewards (for Prestige cardholders only), CommBank Awards, and Diners Club Rewards.
For cards in other countries, check with Etihad Guest, or with your card’s issuing bank.
Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to migrate an existing credit card account to one with the same issuer that can earn Etihad Guest miles, or an application for a new credit card elsewhere may also be an option to consider.
How do I claim missing Etihad Guest miles?
To claim missing miles on Etihad Airways flights, log into your Etihad Guest account and click on the "Claim missing miles" option. Once there, you'll be prompted to enter the ticket number and booking reference corresponding to the flight for which you did not earn miles.
After clicking ‘submit’, your miles will be credited once the airline confirms that the information you entered matches their records.