Etihad tightens the screws on Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme

By Chris C., September 7 2017
Etihad tightens the screws on Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme

Only two years after the last major revamp of the Etihad Guest frequent flyer program, and just nine months after Etihad's Silver frequent flyers lost worldwide lounge access, the airline is rolling out a new batch of changes – and, for the most part, it’s not good news.

Included among the tweaks: less time for top-tier frequent flyers to enjoy their status, higher fees and more points required to book some Etihad Airways flights, and more miles needed to upgrade to business class or first class.

However, Etihad is softening the blow by increasing benefits for some frequent flyer members and boosting the number of miles earned on higher-priced fares – so however you travel, here’s what you need to know.

Better lounge access for Etihad Guest Gold frequent flyers

Most welcome under this revamp is improved airport lounge access for Etihad Guest Gold members in Abu Dhabi, who will be welcomed into the Etihad Airways business class lounges in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 from October 8 2017.

That’s in place of access to the significantly smaller (and often busier) Al Reem Lounge – located next door to Etihad’s business class lounge in Terminal 1 – and avoids the need to hike in between terminals for lounge access when flying from Terminal 3, as is currently the case.

However, in an email sent to Etihad Guest members overnight, the airlines notes that access to the Al Reem lounge may still be offered to Gold members during peak periods with the business class lounges are at full capacity.

Virgin Australia Velocity Gold members travelling with Etihad Airways in economy will continue to use the Al Reem Lounge, with Velocity Platinum members having access to the Etihad first class lounge.

Benefit period for Gold, Platinum frequent flyers halved

Gold frequent flyers may be getting a better lounge in Abu Dhabi, but they’ll only get access to it – and Etihad Guest Gold’s many other benefits – for one year at a time when qualifying as a new Gold member from October 8 2017: halved from two years of benefits at present.

New Etihad Guest Platinum members will also get one year of benefits rather than two, when qualifying for their Platinum membership on or from the same date.

Silver membership remains a one-year affair.

More miles needed for business class, first class upgrades

Want to escape the confines of economy, or upgrade your business class seat to a first class suite?

You’ll need more miles to do so from January 15 2018, although Etihad is yet to publish its new upgrade rates, saying only that “you will notice an increase of the miles required for upgrades”.

Hoping for an Etihad first class upgrade? You'll need more miles from the New Year
Hoping for an Etihad first class upgrade? You'll need more miles from the New Year

Presently, Etihad business class passengers can upgrade to first class for 68,399 miles on Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights (except from Business Saver fares), while upgrades from economy to business class on eligible tickets cost between 45,599 and 91,198 miles on the same route, depending on the fare type purchased.

New Etihad Guest redemption rates

Also changing from January 15 2018, the number of miles needed to book outright reward flights with Etihad Airways, with some flights requiring fewer miles to book than today, and others needing more.

As with changes to its upgrade rates, Etihad has not yet published its new reward rates, noting only that the move is “to keep our fares competitive”.

Fees on Etihad Guest reward bookings hiked

When booking Etihad Airways flights using Etihad miles, the airline currently applies a charge of US$150 in first class, US$100 in business class and US$50 in economy – payable in addition to any government and airport taxes and fees.

For new bookings made from January 15 2018, this ‘carrier charge’ will increase to US$150 in business class and US$200 in first class on “some routes”, although in keeping coy, those routes haven’t yet been named.

Earn more miles on the most expensive fares

For flights taken from October 8 2017, passengers on the most expensive business class and first class tickets will earn more miles than they do today.

At the very front, booking a full-fare first class ticket (F class) will fetch 2.75 miles per one mile flown – up from 2.5 at present – while full-fare business class passengers (on J class tickets) will find their haul boosted from 1.75 to 2.0 Etihad Guest miles per one mile flown.

Earn more miles in your sleep when travelling on a full-fare ticket
Earn more miles in your sleep when travelling on a full-fare ticket

All other Etihad fare types will continue earning miles at the current rates, including four miles per mile flown in The Residence.

Welcome bonus miles wound back

New to the Etihad Guest program? It’s customary to receive 500 bonus miles when you first earn miles in your account, such as from taking a flight, staying in a participating hotel or transferring miles across from your points-earning credit card, like the American Express Explorer card.

From October 8, that bonus will be wound back, and only awarded if the first time you earn Etihad Guest miles is from an Etihad Airways, Air Serbia or Air Seychelles flight: not if your first miles-earning transaction is a flight with a different airline, or from a partner on the ground like a hotel or bank.

Chris C.

A former contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

08 Feb 2016

Total posts 14

A lot of people are expecting pjs on long haul flights are going to be disappointed because they were deleated as of last August . 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

While their hard product in F remains one of the best around, the soft product and ground experience have been slowly deteriorating over the past year or so.

I am glad I cashed in all my EY points and will use EY when the fare is good but have moved a lot of flying back to QR and EK.

I think EY are losing the battle in the ME3.

07 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

I returned fm London last week with EY in First Class. I last flew with them a year ago, and consistently fly in their First class 1-2 times per year to Europe or the Gulf. There is no doubt their A380 First Class product is the best, but I can notice subtle cuts with the loss of the pick-up service, they have tweaked the on- board service slightly and done away with some of the small personal touches. Hwvr they did hand out PJ's fm Abu Dhabi to Sydney. The new first class lounge in T3 at Abu Dhabi was also a major let down. They still dont hv enough showers for peak times, and the service in the lounge alot to be desired. Unless you were sittting at the bar or at a restaurant table, service was non existent. For the time it took to renovate the lounge, the differences dont elevate it to a memorable lounge experience, unlike some other airline's First Class lounges (Qatar or even QF).


03 May 2013

Total posts 654

This airline is Gulf Air all over again - 80% of its leaders and managers are ex Gulf Air. To think GF was the entire Gulf airline its now a mediocre small airline with the poorest soft and hard product in the Gulf. EY needs be absorbed by EK simple.

25 Feb 2012

Total posts 78

I have know idea why my posts have been appearing under Melbin !  I have changed my password and will see what happen

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 173

Just got home from Abu Dhabi. The screws have indeed tightened on EY. ...I'll expand upon in the community section.

09 Sep 2017

Total posts 1

I am a Gold Etihad Guest memeber, having lived in Abu Dhabi for many years and flown with Etihad even longer. The airline has noticebaly been “tightening their screws” in virtually every aspect of their business for the past two years now, and I can honetly say in many aspects of their operations, some budget airlines do a better job. Just last week on a flight from Beirut to Abu Dhabi, a full flight, the crew ran out of food by row 34. Crew were very aplogetic but has not alternatives. In recent times, Etihad has dropped meal choices, stoped offering basics such as coffee, hot chocolate, a variety of drinks and snacks even on long haul flights, increased taxes and reduced benefits for Guest members. I understand that many companies based in the UAE are panicking wth increasin oil prices, however there is no excuse for Etihad to take such drastic action at the detriment of their services and impacting loyal customers who expect much better from them, particularly since they are still making billions of dollars of profits. If they are assuming that their customers are noticing these detrimental changes, then they are wrong- I heard so many people complaiing on evert flights I take with Etihad of late. I have accured many Etihad miles which I was hoping to use in the coming months, but with these changes, I wish I had stayed loyal to other airlines such as Qatar, which has much better service and much better customer loyalty. Shame on you Etihad.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 40

What size range were the PJs anyway? Always annoys me off when airlines or whoever hand out things too small for the average Aussie. It's like trying to buy a T-shirt in Asia - lol.

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