Ouch! Etihad Guest hits members with harsh devaluation

Velocity Frequent Flyers have lost access to some great Etihad Guest sweet spots

Etihad’s frequent flyer loyalty program has devalued Etihad Guest miles as part of a program overhaul.

While the devaluation is on the harsher side of what we’ve seen – with the cost of some partner airline award redemptions more than doubling – we can’t say it has come as a shock.

The change comes just weeks after Etihad quietly published an announcement saying it will “simplify” its award charts.

It’s safe to say these efforts to simplify the program have not worked in favour of award bookings, so it could be wise to get acquainted with the airline’s new award charts.

New award pricing: What’s the damage?

Etihad Guest award pricing has now changed to a “simplified redemption rate”, meaning there is one award rate for any destination within one geographic zone.

etihad guest devaluation - important updates for you

Basically, Etihad Guest members now need more miles to redeem flights across most of Etihad’s network. In saying this, the changes to Etihad’s own award chart are not as drastic as we expected.

The table below outlines the number of Guest miles you’ll need to redeem an Etihad GuestSeat.

Distance (miles)EconomyBusinessFirst
0-5007,000 Guest miles20,000 Guest miles40,000 Guest miles
501-1,00011,000 Guest miles25,000 Guest miles50,000 Guest miles
1,001-1,50013,000 Guest miles30,000 Guest miles60,000 Guest miles
1,501-2,00017,000 Guest miles45,000 Guest miles90,000 Guest miles
2,001-2,50022,000 Guest miles50,000 Guest miles100,000 Guest miles
2,501-3,00027,000 Guest miles60,000 Guest miles120,000 Guest miles
3,001-4,00032,000 Guest miles70,000 Guest miles140,000 Guest miles
4,001-5,00037,000 Guest miles75,000 Guest miles150,000 Guest miles
5,001-6,00045,000 Guest miles100,000 Guest miles200,000 Guest miles
6,000+60,000 Guest miles110,000 Guest miles220,000 Guest miles

What does this mean? Essentially, you’ll be paying more for award seats on Etihad Airways – especially if you’re booking first and business class seats.

For example, a first class award redemption from Abu Dhabi to Paris has increased from 85,294 to 140,000 Guest miles – especially bad news for those who were hoping to have an indulgent Champagne holiday for under 100,000 miles!

It’s worth noting that the rates on Etihad’s award chart list the minimum miles. Thanks (or not) to Etihad’s dynamic pricing, your redemption could cost even more depending on demand and availability.

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Partner airlines: So long sweet spots!

Here’s where the real damage is for Australian-based frequent flyers.

Etihad Guest previously offered some worthy sweet spots, with Virgin Australia, with Sydney to Queenstown in business class previously costing 13,800 Guest Miles (plus carrier charges).

Now, thanks to the distance-based chart, the same redemption costs a whopping 30,000 miles (plus carrier charges) – more than double!

The same redemption costs 35,500 points in Virgin Australia’s own program, Velocity Frequent Flyer, but while Etihad’s updated award rate is still cheaper, it’s no where near as outstanding as it once was.

Here are the Etihad Guest miles you’ll need to fly on Etihad’s partner airlines:

Distance (miles)EconomyPremium EconomyBusinessFirst
0-5006,000 Guest miles7,500 Guest miles10,000 Guest miles14,000 Guest miles
501-1,00012,000 Guest miles13,000 Guest miles20,000 Guest miles27,000 Guest miles
1,001-1,50015,000 Guest miles19,000 Guest miles30,000 Guest miles40,000 Guest miles
1,501-2,00023,000 Guest miles25,000 Guest miles40,000 Guest miles54,000 Guest miles
2,001-2,50028,000 Guest miles31,000 Guest miles50,000 Guest miles67,000 Guest miles
2,501-3,00034,000 Guest miles37,000 Guest miles60,000 Guest miles80,000 Guest miles
3,001-4,00045,000 Guest miles49,000 Guest miles80,000 Guest miles107,000 Guest miles
4,001-5,00060,000 Guest miles62,000 Guest miles100,000 Guest miles134,000 Guest miles
5,001-6,00067,000 Guest miles74,000 Guest miles120,000 Guest miles160,000 Guest miles
6,000+75,000 Guest miles90,000 Guest miles140,000 Guest miles200,000 Guest miles

An upside to the previous program’s quirky award charts is that they hid many niche sweet spots favoured amongst savvy frequent flyers.

While the devaluation has improved the ease of use, these sweet spots have all but disappeared.

Eithad Guest miles can secure you a business class seat on Virgin Australia

Any good news?

Previously, Etihad Guest operates a different award chart for each airline partner, with award bookings for all partner airlines only able to be secured over the phone to the Etihad Guest call centre – a less than ideal process.

In somewhat good news, the Etihad Guest overhaul has resulted in the ability for frequent flyers to redeem Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia and American Airlines flights online.

It is a win for Australian and American-based flyers to have access to online redemptions onboard Virgin Australia and American Airlines flights. In saying this, all other partner airline redemptions can still only be made through the Etihad call centre.

Final thoughts

Admittingly, Etihad’s award charts weren’t all that user-friendly, so they were due for an overhaul, but it has come at a big cost.

Frequent flyer program devaluations are inevitable, but Etihad’s recent changes on the more extreme side.

While it is now a lot easier to use Etihad Guest miles to book award seats on some partner airlines, the devaluation has seen a massive increase in the cost of partner airline redemptions, effectively removing sweet spots.

In summary, the redemption process will become easier, but likely at the cost of higher award rates. If nothing else, this devaluation is a timely reminder that stockpiling frequent flyer points does not come without risks.

When collecting frequent flyer points, always remember that airlines reserve the right to change award availability and pricing at any time, so it’s always best to lock in redemptions in good time.

Did you lock in your Etihad award redemptions before the devaluation?

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