Well this came out of the blue!
Air Canada and Aeroplan have today announced the introduction of Etihad Airways as a brand-new airline partner. Starting today, Aeroplan members may now earn and redeem Aeroplan miles on flights operated by the Abu Dhabi-based UAE flag carrier.
With Etihad being one of the most highly-regarded premium airlines around the world with one of the most sought-after First Class products, this is a groundbreaking – dare I even say, earth-shattering – development for those of us who collect Aeroplan miles.
Redeem Aeroplan Miles on Etihad Airways
The most exciting part of this equation is no doubt the ability to redeem Aeroplan miles for aspirational flights in Etihad Airways business class and First Class.
Etihad Airways slots in seamlessly alongside the other 34 Aeroplan partner airlines, which means that:
Etihad flights will be subject the Aeroplan Reward Chart, available here.
Members will be able to book Etihad flights online at Aeroplan.com as well as via the contact centre.
Etihad flights can be combined with flights operated by Air Canada and other international partners on the same ticket.
Fuel surcharges will not apply on Etihad operated flights.
Etihad award space has already been loaded into the Aeroplan search engine, and the award availability across all cabins (including First Class on the Boeing 777, Boeing 787, and Airbus A380 Apartments) seems to align with the award space that’s available to Etihad themselves and their other partners.
Get ready for the Etihad Apartments, everyone!
Perhaps even two seats on the way back from Australia?
Or perhaps a 16-hour-25-minute ride in the Etihad Business Studio?
Or a direct flight into Toronto?
When searching for availability, instead of searching one day at a time on the Aeroplan search engine, remember that you can use ExpertFlyer to search an entire week’s worth of dates at a time as well.
While the space is showing up online, many search results lead to the following screen when you actually try to book, which suggests to me that the booking functionality on Etihad is still being rolled out gradually, and I’d expect these issues to resolve themselves shortly.
Better yet, call centre agents will be able to access Etihad Airways space when piecing together itineraries, which means that you’ll be able to book things like New York JFK–Abu Dhabi–Sydney for a total of 27 hours on the A380 First Class Apartments for only 110,000 Aeroplan miles one-way!
In fact, the quirk of the award chart means that flying to Sydney actually saves you miles, because a direct First Class flight between New York JFK and Abu Dhabi (in the Middle East & North Africa region) would actually cost 115,000 Aeroplan miles.
And what about New York JFK–Abu Dhabi–Baku, which is in Europe 2, for only 80,000 Aeroplan miles in a mix of First Class and business class?
For those concerned that Etihad might be phasing out their Airbus A380s – and the famous single-aisle First Class Apartments cabin – due to the effects of COVID-19, you can rest easy in the CEO’s declaration that the airline’s A380s will certainly take to the skies again.
I had the pleasure of flying Etihad Airways First Class on both the 787 and the A380 back in March, and I’m looking forward to publishing those reviews.
You can look forward to a dazzling onboard product on the A380 Apartments with a separate seat and lie-flat bed, a pseudo-Double Bed in the Sky, and genuinely world-class food and drink.
That’s in addition to the First Class Lounge on the ground in Abu Dhabi as well, where you can expect to be treated to à la carte dining, a spectacular bar, and even a fitness centre in the lounge!
Prior to this development, Etihad was a relatively tough airline for Canadian travellers to book. You could book via the airline’s own Etihad Guest award program, but you’d be subject to very high mileage costs and fuel surcharges on top of that. Meanwhile, you could also book via American Airlines AAdvantage, but it was rather tough to accumulate a meaningful quantity of AAdvantage miles for a high-value reward.
Not only do Aeroplan miles now represent the single best way for Canadians to try the Etihad Apartments and Etihad’s other premium products, but I’m convinced that Etihad Airways is now the single most valuable use of Aeroplan miles full stop.
I bet those of you who purchased miles under the recent 115% bonus are now jumping for joy!
Earn Aeroplan Miles on Etihad Airways
As something of an afterthought in comparison to the new redemption opportunity, Aeroplan members may now also earn miles when crediting their paid Etihad flights to the program.
The earning rates for Etihad flights are as follows:
So hey, those of you who regularly book The Residence to get to your destination can now look forward to earning 250% Aeroplan miles on your flight. For most of us, though, I imagine we’ll be busy putting our Amex MR points and Aeroplan miles to work on this incredible new opportunity to book with Etihad Airways.
So, who’s going to be stuck in their Apartments in 2020 in a whole new way?! 😉
Aeroplan has let us know previously that they’re hard at work setting up the program for its relaunch later this year, and the introduction of Etihad Airways as a brand-new partner has turned up the heat significantly. Etihad’s Business Studio, 787 and 777 First Class, and A380 First Class Apartments are now significantly easier to book than before, and I’m sure many of us are mad-dashing to search for availability as we speak.
This isn’t the end, either: Aeroplan has indicated that we can expect further announcements about additional airline partners in the coming weeks, and if Etihad’s arrival is anything to go by, I think it’s safe to say that we can all be very excited.