In September 2023, Air France KLM and Etihad Airways announced details of an expanded partnership, which included enhanced codeshare and interline agreements and greater collaboration between the airlines’ operations and loyalty programs.
However, the airlines have now launched reciprocal earning and redeeming privileges to the relationship, and the most exciting part is being able to redeem Air France KLM Flying Blue miles for flights with Etihad Airways.
Air France KLM and Etihad Airways Announce Frequent Flyer Partnership
Air France KLM and Etihad Airways have announced details of a new frequent flyer partnership, through which members of Flying Blue and Etihad Guest can earn and redeem miles in the loyalty program of their choice.
This means that you can opt to earn Etihad Guest miles when flying with Air France or KLM, or you could opt to earn Flying Blue miles when flying with Etihad Airways.
If you choose to earn Etihad Guest miles on Air France or KLM flights, you’ll earn miles at rates that differ, depending on if you’re flying on a short-, medium-, or long-haul flight.
The full breakdown of the earning rates can be found on the Etihad Airways website; however, the below table shows earning rates for long-haul flights with Air France:
While it’s possible to credit your Etihad Airways flights to Flying Blue, the earning rates weren’t published at the time of writing.
As it stands, Etihad Airways flies to a number of destinations across Europe, including Paris and Amsterdam, and the airline has excellent connectivity to destinations in the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.
Air France KLM has an excellent network across Europe, and the airlines also have greater coverage in North and South America, including many destinations that Etihad Airways doesn’t service. Air France inaugurated a Paris–Abu Dhabi route in late October, which was announced at the outset of the expanded partnership.
Etihad Guest underwent a devaluation in 2023, and while it’s now possible to redeem miles for flights with Air France and KLM, the award pricing isn’t competitive.
Redeem Flying Blue Miles for Etihad Airways
The most exciting part of this announcement is the ability to redeem Flying Blue miles for flights with Etihad Airways.
As a reminder, Air France KLM doesn’t publish an award chart for flights with partner airlines. When it comes to booking flights with Etihad Airways using Flying Blue miles, it appears that the pricing is done per route, rather than per region.
Looking at shorter-haul flights out of Abu Dhabi, some example prices are as follows:
- Abu Dhabi–Malé: 27,500 miles in business class, plus $154 (CAD) in taxes and fees
- Abu Dhabi–Muscat: 6,000 miles in business class, plus $154 (CAD) in taxes and fees
As for medium-haul flights to destinations in Asia and Europe, some example prices are as follows:
- Abu Dhabi–Bangkok: 45,500 miles in business class, plus $286 (CAD) in taxes and fees
- Abu Dhabi–London: 50,500 miles in business class, plus $284 (CAD) in taxes and fees
And for ultra-long-haul flights to North America and Oceania, example prices are as follows:
- Toronto–Abu Dhabi: 85,500 miles in business class, plus $302 (CAD) in taxes and fees
- Abu Dhabi– Melbourne: 89,500 miles in business class plus $312 (CAD) in taxes and fees
If you book multiple legs on Etihad Airways through Flying Blue, it looks like the pricing is simply additive.
For example, a one-way flight from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi costs 44,500 Flying Blue miles in business class, plus $365 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
And a one-way flight from Abu Dhabi to Singapore costs 45,000 Flying Blue miles in business class, plus $284 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
If you were to book these flights together, the total cost is the same as the sum of the two flights booked separately: 89,500 miles, plus $656 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
There’s a moderate amount of carrier surcharges imposed on these redemptions, which doesn’t come as a surprise, since paying a few hundred dollars for premium-cabin flights with Air France, KLM, and partner airlines is the norm with Flying Blue.
In terms of pricing, the cost of booking Etihad Airways through Flying Blue is somewhat competitive with other programs, which we’ll explore further below.
Fortunately, award availability for Etihad Airways flights is excellent, with multiple seats available on many dates throughout the next year.
At the moment, it’s not possible to redeem Flying Blue miles for Etihad Airways First Class. However, given that Flying Blue has been recently rolling out First Class partner redemptions, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this become a reality in the near future.
Which Program Is Best for Etihad Airways Redemptions?
With Etihad Airways flights now bookable with Air France KLM Flying Blue, we now have an option with popular loyalty programs in each of the three major airline alliances.
Each program has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to earning and redeeming, so let’s take a quick look at how it pertains to booking flights with Etihad Airways.
Aeroplan points are very easy to come by, since there are a number of co-branded credit cards in Canada, as well as the Chase Aeroplan Card in the United States. Aeroplan is also a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards in Canada, as well as American Express US Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Chase Ultimate Rewards in the US.
There are a number of great uses of Aeroplan points for booking flights with Etihad Airways, since the program has a generous stopover policy and competitive award pricing. However, there have been some ongoing issues with access to Etihad Airways business class and First Class award seats for quite some time, and there’s no telling if/when the issues will be resolved.
On the other hand, American Airlines AAdvantage miles are comparatively more difficult to come by. The program is a transfer partner with RBC Avion in Canada at a 1:0.7 ratio, and in the US, there are a number of co-branded credit cards.
However, aside from converting Marriott Bonvoy points to AAdvantage miles, there aren’t any other transfer partners, which makes miles rather difficult to come by.
Booking Etihad Airways with AAdvantage miles can lead to some great redemptions, such as Etihad Airways First Class between Abu Dhabi and London for 62,500 miles, or Etihad Airways business class from North America to Abu Dhabi for 70,000 miles.
When it comes to Flying Blue, you can earn miles in Canada on the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, or by transferring American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:0.75 ratio.
In the United States, you can earn Flying Blue miles on the Bank of America Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard, or by transferring Amex US MR, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.
We now know that Etihad Airways redemptions through Flying Blue are relatively competitive with the other programs. While you might pay a bit more in miles and carrier-imposed surcharges, Flying Blue miles are relatively easy to access, and the award availability is great.
When it comes to booking long-haul premium award flights with Etihad Airways with the aforementioned programs, we can summarize the pros and cons as follows:
- Aeroplan points are easy to come by, but difficult to redeem at the moment for long-haul Etihad Airways premium cabins
- AAdvantage miles are comparatively difficult to come by, but easy to redeem for long-haul Etihad Airways premium cabins
- Flying Blue miles are relatively easy to come by, and fairly easy to redeem for long-haul Etihad Airways business class flights
Air France KLM and Etihad Airways have announced further details of their expanded partnership. It’s now possible to earn and redeem Etihad Guest miles on Air France & KLM flights, and to earn and redeem Flying Blue miles on Etihad Airways flights.
The most exciting part of this development is booking flights with Etihad Airways through Flying Blue, since it’s relatively easy to earn Flying Blue miles, and the program has competitive award pricing.
We’re hopeful that Flying Blue will roll out redemptions for Etihad Airways First Class in the near future, but until then, we now have another option for accessing short-, medium-, and long-haul economy and business class flights with Etihad Airways using points.