Etihad Airways, with its global hub in Abu Dhabi, is one of the national airlines of the United Arab Emirates – a title it shares with Dubai-based Emirates.
In Canada and the US, the carrier flies to Toronto, Washington DC, New York, and Chicago.
Etihad Guest is the airline’s frequent flyer program that unlocks redemption possibilities across all its cabins, including its lavish First Class.
The program also allows redemptions on a long list of airline partners, which include Air Canada, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and American Airlines, among others.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Etihad Guest, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning Etihad Guest Miles
There are a number of ways to earn Etihad miles, but the best way is by transferring points from a partner program.
Transferring from Other Programs
While Etihad doesn’t offer any co-branded credit card in Canada nor the US, you can still earn Etihad miles by transferring from credit card programs.
In Canada, you can convert American Express Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 point = 0.75 mile.
Meanwhile, in the US, you can transfer points from the following credit card programs at a rate of 1 point = 1 mile:
Marriott Bonvoy points could be transferred to Etihad Guest at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 mile, with a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.
Even with the bonus, it’s an unfavourable exchange altogether, so you should only convert your Marriott Bonvoy points to Etihad miles when you need a top-up on a planned redemption. Otherwise, you should save your Bonvoy points for aspirational hotel and resort stays.
Other than Marriott Bonvoy, you could also transfer points from the following hotel programs at suboptimal rates:
Accor Live Limitless: 2 points = 1 mile
Hilton Honors: 10 points = 1 mile
IHG: 5 points = 1 mile
Radisson Rewards: 10 points = 1 mile
Shangri-La Circle: 1 point = 1 mile
World of Hyatt: 2.5 points = 1 mile
Flying with Etihad Airways
When you fly with Etihad Airways, the number of miles you’ll earn is based on the distance you’re flying, as well as the booking class of your ticket. You’ll also earn more miles as an elite member of Etihad Guest.
The miles you’ll earn is based on the following table:
For example, a one-way flight from Abu Dhabi to London, with a distance of 3,403 miles, will yield you the following:
You can check how many miles you’ll earn on your flight by using Etihad’s miles calculator.
Flying with Partners
When you fly on a paid ticket with one of Etihad’s partners, you can credit your miles to your Etihad Guest account. In order to do so, you must add your Etihad Guest number during booking or check-in.
Etihad Airways isn’t a member of any airline alliance, but it has a long list of partner airlines as noted below.
The following are Etihad’s partners:
- Air New Zealand
- Air Canada
- Air Serbia
- Air Europa
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- American Airlines
- Asiana Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- El Al
- Garuda Indonesia
- Gulf Air
- Hainan Airlines
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Oman Air
- Royal Air Maroc
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
- SriLankan Airlines
- Virgin Australia
In addition, you’ll earn Etihad miles when you fly an Etihad codeshare flight (sold as an EY flight number), as operated by the following carriers:
- Aer Lingus
- Air France
- Bangkok Airways
- China Eastern
- ITA Airways
- Kuwait Airways
- Middle East Airlines
- Royal Jordanian
- Turkish Airlines
When flying with partner airlines, the number of miles you’ll earn depends on the airline you’re flying with, as each airline has its own accrual policies.
Buy Etihad Guest Miles
The quickest way to accumulate Etihad miles is by buying them from Etihad Airways itself.
By default, a block of 1,000 Etihad miles can be purchased for $20 (USD) or 2 cents per mile. Per calendar year, you’re allowed to buy up to 100,000 miles, or 150,000 if you’re an Etihad Guest Platinum member.
Sometimes, the airline holds promotions that entail up to 70% bonus miles. If you chance upon a 70% bonus promotion, your acquisition cost drops to 1.2 cents per mile (USD).
Alternatively, you can multiply your miles earned up to 3x through MilesBooster. Flight and non-flight activity can be boosted for 1.8 cents per mile (USD), up to a maximum of 100,000 miles per year.
Other Ways to Earn Etihad Guest Miles
You can also earn Etihad Guest Miles through other means, including hotel stays, car rentals, and shopping. Be sure to quote your Etihad Guest number during your transaction, so you’ll be credited the miles you’re entitled to.
When you book your accommodations with the following hotel chains and booking websites, you’ll earn miles at the following rates:
- Agoda: up to 10,000 miles
- Booking.com: 3–6 miles per dollar (USD) spent
- Hyatt: 500 miles per stay
- IHG: 500 miles per stay
- Marriott International: up to 2 miles per dollar (USD) spent
- Rocketmiles: up to 10,000 miles per night
- Shangri-La: 500 miles per stay
For car rentals, you can earn Etihad miles with the following companies:
- Avis: up to 7.5 miles per dollar (USD) spent plus up to 5,000 bonus miles
- Budget: up to 7.5 miles per dollar (USD) spent plus up to 5,000 bonus miles
Etihad Guest also has its own hotel and car rental booking portal called Travel Rewards. When you book a hotel, you may earn at least 1,000 miles per night, while for car rentals, you may earn at least 250 miles per day.
Redeeming Etihad Guest Miles
There are a number of ways to redeem Etihad Guest miles; however, you’ll get the most value by redeeming your miles for award flights.
Flights on Etihad
Etihad Guest recently shifted to simple distance-based charts for flight awards. Unfortunately, this change meant higher redemption costs, be it for Etihad or partner flights.
Plus, Etihad tacks on hefty carrier-imposed surcharges to redemptions, making them even less appealing.
For flights operated by Etihad, the chart below displays the minimum number of miles required for redemption:
Again, the table shows minimum redemption amounts, as Etihad still applies dynamic pricing through GuestSeats and OpenSeats.
GuestSeats are similar to “Saver” awards or lower-priced redemptions. Exclusive to Etihad Guest members, GuestSeats are priced based on the redemption table above.
Meanwhile, OpenSeats are higher-priced redemptions, but are more widely available. These seats are dynamically priced, meaning their prices are tied to their actual cost in cash.
OpenSeats are available under three classes: Value, Choice, and Choice Plus. Each fare class has its inclusions and restrictions.
Let’s take Toronto to Abu Dhabi as an example. The flight, which covers under a distance of 6,920 miles, falls under the 6,001+ miles distance band, and costs 110,000 miles in business class under GuestSeats.
The same flight becomes a lot more expensive under OpenSeats. While you’ll find more availability, you’ll need almost 440,000 miles to redeem under the Value fare class.
By comparison, the same Etihad business class flight costs 90,000 points as a partner redemption on Aeroplan. Of course, you’ll need to find availability, which can be difficult with Etihad flights these days.
For connecting flights, Etihad cumulatively adds the redemption cost of each segment, rather than pricing the total distance as a one-way bound. This means that, unlike other programs, you won’t get a “discount” on connecting flights or married segments.
As an example, let’s take Toronto to Kuala Lumpur via Abu Dhabi in business class. Toronto to Abu Dhabi, which covers a distance of 6,920 miles, costs 110,000 miles. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur, which covers a distance of 3,470 miles, costs 70,000 miles.
Separately as one-way bounds or together as one ticket, the redemption costs 180,000 miles either way, under GuestSeats.
By comparison, Aeroplan adds the distance of the Toronto-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi-Kuala Lumpur segments, and prices them accordingly as a one-way bound. Hence, with Aeroplan, the same business class redemption costs 87,500 points – markedly less than Etihad’s own program.
To help you figure out how many miles you’ll need to redeem, you may use the miles calculator on the Etihad website.
Flights on Partner Airlines
Etihad has a separate distance-based redemption chart for partner airline flights, but unlike flights on Etihad, partner redemptions aren’t dynamically priced.
While you won’t be redeeming exorbitant numbers of points on partner flights, you’re limited to “Saver” award availability, or low-priced flights partner airlines make available to each other.
When redeeming partner flights, keep in mind that only American Airlines and Virgin Australia flights are bookable online. All other partner flights must be booked over the phone, which is a cumbersome process.
Let’s take an American Airlines flight as an example. A one-way economy flight from Los Angeles to Miami costs 28,000 miles. Notice how there isn’t any availability on business class (also known as Flagship First), which is hard to redeem outside American Airlines AAdvantage.
Next, let’s use ANA business class from Vancouver to Tokyo as a second example. The trans-Pacific crossing, which covers 4,700 miles, falls under the 4,001-5,000 miles distance band, and costs 100,000 miles per way.
The same partner redemption with Aeroplan costs only 55,000 points, making it one of the program’s sweet spots.
You can also use your Etihad Guest miles to upgrade your seat by one cabin on Etihad-operated flights. How many miles you’ll need for the upgrade depends on your initial fare and cabin class.
For instance, a one-way upgrade from Toronto to Abu Dhabi costs the following miles:
Since upgrading with miles costs way less than redeeming for a ticket outright, going this route might make sense if you find a good deal on a paid ticket.
To know how many miles you’d need to upgrade on a specific route, you may use the miles calculator on the Etihad website.
Other Ways to Redeem Etihad Guest Miles
In addition to booking award flights and upgrades, you can redeem your Etihad Guest miles in a few other ways. Generally speaking, however, you won’t get as much value as redeeming your miles for flights.
First, you may redeem your miles for hotels or car rentals through Etihad’s in-house Travel Rewards portal. You’ll get a value of around 0.9 cent per point (USD) if you redeem this way.
You may also redeem your miles for a wide variety of merchandise through the Etihad Guest Reward Shop, which allows global delivery, including to Canada and the US.
Etihad Guest Sweet Spots
As the recent changes on redemptions came into effect, the Etihad Guest sweet spots became few and far between. However, there still are ways for you to make the most out of your miles.
First, let’s explore redemptions on Etihad flights. Currently, the best way to maximize your redemption is by flying Etihad’s longest routes, since the 6,001+ miles per segment distance band has no ceiling.
Currently, the longest routes Etihad operates are from Abu Dhabi to Toronto, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Assuming you find GuestSeats availability on these routes to/from North America and Australia, you’ll only need to pay 60,000 miles in economy, 110,000 miles in business class, and 220,000 miles in First Class.
The GuestSeats pricing for long-haul First Class is especially reasonable at 220,000 miles. A one-way Washington DC to Abu Dhabi First Class ticket, for instance, usually retails for about $9,000 (USD).
Plus, you’re likelier to find Etihad First Class availability on its in-house program than its partners.
Now, let’s look at some sweet spots on Etihad Guest partners, starting with American Airlines.
Since American Airlines notoriously imposes dynamic pricing on its own flights, you might find better redemption value with Etihad Guest.
Assuming you find availability, you can redeem your Etihad miles on the following American Airlines premium flights:
- Los Angeles to Sydney (7,488 miles): 200,000 miles in First Class
- Charlotte to London (3,992 miles): 80,000 miles in business class
- Philadelphia to Barcelona (3,984 miles): 80,000 miles in business class
Next, let’s look at redemption possibilities on Virgin Australia. Domestic flights within Australia are usually affordable, so let’s focus on international routes.
Virgin Australia is one of the few airlines that fly to Port Vila, Vanuatu and Apia, Samoa; thus, understandably, airfares to these Pacific Islands can be quite expensive.
With Etihad Guest, you can redeem a one-way economy ticket from Brisbane to Port Vila for 15,000 miles, or from Brisbane to Apia for 28,000 miles.
Over on to Africa, flying within the region can be expensive, especially to underserved airports. Fortunately, you can redeem Etihad miles on Royal Air Maroc and fly to destinations in Western Africa.
Examples of redemptions you can explore are:
- Casablanca to Accra, Ghana (1,968 miles): 23,000 miles in economy
- Casablanca to Dakar, Senegal (1,418 miles): 15,000 miles in economy
- Casablanca to Lagos, Nigeria (1,971 miles): 23,000 miles in economy
Etihad Guest Tips & Tricks
The first tip you need to know is Etihad Guest’s miles pooling feature. Akin to Aeroplan Family Sharing, you can invite up to seven more members into your family group, so you can redeem your miles collectively.
While the terms state that family members must be immediate family or extended relatives, Etihad Guest doesn’t require proof of relationship.
As for redeeming, here’s a tip to navigate partner award bookings. As mentioned in the previous section, the only partner flights you can book online are on American Airlines and Virgin Australia. For all other partners, you’d need to call in, and it’s a cumbersome process that might not be worth the effort.
However, you can make the process less complicated by looking up the flights you’re interested in before calling. You can do so by looking up availability through other airlines’ programs.
Generally speaking, available award inventory is shared among an airline’s partners, usually as so-called “Saver” awards.
Thus, you can, for example, use United’s booking engine to look at available Asiana Airlines or Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) availability.
Meanwhile, you can use Air Canada’s booking engine to look at Air Serbia or Brussels Airlines redemptions.
Etihad Guest Status
Etihad Guest has four membership tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. In order to reach the next tier, you must credit enough Tier Miles or Tier Segments.
Tier Miles are distinct from miles used for redemptions, and they’re earned by flying with Etihad or a partner airline on paid flights.
You’ll earn Tier Miles based on your distance flown and cabin. Per mile flown, you’ll get 1 Tier Mile in economy, 1.5 Tier Miles in business class, and 2 Tier Miles in First Class.
Tier Segments, on the other hand, are counted by the number of segments you fly, and you’ll get more as you fly a premium cabin. You’ll get 1 Tier Segment in economy, 1.5 Tier Segments in business class, and 2 Tier Segments in First Class.
Unfortunately, not all partner airlines will earn you Tier Miles and/or Tier Segments. For example, Air Canada flights will not earn you Tier Miles, while Air New Zealand flights will not earn you Tier Segments nor Tier Miles.
All in all, you’ll need to accomplish the following to progress to the next tier:
- Silver: 25,000 Tier Miles or 20 Tier Segments
- Gold: 50,000 Tier Miles or 40 Tier Segments
- Platinum : 125,000 Tier Miles or 60 Tier Segments
Once you reach a higher tier, you’ll benefit from that tier for one year, plus two bonus months.
Meanwhile, to retain your current status, you’ll need the following:
- Silver: 20,000 Tier Miles or 15 Tier Segments
- Gold: 40,000 Tier Miles or 30 Tier Segments
- Platinum : 100,000 Tier Miles or 48 Tier Segments
As an Etihad Guest elite member, you’ll receive a wide range of benefits, including:
- Bonus Etihad Guest miles
- Guaranteed reservations
- Priority check-in, immigration, boarding, and baggage
- Chauffeur service on business class and First Class redemptions
- Discount on instant upgrade with miles at the airport
- Onboard wi-fi discount
- Premium check-in with partner airlines
- Lounge access
- Extra baggage
When compared to other programs, Etihad Guest doesn’t provide as much value when redeeming for flights.
Recent changes to redemptions have caused the program’s miles to be less valuable than before. Award redemptions hiked in price, and nearly all “sweet spots” have evaporated.
Still, there’s value to be found within Etihad Guest, especially when redeeming for flights that would otherwise be expensive when paid for in cash.
As for Etihad Guest’s partners, you can explore redemptions on Virgin Australia, which flies to less explored Pacific Islands, or Royal Air Maroc, which flies to cities in Western Africa. Tickets to these destinations are typically pricey, since not many airlines serve them.