(EDIT: I wrote this post last night. Overnight, Etihad has changed the rules and added a ‘UAE residents only’ restriction. This is the 2nd time in a week that Etihad has changed the rules of a promotion half way through.
There is a workaround if this offer would genuinely be useful to you. Apply using a UAE address picked at random. Once matched, change your address back to the UK and order a replacement Etihad card. I did this once with an Alitalia status match for Italian residents ….!)
Abu Dhabi based Etihad has brought back its annual ‘Gold status match’. This allows you to get an Etihad Gold card in return for proof of your Gold status with British Airways or any other major airline.
Now, this being Etihad, the offer has a few quirks attached to it. However, they are generally positive:
Etihad is NOT adjusting, it seems, for the different terminology used by different airlines. BA Gold is BA’s top tier. Cathay Pacific Gold, on the other hand, is really the same as BA Silver. However, as far as Etihad is concerned, BA Gold and Cathay Gold both qualify for the purposes of this match.
Because of the way the Etihad scheme works, your Gold status may be valid until March 2017. You will receive the rest of the year you quality (ie the rest of 2014) plus the next two full years (2015 and 2016). If you don’t requalify, you don’t drop down until March the following year (ie March 2017). That is actually three years of Gold status!
(It is not certain that you will get the full period with a status match. However, if you had achieved Gold ‘the hard way’ then that is how it would work.)
The match is usually limited. Not everyone who applies is accepted. Etihad prioritises spots based on your flight history (they ask to see a copy of your statement as well as your Gold card.)
The benefits may be useful even if you never fly on Etihad.
The key Etihad benefit is lounge access for you and a guest whenever you fly them. In Abu Dhabi you need to use the Al Reem lounge, but at other airports you are allowed into the main Pearl Business Class lounge.
You will also receive lounge access when you fly with Etihad’s partner airlines. These are:
airberlin (only when the lounge is operated by airberlin)
Air Serbia (Belgrade only)
Air Seychelles (Seychelles only)
Garuda (Jakarta only)
SriLankan Airlines (Colombo only)
You will also receive priority boarding, premium class check-in and additional baggage allowance with most of these airlines.
There is also another sneaky reason to get Etihad Gold. It may allow you to match to another Gold card later on, with a different airline. As your Etihad Gold may be valid until 2017, there are plenty of potential opportunities.
Full details can be found on the Etihad website here. The deadline to apply is February 22nd.