Next week I will publish the review of my recent First Class and Business Class flights to Abu Dhabi on Etihad. It won’t be giving much away to say that I was very impressed.
I ‘paid’ for that flight using American Express Membership Rewards points transferred to Etihad Guest during a 20% bonus promotion last Autumn. The promotion is now back and it is even more generous.
You can find full details on the Etihad website here.
For every Membership Rewards transfer you make to Etihad Guest before 11th March, you will receive a 25% bonus.
This is not just a UK deal. The participating American Express cardholder countries are Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Bahrain, Great Britain, Korea, Saudi Arabia, ICC/IDC and India.
I have just one note of caution. The rules say that “Business Connect Admin are not elegible [sic] for this promotion”. If, like me, you signed up to Business Connect when Etihad offered 10,000 miles as an incentive last year, this may disqualify you from getting the bonus. If you are concerned, try a small transfer from Amex first and see if the bonus is applied or not.
Given that First Class seats from the UK are roughly 55,000 miles each-way, this promotion would mean you would only need roughly 44,000 Amex points. Business Class seats, usually 44,000 miles each way, would require roughly 35,000 points to be transferred. Remember that Etihad redemptions also include a free chauffeur service to your destination airport (100 mile radius from Heathrow, varies elsewhere) and to anywhere in Abu Dhabi or Dubai at the other end.
Taxes are minimal compared to British Airways at around £200 return. 90% of that relates to the outbound. Tickets from Abu Dhabi to the UK are virtually tax free (£15 or so).
One downside is that Etihad tends to restrict First and Business Class redemptions seats to two per flight so this is NOT an option for a family.
Remember that Etihad has PointsPay. You can transfer your miles to a ‘virtual’ (or indeed physical) Visa card at the rate of 0.41p per mile. With the 25% bonus, this effectively means you are getting 0.5p per Etihad mile at the original conversion rate. This is still unlikely to be a great deal, of course.
To build up a big Etihad balance, you may be able to combine this with the sign-up bonus on the free Etihad UK credit card. This is currently 5,000 miles but occasionally jumps to 15,000 miles during promotions.
You can find out more on the Etihad website here.