Now, this being Etihad, the offer has a few quirks attached to it. However, they are generally positive:
In the past, Etihad has NOT adjusted 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 was concerned, BA Gold and Cathay Gold both qualified for the purposes of this match.
Because of the way the Etihad scheme works, your Gold status may be valid until March 2018. You will receive the rest of the year you quality (ie the rest of 2015) plus the next two full years (2016 and 2017). If you don’t requalify, you don’t drop down until March the following year (ie March 2018). 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. Even though I got a status match last year, I still do not know how it works – Etihad has never sent me a plastic card and my online account does not show my status expiry date!)
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.)
You cannot match a card issued by Air Lingus, airberlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Jet Airways or Virgin Australia.
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. I reviewed the impressive Etihad lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4 earlier in the week.
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 New Zealand (Etihad codeshare routes only)
Air Serbia (Belgrade only)
Air Seychelles (AUH, SEZ, MRU, JNB, HKG and CDG only)
Garuda (Jakarta only)
South African Airways
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 2018, there are plenty of potential opportunities.
Full details can be found on the Etihad website here. The deadline to apply is March 15th. You must be resident in the UAE, UK, USA, Australia, Saudi Arabia, France, Switzerland, China or Japan.