Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Etihad Guest announces a HUGE devaluation from July 8th

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Etihad Guest surprised me yesterday by announcing a devaluation, due to kick in from July 8th.

Given their aggressive behaviour in recent months in offering transfer bonuses, route bonuses and credit card sign-up bonuses, you might be forgiven for thinking that you had been sold a pup.

At least British Airways didn’t have a single Tesco or American Express transfer bonus in the 18 months before the Avios devaluation.  No-one could argue that they had been persuaded to convert under false pretences.

Etihad 350

Here is a summary of what Etihad is proposing:

Reduction of miles earned in cheaper fare classes, offset by higher miles earning on more expensive tickets.  This will only apply to new bookings made after July 8th.  The new rates are:

0.25 Etihad Guest Miles per mile flown in economy on fare classes T and E

0.75 Etihad Guest Miles per mile flown in economy on fare classes L and Q

1.15 Etihad Guest Miles per mile flown in Business on fare class Z

1.75 Etihad Guest Miles per mile flown in Business on fare class D

2.5 Etihad Guest Miles per mile flown in First on fare class R

Number of reward seats in business class increasing by 20%.  I don’t understand this – Etihad traditionally releases two seats per flight in business.  Will there now be 2.4 seats?!  If the airline had any commercial nous, they would start releasing four seats per flight.  At the moment, Etihad Guest miles are very unattractive to high-end travellers with family as it is impossible to redeem in business class unless the family is split up.

Redemptions are being repriced:

Economy redemptions do not change in price and will fall for flights over 6,000 miles.  A minimum of five economy seats will be released on every flight.

Business Class redemptions will increase in price except for flights over 6,000 miles where they will remain the same.  The scale of these increases is SUBSTANTIAL – London to Abu Dhabi increases by 50%.

First Class redemptions will increase to all destinations.  It is difficult to argue about the logic here.  The difference between Business Class (44,000 miles) and First Class (55,000 miles) one-way to Abu Dhabi was too small.  However, a 59% INCREASE between London and Abu Dhabi is huge. I have summarised the new rates between London and Abu Dhabi below.

Existing redemptions can be changed at will without triggering any price increase.

Upgrades will become more expensive and the cheapest tickets (T, E, Z) will not be upgradeable.  At present, only ‘T’ fares cannot be upgraded.

This is the best one though …. at a time of collapsing oil prices, Etihad Guest is INTRODUCING a fuel surcharge / carrier surcharge:  

It will cost $50 PER FLIGHT on economy redemptions, $100 PER FLIGHT on business class redemptions and $150 PER FLIGHT on First Class redemptions.  This is on top of the additional miles that will be required. 

Note that these are ‘per flight’ – a business class redemption to Bangkok from London via Abu Dhabi is four flights so the surcharge will be $400. 

What is impact of this on a typical redemption?

These are the new prices for redemption (return) between London and Abu Dhabi:


Economy:  62,044 miles

Business:  87,952 miles

First:  110,452 miles

After 8th July:

Economy:  62,044 miles plus $100 surcharge

Business:  131,928 miles plus $200 surcharge

First:  175,465 miles plus $300 surcharge

If you want to check the pricing on other routes, the online Mileage Calculator is here.

These are big increases.  There is no disguising it.  An increase of 50% in the miles required for a business class redemption – plus introducing a surcharge – is having a laugh.  The Avios devaluation only resulted in a 25% increase in Club World pricing if you flew off-peak.

Of course, you should look at these numbers in the context of Avios.  Given a choice between using 120,000 Avios + £550 of charges to fly Club World to Abu Dhabi or Dubai, versus 132,000 Etihad Guest miles + around £350 of charges to fly the A380 Business Class Studio it is still no contest.  Etihad Guest also gives you free chauffeur transfers at both ends as well.

Emirates Skywards now tops both of these schemes.  You will only need 90,000 miles plus around £600 of charges for a ‘Saver’ level business class return to Dubai.  If you pay the higher level of 125,000 miles you can effectively have any seat on any plane.

That said, if it turns out that I will be able to book four Etihad Guest seats in Business Class to get my family on holiday, I may even begrudgingly accept the changes.  At present, Etihad Guest is a fantastic scheme but not one I can use except for occasional solo trips.

If you don’t like the sound of these changes, I recommend that you book before July 8th if you are looking for a Business or First Class seat.

Further details can be found on the Etihad website here.

Remember that you can also redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Etihad – at least for now.  I would not put money on that deal still being in place in 12 months.  Redemptions via AA will cost substantially fewer miles (London to Abu Dhabi will be 60,000 AA miles in Business Class vs 132,000 Etihad Guest miles) and should not incur any carrier surcharges.

Earning Flying Blue miles from credit cards

How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (July 2021)

Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cardsThese are:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).

Comments (87)

  • James67 says:

    The extra seats being releasedare only on selected routes. I think they list them on their changes page. My guess is they prefer to limit to 2 seats to keep childrens numbers in premium cabins down. Any airlibe doing so is daft though, over the years the vast majority of inappropriate vehaviour I have experienced on board aircraft is by adults, not kids.

    Personally I feel mugged by Etihad. I tra sferred 38k spg points to them last weekend mainly on basis of the flexibility of their redemptions. My alternative to transfer them to AA would now clearly be significantly better despite their change and cancellation fees.

  • Jonathan says:

    Is this a trend we will see most, if not all airlines will follow? Virgin haven’t had an Amex redemption bonus for a very long time…

  • Phil says:

    Although the odd great deal can be found, the golden age of collecting and redeeming in these schemes has long gone. With the recent cheap business class flights, why would anyone go out of their way to buy and collect points against items they don’t really need.

    Obviously due to my job I will continue to collect on hotels and flights but don’t go out of my way any more for Tesco, insurance, trravelex deals like in the “old days”

    • Danny says:

      Avios still good for Europe and even got cheaper eg 15000 —> 12500 / 7500 —> 6500 off peak

      • Brendan says:

        Only if you live near London

        • Phil says:

          Yes, living in the regions means not a good option now in terms of Avios/Cost/Inconvenience/Travel Time compared to low cost carriers

          • Danny says:

            There are plenty of European destinations not particularly well-served by the low-cost carriers, particularly for people living in the South West. If Bristol is effectively the only convenient budget airline airport (Cardiff is useless in terms of destinations these days and Exeter & Bournemouth have very limited options unless you want a destination like Paris) then LHR is easier to get to than Luton/ Stansted/Gatwick.

            The Newquay —> Gatwick —> Europe on Avios option was never feasible for 97% of people and 95% of European destinations. So we haven’t lost out there.

          • AC says:

            Having grown up in the South West, it is much easier jumping on a train and going to a London airport than trying to use our local airports! Bristol is at least two hours from my home, Exeter one hour…!

  • James67 says:

    Where are people seeing the new rates? When I use the calculator for LHR-AUH I’m only seeing the existing rates for redemptions.

    I’m also confused about the date. Do the changes only apply to bookings made on or after 8th July or do they apply to bookings made now for travel after 8th July?

    • Phillip says:

      If you click on the link to the Online Mileage Calculator in Raffles’ article, then at the top of that page is another link that says click “here” to view the rates from 8 July! The new rates will apply to bookings made on or after 8 July.

    • Jason says:

      Go into the ” How do I calculate what a GuestSeat will now cost?” link
      At the top of the page,above the 3 tabs, is a link to the updated mileage calculator

      • James67 says:

        Thanks Phillip/Jason, I kept missing that. I get the feeling my foray into Etihad is going to be a case of one and done. Just been on phone with cs, they are a joke.

  • Howard says:

    My wife and I have 50000 AA points from that great sign up offer about a year or so ago.
    We were planning on Abu Dhabi to London in First one way (I think it was 40,000) in Etihad. Has this been effected?

    • Alan says:

      No, these changes only impact on bookings made with Etihad Guest miles – however an AA devaluation is but a matter of time, so I’d get booking as soon as you can 🙂

    • Rob says:


  • The Plagiarist says:

    “if it turns out that I will be able to book four Etihad Guest seats in Business Class to get my family on holiday, I may even begrudgingly accept the changes” – don’t you mean five seats, one for the nanny too!? 😉

    • Rob says:

      We only took her to Singapore because my wife was working whilst there!

      • BlueHorizonUK says:

        I think they have opened up more availability. Looking at Business in November from Abu Dhabi to London I see 5 seats available at the lowest mileage for the same flight.

  • Matthew says:

    This is sad news but as others say it’s inevitable. It’s a stark reminder to earn and burn in these schemes. Don’t hold on to them and don’t spend ages collecting either as the rug will be pulled from underneath your feet. Fortunately I have an A380 First return LHR-AUH booked paid for with the recent sign up bonus on the credit card and the 25% bonus MR transfers. The remaining etihad miles will prob have to be pulled out via Points Pay.

    Then my attention will move towards the next good value redemption. This is why MR points and Spg points are so valuable because you can keep them as flexible point options up until the moment you choose to redeem for a particular airline or hotel. The only problem with that is the long wait for them to post once transfer initiated!

    • RT says:

      My problem wih MR is that you have to have an active AMEX MR account – which if you are trying to churn your cards – isn’t very helpful…

    • Paul says:

      These can be devalued too. The US MR to BAEC just got devalued although only for transfers after 1st oct.

    • DeltaCharlie says:

      Out of interest, how long have you been finding it take for MR to Etihad then?

      • James67 says:

        If spg points are an option for you mine just took four days.

        • DeltaCharlie says:

          MR points are my preference as I have enough for a First Return if my 25K bonus posts around statement date.

      • Jason says:

        Platinum 2 days
        Gold next day

        • DeltaCharlie says:

          Thanks, might be able to squeeze In before the deadline then… Fingers crossed as I was looking forward to that suite.

        • BlueHorizonUK says:

          platinum card sent over a load of miles yesterday afternoon and they showed up an hour ago.

    • James67 says:

      Mathew, did you get your 25k bonus from mbna within 7 days as promised and outside the regular statement run as promised?

      • Matthew says:

        No… They didn’t move across. As you suspected… They will probably arrive on the next statement due in 5 days time. I will keep you posted. I had a back up plan with some of my wife’s MR points as the family account is pretty useful with etihad.

        So I’m not entirely sure what I will do when the 20,000 post. Its a shame as it maybe to late for most if they don’t arrive before the devaluation.

        • James67 says:

          I suspected as much. My statement due on the 9th and I’m flying my economy experiment (now a big of a car crash) on 7th. Just off the phone with MBNA; I figured if I changed my staement day until today or tomorrow I might just get the points by Tuesday morning. Failed in two respects; MBNA will happily change statement dates but will not kick in until the month after next statement. As you might guess the other problem is that upgrade availability has fallen through the floor on popular routes since yesterday. The bonus points can be cashed out with points pay or redeemed for £100ish of shopping vouchers. If they prove orthless for flights it would be making best of a bad job.

          • DeltaCharlie says:

            I have just had the following message from MBNA on my points award query:
            Thanks for your message. I have reviewed your account. I can confirm that you will receive 25,000 bonus miles for £2000.00 spend within the first 90 days of opening the account. This promotion is valid for accounts, that were open between 10 April and the 10 July. You will receive your 25,000 points points, after the 10 July. You can view your statements online. Please click the “Statements” tab from the account overview page.
            HAVE WE ALL BEEN SOLD A PUP???
            I spent the £2000 in first 10 days.

          • James67 says:

            Yes, tell us about it! I did too, council tax so I lose the interest on it in savings account too. Not only that I wasted 38k spg points on them that I could have transferred to AA.

          • Danny says:

            Interest on £2000 for 90 days would be about £10, boo hoo 🙂

          • Alan says:

            Probably more like £5 when you take into account current rubbish savings rates and income tax!

          • DeltaCharlie says:

            Cards will be cancelled tomorrow and I will just get out through Pointspay I think. Luckily have not moved any MR or SPG over as yet as I didn’t quite trust them, my hunch was right.

          • James67 says:

            May be wrong but my first glance suggested gift cards probably a better option.

            @Danny, I’m making betteruse of money than that but agreed it is still not a big sum.The bigger picture is that with the margin between redemtions and revenue fares becoming ever smaller even a small sum such as this can be significant.

    • Idrive says:

      Agree with flexibility of MR and SPG!!

      • sandgrounder says:

        Great, until they decide to slash the value of your stash overnight…..

    • Matt H says:

      I recently moved 47.5k MR points (took 4 days) with the 25% bonus going in a few days later (unsure when although all the dates online have the date I requested the transfer, not the date it hit my account).

      I was trying to get to AUH next year but I don’t know when the date will be, either Feb or March, and my Amex Gold is into fee paying territory now so I thought I good chance to cash out…

      I see there is one date change allowed on a first redemption; does anyone know yet if the date change is made after July 8th that will ruin the booking?

      • Matt H says:

        I found this:

        What happens if I booked my GuestSeat before 8 July 2015 but I want to amend that booking after the programme changes have come into effect?
        You will not be impacted. The terms and conditions at the time of booking will remain in force, whereby you will still get one change free of charge, and additional changes will incur a standard charge of around US$28 each (AED 100).

        No additional miles will be deducted from your account and you will not incur any additional charges.

  • Etihad Guest Program "Enhancements" - sorry - "some changes" says:

    […] is a less flattering view albeit from a UK perspective Etihad Guest announces a huge devaluation Reply With […]

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.