Etihad Guest and Air Canada have launched a new partnership.
From a frequent flyer point of view, the key benefit is that:
you can now earn Etihad Guest miles when you fly Air Canada
you can now earn Air Canada Aeroplan miles when you fly Etihad
IMPORTANT: The cheapest Air Canada economy ticket classes (S, T, A, L, K) do not earn anything in Etihad Guest on domestic flights.
It is debatable which of these programmes has the most benefit to UK residents:
Air Canada is a member of Star Alliance, of course, so you can redeem Aeroplan miles across a huge number of airlines. The snag is that it is very difficult to earn additional Air Canada miles in the UK – there is no UK credit card and they are not an American Express Membership Rewards partner. The only way to earn Aeroplan miles at a decent rate is via the Marriott Bonvoy American Express which earns 0.83 miles per £1 spent as long as you transfer in batches of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
Etihad Guest is not in a major alliance, but does have quite a few airline partners. It is easy to top up an Etihad Guest account via American Express Membership Rewards transfers (1:1 ratio) or via HSBC Premier credit card points.
If you have a one-off flight on Air Canada, there is one good reason to credit it to Etihad Guest. Etihad Guest has PointsPay, which lets you redeem points for a virtual Visa credit card. My wife did this a few years ago when she had a one-off domestic flight on Korean – we credited it to Etihad and she got £3.80 of cash for the points! You can learn more about PointsPay in this article or visit this page of the Etihad Guest website.
If you’re an Etihad Guest member ….
…. you will find that redemptions on Air Canada are poor value. A one-way Business Class flight from London to Toronto (3,500 nautical miles) on Air Canada will cost you 94,000 Etihad Guest miles.
If you’re an Air Canada Aeroplan member ….
Redemptions FROM Air Canada Aeroplan on Etihad are much better, although this doesn’t help much as it is hard to pick up Air Canada miles from the UK in the first place. A one-way redemption in Etihad Business Class from London to Abu Dhabi is 45,000 Aeroplan miles (see the Aeroplan redemption chart here) compared to 60,758 (!) Etihad Guest miles.
The real steal – assuming that Etihad keeps running an A380 on this route – is 60,000 Aeroplan miles for Etihad’s First Class Apartment, one way, from London to Abu Dhabi! The equivalent Etihad Guest redemption would require 85,250 Etihad miles. My last review of the Etihad First Class Apartment is here.
You can learn more about the Air Canada tie-up on the Etihad website here.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles via UK credit cards
As a reminder, Etihad no longer has its own UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
American Express Rewards credit card – 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile.
Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, HSBC Premier Mastercard reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard reviewed here).