Etihad Guest has launched a mileage redemption sale, with ALL flights in ALL classes reduced by 30%.
Given that Etihad Guest is a 1:1 transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards as well as the HSBC Premier credit cards, you may be able to take advantage of this even if Etihad Guest is not a programme you normally look at.
Let’s look at the small print first:
You need to book by 27th August 2020
You need to fly by 31st May 2021
You can book one-way or return flights
You cannot book redemptions on partner airlines
You can only book standard priced rewards, not the revenue-based premium rewards (not that you’re ever likely to book those!)
If you want to read my Etihad flight reviews:
The Business Class review is five years old, but I flew the seat on holiday with my family in 2018 and 2019 and little has changed, except for the new Etihad amenity kits.
Is this a good deal?
Etihad Guest charges by segment for redemptions, in the same way as Avios. This means that the best value – if you live in the UK – is for non-stop redemptions to Abu Dhabi. Remember that Dubai is a £40, 1 hour taxi ride from Abu Dhabi airport.
Flights involving a connection, eg London to Abu Dhabi to Tokyo, start to look expensive compared to a direct Avios redemption because each leg is priced separately.
Of course, Etihad’s business class seat is substantially better than Club World (Club Suite is a different story). Their amazing First Class Apartment is only comparable to the new Singapore Airlines First Class Suite we toured here but you need to book an A380 – and hope Etihad doesn’t downgrade your aircraft later on – to get this.
What do Etihad Guest redemptions cost?
There is a mileage calculator on the Etihad Guest website here. This has NOT been adjusted to reflect the 30% discount.
Here is the cost of a ONE WAY flight from London to Abu Dhabi. Remember that Etihad also flies from Manchester.
Economy – was 32,500, in the sale it is 21,245 miles + £160
Business – was 62,501, in the sale it is 40,866 miles + £333
First – was 87,750, in the sale it is 57,375 miles + £371
Don’t ask why the discount is not exactly 30%! I have no idea.
For comparison, an Avios seat would be (off peak vs peak):
World Traveller – 13,000 / 20,000 Avios + £115
Club World – 50,000 / 60,000 Avios + £384
First – 68,000 / 80,000 Avios + £384
Taxes for a return flight would NOT be double the amounts above because these figures include UK Air Passenger Duty.
As you can, Etihad Guest offers excellent value in Business Class and First Class, compared to Avios, during this sale. The gap is especially large on Avios peak dates.
British Airways has suspended flights to Abu Dhabi until the end of March, so you would need to fly via Dubai if Abu Dhabi was your final destination.
Here is a typical screenshot showing the pricing for Business, click to enlarge:
Here is an example of why indirect flights on Etihad are poor value:
London to Abu Dhabi to Tokyo, Business Class, one-way, is (62,501 + 86,250 =) 148,751 Ethad Guest miles, reduced to 97,924 miles in the sale
London to Tokyo, Club World, one-way, is 75,000 (off-peak) or 90,000 (peak) Avios
You also get whacked on the taxes. For a one-way, London to Tokyo in Business Class:
Etihad – £455
British Airways – £381
Japan Airlines (using Avios) – £219 but a higher 92,750 Avios required
You might think the higher quality Etihad seat is worth the difference, but you also need to factor in the change required in Abu Dhabi. If you live near Manchester, of course, you may prefer changing in Abu Dhabi to changing in Heathrow.
If you’ve always wanted to give Etihad a try, there are some good deals to be had here.
With 12 days to book, you should have no trouble transferring American Express Membership Rewards points over in time, although clearly there is a risk involved.
Remember that the United Arab Emirates is currently on the UK quarantine list so any trip to or via Abu Dhabi will require you to quarantine for 14 days on your return.
At present, Abu Dhabi is closed to incoming tourist air traffic.
The UAE also requires you to present a negative coronavirus test at both ends of your journey. Not only must you be tested in the UK before you fly, but you must get a 2nd test in the UAE before you fly home. Whether these restrictions are still in place next Spring (this offer is good until May 2021 remember) is a different matter.
Etihad has recently improved its mileage expiration policy. Miles won’t expire unless you have 18 months without any activity on your account. This means that you are highly unlikely to lose them to expiry if you end up having to cancel your redemption flight.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (May 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 cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
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).