If you are planning a holiday in Dubai this Winter or next Spring, Etihad is running an aggressive sale at the moment.
I should say up front that there are also good deals available to parts of Asia. However, with covid restrictions still in place I thought it best to focus on the bargains available to …. erm …. a bus stop in Dubai.
OK, let me explain how this works.
It is normal practice for airlines to sell indirect flights for less than the cost of direct flights. Every HfP reader should know that, for example, London to Bangkok on a direct British Airways flight is likely to be more expensive than London to Bangkok via Frankfurt on Lufthansa. People will pay for convenience.
What we have here is simply the same philosophy at play. It’s just that, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi under an hour apart by road, there is no point in flying you between the two airports. Etihad puts on a bus instead!
What’s the deal?
Etihad is offering good deals from Madrid, Amsterdam, Brussels and London to a bus stop in Dubai.
The Dubai bus stop used by Etihad has been given the airport code XNB.
Availability is excellent.
Note that the fare may originally look a little higher than the headline numbers shown below but will reprice on the final screen. For Madrid, for example, the outbound flights show as €501 but later falls.
Madrid to Dubai in Etihad business class for €739 return:
(EDIT: Rome and Milan also seem to price at €739)
Amsterdam to Dubai in Etihad business class for €1,203 return:
Brussels to Dubai in Etihad business class for €939 return:
London Heathrow to Dubai in Etihad business class for £1,093 return:
Etihad is also flying from Dublin but I couldn’t find a fare under €1,300 return.
Do you actually need to take the bus?
Good question. Could you book these tickets to get a cheap trip to Abu Dhabi?
Let’s put it this way. Under no circumstances can you drop a leg of a flight and keep your ticket intact. If Etihad flew between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and you didn’t turn up for the last leg to Dubai, your return flight would immediately be cancelled.
Similarly, if you failed to turn up at Dubai for the first leg of the flight home, your Abu Dhabi to London flight would be cancelled.
Will bad things happen if you don’t get on the bus? I’ve honestly got no idea, but for safety I’d take the ride – even if it means turning around in Dubai and getting a taxi straight back to Abu Dhabi.
What is Etihad like?
It is light years ahead of British Airways Club World, although Club Suite is a different story. You can’t guarantee getting Club Suite, of course.
What about my miles?
Etihad is not in an airline alliance. It does, however, have a lot of airline partners with whom you can redeem.
Your main options are:
- credit to an Etihad Guest account, top it up with American Express Membership Rewards points and redeem for a flight on Etihad or one of its partners
- credit to an Etihad Guest account and turn your miles into cash (on a virtual Visa gift card) via an Etihad Guest Reward Card
- credit to an American Airlines account (AA is an Etihad partner) which gets you access to oneworld redemptions including British Airways
- credit to Air Europa – IAG is in the process of buying Air Europa and its frequent flyer scheme will swich to Avios when the takeover is complete. There is a risk that the deal does not happen if the airline collapses or the EU blocks it on competition grounds
Before booking, look at the details of the Dubai bus service on this page of the Etihad website.
Thanks to Luxury Flight Club.
PS. If you are in the market for a longer-haul Etihad sale trip from London, here are the headline Etihad sale prices on offer until 10th October:
- Bangkok £1,499
- Phuket £1,899
- Seoul £1,499
- Seychelles £1,999
- Singapore £1,599
- Tokyo £1,999
It’s also worth checking prices from Amsterdam, Brussels and Madrid.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (December 2023)
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.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- 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 four 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 10,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 10,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
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.