Etihad's New Award Charts
Starting on March 10, 2023, Etihad Guest's new award charts went into effect. Interestingly, in an email to members in February, Etihad Guest previewed that the new rates would “be based on zones.” But that is not what happened. Instead, Etihad adopted new distance-based award charts.
Distance-based award charts are simple and easy to understand. But they basically eliminate any possibility for sweet spots. Indeed, that is what happened here, especially for Etihad's partner airlines. So let's take a look at these new award charts and what they bring.
Etihad's New Partner Award Chart
Etihad replaced the separate award chart it had for each partner to with a single distance-based award chart for all of its partners. This means the famous Etihad sweet spots are gone, like super cheap business class redemptions to Europe or North Africa on Royal Air Maroc. Cheap first class transcontinental flights on American Airlines are also gone.
Here is Etihad's new award chart for partner flights:
Etihad's partner award chart is not competitive. As an example, let's look at short-haul flights on American. British Airways charges 9,000 miles one-way for flights of up to 1,150 miles. But Etihad now charges 12,000 miles for flights up to 1,000 miles in distance, and 15,000 for flights between 1,001 and 1,500 miles. So you're looking at a difference of either 3,000 or 6,000 miles for that same flight if you book through Etihad instead of BA.
The new award chart also isn't competitive for short-haul business class flights. Etihad Guest now charges 20,000 miles in business for flights of up to 1,000 miles. BA charges 16,500 for a business class flight on AA of up to 1,150 miles.
Premium cabin awards don't offer good value either. For example, under the new award chart, a non-stop flight between New York (JFK) and Tokyo Haneda (HND) at 6,772 miles costs 75,000 miles in economy, 140,000 miles in business, and 200,000 miles in first class. I actually struggled to come up with a worse rate for this flight. United charges 110,000 miles for one-way in first class. And of course Virgin Atlantic still offers the best deal around at 85,000 points despite the recent devaluation.
New Award Chart for Etihad Flights
Thankfully, Etihad's new award chart for its own flights doesn't represent much of a devaluation. That's mostly because Etihad already didn't have a very competitive award chart for its own flights to begin with. Indeed, there are cheaper ways to experience Etihad's premium cabins, such as through Aeroplan and American Airlines.
Here is the new award chart for flights on Etihad metal:
All flights between Abu Dhabi and North America measure well over 6,000 miles. So any flight between the US and Abu Dhabi falls within that highest tier. This means 220,000 miles to fly the the famous Etihad apartment one-way from or to the US.
Similarly, flying the first class apartment between London and Abu Dhabi one-way used to cost 87,750 miles via Etihad Guest. Now, the flight should cost 140,000 miles one-way.
Another Trick Up Etihad's Sleeve?
Etihad Guest included some curious language on the page where they display the new award charts. Specifically, they mention:
A premium redemption fare will be applied based on demand and availability.
It's unclear what this means. But it sure sounds like Etihad is reserving the right to charge even more miles depending on demand and seat availability.
Curiously, this same page still refers to the new rates being “based on zones” even though that's just not the case.
The Thinnest of Silver Linings: Online Bookings
Etihad has announced that redemptions on American Airlines and Virgin Australia can now be booked online. This would be good news for AA flyers if booking via Etihad Guest remained a useful option. Nonetheless, any move away from call centers into the 21st century is welcome.
Etihad's New Award Charts: ToP Thoughts
Etihad Guest's changes are almost entirely bad news. To make matters worse, Etihad has adopted 10 different distance bands for each of the new award charts. This makes it even harder to derive good value from distance-based award charts by looking for flights just below the upper end of any band.
The new partner award chart raises the question of whether there is any value left for Etihad Guest partner bookings. Besides, it's not like Etihad has more transfer partners than the average airline so that a higher price could be justified due to the ease of earning miles.
What do you think about Etihad Guest's new award charts? Come share your thoughts in our Facebook group!