This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Now’s the time to use your Etihad Guest miles if you’re looking to book Etihad award flights. Etihad just gave a one-month notice for a devaluation of awards taking effect June 30.
At this point, details are light. We only know that the current saver award booking rates — known as GuestSeats — will only be valid for award flights booked through June 30. After that date, GuestSeats award rates will be “moving from a fixed single rate for redemption bookings to variances in fares.” The rates for non-saver awards (OpenSeats) and upgrade awards won’t be impacted by the change.
The text of the announcement only mentions “economy and business class.” So, it’s unclear if first-class awards are being spared or just aren’t mentioned in this announcement:
On 30 June 2018 Etihad Guest will introduce variable pricing for redemption bookings on Etihad Airways marketed and operated flights. Moving from fixed single rate for redemption bookings to variances in fares within Economy class and Business class.
However, it’s sort of a moot point, as Etihad Guest miles aren’t the cheapest way of booking Etihad first-class awards, anyway. And, while finding saver first-class awards on Etihad on flights to/from the US are difficult to find, it’s worth the hassle since you’ll enjoy an ultra-luxurious experience:
How to Source Etihad Guest Miles
If you need to top off your Etihad Guest account to make a booking before the change, you’ve got plenty of options. Etihad Guest is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. You can also transfer points via Marriott’s Hotel + Air packages.
Membership Rewards is going to be your best bet for getting miles transferred quickly. In TPG testing, points moved over instantaneously. Citi ThankYou points took seven days to transfer to Etihad. Starpoints took the longest, taking eight days to transfer. However, each transfer of 20,000 Starpoints will net you 25,000 Etihad Guest miles.
A Great Award Option Not Being Devalued
In the FAQ about this change, Etihad confirms that it’s only making changes to saver awards on its own flights:
Changes to Etihad GuestSeat bookings only impact Etihad Airway’s marketed and operated flights.
That means Etihad Guest miles will continue to be a great value for partner awards — including American Airlines awards. Specific to American Airlines, you can score first-class transcontinental awards for 25,000 miles (vs. 50,000 AA miles), first class to Asia for 55,000 miles (vs. 110,000 AA miles) and first class to Europe for 50,000 miles (vs. 85,000 miles).
I’ve also gotten great value from using Etihad Guest miles on Etihad’s subsidiary Air Serbia. Flying from Germany to Belgrade cost just 5,890 miles one-way, and the short but expensive hop from Belgrade to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (SJJ) costs just 5,000 miles each way. From the US, you can also redeem from New York’s Kennedy (JFK) to Belgrade, Serbia (BEG) round-trip in business class for 128,164 Etihad miles — as a TPG intern did in mid-2016.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees