There’s big (and likely bad) news coming from Etihad Guest. While the loyalty program is notorious for astronomical dynamically priced award rates on its own flights (think 1 million miles from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in business class), it also has some fantastic partner sweet spots.
On Monday, One Mile at a Time and LoyaltyLobby reported Etihad Guest plans to simplify award charts across its partners and make American Airlines and Virgin Australia award bookings available online. TPG reached out to Etihad for confirmation but has yet to get a response.
The new simplified award chart will go into effect on March 10, although you won’t want to wait until the last minute to make any final redemptions utilizing the current chart. Here’s what these changes could mean for you.
New Etihad Guest award chart
Etihad Guest currently has a different award chart for each of its partners. With a new zone-based award chart, award rates will be the same across all of Etihad’s partners. In other words, if you’re traveling from New York to Europe, expect to spend the same number of miles if you select American Airlines or Brussels Airlines (both of which are Etihad Guest partners).
In principle, it’s logical to have a single zone-based award chart that applies to all of Etihad Guest’s partners.
But with a single zone-based award chart, Etihad Guest’s partner sweet spots are in jeopardy. It was through Etihad Guest that I booked a one-way, first-class American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Sydney for just 62,500 miles. Other Etihad Guest partner sweet spots include Brussels Airlines flights from the United States to Brussels for just 44,000 miles one-way in business class.
We already know Etihad Guest can charge exorbitant prices for many of its own premium-cabin awards, which makes us pessimistic about the upcoming simplified award chart.
Etihad’s systems will be taken offline starting March 8. So, ensure you make any bookings using the current award charts before March 8.
Related: 9 amazing first-class seats you can still book with points and miles
Sign up for our daily newsletter
Partner bookings online
As part of the changes, Etihad Guest will soon allow you to book American Airlines and Virgin Australia flights on its website. This will be a welcome addition, as calling to book awards creates more hassle and can increase the chances of mistakes being made (like spelling a name incorrectly).
You’ll still need to call and speak with an Etihad Guest phone representative to redeem Etihad Guest miles for other partner flights, though.
Related: Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly to Europe in American Airlines Flagship First for 62,500 miles
Starting March 10, Etihad Guest will use a new zone-based award chart for all partner awards. It’s unclear what this award chart will entail and how it will affect some of our favorite Etihad Guest sweet spots.
My advice: If you have Etihad Guest miles, consider booking one or more partner award tickets now before the new award chart is released. Check out our post on strategies for Etihad Guest miles for ideas.
Two months ago, I transferred Capital One miles to Etihad Guest to lock in a redemption of 17.3 cents per Capital One mile for an American Airlines Flagship First flight to Australia. I’ll certainly be looking for high-value partner flights to book with Etihad Guest before the changes go into effect on March 10.
If you need to top off your Etihad Guest account for a redemption, know that transfers from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Citi ThankYou Rewards are usually instantaneous.