Air Canada Aeroplan and Etihad Guest have launched an exciting new partnership as of today. This was initially hinted at back in April 2019, so the partnership is a bit over a year late, but it has now happened. Better late than never, right? 😉
The new Air Canada & Etihad partnership
With this new partnership, Air Canada and Etihad Airways are offering reciprocal mileage earning and redemption opportunities. Air Canada belongs to the Star Alliance, while Etihad is unaligned (they used to have Etihad Airways Partners, but that kind of fell apart), so it’s cool to see a partnership like this.
Here’s what you can expect in terms of the reciprocal opportunities to earn and redeem miles:
Redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on Etihad
It’s now possible to redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles for flights on Etihad, and the terms are awesome:
- You can redeem Aeroplan miles on all Etihad routes, so this isn’t limited to any specific regions
- Etihad flights will be subjected to Aeroplan’s Fixed Mileage Flight Reward Chart
- There will be no carrier imposed surcharges on Etihad redemptions
- You can book Etihad awards directly at aeroplan.com, as well as via the contact center
- Etihad award flights can be combined with award flights on Air Canada or other international partners for a single award
Just to give some examples of Aeroplan redemption rates:
- A one-way New York to Abu Dhabi award would cost 82,500 miles in business class or 115,000 miles in first class
- A one-way London to Abu Dhabi award would cost 45,000 miles in business class or 60,000 miles in first class
Redeem Aeroplan miles for the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment
Earn Air Canada Aeroplan miles on Etihad
Effective immediately it’s possible to earn Air Canada Aeroplan miles for travel on Etihad Airways, at the following rates:
Earn Aeroplan miles on all Etihad flights
Redeem Etihad Guest miles on Air Canada
It’s now possible to redeem Etihad Guest miles for flights on Air Canada, and Etihad Guest is using a distance based award chart:
As far as these redemptions go:
- You have to call Etihad Guest to book
- The above redemption rates are one-way
- You must redeem at least 24 hours before departure
Air Canada redemption rates on Etihad are significantly better than Etihad redemption rates on Air Canada. For example, paying 170,000 miles for a one-way business class ticket from Canada to Asia or Australia is kind of outrageous.
Redeem Etihad Guest miles for travel in Air Canada 787 business class
Earn Etihad Guest miles on Air Canada
Effective immediately it’s possible to earn Etihad Guest miles for travel on Air Canada, at the following rates:
Earn Etihad Guest miles on all Air Canada flights
The real value with the Air Canada & Etihad partnership
In my opinion the most valuable part of this new partnership is being able to redeem Air Canada miles on Etihad. Is this actually that good of a deal, though? There are three best ways to redeem on Etihad — through Air Canada Aeroplan, American AAdvantage, and Etihad guest.
Looking at those programs:
- Air Canada Aeroplan is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Capital One
- American AAdvantage doesn’t have any transferable partners
- Etihad Guest is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou
To compare redemption rates between New York and Abu Dhabi (one-way):
- Air Canada Aeroplan charges 82,500 miles in business class and 115,000 miles in first class
- American AAdvantage charges 70,000 miles in business class and 115,000 miles in first class
- Etihad Guest charges 99,885 miles in business class and 136,090 miles in first class, plus surcharges
To me there are some great advantages of Air Canada Aeroplan:
- Aeroplan is the best value for redeeming transferrable points on Etihad
- There’s huge value in being able to combine Star Alliance partner airlines with Etihad on a single award
Personally I think this new partnership is a huge win for consumers.
I can’t wait to redeem Aeroplan miles on Etihad
More partner airlines coming to Aeroplan
This is an exciting new partnership, though there’s more on the way. As part of the relaunch of Aeroplan, the program hopes to introduce additional airline partners in the coming weeks.
That’s really exciting, especially if Aeroplan is adding more non-alliance partner airlines.
I’ve been extremely impressed by how Air Canada has been handling their loyalty program lately, as it’s expected to relaunch later this year. They’ve done a great job engaging members at home, have gotten into the business of selling miles at a good rate, and more.
What does this mean for Etihad & the Star Alliance?
Should we read more into this partnership? Going back as far as 2017 there have been rumors of Etihad Airways possibly joining the Star Alliance.
In early 2019 there were rumors of Etihad and United forming a partnership, and then shortly thereafter it appeared that Etihad and Air Canada were ready to form a partnership (and that was just delayed by about a year).
Up until now Etihad Airways joining the Star Alliance hasn’t materialized, so where does that stand?
- I have it from reliable sources that this was under serious consideration, though I haven’t heard more on that in the past year or so
- At this point I wouldn’t expect it to happen anytime soon, given the current pandemic, and that airlines are looking to cut costs (and joining alliances isn’t cheap)
- We are seeing many former anti-Gulf carrier airlines partnering more closely with them; keep in mind that American Airlines and Qatar Airways have formed a new strategic partnership
- A few months ago Etihad was removed from the American AAdvantage partner page; American claimed this was an error, though odds are that it was the timing that was the error
- Personally I suspect this Air Canada partnership was just something that the two airlines worked out bilaterally given the potential they saw to work together
While I don’t think Etihad joining the Star Alliance is imminent, I also don’t think it’s off the table.
Could we see Etihad Airways join the Star Alliance?
Air Canada and Etihad Airways have a new partnership, allowing reciprocal mileage earning and redemptions. This is exciting, especially from the perspective of Air Canada Aeroplan members, given the lucrative mileage earning and redemption rates.
I’m really excited about the newly relaunched Air Canada loyalty program, and in particular that we should expect more airline partners soon.
Are you excited about the new Air Canada & Etihad partnership?