Negative Changes Are Coming To Etihad Guest

Filed Under: Etihad

Etihad has been cost cutting to no end lately, and it looks like that’s now being extended to their frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest. Etihad Guest sent out an email about these changes, justifying them as follows:

To support the continued growth and evolution of your Etihad Guest membership we have conducted a review on some of your programme benefits. As a result, over the next four months, we will be making some changes to ensure they remain attractive and competitive.

On one hand they’re pretty clearly stating that these changes are a devaluation, while on the other hand they use a picture that says “new benefits on the horizon.” Talk about sending mixed signals.

Etihad Guest changes are coming in two stages:

Etihad Guest changes as of October 8, 2017

Etihad is making the following four changes in a bit over a month:

Tier Validity 
We are aligning all the tiers to have the same 1 year validity. Etihad Guest Members who gain Silver, Gold or Platinum Tier status will now have 1 year to enjoy and retain these benefits.

500 Welcome Bonus Miles 
Etihad Guest Members whose first flight is with Etihad Airways, Air Serbia or Air Seychelles will continue to receive 500 welcome bonus miles. However, if your first activity is with another partner airline or non-air partner, you will no longer receive the 500 welcome bonus miles.

Gold Members Lounge Access in Abu Dhabi 
Etihad Guest Gold Members flying on Etihad Airways operated flights will be eligible to use the Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge* in Terminal 1 and 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Collecting miles on Etihad Airways
On two of our Etihad Airways fare classes, we are increasing the number of Etihad Guest Miles being awarded. For fare class “J” in Business will go to 200% and fare class “F” in First will go to 275%.

Etihad Guest changes as of January 15, 2018

Etihad’s second round of changes will kick in early next year, as follows:

GuestSeats and Upgrades 
The number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat on Etihad Airways will decrease on certain routes and increase on others to keep our fares competitive. You will also notice an increase of the miles required for upgrades.

There will be an increase of USD 50 on the Carrier Surcharge across some of our Business and First Class routes.

Open Seats on Etihad Airways 
Members can still use as little as 1 Etihad Guest Mile to purchase our Open Seats redemptions, allowing you to purchase any available fare, in any cabin, including The Residence.

My thoughts on these changes

Some of these changes are minor, some are a big deal, and for some we’ll have to wait and see. The positive changes are as follows, roughly in order of importance:

  • Etihad Gold members will get access to Etihad’s own lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport, rather than contract lounges
  • Etihad is increasing mileage earning for full fare business and first class passengers

Etihad is increasing the number of miles you earn in full fare first class

Etihad Guest Gold members will soon get access to better lounges in Abu Dhabi

Meanwhile the negative changes are as follows, roughly in order of importance:

  • Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum status will only be valid for one year rather than two years
  • Etihad will be making changes to their award chart, though the details of those changes haven’t yet been announced; expect them to be negative, though
  • Etihad will be increasing the surcharge for first & business class awards by $50 per segment
  • You will no longer get 500 bonus welcome miles for joining Etihad Guest if your first activity is with a partner (what a stingy cut to make)

Business class awards will soon require more cash, and probably more miles

Etihad is trying to cost cut their way out of big losses, though making major cuts for your most loyal flyers seems like a dumb way to achieve profitability. Only in the airline industry are negative changes described as intending to make the program “competitive.” In just about any other industry you’d assume that a “competitive” change would be a positive one.

The irony here is that Etihad Guest is far from generous, so I’d argue they’re barely competitive to begin with. Making further cuts to their program certainly won’t make them more competitive. This isn’t the first negative change that Etihad Guest has made either. In April they devalued Brussels Airlines awards without notice, and in 2015 they made major program changes as well.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see how much award costs increase.

What do you make of these changes to Etihad Guest?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. I just say: I need to spend my 400K miles with them right now. So sad… Especially as a Platinum member…

  2. Blog is incorrect in a number of points. Etihad was only Airline giving 2 years membership the 1st time you qualified for Silver, Gold and Platinum. Now benefit lasts 1 year like all other Airlines. Points earned on Etihad flights better than Qantas and all other airlines. Charges when using points are currently 33% of Qantas and less points needed to redeem BC and 1st. As a Platinum of Etihad since inception and Qantas Platinum since 2003 every year, i know points and redemption backwards. Points bookings on Etihad much more readily available than Qantas also. Know your facts

  3. I had a gut feeling they were going down hill when they had no amenity kits in business class the last time I flew with them in July of this year.

  4. It’s very disappointing. Has anybody managed to clarify if these changes apply retrospectively? For example my Gold status is currently due to run until 2019 will this remain or will they bring the expiry date forward?

  5. Just read the updated Etihad Guest T&C Section 4.3 with latest updates…appears to confirm existing status expiry dates will be retained.
    4. Guest Tiers

    4.1. The number of Etihad Guest Tier Miles and/or Etihad Guest Tier Segments, required for qualification/re-qualification into each Etihad Guest Tier Status, and the benefits and privileges provided to members at each Etihad Guest Tier Status, are detailed on the Etihad Guest Website and are subject to change at any time without notice.
    4.2. You may earn Etihad Guest Tier Miles and/or Etihad Guest Tier Segments by travelling on Etihad Guest Tier Qualifying Flights as specified on the Etihad Guest Website and/or as otherwise specified in our valid publications, as issued from time to time.
    4.3. Once you have attained an Etihad Guest Tier Status prior to 08 October 2017 , your status is valid for the rest of that calendar year plus:
    4.3.1. one year for Etihad Guest Silver Members; and
    4.3.2. two years for Etihad Guest Gold Members and Etihad Guest Platinum Members.
    4.4 If you have attained an Etihad Guest Tier Status after 08 October 2017, your Tier status is valid for:
    • 4.4.1. one year for Etihad Guest Silver Members, Etihad Guest Gold and Etihad Guest Platinum Members.
    In addition you will enjoy the benefits of your Etihad Guest Tier Status for a bonus three month period immediately following the expiration of the periods mentioned specified in clauses 4.3.1,4.3.2 and 4.4.1 (as applicable).

  6. I recently booked two one-way First Apartment award tickets from JFK-AUH for $179.50/ticket in taxes. While I would love to pay less (or zero), I don’t think that is terribly unreasonable for a ticket that retails for $15,841.50.

  7. FYI Qantas elite status lasts longer than 1 year – you only get 12 months if you (re-)qualify in the final month of your membership year. If you qualified in say the first 2 months, then you get 1 year and 10 months before your soft-landing to the lower tier.

  8. I still think some of their partner award charts are amazing, especially in Asia (Asiana, Hainan, Bangkok Airways). That being said, they are fantastic when you can find seats AND the customer service rep knows what he/she is doing…

  9. In the air experience always seems good to me.
    Unfortunately the customer service and ancillary products are poor.
    I don’t think negative feedback is an issue for them.
    Going downhill.

  10. So platinum qualifiers before this takes effect have status until Jan 2020? Meaning 2017 plus 2018 and 2019?
    Just wanting to clarify!

  11. @lucky I have been saving AA miles to buy two F Tickets from MLE to JFK. 115k AA miles each. Do you expect the cost of partner awards to increase?

  12. Yes, my understand is that if you qualified for platinum before October 8 2017 then the existing rules apply. Hope this helps.

  13. I am an Etihad Gold Guest. Recently bid for an upgrade to Business Melbourne – Abu Dhabi and got it. Used my points to upgrade Abu Dhabi- Manchester. First thing was at Melbourne – the plane wasn’t an A380… so that meant the a la carte menu in the lounge at Melbourne was gone (that service follows where the A380 flies from – so Sydney travellers order the magnificent wagyu burger!) I didn’t pack pyjamas in my hand luggage as last time I was in Business they were complimentary. I explained this to the cabin manager and he was great. He went and procured a set of First Class PJ’s. He was really frank about the cutbacks at Etihad. Lots of his colleagues have been laid off. The customer service on the flight was top notch but the removal of things like the toiletries pack on the Abu Dhabi-Manchester flight seemed mean. So something of an Etihad evangelist, with my points used up, I am at decision point now. Domestically I fly Qantas regularly and if I started simply doing my U.K. Business trips with Qantas/Emirates, I reckon I would get more value bundling the domestic and overseas flights. I haven’t even considered this previously because I have been so happy with Etihad. This is a classic case of killing the golden goose. Start ‘reverse-delighting’ your previously delighted, loyal guests and it’s all over for Etihad. They must be tanking big time as a business.

  14. Absolutely disgusting. Cost cutting has made this airline worse than a budget airline. This change in their miles program is the final straw for me. I was literally making two separate bookings on their website using my miles last night, when without warning the page refreshed and the amount of miles required for the destinations I was just about to pay for suddenly increased significantly- by around 50000 miles!!! All within an instant! I had no idea what was happening and I thought there was an error from my side. After looking online I found that both destinations I was booking to had major increases in miles fares. Yet Etihad sends an email today showing several destination where miles have decreased, claiming that we are all better off now. They honestly think we are all stupid and cannot see through their misleading adverts. The worst part was that I was making the booking on January 14, one day prior to when the apparent changes were supposed to occur. Etihad you have become an absolute disgrace and after many years of loyal service with you, and Gold Guest status, I will use up my miles and look for alternate carriers to fly with. Carriers who respect their loyal customers better than you do. Your miles and Gold status have no value anymore and there is no incentive to collect miles by flying with you anymore. I would rather find a cheaper airline with much better services than you offer, which will not at all be difficult to find!

  15. I had 650K points and they closed the account down, I was weeks away for booking a staff member her flights to OZ for her honey moon in business class and they suspend our company account. They DON’T CARE anymore after they bankrupt a great airline with bad investments in Alitalia, which is a basket case with their unions, staff and Air Berlin, can’t understand why they didn’t get the Germans working.

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