While many of you are probably familiar with redeeming American miles on Etihad, the Etihad Guest program may be a bit less familiar. After all, the airline you want to fly and the airline you should redeem miles through in order to fly your desired airline are often completely different things.
Etihad Guest miles are becoming easier to earn
The Etihad Guest program is increasingly one to pay attention to, given that it’s now transfer partners with three of the four major transferrable points currencies. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Marriott Bonvoy points to Etihad Guest.
Through June 15, 2016, Amex Membership Rewards offed a 30% transfer bonus to Etihad Guest.
When I wrote about that bonus I highlighted how it lowers the cost of many redemptions on Etihad. For example, Etihad Guest charges 117,560 miles for the A380 First Class Apartment between New York and Abu Dhabi, meaning at the moment you only need to transfer 91,000 Membership Rewards points to book that ticket.
Redeeming Etihad miles on American can be a great deal
It’s worth looking at some of the other airlines on which you can redeem Etihad Guest miles, as they have a unique array of partners. On most partner airlines, redemption costs aren’t great. However, some might be surprised to learn that Etihad Guest has excellent redemption rates for travel on American, which largely match American’s pre-devaluation costs.
Here’s their award chart for domestic redemptions:
And then here’s an explanation of what all of these codes mean:
There are a few things to keep in mind when redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American:
- You have to book at least 14 days before your intended departure date, which is quite restrictive given that American makes a lot of awards available last minute
- There shouldn’t be fuel surcharges, but the taxes may be a bit higher than if booking through American; it shouldn’t be too substantial, but don’t expect them to exactly match what American charges
- The availability Etihad has access to should match the saver space which American is showing their own members
- You have to book these awards by phone, and Etihad’s call center can be a bit frustrating to deal with
- You can redeposit award tickets for a fee of 10% of the number of miles you redeemed (ie, if a ticket cost 50,000 miles, you’d pay 5,000 miles to cancel)
- You can change award tickets for a fee of 100AED (~27USD)
- Etihad Guest miles expire two years after they’re issued, regardless of whether or not there’s activity on your account
With Amex’s 30% transfer bonus at the moment, this means you could transfer the following number of Amex points to Etihad for the following one way redemptions:
- A domestic US award for 10,000 Membership Rewards points
- A321 transcon first class between SF/LA and NY for 25,000 Membership Rewards points
- US to Europe, Asia 1, or South America 2 in first class for 49,000 Membership Rewards points
- US to Asia 2 in first class for 52,000 Membership Rewards points
- US to South Pacific in first class for 56,000 Membership Rewards points
These are some incredible values, and rates are of course even less for business class.
The more I look at Etihad Guest redemption opportunities, the more I realize that there are some very good values to be had. Etihad’s award pricing for travel on American is very similar to what American charged pre-devaluation. Add in that we’ll likely see transfer bonuses with some frequency, and I think Etihad Guest could start to become a really useful mileage currency.
Now, keep in mind that American isn’t great about consistently opening up award availability on their own flights. That being said, at times they seem to make tons of space available, which I typically cover on the blog. So it’s far from impossible to snag American premium cabin award availability in advance.
At a minimum, being able to book American A321 first class awards between LA/SF and NY at the old rates (or better, when you factor in the transfer bonus) is great.
No, the booking process isn’t easy, and yes, the 14 day advance purchase is restrictive, but this is still a redemption option I could see myself frequently using.
Could you see yourself redeeming Etihad Guest miles for travel on American?