Etihad Guest announces major changes to award redemptions, elite status and more

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has recently announced a wide range of changes coming to its Etihad Guest loyalty program starting in June 2024. These changes include both positive and negative aspects that will impact how customers earn and redeem miles, as well as the benefits available to elite status members.

One of the positive changes coming to the Etihad Guest program is a decrease in the cost of economy and business-class award redemptions on some popular routes. Economy redemptions will start from 5,000 miles, and business class redemptions from 15,000 miles, making it easier for customers to redeem their miles for flights. Additionally, customers will now be able to redeem miles to upgrade to Etihad’s famous A380 Residence between Abu Dhabi and London’s Heathrow Airport or New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, providing a luxurious travel experience for those willing to use their miles for an upgrade.

However, not all changes to the Etihad Guest program are positive. One of the most notable changes is that Etihad Guest miles will now expire after 18 months, and will only extend if you take a flight operated by Etihad or a partner airline within that time frame. This is a significant departure from other loyalty programs that allow any earning activity to extend the mileage expiration, making it more challenging for customers to keep their miles from expiring. Additionally, new redemption cancellation charges will be implemented, with penalties ranging from 25% to 75% of the miles redeemed, depending on how far in advance the cancellation is made. These new cancellation fees are likely to be unpopular among customers who value flexibility when redeeming their miles.

In terms of elite status changes, Etihad Guest members will no longer need to earn Tier Segments to earn elite status; instead, Tier Miles will be the sole earning metric for the airline. Elite members will be able to choose between different types of perks, including Core, Custom, and Beyond benefits, depending on their status level. Silver Tier members who earn 20,000 Tier Miles can choose two customized perks, while Gold Tier members who earn 40,000 Tier Miles can choose four perks, and Platinum members who earn 100,000 Tier Miles can choose five perks. Additionally, a new status level, Diamond Tier, will be introduced for those members spending at least $150,000 with Etihad Airways in 12 months, with benefits yet to be announced.

Overall, the changes coming to the Etihad Guest loyalty program in June 2024 are a mixed bag of positive and negative developments. While some customers may benefit from reduced award redemption rates and new upgrade opportunities, others may be disappointed by the new expiration policy for miles and increased cancellation fees. Elite status members will have more flexibility in choosing their benefits, but may find the new system of selecting perks to be less straightforward compared to other loyalty programs. As the implementation date approaches, customers will need to carefully consider how these changes will impact their travel habits and loyalty to the Etihad Guest program.

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