Updated 4/17/2017 to reflect:
- a previously unnoticed sweetspot flying GOL within South America pointed out by a reader
- Etihad’s devaluation of their Brussels Airlines award chart as New York to Brussels is no longer the sweetspot it once was. Flying roundtrip between New York and Brussels in Brussels Business Class used to cost 36,620 Etihad miles + taxes. Now it costs a whopping 88,000 Etihad miles + taxes.
This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #1: Suites Class for as Little as 32,000 Miles
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #2: Awards on United and Partner Flights
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #1: 10,000 Points USA to Europe
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #2: Sweetspots on 12 Partner Award Charts
- Sweetspots with Virgin America Points: 35,000 Points Roundtrip to Europe in Flat Bed
- Sweetspots with Flying Blue Miles: 30,000 Miles Roundtrip to Hawaii
- Sweetspots with Etihad Miles: 20,000 Miles One Way to Europe (this post)
Etihad miles are easy to accrue as Etihad Guest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, SPG Starpoints, and Amex Membership Rewards.
Etihad Guest is the loyalty program of Etihad Airlines, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates based out of Abu Dhabi. It is not affiliated with any alliance, but it does have many partners:
- Air New Zealand
- Air Serbia
- Air Seychelles
- Air Berlin
- American Airlines
- Asiana Airlines
- Bangkok Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Czech Airlines
- Etihad Regional
- Garuda Indonesia
- Hainan Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Korean Air
- Malaysian Airlines
- Oman Air
- Philippine Airlines
- Royal Air Maroc
- South African Airways
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
- Ukraine International Airlines
- Virgin Australia
When redeeming Etihad miles on Etihad flights, one ways cost half the price of a roundtrip.
For partner redemptions, it varies–there is no hard and fast rule about booking one way awards. For instance, when redeeming on American Airlines, you can book one way awards for half the price of a roundtrip. However when redeeming on Brussles Airlines, all awarsds price at the roundtrip level.
Stopovers and Open Jaws
The tangible information I could find regarding stopovers on Etihad flights is the following from the terms and conditions on etihadguest.com: “Stopovers in Abu Dhabi are permitted on GuestSeat Rewards only where the booking is made via the Etihad Guest Service Centre” (i.e. by calling in).
For partner redemptions, I couldn’t find any information on stopovers or open jaws, though for partners you can book one way (like American Airlines), you know a roundtrip can have two open jaws.
Some partners have a defined set of routes you can redeem on each with its own price, some use distance-based pricing, and some use region-based pricing. Check each partner’s page on etihad.com for more details on the award rules for each partner.
Etihad doesn’t collect fuel surcharges when redeeming its miles on its own flights. However, in addition to taxes, it does collect $50 per longhaul Saver (“Guest”) segment in economy, $100 in Business, and $150 in First.
As far as I know, Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on partner awards. I know for a fact, fuel surcharges are not collected on awards that fly American Airlines or Air Serbia, and I do not think they are collected on Brussels Airlines flights. Let us know in the comments if you have any first hand experience with other partners.
Sweetspots for Redemptions
Unfortunately Etihad miles offer poor value on Etihad flights. Each award costs more Etihad miles than it would cost with American Airlines miles, even on American’s new devalued chart. But there are multiple sweetspots redeeming Etihad miles on partner airlines.
For redeeming Etihad miles on American Airlines flights, the Etihad’s award chart is nearly identical to the old American Airlines award chart before the devaluation that just happened last week, at least for now. Remember 62,500 miles one way to Australia in Business Class and 20,000 miles one way to Europe in Economy? Can’t book those with American Airlines miles anymore, but you can with Etihad miles!
- 125,000 Etihad miles + taxes = United States to Australia roundtrip in American Airlines Business Class
- 40,000 Etihad miles + taxes = United States to Europe roundtrip in American Airlines Economy (however that out of pocket amount would skyrocket if you returned from London because of departure taxes, choose one of these European cities with lower taxes instead)
Etihad’s award prices for flying GOL are distance-based. You might have trouble opening that chart if you’re located in the United States, but all you have to do to view it is use a VPN for a different country and change the country at the top of Etihad’s site.
A distance-based award chart means sweetspots are going to be short distance, direct, economy flights.
GOL’s hub is São Paulo. For example, I priced out the following awards by calling Etihad:
- 3,000 Etihad miles + $10.20 to fly GOL São Paulo > Rio de Janeiro
- 3,000 Etihad miles + $9.90 to fly GOL Rio de Janeiro > Florianopolis
- 6,000 Etihad miles + $9.90 to fly GOL Rio de Janeiro > Salvador
- 6,000 Etihad miles + $71.90 to fly GOL Buenos Aires > Florianopolis
- 9,000 Etihad miles + $38 to fly GOL Rio de Janeiro > Buenos Aires
Any of those same GOL flights would cost 12,500 Delta miles.
I wouldn’t exactly call this a sweetspot, but it is useful to know that if you ever need to book a flight on Air Serbia for some reason, hopping over to Romania on a Eurotrip perhaps, the only miles you can use to book their awards are Etihad miles.
Searching Award Space and Booking
To search award space for Etihad’s own flights, you can search at etihadguest.com. A “GuestSeat” is the equivalent of Saver level. If you just want a quote on how many miles an award on their own metal would cost, you can input your city pair into their mileage calculator.
To search award space for one of Etihad’s partners you must look elsewhere because etihadguest.com only displays award space on its own flights. Check out the list below to see which sites you should use to find award space for each of Etihad’s partners. Remember to look for Saver space as that is what should be available to all partners.
- united.com – Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, South African Airways
- ana.com – ANA
- aa.com – Airberlin, American Airlines,
- britishairways.com – Malaysian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines
- delta.com – Alitalia, GOL, Korean Air, Virgin Australia
- airfrance.com – Czech Airlines
- alaskaairlines.com – Hainan
- Call – all other airlines
Partner award space is not bookable online with Etihad miles. Call Etihad Guest at (+44 0345 6081225). That is the UK office number, which I recommend calling over the US office as the agents in the UK have been much more proficient in my experience. Tell the agent the partner airline you want to fly, and feed them the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found using one of the sites above.
Etihad has been known to run transfer bonuses from Citi ThankYou Points, like this one for 25% at the end of 2015. If you had used Etihad miles transferred from ThankYou Points during the period of the bonus, that roundtrip Business ticket between New York and Brussels in a flat bed would have cost only 28,000 ThankYou Points. That is a downright steal. To give you a frame of reference, the same award would cost 140,000 miles roundtrip using United miles.
There was another similar 25% bonus between ThankYou Points and Etihad even more recently than the 2015 sale, during July of 2016.
Etihad Trip Reports
If you’re interested in learning more about Etihad’s product, read the trip reports below. I traveled from India to the US in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment as well as their Business Class for one leg.
- Trip Report: Etihad Business Class from Chennai to Abu Dhabi
- Trip Report: Etihad First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi (Including Shave and Massage)
- Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Seat, Suite, Vanity, Amenity Kit, Pajamas, Bed, Sleeping
- Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Food, Drink, and Onboard Lounge
- Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Shower and Bathroom
Getting Citi ThankYou Points to Transfer to Etihad
The best cards to rack up Etihad miles are the:
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card: 30,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment
- Citi Prestige® Card: 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
- There is another public sign up offer for the Citi Prestige right now–you can earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points for spending $5,000 in three months. If you don’t see that offer when you pull up the application page, try opening it in an incognito window or a different browser. I have seen both the 40k and 50k offer.
Transferring ThankYou Points to Etihad Miles
IMPORTANT – In my experience, Etihad miles have taken seven days to post to my Etihad Guest account after transferring from ThankYou Points. Transfer times vary from only one to up 12 days. While there is no way around this risk, it is important to take into consideration as award space is prone to change. Etihad allows awards to be put on hold for 24 hours, so take advantage of that while your points are transferring between accounts. I would even try pushing the agent for a longer hold than 24 hours by explaining that you are waiting for your Citi ThankYou Points to hit your Guest Account.
There are some incredibly high value partner redemptions using Etihad miles, mainly flying American Airlines for the same amount of miles that it used to cost on American Airlines’ pre-devaluation award chart.