Etihad Guest members now need more miles to upgrade to business class and first class with Etihad Airways, and to book flights outright using miles under the latest changes to the airline’s frequent flyer scheme.
However, it’s not all bad news: some upgrades remain at the previous, more generous rates, while those that are increasing are mostly nudging north by a palatable 5-10%.
Wherever you’re headed, here’s what you need to know.
Using miles for Etihad Airways business, first class upgrades
As before, the number of miles needed for a business class or first upgrade depends on where you’re flying and the type of ticket you originally paid for.
On journeys between Sydney and Abu Dhabi, Economy Flex fares now require 48,600 miles for a one-way upgrade to business class – up from 45,599 miles previously – while midrange ‘Economy’ fares remain at 68,399 miles and Economy Saver tickets stay at 91,198 miles for the same upgrade.
Upgrades from business class to first class are also unchanged at 68,399 miles on this route.
Longer treks such as Sydney to London see increases across the board, with a one-way business class upgrade now costing 78,600 miles on Economy Flex tickets (previously 73,553 miles), and 107,399 miles from branded ‘Economy’ fares: up from 103,342 miles before.
Economy Saver tickets also climb from 143,612 to 148,698 miles for the same upgrade, with business class passengers impacted as well, with the asking price for a first class upgrade now 107,399 miles, compared to 103,342 miles previously.
Upgrading only the Abu Dhabi to London leg of a journey to first class also comes with a higher points cost attached, now being 39,000 miles instead of 34,943 miles as before, although the number of miles needed to upgrade from business class to first class between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi remains unchanged.
As before, only business class passengers can upgrade to first class, which means economy travellers can only upgrade to business class. Upgrades from Business Saver and Economy Breaking Deals fares remain unavailable.
To see how many miles you’ll need for an upgrade on your next Etihad flight, use the airline’s newly-revamped mileage calculator, and select the “show me how many miles I need to upgrade” option.
Using Etihad Guest miles to book Etihad Airways flights
Similar changes have also taken effect when using your hard-earned Etihad Guest miles to book an Etihad Airways flight outright in your preferred class of service.
For example, a one-way first class ticket from Sydney to Abu Dhabi now costs 136,249 miles, up from 130,216 miles before.
Jetting through from Sydney to London now pegs a first class seat at 223,999 miles – previously 216,513 miles – and a business class ticket at 162,500 miles: a minor decrease over 162,792 miles previously.
As always, the precise number of miles needed depends on your exact route, rather than using region-based ‘zones’ as with other popular frequent flyer schemes.
A one-way business class flight from Melbourne to Paris is now a precise 162,501 miles, as opposed to 156,367 miles before, but there’s a bigger bump for Perth-based flyers travelling to New York via Abu Dhabi, with the previous asking price of 179,062 miles jumping to 190,001 miles in business class.
In addition to showing upgrade costs, Etihad’s mileage calculator can also highlight how many miles you need to book flights on any other route – just choose the “show me how many miles I need to fly” option.
Etihad first flagged these increases to upgrade and reward flight rates in September 2017, but at the time, kept its cards close to its chest in not revealing the actual changes, saying only that “you will notice an increase of the miles required for upgrades.”
Virgin Australia’s Velocity Frequent Flyer members can continue booking Etihad Airways flights using Velocity points at the usual rates, although fees of up to US$300 per flight segment – up to US$1,200 (A$1,513) per return trip to Europe – continue to apply, over and above the other amounts payable in government taxes and fees.