Etihad Make Changes to Award Redemptions, Impact to AA Awards?

Etihad sent notice this morning that after a comprehensive review of their Etihad Guest loyalty program, they’ve essentially decided to introduce the equivalent of AAnytime awards, offering last seat availability for redemptions.  The new award level will be called OpenSeats. In addition, they are increasing the number of business class seats available at the low (GuestSeats) award level, apparently by 1,000 additional seats per month on their most popular routes. Mileage required for business class trips over 6,000 miles will decrease by 25 percent (this covers North America-AUH). Trips less than 6,000 miles will have award price increases in business while first class redemptions will receive increases across the board.

How these changes will impact AA redemptions on Etihad remains to be seen, but based on the language below and the expressed rationale for the changes (a sustainable program and more seats for Etihad Guest members), I’d expect Etihad availability to become stinger when redeeming awards with American. I also don’t see the additional low level business award seats becoming available  for AA members, perhaps I’m being too pessimistic though…

Surcharges, earning rates, and changes to upgrades were announced as well, full release below:

Dear Adam,

Etihad Guest was created in 2006 to recognise and reward customers of Etihad Airways and its airline partners. The programme has grown significantly since then and now has more than 100 non-airline commercial partners and more than three million members.

In light of the increasing demand for seats, we have conducted a comprehensive review of the Etihad Guest programme and, as a result, will be making some changes on 8 July 2015 to ensure it remains attractive, competitive and sustainable.

Members will continue to enjoy no blackout periods, with GuestSeats being available in Economy Class and Business Class on every route, every day, at our fixed, lowest price. At the same time, OpenSeats will still allow members to book any available fare using Etihad Guest Miles, even if it is the last seat on the plane.

An overview of the changes

Earning Etihad Guest Miles when flying

On certain fare classes, we are adjusting the number of Etihad Guest Miles being awarded to members when they fly with Etihad Airways. Five fare classes will now offer more miles than they do today, and two will offer fewer.

More GuestSeat availability

In line with the growing demand from members, the minimum number of GuestSeats available in Business Class on some of our highest demand routes will increase by 20 per cent. This will result in Etihad Airways releasing around 1,000 additional seats in Business Class each month on popular routes.

There will be a minimum of five GuestSeats available in Economy Class on every flight.

Using miles for GuestSeats

The number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat in Economy Class will reduce for sectors over 6,000 miles. This means that flights such as Abu Dhabi to Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Toronto and New York will be available for 25 per cent fewer miles than today.

What’s more, the number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat in Business Class will not change on sectors over 6,000 miles.

For sectors under 6,000 miles, the number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat in Economy Class remains the same, however in Business Class they will increase.

The number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat in First Class will increase on all sectors.

Using miles for OpenSeats

For the first time, members will now be able to use their Etihad Guest Miles towards our lowest available Breaking Deals fares in Economy and Business Class.

Members who wish to buy a Business or First Class OpenSeat with miles to some of our most popular routes – such as Abu Dhabi to Istanbul, London, Bangkok and Sydney – will receive a member-only discount of up to 30 per cent on the commercial fare. To access the discount members will need to contribute a fixed minimum number of Etihad Guest Miles towards the fare.

On all other routes and classes, members can still contribute as little as one Etihad Guest Mile towards the price of the OpenSeat ticket.

Using miles for Upgrades

The number of Etihad Guest Miles required for upgrades will also change. The route, cabin and fare class of the original booking will determine the number of miles required for the upgrade but, overall, the number of miles required for an upgrade will increase.

Members who purchase a Breaking Deals fare from 8 July 2015 will no longer be able to use miles to upgrade.


The fuel surcharges that have traditionally been levied on some GuestSeats into Abu Dhabi will be removed. However, a carrier charge will now be included on all GuestSeat bookings and will be calculated based on the number of sectors and the travel class: US$50 per sector when travelling in Economy Class, US$100 in Business Class and US$150 in First Class.

All changes being implemented ensure that we are able to release more seats to our growing member base, whilst remaining competitive and sustainable.

As per clause 12.1 of the terms and conditions of the Etihad Guest programme, these revisions shall apply with effect from 8 July 2015. For more detailed information, please visit

Thank you for your ongoing support of Etihad Guest, as well as Etihad Airways and its partners. We look forward to welcoming you on board soon.

Yasser Al Yousuf
Managing Director, Etihad Guest

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