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

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Etihad Airways announced a wide range of changes coming to its Etihad Guest loyalty program starting in June 2024. There are some winners and losers under the new system.

Etihad Guest is an under-the-radar frequent flyer program, and customers can usually find valuable partner sweet spots on its published award charts. For example, some TPG staffers prefer to book American Airlines flights through Etihad as they’ve found award redemptions for a fraction of the miles American was charging.

However, with changes coming to Etihad Guest in June 2024, will the program undergo a devaluation?

Keep reading to find out about the changes coming to this airline loyalty program.

Etihad Guest announces 2024 loyalty program changes

In positive news, Etihad announced that the cost of economy and business-class award redemptions on “some popular routes” will actually decrease. Economy redemptions will start from 5,000 miles, and business class redemptions from 15,000 miles, per Etihad’s website.

Pricing from the U.S. to Abu Dhabi currently remains the same at the time of publication, starting from 60,000 miles in economy or 120,000 miles in business class each way. But, because some airlines operate using dynamic pricing, you can sometimes save money by booking business-class tickets through Etihad; other international tickets can be much higher than this.

Another exciting development coming to Etihad? Customers will be able to redeem miles to upgrade to Etihad’s famous A380 Residence between Abu Dhabi and London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) or New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Upgrade prices and rules have not yet been announced.

As for the not-so-good news, Etihad Guest miles will 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 far more restrictive than other programs that allow any earning activity (such as a small shopping portal purchase or purchasing 1,000 miles) to extend the mileage expiration.

New redemption cancellation charges are likely to also be unpopular, with a 25% mileage penalty when canceling an Etihad Guest redemption more than 21 days before departure, up to a steep 75% penalty for cancellations within seven days of departure. Again, this is much more restrictive than competing programs; for instance, Qatar Airways Privilege Club charges just $25 to change or cancel a redemption up to 24 hours before departure.

Related: How to avoid airline change and cancellation fees

seats on etihad flight

Etihad Guest elite status changes

Elite status members will continue to receive core benefits like priority check-in and boarding, complimentary Wi-Fi and additional mileage earnings. However, Etihad announced that 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.

From June 2024, elite members will be able to choose different types of perks: Core, Custom and Beyond. In addition to the Core perks available at each elite status Tier, the number of Custom benefits will increase as your status level increases. Silver Tier members will be able to choose two customized perks, Gold Tier can choose four and Platinum members can choose five.

Silver Tier members who earn 20,000 Tier Miles in a membership year (10,000 from flying) can choose two of the following:

  • Lounge access in Abu Dhabi
  • Free seat selection
  • 25% discount on baggage fees
  • Two carbon offset vouchers

Etihad Guest Gold Tier members (earning 40,000 Tier Miles with 20,000 from flying) can choose four of the following custom benefits:

  • Lounge access (with one guest) in Abu Dhabi
  • One extra checked bag
  • Two free chauffeur services within the UAE
  • Free chauffeur service in the UAE for GuestsSeats in Business or First Class
  • One free refund on a GuestSeat booking
  • Two free Home check-ins within the UAE
  • Four carbon offset vouchers.

Gold Tier members who earn 75,000 miles can also gift the following benefits to family and friends (called “beyond benefits”):

  • Two business-class lounge passes
  • One Silver Tier status
  • 10,000 Etihad Guest miles

Platinum Tier members who earn 100,000 Tier Miles (with a minimum of 40,000 Tier Miles from flying) can choose five of the following benefits:

  • First-class lounge access (with one guest) in Abu Dhabi
  • One extra checked bag
  • Two upgrades on eligible routes
  • Extra legroom seats for up to four guests
  • Move to an earlier flight the same day for free
  • Two free chauffeur services within the UAE
  • Two free refunds on a GuestSeat booking
  • Four free Home check-ins within the UAE
  • Six carbon offset vouchers

Additionally, a brand new status level, Diamond Tier, is being introduced for those members spending at least $150,000 with Etihad Airways in 12 months. The benefits of this new tier are still to be announced.

As for Beyond perks, these will be benefits that are exclusively available to Gold and Platinum Tier members.

Gold Tier members who earn 75,000 Tier Miles can gift the following benefits to family and friends:

  • Two business-class lounge passes
  • Silver Tier Status nomination
  • 10,000 Etihad Guest Bonus Miles

Platinum Tier members who earn 175,000 miles can also gift the following beyond benefits to family and friends:

  • Three business-class lounge passes
  • Three passes for priority check-in, boarding and baggage
  • 20,000 Etihad Guest miles

Related: Etihad brings flagship Airbus A380 — with private onboard Residence — back to the US

etihad area in airport

Bottom line

Overall, there are many changes coming to the Etihad Guest loyalty program, both positive and negative. Hopefully, there will be more reductions to award redemptions, though we haven’t seen anything significant at the time of publication.

Although the rates have yet to be revealed and may be steep, being able to redeem miles to upgrade to Etihad’s famous A380 Residence is an exciting development.

For elite-status members, the option of choosing elite benefits will be welcomed by some, though other programs offer top-tier elite members all benefits rather than forcing them to choose.

If you are looking to redeem transferable miles for flights operated by Etihad, it’s worth considering Air Canada Aeroplan. The plan has fixed rates for partner redemptions and much more reasonable redemption cancellation fees than Etihad Guest will implement starting in June.