Etihad Expands Hand Baggage Only Fares To Select Long Haul Destinations

airplanes parked at an airport

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It was September 2018 when Etihad became the first of the Gulf carriers to introduce a “hand baggage only” fare but, unlike most other airlines that offer a similar option, Etihad has only been offering these fares on select short-haul routes in its local region. As of this month, however, things have changed and flyers can now buy Etihad’s “Deal Fare” on routes further afar.

What Is Etihad’s “Deal Fare”?

Ordinarily, the Deal Fare includes a hand baggage allowance of just 7kg but while the world is battling with the current pandemic, Etihad is allowing those flying on a Deal fare up to 12kg with the 7kg item having to be checked into the hold (ironic isn’t it?).

a screenshot of a phone

Deal Fares don’t offer most flyers a checked baggage allowance but travelers with Etihad Guest elite status get an exemption…of sorts:

  • Etihad Guest Silver – 10kg allowance
  • Etihad Guest Gold – 15kg allowance
  • Etihad Guest Platinum – 20kg allowance

There are other differences between the Deal fares and regular Economy Class fares too:

a screenshot of a flight deal

Deal fares cost more to change than regular Economy Class fares and they earn fewer miles than regular Economy Class fares…but some can now be upgraded to Business Class for a fee (this wasn’t an option at the outset).

What’s Changing?

Since Etihad’s Deal Fare was introduced it has only been available for travel between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Azerbaijan but, as of this month, that list of destinations has been expanded to include the following:

  • Belarus
  • Greece
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Turkey

Etihad says that it is limiting its Deal Fare to flights of 6 hours or less (it’s cutting it close with its flight to/from Minsk!) so, for the time being, we shouldn’t expect to see this fare appear on routes to destinations like London, New York, Sydney, etc… but I wouldn’t put it past the airline to offer Deal Fares on routes of over 6 hours in the not too distant future.

Bottom Line

Etihad is now offering Deal Fares (hand baggage only fares) to destinations as far afield as Belarus and Russia so we can probably expect the cost of Saver Fares (the cheapest fares these routes have historically offered and which offer a checked baggage allowance) to increase with the Deal Fares slotting in at the price level once occupied by the Saver Fares.

Etihad is spinning its Deal Fares as a positive move and claiming that they give passengers more choice (technically, true), but the reality is that the main reason these fares exist is to allow Etihad to charge more for the cheapest fares that offer a checked baggage allowance. Considering how desperately Etihad needs cash, this isn’t a surprising development.