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Etihad is currently sending out emails to its Etihad Guest rewards program members with a subject line to worry any seasoned miles and points enthusiast. No one who’s been around this hobby for any length of time likes to receive an email from a rewards program where the subject line reads “An update to your programme benefits” – they’re almost always bad news.
This time things aren’t any different and it looks as if Etihad is even using all the well-worn words that we’re used to seeing in a devaluation announcement.
Phrases like “we have conducted a review on some of your programme benefits” followed by “we will be making some changes to ensure they remain attractive and competitive” was never going to end in good news was it?
In rewards-program-speak the phrase “we have conducted a review” actually means “we’ve been looking for things to cut” and “making changes to keep benefits attractive and competitive” just means “we’ve found things to cut and we’re about to start cutting them”.
What’s Changing With Etihad Guest?
Below are all the things that Etihad discusses in the email its sending out together with my thoughts.
From 8 October 2017
We are aligning all the tiers to have the same 1 year validity. Etihad Guest Members who gain Silver, Gold or Platinum Tier status will now have 1 year to enjoy and retain these benefits.
TFM Thoughts: Up until now those with Gold or Platinum status would see their tier level expire after 2 years – after the devaluation their tier status will expire after just one year (just like Silver members) – that’s a big change and a serious reduction in benefits for the top two tiers.
500 Welcome Bonus Miles:
Etihad Guest Members whose first flight is with Etihad Airways, Air Serbia or Air Seychelles will continue to receive 500 welcome bonus miles. However, if your first activity is with another partner airline or non-air partner, you will no longer receive the 500 welcome bonus miles.
TFM Thoughts: Fair enough. I’m not going to worry about 500 miles!
Gold Members Lounge Access in Abu Dhabi :
Etihad Guest Gold Members flying on Etihad Airways operated flights will be eligible to use the Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge in Terminal 1 and 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
TFM Thoughts: Etihad Gold members used to have access to the Al Reem lounge in Abu Dhabi but, as I’ve never been in this lounge, I can’t really comment on how good or bad this news is – anyone else care to chime in?
Collecting miles on Etihad Airways:
On two of our Etihad Airways fare classes, we are increasing the number of Etihad Guest Miles being awarded. For fare class “J” in Business will go to 200% and fare class “F” in First will go to 275%.
bEtihad A380 Business Class
TFM Thoughts: And here comes the token gesture before the axe falls. On the face of things this may sound like a nice bonus for flyers – and it is – but as these fare codes are for flexible (i.e incredibly expensive) fares these will be improvement enjoyed by very few.
From 15 January 2018
GuestSeats and Upgrades
The number of Etihad Guest Miles required for a GuestSeat on Etihad Airways will decrease on certain routes and increase on others to keep our fares competitive.
You will also notice an increase of the miles required for upgrades.
TFM Thoughts: Interesting that Etihad doesn’t appear to want to reveal what the award price changes will be, what routes the changes will be on or what the new cost of upgrades will be….that doesn’t bode well!
I’m prepared to bet that the decreases will appear on routes most people don’t care about and on routes on which miles are rarely used. The increases will almost certainly be on routes most people enjoy booking with miles – New York, London, Paris etc…
There will be an increase of USD 50 on the Carrier Surcharge across some of our Business and First Class routes.
TFM Thoughts: No surprise to see an airline that’s already in love with surcharges increasing them even more.
Etihad A380 First Class
Open Seats on Etihad Airways
Members can still use as little as 1 Etihad Guest Mile to purchase our Open Seats redemptions, allowing you to purchase any available fare, in any cabin, including The Residence.
TFM Thoughts: Are we supposed to say thank you at this point?!
The main things are:
- It appears that, at a minimum, Etihad Guest members will all have 3 months less in which to enjoy benefits of status – it may be worse (I’ll try to get clarification)
- The increases in earnings that have been announced mean next to nothing – they’ll apply to a very small sub-set of flyers and I doubt even one of them reads this blog 🙂
- The increase in award and upgrade costs probably won’t be pretty. There’s been no indication of when we’ll be told what the actual numbers will be but I’d assume the worst.
- No surprise to see an airline that looks like it needs cash raising its surcharges (a.k.a made up fees)
I’m fortunate as I don’t have a stash of Etihad miles that are about to be devalued but, if I did, I’d be looking to burn off a few miles just in case the value I get now is a considerably better than the value available to me after the devaluation.