Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
The world’s airlines have found themselves having to be ever more inventive during this crisis as their cashflows dried up, refunds were demanded, and as countries closed their borders to non-residents. Some have used underhand tactics like refusing to refund passengers the monies they’re owed or conning passengers into believing that they’re not due refunds in the first place, while others have been decidedly more positive and have offered passengers incentives not to request cash refunds. Etihad has taken a different path.
Through 24 June 2020, Etihad is selling travel vouchers with a 50% bonus as it looks to boost its cash reserves to help it ride out the current storm, but considering the state of the airline industry right now, is this an option people should be considering?
- Buy Etihad travel vouchers by 24 June and get a 50% bonus added on
- Vouchers can be used for travel/upgrades/extras from 1 August 2020
- Vouchers are valid for 2 years from the date of issue
- Vouchers can be bought for any amount between $250 and $65,000
How This Works
To buy the vouchers you have to be a member of the Etihad Guest loyalty program (free to join) and you’ll have to call up the airline to make a purchase. When you purchase your vouchers, Ethiad will add the value of the vouchers to a “travel bank” and top it up with a further 50% of the value of your purchase (i.e. if you buy $2,000 of vouchers your travel bank will have a balance of $3,000).
Vouchers can be used to purchase flights and upgrades or to pay for a variety of extras that Ethihas offers (seat assignments, baggage fees, etc…). Importantly, the balance in the travel bank does not have to be used for flights, upgrades or extras for the person named on the travel bank – you can use your travel bank to make purchases for others.
To make a purchase using a travel bank balance, flyers can choose to purchase flight via the travel bank page (and select travel bank as the payment option) of they can call the airline.
Good Idea Or Bad?
Anyone purchasing Etihad travel vouchers is essentially making a bet that the airline is going to survive the current crisis (in its current guise)…or at least long enough to allow them to use their balance. If Etihad was to declare bankruptcy there’s little reason to believe that a travel bank balance will be seen as anything other than unsecured debt.
In the FAQs on the travel voucher page, the wording of a key question is a little ambiguous:
What can I use my voucher for?
You can use your voucher to pay for Etihad Airways flights and extras, such as seats or extra bags, from 1 August 2020.
Does this mean that bookings cannot be made before 1 August 2020 or that travel cannot commence before 1 August 2020? If it’s the former, you’re essentially giving Etihad an interest-free loan through the end of July while if it’s the latter, you can start booking right away.
There’s no real difference in how safe your money is with either of the interpretations, but being able to book travel now would at least allow you to search the fares the airline is offering at the moment and decide if you can parlay the travel voucher offer into a very nice (and economical) trip. If you can’t make a booking until August, you have no way of knowing what Etihad’s fares will look like when that time comes so it’s harder to predict just how much use a travel bank balance will be (it may not be a good deal if other airlines are offering better fares than Etihad on the routes you’d like to fly).
Personally speaking, I’m only mildly tempted.
While Abu Dhabi is unlikely to let Etihad disappear, it’s hard to overlook the fact that this is an airline that had serious money woes long before Covid-19 was a thing and it’s safe to assume that its finances are not looking any better right now. What’s to stop the airline being “restructured” in a way that allows it to continue flying (Abu Dhabi’s face is saved) but that wipes out its creditors?
I’m no expert on Abu Dhabi law so I don’t what is and isn’t legally possible for the airline to do, but I’m not sure that a saving of 33% off a future flight is enough to tempt me to risk the kind of sum that I’d have to risk if I was to get what I want out of this offer (I’d expect to have to part with $1,750+).
If you’re a very regular flyer with Etihad I can see how this may be a useful option for you. The travel voucher and bonus could be put to use on flights you would have booked anyway and on flights that will be taken sooner rather than later (less chance for the airline to fail).
If, on the other hand, you’re a traveler like me who doesn’t fly with Etihad very often and is just looking to score a nice saving on a good premium cabin flight sometime in the future, things are a lot less clear. For me, the risk of something happening to Etihad that reduces the value of my travel bank to zero slightly outweighs the bonus that’s being offered in this promotion…others with a different risk profile may disagree.