15 Best Ways To Redeem Etihad Guest Miles for Max Value [2017]

Etihad In-Flight Lounge

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is Air Transport World’s 2016 Airline of the Year.

Etihad is famous for its new planes and luxurious experience such as the First Class Apartments.

From the United Arab Emirates, Etihad serves 68 countries around the world, including U.S. cities like Chicago, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Even if you don’t fly Etihad often, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by utilizing credit cards and a variety of other strategies.

The Best Ways To Boost Your Etihad Guest Miles

You can actually earn Etihad Guest miles without ever setting foot on their planes. Through partnerships with American Express, SPG and Citi, you can transfer points from various credit cards to Etihad Guest.

American Express Membership Rewards

Amex Membership Rewards points transfer and convert to Etihad Guest miles at a 1:1 ratio. There are sometimes bonuses that Amex run when transferring to Etihad, so keep an eye out for those as that’s just gravy!

This transfer takes a minimum of 3 business days.

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The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Etihad Guest also partners with the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program. You can earn points with an SPG credit card and convert them to Etihad Guest.

SPG Starpoints transfer to Etihad at a 1:1 ratio, and you get a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer in a single transaction.

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Note that SPG Preferred members must transfer a minimum of 2,500 Starpoints. For SPG Gold members it is 1,500, and there is no minimum for SPG Platinum.

It can take up to a week for transfers to complete, so make your transfer as far in advance as possible.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Earn ThankYou Rewards with your Citibank credit card and transfer them to Etihad Guest Miles at a 1:1 ratio.

Citi ThankYou Rewards is partnered with Etihad Guest. This means you can earn points with your Citi ThankYou Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card and transfer them to your Etihad Guest account at a 1:1 ratio. Other ThankYou cards are not eligible to transfer to airlines unless you pair them with a Premier or Prestige.

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Citi Prestige® Card
  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Annual Fee: $450
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Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
  • 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Annual Fee: $0
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Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • 3 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on Travel, including Gas
  • Annual Fee: $95 (Fee waived for the first 12 months)
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It takes a minimum of 3 business days for Citi ThankYou points to transfer to Etihad.

The 15 Best Ways To Use Your Etihad Guest Miles

The Etihad frequent flyer program is popular among points-earners because it has some great redemption options. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Fly American Airlines at Pre-Devaluation Prices in Business and First Class

Flying American Airlines in business class at pre-devaluation rates is a steal!
Flying American Airlines in business class at pre-devaluation rates is a steal! Image courtesy of AA.com.

Beginning our list of the best ways to use Etihad miles is with American Airlines. In 2016, American Airlines significantly devalued their business and first class travel awards.

Fortunately, Etihad’s award chart for American still allows you to book flights on American Airlines at pre-devaluation levels.

You have some great options by flying American with Etihad miles:

  • Fly to Europe for 50,000 miles in business class or 62,500 miles in first class
  • Fly to Asia 1 (Japan, Korea, Mongolia) for 50,000 miles in business class or 62,500 miles in first class
  • Fly to Asia 2 (China, Thailand, Singapore, etc.) for 55,000 miles in business class and 67,500 miles in first class
  • Fly to the South Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, etc.) for 62,500 in business class and 67,500 in first class

2. Off-Peak to Europe, South America, and Asia on American Airlines

Etihad’s American Airlines award chart includes off-peak economy awards for certain destinations. From North America, off-peak prices include:

  • Europe for 20,000 miles (peak is 30,000 miles)
  • South America 2 for 20,000 miles (peak is 30,000 miles)*
  • Asia 1 for 25,000 miles (peak is 32,500 miles)**

*South America 2 = Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile (excluding Easter Island), Paraguay, Uruguay
**Asia 1 = Japan, Korea, Mongolia

3. Book Business Class to Europe on Brussels Airlines

brussels airlines
If you’re flying to Europe from the east coast, consider booking Brussels Airlines business class with Etihad Guest miles. Image courtesy press.brusselsairlines.com

In April 2017, Etihad massively devalued their award chart for flights on Brussels Airlines. While this was a disappointing blow for award travel, there are still some solid redemptions.

The Etihad Guest award chart for Brussels Airlines shows pricing for one-way flights. Even with the devaluation, there are some competitive awards to book.

You can fly between New York (JFK), Toronto, or Washington, D.C. (IAD) and Brussels round-trip in business for 88,000 miles. That is not much more than most airlines charges one-way in economy! Round-trip economy costs 56,000 miles.

Availability is hard to find and does not match other websites such as united.com. Be persistent in calling Etihad Guest until you get an agent who is helpful and competent.

Bottom Line: Etihad’s devaluation of the Brussels Airlines award chart hurts, but there is still value to be had.

4. Fly Air Berlin in Business Class to Berlin

Try Air Berlin's business class product for great deal to Berlin.
Try Air Berlin’s business class product for great deal to Berlin. Image courtesy of airberlin.com

Air Berlin’s New York (JFK) to Berlin nonstop goes for 49,000 miles one-way in business class. This may not be as cheap as Brussels Airlines, but is still a great deal compared to other airline programs.

5. U.S. West Coast to Tokyo on ANA in Business Class

Seattle-Tokyo one-way on ANA is 54,000 miles in business class or 30,000 miles in economy.

Because Etihad’s ANA award chart is distance-based, San Francisco or Los Angeles to Tokyo is more: 63,000 miles in business class or 37,000 miles in economy.

ANA Business Class
Fly to Tokyo on ANA, which has one of the premier business class experiences in the world. Image courtesy of ana.co.jp

6. U.S. West Coast to Beijing on Hainan Airlines in Business Class

Hainan Airlines is a Skytrax 5-star airline with flights from Seattle, San Jose (CA), and now Las Vegas to Beijing. On the Hainan Airlines distance-based chart, those will go for a competitive 81,000 miles in business class or 41,000 in economy.

Hainan Airlines Business Class
Hainan Airlines business class. Image courtesy hainanairlines.com

7. Brazil’s Most Pristine Beaches for 3,000 miles!

Etihad’s Gol award chart is distance-based. Flights of 500 miles or less cost just 3,000 miles in economy or 6,000 in economy comfort. (Gol does not have business class.)

Gol flies from Recife to the magical islands of Fernando de Noronha. This ticket is often $500 each-way!

Fernando De Noronha
Experience Brazil’s most pristine beaches at Fernando de Noronha. Image courtesy Michal Staniewski/shutterstock.com

Many other Brazil flights are also super-cheap with Etihad Guest miles.

8. Fly Around Eastern Europe on Air Serbia

Air Serbia’s short flights from Belgrade start at just 5,000 miles in economy. Business is 7,150 miles.

Many of these flights are cheap to pay outright in cash also, so always compare.

Hot Tip: Utilize benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express to make all your travels a little more comfortable. Perks include airport lounge access, worldwide Boingo WiFi, hotel elite status, and more!

9. Fly Prague to Seoul on Czech Airlines in Business Class

Fly Czech Airlines with Etihad Guest Miles
Use Etihad miles to fly business class at economy class prices! Image courtesy of czechairlines.com.

Etihad frequent flyer program has a few super low prices on their partner travel awards, and this is one of them. Czech Airlines business class from Prague to Seoul is only 25,610 miles. That’s less than most airlines charge for economy!

10. Fly to Casablanca With Royal Air Maroc

Royal Air Maroc airline using Etihad Guest miles
Royal Air Maroc might not be an airline you are overly familiar with, but when business class flights from the U.S. cost only 44,000 miles, you should take the time to learn! Image courtesy flight-report.com.

Royal Air Maroc has a distance-based award chart. With distance-based charts, travel award value can depend on slight distance differences that put a flight into a lower or higher price bracket.

Even so, at the longest distance for Etihad Guest awards on Royal Air Maroc (2,001+ miles), New York to Casablanca costs just 22,000 miles one-way in economy, or 44,000 miles one-way in business class.

In 2016, Royal Air Maroc launched nonstop service from Washington-Dulles to Casablanca for the same price.

11. Fly Oman Air in Business Class

Fly Oman Air via Etihad Guest
A great business class product on an under-the-radar airline is Oman Air. Image courtesy of omanair.com.

There are 2 great Etihad Guest award values on Oman Air:

  • London to Muscat in business class is 44,000 miles
  • Singapore to Muscat in business class is 42,000 miles

Oman Air’s business class is not as internationally well-known as Etihad, but it receives high marks from travelers in the know.

12. Bali to Australia on Virgin Australia in Business Class

Bali, Indonesia to Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane are 6+ hour flights. These go for 33,800 miles in business or 16,900 in economy.

13. Hop Around Australia and New Zealand on Virgin Australia

Etihad Guest has a distance-based award chart for Virgin Australia. This is perfect for short, expensive flights to incredible destinations such as Brisbane-Hamilton Island for the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays. This flight is only 6,900 miles in economy, and getting to Sydney-Ayers Rock is 10,900 miles.

Note: certain Western Australia routes, including from Perth to several popular diving destinations, are served by Virgin Australia Regional. Etihad may not be able to book awards on these flights. You can try alternate programs such as Delta SkyMiles, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Whitsundays Australia
Visit the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays. Image courtesy ronnybas/shutterstock.com

14. Australia and New Zealand to the Pacific on Virgin Australia

Getting to the Pacific islands is rarely cheap. Using Etihad Guest on Virgin Australia, though, Auckland to Tonga and Brisbane to Vanuatu are just 6,900 miles in economy. Other Pacific islands that cost more are Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.

15. Travel With an Infant

baby travel on Etihad Airlines
Be careful of those infant in arms fees that some airlines charge. Etihad won’t take an arm and a leg from you! Image courtesy travelagentcentral.com

Traveling with an infant lap child using Etihad Guest awards is really reasonable. You will only be charged an additional 10% of the original mileage cost of your ticket to add your infant.

On that Brussels Airlines New York to Brussels flight in business class, adding an infant is only 3,663 miles extra!

Bottom Line: Etihad Guest’s greatest values come not for redeeming on Etihad flights. Rather, take advantage of great values with several of its many partners. For Etihad flights including the famed First Class Apartments, use American Airlines AAdvantage miles or Korean SkyPass miles to book.

16. Buy Miles as Cheap as 0.9 Cents to Save on Etihad Flights!

Plenty of airlines will sell you miles at high prices. None may be as cheap at the roughly 0.9 cents/miles Etihad charges for its Miles Plus Cash option.

For an online award on Etihad flights only, you can purchase as many as 25% of the total miles needed for an award flight. The price varies slightly by trip, though is usually around 0.9 cents/mile. In perspective, most airlines sell miles for 1.7-2.5 cents/mile.

At this favorable rate, the overall cost in miles and cash for an award ticket on Etihad can be a great value!

Etihad Guest Program

How Much Do Etihad Guest Awards Cost?

Etihad does not have a fixed award chart for its own flights, but you can check the GuestSeat Mileage Calculator to see the lowest price of a specific route.

GuestSeat is similar to ‘saver’ awards at other airlines, but these may not be available. If GuestSeat is not available, there usually are OpenSeat awards, which can be crazy expensive.

Etihad Guest Mileage Calculator JFK-AUH
Search by destination with the Etihad Guest Mileage Calculator.

Searching for Etihad Guest Awards

You can search for Etihad awards on the Etihad Guest website, but you cannot search online for partner awards.

Etihad Guest Award Search JFK-AUH
Search for Etihad Guest award flights on the Etihad website.

The Etihad website does not handle connecting itineraries well, so you should search segment by segment for availability and then call Etihad to book. Pricing is additive, meaning each segment prices individually and awards can get expensive fast.

As an example: for travel from New York to Maldives, you may need to search separately for New York to Abu Dhabi, then Abu Dhabi to Maldives.

Miles Plus Cash

If you are short on miles, Etihad allows you to purchase up to 25% of the miles needed for an award. When searching for an award, just choose Miles Plus Cash. Use the slider to determine miles needed and price.

You can only use Miles Plus Cash for booking Etihad flights (not partner flights), and you must book online.

Etihad Guest offers perhaps the best value Miles Plus Cash option of any major airline. Other airlines may sell miles at around 1.7-2.5 cents/mile. On Etihad, when purchased in conjunction with an award, you can buy miles for a little as 0.9 cents!

To qualify for Miles Plus Cash:

  • You must book online
  • You must book on Etihad flights
  • You must have at least 75% of the total required miles for the trip already in your account because you can only purchase of to 25% of required miles

Here’s how it works:

  1. Search for an Etihad award.
  2. Select a flight at full miles price, and continue to booking.
  3. You will be presented a slider to choose to purchase from 0-25% of the required miles. Make your choice and continue.
  4. Purchase your ticket and enjoy your trip!

Etihad Guest Airline Partner Awards

Etihad has many partner airlines, each with its own award chart; some are zone-based and some distance-based. We have highlighted partners that usually have great values here. Others have very high mileage prices that you’d be better off booking with other airlines’ miles.

Etihad’s airline partners are:

Airline Partners
Air New Zealand GOL
Air Serbia* Hainan Airlines
Air Seychelles* Jet Airways*
Airberlin* Korean Air
Alitalia* Malaysia Airlines
All Nippon Airways Oman Air
American Airlines Philippine Airlines
Asiana Airlines Royal Air Maroc
Bangkok Airways South African Airways
Brussels Airlines SriLankan Airlines
Czech Airlines Ukraine International Airlines
Etihad Regional* Virgin Australia
Garuda Indonesia

*Airberlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways, and NIKI are considered “Etihad Airways Partners.” They provide the same frequent flyer privileges as Etihad Airways, including priority check-in, priority boarding, lounge access, bonus miles, and baggage allowances. Together they serve a network of more than 400 destinations across 6 continents.

While award flights on Etihad may be booked online, you must redeem miles for partner awards over the phone by calling the Guest Services Center at 877-690-0767. Awards must be booked 14 days in advance.

Troubleshooting Partner Award Booking

Etihad agents can have difficulty seeing partner award inventory, and award inventory generally does not match what you may see from other online sources. Also, many Etihad agents are unwilling/unaware of how to check partner availability or do not have access to the correct system.

Keep calling until you get a competent agent.

Many travelers have success when calling Etihad’s Manchester, U.K. call center instead of the U.S. The U.K. number is +44 (0)345 6081225.

Upgrades

You can use miles to upgrade paid Etihad flights by 1 cabin of service. However, the prices are generally not much less than award tickets, so in most cases, this is a poor value.

Mileage Expiration

Etihad Guest miles expire based on date earned, regardless of activity. Don’t stockpile miles without a plan to use them!

General Etihad Guest members have 2 years from date of earning before miles start to expire. Silver members get 2.5 years, and Gold gets 3 years.

Changes and Cancellations

Date changes to awards cost AED 100 (roughly US$27).

Cancellations must be made 24 hours prior to departure. Rather than a cash fee, a 10% mileage forfeit is charged for award cancellations.

The American Airlines Partnership

American Airlines partners with Etihad, and if you have American Airlines miles, many awards on Etihad are cheaper than using Etihad Guest Miles.

Using American Airlines miles, you can fly in the Etihad First Class Apartment from JFK to Abu Dhabi for 115,000 miles one-way.

Hot Tip: Make sure your flight has the First Class Apartment and not just regular First Class. On JFK to Abu Dhabi, you want flights on the A380, not other planes.

etihad-guest-first-class-suites
Experience the luxury of Etihad Guest first class suites by redeeming award flights through American Airlines award center! Photo courtesy of thenational.ae.

You’ll first want to search for award flight availability on etihad.com, and then call American Airlines reservations to book. This saves time rather than having American Airlines agents manually search many dates.

American Airlines agents only have access to GuestSeat awards, not OpenSeat.

Find an available GuestFirst seat if you are looking for Etihad first class award flights.

You may have to reach the American Airlines call center in Australia (or another country) in order for the representative to see availability for business and first class redemptions.

In this case, you’ll want to confirm that they have the award, but not book it, as that will cause ticketing issues for U.S. customers. Once the award is on hold, call back to American Airlines in the U.S. so they can issue the ticket.

Need help booking? See our step by step guide for booking Etihad first class.

The Korean Air Partnership

Korean Air partners with Etihad as well. This means you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean SkyPass and then redeem them for Etihad award flights!

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Korean requires round-trip bookings on Etihad. The prices are:

Routes Economy Business First
Within Bahrain/Oman/ Qatar/UAE 10,000 20,000 30,000
UAE – Iran/Kuwait/Saudi Arabia/Iraq, Yemen 15,000 30,000 45,000
UAE – Pakistan/ Kazakhstan/Nepal/ Jordan/Syria/Armenia/  Lebanon/Cyprus/Egypt/ Sudan/North India (Mumbai, Delhi, Amanabad, Jaipur) 25,000 50,000 75,000
UAE – South India (Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Calicut, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Kolkata)/Turkey/Greece/ Seychelles/Ethiopia/ Kenya/Uganda/Libya/ Maldives/Sri Lanka/ Tanzania 35,000 70,000 105,000
UAE – Switzerland/Ireland/ Western Russia/Germany/ Italy/France/Spain/United Kingdom/Netherlands/ Belgium/Bangladesh/ Belarus/Serbia 40,000 80,000 120,000
UAE – Nigeria/South Africa/Morocco/Algeria 45,000 90,000 135,000
UAE – China/Thailand/ Hong Kong/Malaysia/ Singapore/Indonesia/ Philippines/Vietnam 50,000 100,000 150,000
UAE – Korea/Japan 70,000 105,000 140,000
UAE – U.S./Canada/ Australia 70,000 140,000 210,000
UAE – Brazil 90,000 130,000 180,000
China – Japan 40,000 60,000 90,000
Singapore – Australia 45,000 90,000 135,000

In Conclusion

Etihad Guest provides many ways to redeem your miles so you can enjoy that well-deserved vacation! We outlined some of what we feel are the best ways to use Etihad Guest miles, but the best redemptions for you will depend on your travel goals.

Happy redeeming!

How to Earn Lots of Etihad Guest Miles >>

Photo Credits
Etihad Airways A380 Feature Photo: Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock.com

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

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FAQ

How do I join Etihad Guest?
Sign up for Etihad Guest here.

Do I need to be an Etihad Guest member to search for awards?
No, you can search without an account or logging in.

How many Etihad Guest miles do I have?
Check your Etihad Guest miles balance by logging in to your account here.

When do Etihad miles expire?
Etihad Guest miles expire based on date earned, regardless of subsequent activity. Miles expire 2 years/2.5 years/3 years from date earned for General/Silver/Gold & Platinum members, respectively.

Can I transfer miles to Etihad Guest from other loyalty programs?
Yes. Etihad has several credit card and travel partners, including Citi ThankYou Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and American Express Membership Rewards.

How many Etihad Miles are required for a trip reward?
For travel on Etihad flights, use the mileage calculator. For travel on partner airlines, consult the partner award chart for each.

Which credit cards can I use to earn Etihad Guest Miles?
Earn Etihad Guest Miles with a variety of credit cards, including the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.

How can I contact Etihad Guest?
Call Etihad Guest at 1 (888) 8-ETIHAD 24 hours a day. For partner awards, you may have better success calling Etihad Guest in the U.K. at +44 (0) 345 608 1225.

You can also email the Guest Service Center using the address for your status tier: guest@etihadguest.com, guestsilver@etihadguest.com, guestgold@etihadguest.com, guestplatinum@etihadguest.com.