The Etihad Guest program may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of booking an award flight. It’s based in the United Arab Emirates, far from the U.S., and it’s not a member of any of the three major airline alliances: the Oneworld alliance, Star alliance or SkyTeam alliance.
Instead, Etihad has individual partnerships with over 50 airlines serving destinations all over the world. These partnerships create a lot of intriguing opportunities for Etihad Guest program members, making this program worth a look even if you’re a U.S.-based traveler with no plans to head to the Middle East.
Etihad Guest miles are relatively easy to earn. American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou points and Marriott Bonvoy points all transfer directly to Etihad. And when it’s time to redeem those miles, Etihad’s partner airlines offer some true sweet spots for travelers headed to Asia, Europe and Africa. Here are five redemptions where Etihad Guest miles might just be the best currency for you:
1. All Nippon Airways: U.S. West Coast to Japan
Etihad uses a distance-based award chart for booking flights on partner All Nippon Airways, or ANA. The distance of your flight determines the number of Etihad miles you need to redeem an award. Compare this to a region-based award chart where all flights between specific regions require the same number of miles, regardless of how far the destination is from the departure airport.
For travelers based on the U.S. West Coast, this chart offers some serious sweet spots for business class flights to Japan. One-way flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport require between 54,000 and 63,000 Etihad miles for a business class seat. Flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle-Tacoma to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport cost the same number of Etihad miles in business class (54,000-63,000). Compare that to Etihad's closest competitor in the Star Alliance program, Turkish Airlines, which requires 67,500 miles for the same ANA award flight.
2. American Airlines: U.S. to Europe
Arguably, American Airlines’ zone-based award chart has the most Etihad sweet spots of all Etihad Airways’ partners. Etihad offers competitive award pricing for American flights to Europe (American flights from the U.S. to Central America, South America, Japan, Korea, Australia, the Caribbean and Hawaii booked with Etihad miles can be great deals, too).
You can book a one-way American Airlines business class flight from the U.S. to Europe with 50,000 miles. By using Etihad versus American miles, you save 7,500 miles each way. Before you book any American-operated international flight, consider using your Etihad miles first.
3. Asiana Airlines: U.S. West Coast to Seoul
Star Alliance member Asiana Airlines uses a distance-based award chart for flights using Etihad Guest miles. This means you pay fewer miles the shorter the distance of your flight. Asiana flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma to Incheon International Airport serving Seoul, South Korea, clock in under 6,000 miles, which translates to needing 59,000 Etihad miles for a one-way business class flight. Your next best option is to use 62,500 Turkish Airlines miles to book this award flight.
4. Brussels Airlines: U.S. East Coast to Brussels
U.S.-based travelers can use Etihad miles to fly Brussels Airlines to Brussels — but only for flights from New York-John F. Kennedy and Washington-Dulles, as shown in the Brussels award chart. You’ll need 44,000 Etihad miles to book this route one-way in business class. Another option, just north of the U.S. border, is to fly from Toronto to Brussels for the same number of miles.
5. Royal Air Maroc: U.S. East Coast to Morocco
Morocco is an incredible destination, offering a taste of Africa with European influences. And a Royal Air Maroc flight booked with Etihad miles is a great way to get there.
From Boston, Miami, JFK or Washington-Dulles, you can fly Royal Air Maroc business class to Casablanca for 44,000 Etihad miles. You can even fly beyond Casablanca for the same 44,000 Etihad miles because the Royal Air Maroc distance-based award chart ends at 2,001 miles, so any award flights over that distance cost the same.
Bonus: Best ways to book Etihad Residence and first class
As we noted in our guide to maximizing the new Etihad and Air Canada partnership, Etihad’s Residence is one of the palatial first class cabins you can fly. Not only do you have a living room to relax in, but you also have a bedroom and a private bathroom with a shower. On top of all of this, you have a private butler just in case you need anything! You can, technically, book the Residence as an award flight with Etihad miles, but it doesn’t come cheap. You need more than 2.7 million Etihad miles to book this flight.
But don’t be alarmed as Etihad's first class "apartments" are the next best option. In the first class apartment, you have access to both a spacious chair and a bed, which you’ll need after enjoying Etihad’s catering service.
American Airlines and Aeroplan are likely going to be the two easiest ways for you to book Etihad first class from the U.S. to Etihad’s hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport. American requires 115,000 American miles to fly Etihad first class, as shown in the American partner award chart. Aeroplan also requires 115,000 miles to fly Etihad first class, per the Aeroplan award chart.
How to book Etihad partner airline flights
To redeem Etihad miles for a flight on a partner airline, call Etihad at 877-690-0767. You can find the full list of Etihad’s airline partners here.
The bottom line
The Etihad Guest program can offer great value if you familiarize yourself with Etihad’s partners and their award charts. Spend some time perusing these charts with your future travel plans in mind and you might find Etihad miles sweet spots tailored for you.
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