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One of the best sweet spots with Etihad miles has been redeeming awards with their partner, Morocco-based Royal Air Maroc. But unfortunately, the deal is no longer as sweet as it once was.

Etihad prices awards on Royal Air Maroc by distance, according to the following chart for one-way flights:

Distance Traveled

Economy Price

Business Class Price

0-1000 miles

6,000

12,000

1001-1500 miles

10,000

20,000

1501-2000 miles

15,000

30,000

2001+ miles

22,000

44,000

What’s changed?

The chart itself has not changed. All of these prices were and still are great, especially for long flights in business class. However, Etihad has moved from pricing based on the entire journey to pricing by flight segment.

Previously, if you wanted to fly from New York to Frankfurt via Morocco (flight distance over 5,000 miles), you would have only paid 44,000 miles each way in business class or 22,000 in economy. Now, if you want to fly the same itinerary, you’ll have to pay attention to the distance of each flight.

That means that the 3,600-mile flight from New York to Casablanca will cost you 44,000 miles in business class or 22,000 in economy. The 1,400-mile flight from Casablanca to Frankfurt will cost an additional 20,000 miles in business class or 10,000 in economy. That’s a substantial increase in the total redemption rate for this particular itinerary.

Any itinerary that requires a connection is going to be more expensive with this new limitation. However, redeeming Etihad miles for direct flights on Royal Air Maroc can still be a great deal.

What prompted the change?

There’s a chance that this award devaluation may have been prompted by Royal Air Maroc’s upcoming direct service from Casablanca to Beijing. This new flight was announced in September and starts operating in January 2020. Theoretically, without this change, it would have been possible to fly from the U.S. to Beijing via Casablanca for only 44,000 miles each way in business class, or 22,000 in economy. Now that would have been a serious sweet spot!

The other way Etihad could have handled this would have been by introducing a new flight distance tier (i.e., for flights over 5,000 miles).

Even though award prices are higher with connections, it still could make sense to redeem Etihad miles with Royal Air Maroc. Even though you’d have to pay 64,000 miles each way in business class for a flight from New York to Frankfurt with a connection in Casablanca, other airlines charge around that amount too. For example, United charges 60,000 miles one-way for United business class or 70,000 miles for partner awards.

Bottom line

While it’s an unfortunate devaluation, there are still uses for Etihad miles on Royal Air Maroc flights. If you’re looking at direct flights, don’t worry — redeem your miles as usual. And if you are connecting, it still makes sense to see if there’s availability and compare with what other airlines are offering. Things might not be as bad as you first think.

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