Etihad’s Confusing New Fare Choices Mileage-Earning Structure

Aug 21, 2015

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Back in June, Etihad announced changes to its Guest loyalty program that included raising award redemption levels, as well as how flyers would earn miles based on the fare class of their ticket.

Now the airline has released new details not just about earning, but also upgrades, change fees, baggage allowances and other benefits its passengers will enjoy (or not), depending on the fare class they purchase. The new scheme is called Fare Choices, and while it probably won’t affect most US-based flyers, it’s still important to keep in mind if you plan to fly the airline.

Depending on which aircraft and cabin you land in, Etihad can be an absolute pleasure to fly, but unfortunately the process of earning miles for travel is getting a bit more complicated.

Here are the new rules for economy fares:

Etihad Fare Choices economy

Economy fares will earn between 25-100% miles, with only the highest fare classes earning full mileage. T and E fares are now being classified as “breaking deals,” but presumably they’ll just be the cheapest economy fares.

T fares used to earn 0 miles, but they’ll now earn 25% miles, and E fares that used to earn 50% miles will now earn 25%. So some good news, some bad. These fares will not be permitted to change dates and will not be eligible for upgrades. All economy fares will include a free piece of hand baggage and at least one checked bag, with fares in L, Q, M, K, H, B, Y and Guest (award) fares entitled to two.

Here are the new business-class numbers:

Etihad Fare Choices business

So fares earn 115-175% miles. Z fares (now classified as Breaking Deals) that used to earn 130% miles have dropped to 115%, while D fares that earned 130% now earn 175%. So again, a mixed bag. Folks with Z-fare tickets also will not be eligible for chauffeur service, but those flying on an award will still get it. Whether they get priority check-in will depend on tier status (Platinum and Gold members only, according to the notes).

Finally, here’s the first-class chart:

Etihad Fare Choices first

Not much to note here, either, except that all fares will now earn 250% miles, a rise for R-fare tickets from 180%. Again, there’s a note that Guest (award) first-class passengers will only get priority check-in based on tier status, but it’s hard to imagine the airline forcing premium-class passengers to go to the economy line.

In terms of mileage-earning, Etihad is a non-alliance partner with American Airlines, and here is American’s earning chart for Etihad flights:

AA Etihad earning

As you can see, all economy fare classes — except T, which is not noted — earn 100% miles, so you’re better off crediting economy flights there. Business fares all earn 125% miles versus the 115-175% you would earn with Etihad (no mention of the lowest Z class on American’s chart), and first-class fares earn 150% miles compared to Etihad’s rate of 250%.

That said, Etihad awards booked using American AAdvantage miles tend to be at much lower rates, even for saver-level awards, so you probably want to credit your miles to American anyway.

All in all, this probably won’t affect most flyers’ experience of the airline, but if you do plan on flying paid fares with Etihad, you should definitely think about where to credit your miles and pay attention to the baggage allowances and change/refund fees you’ll be subject to depending on your fare class.

If you’re interested in Etihad’s mileage program or booking awards on the airline, check out these two posts:

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