Etihad Guest miles are a unique currency because they can be redeemed for flights on 24 partner airlines. Etihad’s partner airlines span all three airline alliances. There are also many partner airlines that aren’t in an alliance, and therefore aren’t otherwise easily accessible to Australians.
Buying Etihad Guest miles can be lucrative if you plan to redeem them for Business class flights on airlines such as Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines, American Airlines and GOL Airlines. By buying Etihad miles during a promotion, you can book Virgin Australia Business Class to New Zealand for as little as $315 (plus taxes)!
How to Buy Etihad Guest Miles
You can buy Etihad Guest miles on the Etihad website. The normal price is USD20 (~$28) per thousand.
There is a purchase limit of 60,000 miles per transaction (excluding any bonus miles) and 100,000 miles per calendar year. Etihad’s website states that miles will normally credit to your account within 24 hours of purchasing them. In our experience, it can take 24-48 hours.
Special Deals on Buying Etihad Guest Miles
Unlike frequent flyer programs such as Avianca LifeMiles (which has been known to offer up to 145% bonus miles), Etihad Guest is not known for generous bonus mile promotions or discounts. But Etihad does sometimes offer up to 30% bonus miles on purchases during limited-time promotions, which typically take place every 2-3 months.
Currently, Etihad Guest is offering 20-30% bonus miles on purchases of at least 6,000 Etihad Guest miles until 31 August 2019. Unusually, the amount of bonus miles you’ll receive depends on your Etihad Guest status tier:
- Non-status and Silver members receive 20% bonus miles on purchases of 6,000 to 60,000 miles
- Gold members receive 25% bonus miles on purchases of 6,000 to 60,000 miles
- Platinum members receive 30% bonus miles on purchases of 6,000 to 60,000 miles
The previous offer was in May 2019. In that offer, Etihad was giving 10-20% bonus miles on purchases of more than 6,000 Etihad Guest miles. In the previous offer, you would have had to buy at least 40,000 miles to get the full 20% bonus.
Redeeming Etihad Guest Miles
Etihad Guest is a bizarre frequent flyer program. But that’s why we love it! Redemptions on each partner airline are subject to completely different award charts. On some airlines, award flights are superb value. On others, they are ridiculously expensive!
Here is a full list of Etihad Airways partner airlines:
Virgin Australia awards
Naturally, we’re interested in redeeming miles for awards that are good value! As it happens, redeeming Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia flights can be very lucrative. Here is the award chart for Virgin Australia awards:
|Route distance||Examples||Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|0 – 1,250 miles||Sydney-Queenstown
|6,900 miles||N/A||13,800 miles|
|1,251 – 1,750 miles||Perth-Melbourne
|10,900 miles||N/A||21,800 miles|
|1,751+ miles||Sydney-Denpasar||16,900 miles||N/A||33,800 miles|
|International long-haul||Brisbane-Los Angeles||60,000 miles||90,000 miles||120,000 miles|
The sweet spot is mid-length domestic and shorter international flights. In particular, routes just under 1,250 miles in length are exceptional value. It will cost you just 13,800 miles to fly routes including:
- Melbourne-Hamilton Island
- Brisbane-Port Vila
It’s also just 21,800 miles to fly from Melbourne to Perth or Brisbane-Nadi in Virgin Australia’s A330 Business Class.
Velocity’s carrier charges do not apply when booking Virgin Australia flights with Etihad Guest miles.
During a 20% bonus miles promotion, it would cost a maximum of USD1,160 to buy 69,000 Etihad Guest miles. That’s enough miles for 5 one-way Virgin Australia Business Class flights up to 1,250 miles in length, e.g. Sydney-Queenstown. Depending on the route, that’s around a third of the usual price!
Other Etihad Guest partner airlines
Other Etihad Guest sweet spots include:
- Intra-Europe Business Class on Brussels Airlines, Czech Airlines and Air Serbia
- Prague-Seoul on Czech Airlines costs just 25,610 Etihad Guest miles in Business
- Some American Airlines redemptions are good value (but award availability is limited)
- Short-haul GOL Airlines flights around Brazil
How to book Etihad Guest award flights
The Etihad website can only be used to book award flights operated by Etihad Airways. To book award flights on any partner airline, you’ll need to call Etihad Guest. The Australian contact number is 1300 532 215.
We recommend calling in the late evening or early in the morning as you’ll be more likely to speak to somebody in the Belgrade call centre – which provides much better service than some of Etihad’s other call centres. Partner airline award flights must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.
Want to learn more about buying points for cheap premium cabin flights?
Frequent Flyer Solutions offers a comprehensive training program which includes an entire course on buying points for discounted premium travel! This course covers 7 frequent flyer programs in detail, including Etihad Guest. View course →