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 or American 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. Bought miles will normally credit to your account within 24 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 occasionally offer up to 25% bonus miles on purchases during limited-time promotions.
At the time of writing, Etihad Guest is currently running a promotion offering up to 25% bonus miles. This offer ends on Monday 10 September 2018. The value of the bonus increases as you buy more miles. Here is the latest offer:
- Buy 5,000 to 29,000 miles: Earn 10% bonus miles
- Buy 30,000 to 49,000 miles: Earn 20% bonus miles
- Buy 50,000 to 60,000 miles: Earn 25% bonus miles
If you were to purchase the maximum 60,000 Etihad Guest miles during this promotion, it would cost USD1,200 (~$1,688) and you would receive 75,000 miles, including the 25% bonus.
Redeeming Etihad Guest Miles
Etihad Guest is a bizarre frequent flyer program. 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:
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 Sydney-Cairns, Sydney-Queenstown, Melbourne-Hamilton Island, Brisbane-Port Vila and Auckland-Tonga. It’s also just 21,800 miles to fly from Melbourne to Perth in Virgin Australia’s A330 Business Class.
There are no fuel surcharges when booking Virgin Australia flights with Etihad Guest miles.
During the current 25% bonus miles promotion, it would cost USD1,120 (~$1,575) 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. This means you’re paying just $315 per Business Class flight (excluding taxes). Depending on the route, that’s around a third of the usual price!
Alternatively, you could buy USD1,060 (~$1,491) worth of miles and have enough for 3x one-way Business flights between Melbourne and Perth. That’s around $500 per flight for “the business”!
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)
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 Manchester or Belgrade call centres – both of which have much better service than Etihad’s other call centres. Partner airline award flights must be booked at least 24 hours in advance.