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How to redeem Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia flights

Mattg

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Now that Coles/Flybuys is partnering with Etihad Guest, there has been a lot of interest in the ins & outs of redeeming Etihad miles to travel at home on Virgin Australia.

I thought I'd put together a quick guide on this topic. Feel free to add your own comments and ask questions.

Which Virgin Australia flights can I redeem Etihad miles for?

On domestic and international flights, you can only redeem Etihad (EY) miles for economy (and not business class). On international long-haul flights, i.e. to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, you can redeem EY miles in any cabin class.

This is of course subject to limited award availability. According to Etihad, Virgin may release more award seats to its own members. This means that a reward seat showing as available on the Virgin Velocity website may not be able to be booked using Etihad miles.

I would speculate that the Delta website would show a good indication of what is available on Virgin Australia using EY miles. Anyone can search on the Delta website for available award seats, so this would be a good place to check before calling Etihad. On the Delta wesbite, simply search for the route you want to book and select "Show price in miles".

How do I book?

Reward flights using Etihad miles to travel on any airline other than Etihad must be booked over the phone. Within Australia, the number to call is 1300 532 215.

Also keep in mind that you must book at least 2 weeks in advance.

How many miles do I need for a redemption?

This is where it gets interesting. The number of EY miles needed to fly, say, from Sydney to Melbourne is exactly the same as the number of Velocity points needed. But for certain longer redemptions, the number of EY miles needed is actually lower.

The redemption table can be found here: http://www.etihadguest.com/en/spend-miles/airline-partners/virgin-australia/

As a general rule, the number of miles required for short and medium flights is calculated as follows:
*Distance is 0 - 1,250 miles: 6,900 EY miles (in economy)
*Distance is 1,251 - 1,750 miles: 10,900 EY miles (in economy)
*Distance is 1,750 miles or above: 16,900 EY miles (in economy)

Long haul flights (as well as PER-HKT, for some reason) are priced as follows:
*60,000 miles in economy
*90,000 miles in premium economy
*120,000 miles in business

Also worth mentioning is that Etihad does not pass on any fuel surcharges for VA redemptions. So, the amount of extra taxes you'll need to pay is identical to what Virgin would charge for redeeming Velocity points on the same flight. These amounts are generally very reasonable (about $20-$25 for a SYD-MEL flight, for example).

How many Flybuys points does that equate to?

Flybuys points can be converted to Etihad miles at a rate of 10,000 Flybuys points for 4,000 EY miles. This means that 1 Flybuys point is effectively worth 0.4 Etihad miles. So, to calculate the number of Flybuys points needed for a redemption, simply divide the EY miles required by 0.4.

Are there any sweet spots?

Yes. Flights that come in at just under 1,250 miles in distance are excellent value. Some examples include Sydney-Queenstown, Cairns-Sydney and Hamilton Island-Melbourne. These flights would all cost 16,900 Velocity points if redeemed through VA's program. With Etihad they cost only 6,900 miles.

Should I use my Flybuys points for flights or Coles vouchers?

A Flybuys point, redeemed for a Coles voucher is typically worth 0.5 cents.

If you wanted to book any return flight in the 6,900 mile category, then this would cost 13,800 Etihad miles return. This converts to 34,500 Flybuys points.

If you converted those 34,500 Flybuys points to Coles vouchers, rather than using them for flights, you would get $172.50 in value. So, if you valued those flights at more than $172.50 then yes, it's worth converting the points to Etihad miles.
 

kpc

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An excellent summary suggesting those good old Flybuys points are worth a little more now, and I should pay more attention to the various boni thrown my way from time to time. I linked my Flybuys account to my Etihad account this pm FWIW :) My target flight would be Syd-Zqn on VA in Y.

You should probably mention that Amex membership reward points can be transferred to Etihad miles (1:1) if you need a top up. Shame I just cancelled my Amex Reserve card :(
 

Cool Cat Phil

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An excellent summary suggesting those good old Flybuys points are worth a little more now, and I should pay more attention to the various boni thrown my way from time to time. I linked my Flybuys account to my Etihad account this pm FWIW :) My target flight would be Syd-Zqn on VA in Y.

You should probably mention that Amex membership reward points can be transferred to Etihad miles (1:1) if you need a top up. Shame I just cancelled my Amex Reserve card :(
Also a David Jones Platinum Amex card earns 3 Amex rewards points per $ spent at the big two Supermarket chains.

So one could earn those Etihad miles rather quickly through double dipping, by scanning a flyby's card along with paying a David Jones Platinum Amex card whilst shopping at coles :)
 
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Cool Cat Phil

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Whats the points earn for the DJ basic card?
The standard DJ Amex card also earns at the same rate for supermarkets and petrol stations.

The DJ Platinum Amex card has a better earn rate at David Jones stores , plus a few other inclusions such as Travel Insurance plus two visits to the SYD Amex lounge.

I current sweep my Points to QF with this credit card at a ratio of 4 Amex rewards points to 3 QFF Points, which I've done well from I believe.

Although I've begun thinking that the Amex Rewards options has merit too now.
 

blueythecat

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Great post! Thank you very much.

I found an award table on the Etihad that lists the VA fights by miles required http://www.etihadguest.com/Documents/Etihad Guest/member benefits/EYG00020_Virgin Australia_Redemption Table_V2.pdf. The only problem is it doesn't include non-direct routes, for example Canberra - Perth.

To work out how many points routes such as these cost, do I add the individual segments together eg cbr-syd then syd-per or is there another way (eg miles between the source and destination?)?
 

Mattg

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Great post! Thank you very much.

I found an award table on the Etihad that lists the VA fights by miles required http://www.etihadguest.com/Documents/Etihad Guest/member benefits/EYG00020_Virgin Australia_Redemption Table_V2.pdf. The only problem is it doesn't include non-direct routes, for example Canberra - Perth.

To work out how many points routes such as these cost, do I add the individual segments together eg cbr-syd then syd-per or is there another way (eg miles between the source and destination?)?
For redemptions on indirect flights, you would need to add together the individual segments. So for example, a redemption from Bundaberg to Adelaide (via Brisbane) would cost 13,800 miles; 6,900 miles for the BDB-BNE sector and 6,900 miles for the BNE-ADL sector.

I can see a loophole here! Something like CNS-ZQN would be 2352 miles direct (putting it in the 16,900 mile redemption category if there was a direct flight). However, CNS-SYD would cost 6,900 miles and SYD-ZQN would also cost 6,900 miles. So, adding the two sectors together, the total cost would be only 13,800 miles. ;)

Unfortunately that loophole doesn't work with your CBR-PER example though, as ADL is just a tad too far away from PER.
 

blueythecat

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Thought that might be the case, never mind.

I can see a loophole here! Something like CNS-ZQN would be 2352 miles direct (putting it in the 16,900 mile redemption category if there was a direct flight). However, CNS-SYD would cost 6,900 miles and SYD-ZQN would also cost 6,900 miles. So, adding the two sectors together, the total cost would be only 13,800 miles. ;)
That is a good little one - probably more to be found too.
 

gwilli1

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Thanks for the summary Mattg , very much appreciated .
 

coles525

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Received 150 fb points today, another 300 points (todays vouchers used) are soon to arrive.

Making my current / future converted balance between: 16,168.4 miles - 16,288.4 miles.

Just need to see where flights from Melb would take us (2 people).
 

Melbin

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Handy. One thing, I'm not sure this is right...

"On domestic and international flights, you can only redeem Etihad (EY) miles for economy (and not business class)."

I booked two VA flights in business (Melbourne to Perth return) a few weeks ago, and one Sydney to Perth flight last week in business (for a mid January flight) using my Etihad miles - all using the phone number you quoted above to book. There was no issue with availability or booking business - it just cost double the miles of economy. I think it's a pretty good value use of miles given it's Virgin's new 'The Business' product.
 

andye

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Handy. One thing, I'm not sure this is right...

"On domestic and international flights, you can only redeem Etihad (EY) miles for economy (and not business class)."

I booked two VA flights in business (Melbourne to Perth return) a few weeks ago, and one Sydney to Perth flight last week in business (for a mid January flight) using my Etihad miles - all using the phone number you quoted above to book. There was no issue with availability or booking business - it just cost double the miles of economy. I think it's a pretty good value use of miles given it's Virgin's new 'The Business' product.
That's good news seeing it contradicts the website-potentially good value on the longer flights
 

quokka77

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Anyone had any recent success booking Y or J rewards on VA domestic using Etihad Guest miles?
 

Mattg

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VA business class redemptions appear to be allowed now. I have heard of numerous success stories recently, and mention of the restriction seems to have been removed from the Etihad website.

This would surely have to be the new sweet spot in the program. J award prices are as follows:
*Distance is 0 - 1,250 miles: 13,800 EY miles
*Distance is 1,251 - 1,750 miles: 21,800 EY miles
*Distance is 1,750 miles or above: 33,800 EY miles

I notice that MEL-PER sneaks in at the 21,800 mile level. If you can get a J seat on an A330 flight for that price, that's a pretty sweet deal.
 

get me outta here

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That's good news. Does SYD-ZQN have J? ;)

VA business class redemptions appear to be allowed now. I have heard of numerous success stories recently, and mention of the restriction seems to have been removed from the Etihad website.

This would surely have to be the new sweet spot in the program. J award prices are as follows:
*Distance is 0 - 1,250 miles: 13,800 EY miles
*Distance is 1,251 - 1,750 miles: 21,800 EY miles
*Distance is 1,750 miles or above: 33,800 EY miles

I notice that MEL-PER sneaks in at the 21,800 mile level. If you can get a J seat on an A330 flight for that price, that's a pretty sweet deal.
 

Mattg

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That's good news. Does SYD-ZQN have J? ;)
It certainly does. ;)

J availability on that route can be a bit of a challenge during the peak season (and there are fewer flights off-peak), but you should be able to get a seat if you book far enough in advance. I can see a fair few J award seats available next August, for example.
 

get me outta here

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I'm trying to sign up for EtihadGuest, but it will not take 'Australia' in the mandatory country field. What did others do?
 

Mattg

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I'm trying to sign up for EtihadGuest, but it will not take 'Australia' in the mandatory country field. What did others do?
You need to start typing the letters of Australia, then select the option from the drop-down box when it appears.
 

Pele

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Gday

In terms of assessing availability of VA flights using Etihad guest program is it simply a matter of if an award ticket is available on Velocity then it will be able to be bought using Etihad guest miles?

Would hate to transfer a bunch of points from Amex MR and find out the flights i want are unavailable!

Thanks.

Pele.
 

Mattg

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Gday

In terms of assessing availability of VA flights using Etihad guest program is it simply a matter of if an award ticket is available on Velocity then it will be able to be bought using Etihad guest miles?

Would hate to transfer a bunch of points from Amex MR and find out the flights i want are unavailable!

Thanks.

Pele.
I think that the Velocity website will give a good indication of what is available. But according to an Etihad rep I spoke to, there could be differences between what is available to Velocity members and what is available to EY members.

I believe that cross-checking on the Delta website would be a reasonably reliable way of checking for VA availability online, but the only way to be 100% sure is to call the Etihad call centre.
 

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