Changes to frequent flyer program include shorter terms and surcharges aboard routes.
Flyers loyal to Etihad Guest will soon see major changes to their program – but not all for the better. Business Traveller reports the biggest effects will take hold after October 8, 2017, with more coming at the beginning of 2018.
Starting in October, flyers who earn elite status will only carry that benefit for one year. Prior to the change, Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum members could hold their status for two years, with miles expiring after three years. Those who can still reach Gold or Platinum status before October 8 will retain their status for two years.
Situations when bonus miles are earned will change as well. After October, Etihad Guests who fly with partner airlines Air Serbia or Air Seychelles for the first time will earn 500 welcome bonus miles. Previously, all partner airlines qualified for a 500-point bonus with the first trip. With the bankruptcy of Air Berlin and instability of Alitalia, the carrier reduced the partners qualifying for the one-time gift.
Finally, the prices on certain routes are set for an increase. The airline will adjust and increase award pricing on some flights, while increasing the number of miles required for upgrades across all routes. The carrier may also impose an additional $50 charge on some business or first class routes starting in January 2018, but have not announced which ones could see the price hike.
While the changes have an impact on loyal Etihad flyers, not all of the shifts are for the bad. Beginning in January 2018, travelers paying cash will receive 275 percent of award miles for first-class flights and 200 percent of award miles in business class, while keeping Open Seats redemption available across all available fares, including The Residence.