In general programs in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore have been really valuable. Programs in Europe have been on a real downward trend over the last seven years. Mideast programs have been something of a mixed bag. Etihad Guest was probably too valuable relative to its competitors. Emirates charges quite a lot for awards, especially long distance premium cabin awards. Qatar Airways Privilege Club has never been great.
Over the past three years Etihad has devalued its program several times. That’s to be expected because it was so much better than others in the region. Qatar Airways caught me by surprise over the last month first announcing booking fees for awards – just a straight-up tax on redemptions – and then increasing the price of most awards about 60% overnight without notice. The earn and burn program went from middling to terrible overnight.
And now Etihad is making changes again. They’re only describing the changes in broad strokes, even though they’re going to be implemented in a month.
Changes are not going to be good for members, indeed Etihad even describes the changes as necessary to be ‘competitive’ and ‘sustainable’ meaning (1) they don’t need to offer as much value because their competitors don’t, and (2) they’re offering too much value which isn’t ‘sustainable’.
As Australian Business Traveller explains, effective June 30:
- Business class awards will be less expensive during “off-peak and lower-demand periods” and more expensive “on flights in stronger demand or when booking closer to departure.”
- Economy awards will be cheaper booked farther out, and more expensive “for those who book last-minute or on flights with higher demand.”
- No change to first class awards, upgrades, or partner awards
Etihad Business Class
But we do not know the rates even though we’re just a month away from the change. They’ve reveal actual pricing “in the last week of June.” That way members have just a few days’ notice.
They just changed award chart pricing at the beginning of 2018. Three years ago they increased premium cabin award prices and started imposing fuel surcharges on awards. These don’t make the program better.
Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of American Express, Citibank, and Barclays.