Etihad Guest announced some changes to the Etihad Guest program today. One particularly good piece of news was the announcement that Etihad Guest miles will no longer expire if you have activity once every 18 months. Transferring points into your account should count to refresh the expiration date. That’s a nice change over the previous policy that expired miles after 24 months.
This makes Etihad Guest miles more appealing as a store of value. Etihad is a 1:1 Amex transfer partner and Citi transfer partner. You can additionally transfer Capital One “miles” at a ratio of 2:1.5 or Marriott Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3:1 (with a 5K bonus when you transfer in increments of 60K — so 60K Marriott becomes 25K Etihad). It is therefore pretty easy to put together the Etihad miles for an award ticket.
Furthermore, Etihad has a couple of decent sweet spots. For instance, Etihad offers American Airlines flights at what amounts to the old American Airlines award chart of several years ago. That requires finding American Airlines saver availability, which is no small feat (particularly in premium cabins) — but if you can find it, you’ll save miles booking most international AA flights with Etihad.
Additionally, while Etihad recently devalued its Royal Air Maroc sweet spot, it is still a good deal at 44K miles one way for business class from Royal Air Maroc’s US gateways to Casablanca. There are some additional sweet spots available when you go through the various award charts for each partner.
While I wouldn’t generally recommend transferring to Etihad Guest with no use in mind, readers sometimes ask what to do with accumulated points before canceling a card. It was previously hard to recommend Etihad as a possibility to consider since miles used to expire in 24 months regardless of activity (i.e. it was impossible to extend their validity). Now that one can reset the expiration with a simple transfer from another transferable points program, speculative transfers to Etihad are at least a possibility to consider when necessary.
Etihad also added a couple of benefits for elite members. I imagine that relatively few readers are focusing on earning Etihad status, but if you are in that position you may be glad to know that Gold and Platinum members will now get car service in Abu Dhabi when traveling in premium cabins even on award tickets (though it wasn’t immediately clear to me whether this would apply when redeeming a partner’s miles for the flight). There are a couple additional benefits (like free wi-fi for Platinum members and seat selection in economy class for Platinum and gold members), though nothing that would encourage me to credit flights to Etihad over another carrier.
H/T: The Points Guy