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I recently flew Business Class from London Heathrow to Manila and back with the excellent Etihad Airways. While the flight experience was unrivalled, on my return I stumbled across a pretty serious flaw in the Etihad Guest programme.
If you have flown recently with Etihad, this issue may well affect you and, futhermore, entitle you to a large number of additional points and bonus miles.
What’s the problem?
The issue is pretty simple. I booked my flights in flexible Economy Class, and then upgraded them to Business Class using my Etihad Guest miles. That all worked absolutely fine. However, on my return, I looked at my Etihad Guest statement, and while the miles I spent on the upgrade to Business Class had been taken from my account, all my flights had earned zero miles.
This made no sense to me. Clearly I should have been entitled to the miles (and Tier Points) for the flexible Economy Class flight that I booked. Indeed, this is made clear in 6.1 of the Etihad Guest terms and conditions, which states that:
Etihad Guest Miles earned in respect of Qualifying Flights will be issued to you only for flights actually flown by you and will be based on the class of the ticket you have paid for (and will not be based on any complimentary upgrades or Upgrade Rewards).
Of course, I was not seeking to earn Etihad Guest miles at the Business Class (upgraded) rate and that’s made clear in the terms above, but I certainly expected to earn them at the flexible Economy Class rate.
What did I do next?
So I telephoned Etihad Guest about my zero mileage for this flight. Helpfully, they understood immediately and told me to forward my booking email to them, and they would take care of it. More concerning, however, was the fact that they expressly said to me that this was a glitch in their system that they were well aware of, which meant that all upgraded flights (which are entitled to miles in the flying class you paid cash for) were being treated as simply non-mileage earning reward flights (ie. flights paid for entirely with miles).
A glitch that they were well aware of? Frankly I do not spend much time looking through my mileage statements (I occasionally have better things to do, you know) and it was only really by chance that I spotted this error.
Not good, Etihad!
My key concern is this: if Etihad Guest know about this issue, why are they not pro-actively seeking out those people whom it affects, and manually rectifying their points balance?
Why was I required to address this issue with Etihad, not the other way round?
I only spotted this by chance – there must be a lot of people out there who have been affected by this without knowing, and have earned zero miles for flights when in fact they were entitled to a good number of them (and Tier Points). The only slight saving grace is that you would hope people who are savvy enough to upgrade with points keep half an eye on their points balance and would know that they were ion fact entitled to more than zero miles on this flight.
The bottom line is this: if you have upgraded an Etihad flight with Etihad Guest miles, check your mileage statement. You should have earned miles for the cash ticket you bought here, and if you have not, chase it up with Etihad. DO NOT accept any response from Etihad that your flight was more than 6 months ago. I do not know how long this glitch has been an issue, but it is Etihad’s error and they should not be able to wriggle out of any mileage debt to you as a result of it, simply because 6 months have passed.