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The email opened with “exciting news”. Basically the benefits of Silver status would now be consistent across all of their airline partners such as Airberlin, Alitalia, etc. Which of course is a good thing. My silver status now gets me extra baggage allowance and 25% bonus tier points when I fly with any of their partners.
But what they really wanted to tell me was in the 2nd paragraph. From the 15th of Jan, Etihad Silver status holders will lose access to Etihad Lounges, except at Abu Dhabi, Seychelles and Belgrade.
I’m guessing it’s all about capacity controls. Alitalia for one has historically been very generous with status matches to elite levels. With status getting equalised across their range of partners, Etihad had to pick a lounge access policy that would protect the lounges from becoming too crowded. Clearly when they worked the numbers, Etihad Silver and the equivalent level on the partner airlines resulted in potentially too many people in the lounges.
If you happen to have the MBNA Etihad credit cards, a perk is you can get Etihad Silver status by paying for 1 return flight using you card. So this announcement effectively devalues this perk. In related news, MBNA recently announced an enhanced sign-up bonus of 15,000 miles on £2K of spend for taking out the Etihad Amex/Visa dual pack card.
Personally, this downgrading of benefits won’t affect me. I do have Etihad Silver guest status that expires in March next year. However I don’t have any plans to fly with Etihad or their partners between now and then. But having used the excellent Etihad lounge in Dublin on several occasions, it’s a significant downgrade of benefits to lose access to it.