How to Fly on Etihad Airways Using Miles (Part 1)

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What is the most aspirational product in the skies? If you ask a group of bloggers and travel hackers – or even travel writers for mainstream publications – you’ll probably receive the answer “Etihad First Class“. But unless you have just won the lottery, you probably aren’t willing to pay the headline price. Luckily, the rest of us can often use miles to fly on Etihad Airways. Etihad aren’t a member of any major airline alliance (except the alliance they are cobbling together with nearly-bankrupt European airlines such as Air Berlin and Alitalia) so how can you fly on Etihad Airways using miles?

Why Etihad? Well, even if you aren’t keen on the bling of an Airbus A380 First Class Apartment, Etihad do not charge fuel surcharges. So you are looking at a saving of hundreds of pounds on your reward tickets, even if it might be harder to accumulate the miles (since Etihad do not partner with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic). Etihad often even throw in a chauffeur transfer on reward tickets (in the appropriate cabin) so that’s another source of savings, especially if you normally must drive to your home airport in the UK and therefore pay for parking.

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that you don’t need to be a member of Etihad Guest to search for “redemption flights” availability on Etihad. Simply visit the Etihad website and search for reward seats. If you find a “Guest Seat”, it can usually be booked with a partner as well.

Why not just collect Etihad Guest miles and use them for free flights? Well, when I looked at a number of reward charts, Etihad consistently charged SO many more miles than the competition, that I stopped bothering. This is disappointing since Etihad Guest is an American Express Membership Rewards partner in the UK.

So, since we aren’t going to look at Etihad Guest, which partner airlines allow reward redemptions on Etihad Airways?

American Airlines AAdvantage

AAdvantage members can book rewards on Etihad by calling American Airlines AAdvantage. Here is the “Abu Dhabi centric” reward chart published by AA.

etihad airways using miles

Why do I show you the reward chart to/from the Middle East? Because AAdvantage rules do not allow rewards from one region to another connecting in a third region, unless this third region is expressly permitted. Although there are a couple of exceptions made for Qatar Airways, none apply for Etihad.

Therefore, you can only fly to/from the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent (the same reward region but split out for clarity on AA’s website) unless you want to pay substantially more miles. Even if the UAE isn’t your thing, this region also includes the Maldives, which hopefully IS your thing.

For Europeans, that means a bargain 20,000 AA miles in Economy, 42,500 miles in Business and 62,500 miles in First Class. Those figures are for a one-way reward.

ANA Mileage Club

ANA Mileage Club members (part of the Star Alliance) can book rewards on Etihad by calling their local ANA Mileage Club centre. ANA’s reward chart for Europeans (numbers are for a return reward) looks like this:

ANA have some fiddly restrictions, which surely make perfect sense to a Japanese person, but can be a bit hard to understand for the rest of us. The most important restrictions are:

  • Reward itineraries must be return. You can book an open-jaw, but you MUST return to the country you departed from.
  • You are allowed only one stopover, on either the outbound or return leg.

It’s worth briefly looking at the list of DISALLOWED connecting points to find out that Europe and the Middle East are within the same “area”. So, in principle, you can connect in Abu Dhabi to fly anywhere that Etihad flies.

First Class rewards are expensive with ANA Mileage Club. Business Class rewards are not! So, assuming that you can accumulate the ANA miles and find the reward space, ANA is a great way to book Business Class rewards on Etihad to practically everywhere.

Asiana Club

Asiana Club members (also part of the Star Alliance) can book rewards on Etihad by calling. Asiana’s reward chart for Europeans (numbers are for a return reward) looks like this:

I admit to never having used Asiana Club, but a return reward in First Class to the Middle East on Etihad for 80,000 miles! That is certainly worth studying further… I believe you can also book one-way rewards with Asiana Club, although the website doesn’t mention whether the cost in that case is 50%.

Asiana business class

Korean Air Skypass

Korean Air Skypass members can also book Etihad rewards by calling. As you can see Etihad has partnered with a number of Asian airlines… The Skypass reward chart for Etihad looks like this:

Again, I have never had occasion to use Korean Air Skypass so I can’t explain the finer details, apart from the fact that return itineraries are required. You also require more miles so perhaps Korean Air is less promising as a way to book rewards on Etihad.


Having realised how long this post is getting, I’ll split out Etihad’s European partners and a summary into a second post coming soon…


  1. Adam says

    Great article Craig!
    I’m currently saving AA miles to use for a redemption on EY 1st & Biz. Any advise on using hotel points other than SPG to gain AA miles, looking for transferring hotel or airline points into another to transfer into AA.

    • Craig Sowerby says


      I have an article coming tomorrow regarding earning “exotic” miles…

      Marriott Travel Package is the obvious one to pick up a chunky 120K AA miles. I manage 2K AA miles per month from E-Rewards as well. MBNA has a free AA credit card in the UK although there might not be much of a sign-up bonus. I even manage 5 AA miles per day by commenting on the Award Wallet blog! (only 10 years to go for an EY First Class ticket! 🙂 )

      But otherwise, hotel point conversions to miles are usually a horrible value destroyer.

      I’m also planning to put together an article about crediting flights to “better” places. Seems like such a waste to earn a few Avios for a flight – when those are easy to accumulate – when you could earn more valuable miles by choosing a different FF programme.

      • Adam says

        Cheers Craig, already using erewards and the daily AW blog 5 pts per day.

        Would be great to read some interesting avenues in which to transfer points from one partner to another to eventually end up in AA other than Marriott to spg.

        Any hotel partners to transfer over to ANA or interesting ways to get ANA points other than e-miles?

  2. Adam says

    Am I right in assuming that IHG is the same conversion ratio to ANA as is with AA? , I just read that on the Web but could of been out of date?
    If so, this looks a better deal to use IHG – ANA when using on EY, IHG points are fairly easy for me to come by.
    Did I read the ANA chart correct, would it be 40k RTN from LON-ABU in Biz?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Should be 68K for a return LHR-AUH in Business. Economy would be 40K. Spending the extra 28K is a no-brainer.

      The beauty is that you should be able to do LHR-AUH-JNB (or CPT, MRU, SEZ etc.) for those same 68K.

      AFAIK ANA has the same 5:1 ratio for IHG points. In principle I wouldn’t go for that transaction, but you’ve got me thinking… IHG points are indeed easy to earn and I keep finding less and less value in actually using points at IHG hotels.

      • Joe Deeney says

        Great article – and I love the thinking going on here! If there’s a decent IHG Accelerate bonus, it can be possible to rack up 50k+ IHG Points for ~ÂŁ100-200 (and that’s assuming you wouldn’t be staying anyway). That’s 10k Miles, which sounds like a bad transfer, but when you consider the value of ANA Miles it’s a different story…

        There are certainly fewer IHG redemption sweetspots these days as regards hotels too.

        This could be very, very interesting – particularly as ANA seem to allow family accounts:

  3. Adam says

    Ahh, even better news a HH account. Now I can transfer IHG surplus points from both accounts into ANA HH. Think for me this route is win, win as very low taxes also on ANA.
    E rewards 10k points > 4k IHG, now the points are not EQ anymore this could be the next best use.
    Be interesting to see a best value chart for redemption partners to ANA > EY.

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