Etihad Airways Removes Free Chauffeur Service

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Besides the onboard delights of Etihad Airways First Class service, one of the joys of travelling with Etihad in a premium cabin is its chauffeur service. Unfortunately, this is going to disappear for tickets issued after 3 July, 2017.

Unfortunately, Etihad have chosen to announce this change with…

Etihad Airways is introducing a series of changes designed to offer increased value and flexibility based on customer feedback.

I know that Etihad are suffering (due to the in-cabin electronics ban amongst other reasons), but I wish they (and every other airline) would just come out and say “we need to save money and cut back…”

Anyhow, Etihad will no longer be providing a free chauffeur transfer outside of its Abu Dhabi home base. An exception will also be made for those First Class passengers flying in “The Residence” to/from London, Paris, Sydney and New York. I cannot see any mention of restricting the distance one can travel within the U.A.E., as many people fly Etihad into Abu Dhabi, then take advantage of the free chauffeur transfer for the 60-90 minute drive up to Dubai /Sharjah. So that’s at least some good news…

In my experience, Etihad even provided chauffeur service to those flying on reward tickets. The last time I flew Etihad First Class on an AA reward ticket, I was ever so slightly embarrassed as to direct my driver to Croydon (for a cheap Hampton convenient for both London and Gatwick…).

Etihad chauffeur

If you would like to read my prior posts on flying Etihad using miles from partner airlines, you can read these posts:

And in another coded sign of trouble at Etihad…

Etihad Airways has introduced an innovative new ‘Neighbour-Free Seat’ option in Economy Class. The service provides guests with the option to enhance their flying experience by ‘bidding’ for up to three empty seats next to their original seat – subject to availability and cabin configuration.

This gives guests the opportunity for increased space, comfort and privacy, at a price that is affordable. Guests can bid at the time of booking online. Successful bids will be confirmed 30 hours prior to departure.

In plain English… if we can’t sell enough Economy seats, maybe somebody will give us some money in exchange for a guaranteed empty middle seat…

I don’t suppose that many travelers choose an airline solely on the basis of receiving a free transfer to/from their home, but it’s still sad to see the loss of this perk that made Etihad that little bit extra special. Of course, their First Class offering is still much better than many, so this cutback is something I’m sure we can live with. What do you think?


  1. Miles Hunt says

    Interesting times. Etihad has of course been so heavily state-funded to date that the lavish service was easily provided.

    It does now seem that for whatever reason (perhaps because they’re spending it all on new Man City signings), Abu Dhabi is slowly starting to realise that a sustainable airline needs to make a genuine profit. I’d imagine the new CEO’s remuneration package is heavily dependent on this, too.

  2. Adam says

    I thought they removed this service on redemption tickets a while ago, so now removed on cash paid tickets also..?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I’m not sure about the redemption angle although I’m sure a few blogs wrote about it if it happened. I was under the impression that Etihad Guest rewards weren’t getting the chauffeur, but partner rewards will still sneaking in with the chauffeur service… My last ride in F though was in 2015.

  3. Adam says

    Slightly OT but sort of connected indirectly to EY.
    The new AA visa card at £70 fee per annum but comes with 15k AA points and 1.25 aa miles per £ spend is attractive and IMO better now than the SPG card for AA miles collecting especially as it’s a Visa and not Amex so widely accepted.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Nice spot. Looks like a newish card to me. I still have the “old” MBNA AA card which is free and offers 1.5 miles per £ on the Amex. I’d better keep an eye on my emails and post, in case they try to move me over to the new card… Still mourning the loss of my BMI card.

      Amex vs. Visa is a “chicken and egg” dilemma for me. I find that most of my big spending can be done on Amex. But 1.25 AA miles (roughly 1.5p in value) on a Visa is outstanding. The question is whether you have enough Visa-only spend to make the annual fee worth paying.

    • Joe Deeney says

      Yes got an email about that this morning. Objectively, it’s actually not a bad deal at all, although I still have my old free AA card that had a 35k(?) bonus when I got it!

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