Etihad Guest is the frequent flyer program of Etihad Airways. It also partners with Virgin Australia for points earn and redemption, making it a useful program to know about.

The program has some especially good redemption rates for many Virgin Australia routes within Australia. In addition, you can use your Etihad Guest miles for flights from Australia on Etihad, American Airlines and ANA.

In this guide, we explore the options for redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Etihad as well as its most relevant partners in Australia.

How to earn Etihad Guest miles in Australia

There are three key ways for Australians to collect Etihad Guest miles without flying.

1. Through credit cards

There are no credit cards in Australia that allow you to directly earn Etihad Guest miles. Instead, Etihad Guest partners with the following bank rewards programs:

With the programs above, you’ll earn points towards the program that can be converted to Etihad Guest miles at the following rate:

  • 2 Amex Membership Rewards points = 1 Etihad Guest mile
  • 3 Citi Rewards points = 1 Etihad Guest mile

Occasionally, American Express offers a transfer bonus to Etihad Guest.

2. By transferring Marriott Bonvoy points

Marriott Bonvoy points are one of the most flexible points currencies in the world. This is because they can be transferred to most major airline programs, including Etihad Guest. The transfer rate is as follows:

  • 3 Marriott Bonvoy points = 1 Etihad Guest mile

You’ll also get 5,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer.

3. By buying them

Finally, you can buy Etihad Guest miles. This is very handy if you need to shore up your balance for a redemption.

If you already have 75% of the miles required for a redemption, you can buy Etihad Guest miles for less, even if they’re not on sale.

How to redeem Etihad Guest miles on partner airlines

Etihad Airways isn’t part of one of the big three airline alliances (oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam). Instead, it has built a network of its own of 20+ airline partners.

Confusingly, each partner has their own individual award chart. It’s not simple to decipher.

Partner flights are not bookable online. So, you’ll need to phone the Etihad Guest call centre to redeem your Etihad Guest miles for partner flights. The best number for travellers based in Australia is 1300 532 215. The call centre is open 24 hours a day.

Best uses of Etihad Guest miles for Virgin Australia flights

The key Etihad Guest partner for Australia-based travellers is Virgin Australia. The best pricing is found on some specific, shorter domestic routes in Economy and especially in Business Class.

In a nutshell, here’s what you can expect when using Etihad Guest miles on Virgin Australia flights:

  • Short Business Class flights (eg. Adelaide-Canberra): 13,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes, one-way
  • Medium-haul Business Class flights (eg. Melbourne-Cairns): 21,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes, one-way
  • Long-haul Business Class flights (eg. Sydney-Denpasar): 33,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes, one-way

A sweet spot is Sydney to Queenstown in Virgin Australia 737 Business Class for 13,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes. When using Virgin Australia’s own loyalty program, you’d pay 35,500 Velocity Points + taxes – more than double – for the same route.

And when comparing a medium-haul route like Melbourne-Cairns in VA Business Class, you’d pay 21,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes, versus 35,500 Velocity Points + taxes, one-way.

Though there’s minimal difference in some routes like Sydney-Perth. You’d fork out 33,800 Etihad Guest miles + taxes to fly one-way, which is on par with the 35,500 Velocity Points + taxes required for this route.

When comparing Etihad Guest and Velocity side-by-side, Etihad Guest redemptions are cheaper than Velocity redemptions on almost all Virgin Australia flights. The exceptions are long-haul flights to destinations such as Tokyo and Los Angeles.

On the other hand, you should use your Velocity Points instead of Etihad Guest miles for flights to Tokyo and Los Angeles.

The Virgin Australia award chart is here.

Virgin Australia A330 Business Class
It’s better to use Velocity Points than Etihad Guest miles on longer Virgin Australia international flights

The first step is to search for award space on the Velocity website. Then phone Etihad Guest to book.

Best uses of Etihad Guest miles for Etihad flights

Another obvious option is for redemptions on Etihad Airways itself. Etihad’s flagship Business Class on A380 and 787 aircraft is world-class and Australia enjoys many options for points redemptions.

Etihad Airways A380 Business Studios
This Business Class product flies from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Abu Dhabi

The luxurious First Apartment on the A380 flies to Abu Dhabi from Sydney and onward to destinations like London, Paris and New York.

It’s one of the world’s best First Class products (but not as good as on Emirates.) You’ll enjoy a vast amount of space and an onboard shower. It’s a great way to burn your points (if you have enough.)

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment | Point Hacks
The ultra-luxurious Etihad A380 First Apartment

Many frequent flyer programs have distance or region-based award charts. This is the case for Qantas and Velocity; Etihad is different.

The miles required are instead calculated based on the exact number of total miles flown. That, of course, varies city to city. As a result, it can be relatively expensive to redeem Etihad Guest miles on long-haul flights.

For example, Australia to Abu Dhabi in Business Class will cost you ~100,000 miles one-way. Sydney to Abu Dhabi in First Class is ~136,000 miles.

Etihad routes from Australia December 2019
The Australian cities that Etihad serves

To give you an idea of travelling further afield, Sydney to London in Business Class is 162,500 miles.

If you’re interested in flying Etihad from Australia, then you should definitely check out this guide. It has all the information you need on pricing and booking your flight (which can be done online through Etihad Guest.)

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Best uses of Etihad Guest miles for American Airlines flights

Etihad Guest miles can provide great value when booking flights in premium cabins on American Airlines.

If—and that’s a big if—you can find availability in American Airlines Business Class between Sydney and Los Angeles, you’ll only pay 62,500 Etihad Guest miles. That’s compared to 108,400 Qantas Points.

American Airlines 772 Business Class
Flying American Airlines between Australia and the US is a solid choice

The only cheaper way to fly Business Class nonstop between Australia and the US is by using 55,000 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles on Qantas. However, these miles are hard to come by in Australia.

When flying domestically within the US, one-way Business Class flights are a fixed 25,000 Etihad Guest miles regardless of distance. That compares to 68,400 Qantas Points for the 5- to 6-hour flight between Los Angeles and New York.

Search for award space on the American Airlines website. Then phone Etihad Guest to book.

Best uses of Etihad Guest miles for ANA flights

Japanese carrier ANA flies to Tokyo from both Sydney and Perth. You can score a one-way Business Class flight for 54,000 Etihad Guest miles. (That compares to 94,500 KrisFlyer miles.)

ANA 787 J
It’s not the best Business Class seat but a lie-flat one is useful on 10-hour flights to Japan

Once you’re there, Business Class flights within Japan only cost 8,500 miles (up to a maximum of 13,500 for longer flights from Tokyo to Hokkaido and Kyushu.)

Search for award space on the United website. Then phone Etihad Guest to book.

Best uses of Etihad Guest miles for Brussels Airlines flights

This Star Alliance member offers a comfortable but not extravagant way to get between Europe and North America. They fly their Airbus A330 Business Class from Brussels to New York, Washington DC and Montréal.

A one-way flight will cost you only 44,000 Etihad Guest miles. That compares to 72,000 KrisFlyer miles.

Search for award space—which should be relatively generous—on the United website. Then phone Etihad Guest to book.

How to use Etihad Guest miles for upgrades on Etihad flights

It is possible to use your Etihad Guest miles—or cash—to upgrade an Etihad flight. However, you can’t use Etihad Guest miles to upgrade a flight on a partner airline like Virgin Australia.

If you run the numbers by factoring in the cost of paying for the Economy Class ticket, it’s usually better to just make an outright Business or First Class redemption.

However, if your work is paying for your flight, then you may want to explore bidding for an upgrade.

Etihad A380 Business Class
If you’re flying in Economy Class on the company dollar, then it might be worth putting in a bid for an upgrade with miles

Summing up

Etihad Guest miles aren’t the easiest to come by in Australia. However, if you do have access to them through a bank partner, then they can offer better value for flight redemptions than other popular programs like Qantas and Velocity Frequent Flyer.

The best-value Etihad Guest miles redemptions in Australia are:

  • Virgin Australia Business Class flights within Australia and to New Zealand
  • Etihad Business and First Class flights to Abu Dhabi and beyond
  • American Airlines Business Class flights to Los Angeles and within the US
  • ANA Business Class flights to Tokyo and within Japan
  • Brussels Airlines Business Class flights between Europe and North America

Just remember that all partner bookings will need to be made over the phone. That means that it’s best to search for availability on another program’s website to save yourself time.

These are the best credit cards to get to earn Etihad Guest miles.

Supplementary images courtesy respective airlines. This article was originally written by Matt Moffitt.

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The best uses of Etihad Guest miles in Australia was last modified: May 29th, 2024 by Victoria Kyriakopoulos