Many travellers are excited to make Silver status for the first time, and quickly become content with Gold. For those who fly more than most, Platinum provides extra perks worth aiming for. But for a select few, there’s often an unpublished level right at the top. For Etihad Guest, it’s simply known as ‘Exclusive’.

But what can an airline really do when Platinum members already get great perks like First Class Lounge access? I’m glad you asked.

How to get Etihad Guest Exclusive

Etihad is extremely discreet with its VIP tier. Unlike other airlines that talk about these openly – such as Virgin Australia with Beyond, and to a lesser extent, Qantas with Chairman’s Lounge – Etihad Guest Exclusive is largely kept under wraps.

It’s known though that membership is granted only by invitation. Unlike the public frequent flyer tiers of Etihad Guest, it’s not simply unlocked after earning a set number of Tier Miles or Tier Segments.

Of course, those who well and truly blow past the Etihad Guest Platinum requirements might get a look-in, based on their personal airfare spend. But these VIP programs are usually about rewarding more substantial revenue – such as that of a large company, rather than one individual.

Most airlines typically award invitation-only status as part of travel contract negotiations with major corporate clients. Usually, those VIP cards go to the CEO and Chair of the business – but certainly not every person who travels on that company’s behalf.

After all, if everybody were a ‘VIP’, nobody would be a VIP.

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Benefits of Etihad Guest Exclusive

Landing an ‘Exclusive’ card is like being an Etihad Guest Platinum member, but with more of a personal touch and fewer rules and restrictions.

For instance, Etihad’s Platinum members can visit the airline’s First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi before eligible flights. But with Etihad Guest Exclusive, the lounge opens its doors regardless of the airline being flown.

Furthermore, this lounge is home to two distinct VIP rooms. They’re designed for passengers flying in The Residence. That’s Etihad’s better-than-First-Class cabin on the Airbus A380 – a sneak peek of the service below. But when available, the same privilege is extended to Etihad’s Exclusive members.

(Pending availability, other travellers can also buy access to Etihad’s VIP rooms, However, the fee is US$100, and without the on-ground butler service).

Etihad also lends a helping hand at the airport – which I’ve previously had the chance to experience. When flying out of Sydney, a host greeted me in the lounge and escorted me through the boarding gate and straight on board, before priority boarding had been called.

On arrival in Abu Dhabi, we’d pulled up at a remote stand. Rather than the typical bus to the terminal, a limousine was ready and waiting on the tarmac. A golf cart had been dispatched in advance to meet our arrival at the terminal. It promptly took me to the lounge ahead of my onward flight.

Speaking of golf carts, another one popped up in Sydney on my return. This time, taking me straight from the end of the aerobridge to the SmartGate section of passport control. Yes, completely unnecessary, but for those who’d regularly receive this treatment, I can see how it’d make a lasting impression.

Etihad Guest Exclusive members also enjoy Etihad’s chauffeur transfer service in Abu Dhabi, regardless of cabin class or booking type.

Even more perks for Etihad Guest Exclusive members

With an Etihad Guest Exclusive card in your travel wallet, a host of other benefits await you. These largely mirror the perks of Etihad Guest Platinum, but they’re still quite handy.

  • Nominate a friend or family member for gratis Etihad Guest Gold status.
  • Etihad Guest Miles never expire, while maintaining Platinum or Exclusive status.
  • The ability to book a confirmed seat in Business or Economy on Etihad flights that are already sold out.
  • When travelling Economy Class, select Economy Space seating at no charge.
  • Free inflight Wi-Fi on Etihad Airways flights.
  • Access to a dedicated contact centre for all enquiries.
  • Receive invitations to events sponsored by Etihad Airways.

Etihad Guest Exclusive members also receive benefits on Etihad’s partner airlines, including Virgin Australia. Much like Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum, an Exclusive card unlocks Virgin Australia priority check-in, priority boarding and domestic lounge access.

Summing up

Most travellers of the type to receive invitation-only status would already be flying at the front of the plane. That makes the typical benefits like First Class Lounge access and priority boarding less enticing as a frequent flyer, because those same privileges are already included with the ticket itself.

Etihad Guest Exclusive reflects this, and instead focuses on removing potential pain points from the journey. For example, when facing the inconvenience of landing at a remote stand and not needing to squeeze into a busy transfer bus.

That personal touch can also carry through into the inflight service. Small benefits, such as being the first to place a meal order, once again allow Etihad to avoid potential frustration. It all adds up to a comfortable and memorable trip, every time an Etihad Guest Exclusive member takes to the skies.

Of course, we’d expect nothing less from an airline made famous by its Savoy-trained butlers.

Also read: Emirates iO: the bespoke frequent flyer tier that ‘doesn’t exist’

All images courtesy of Etihad Airways.

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Etihad Guest Exclusive gives VIPs a taste of The Residence was last modified: October 19th, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin