My feeling after writing this post, and more importantly the part 2 tomorrow, I think Etihad Miles are by far the best transfer partner for Amex MR, Citi TY, and Cap1.
Etihad miles have by far the cheapest economy and premium flights to nearly every continent. In fact, you can get 22k/44k to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Plus, free stopovers.
In my mind, this is the best deal in the miles game I’ve seen in years. The only thing [off the top of my head] that would compare in value, defined as the ratio of time spent in business class to the miles/points spent, is the time with flew the United Pacific Hopper. This is the same price with less effort.
And if you don’t agree by the end of this post, wait until tomorrow’s post!
But everything I’m about to mention is bookable and has been booked by other people recently. It’s not a “too good to be true thing”. It might be a won’t-last-long kind of thing, but it’s been surprisingly hanging on.
Much like Alaska Airlines, Etihad is not currently part of an alliance and therefore, they have a bunch of individual partnerships for earning and redeeming miles with partners.
Also like Alaska, they have a bunch of different award charts for each individually created partnership. Also, again like Alaska, it seems that the easiest way to create a mutually beneficial agreement for each partner, was to just copy their award chart. I.e. Etihad is using an old AA award chart they [nearly] copied.
(There are rumors of Etihad partnering with United and dropping America, and even joining Star Alliance. That could mean the death of the current partnerships altogether. So, in my view, we might as well get the most out of this deal while it lasts!)
The biggest problem with this non-alliance approach is that you can’t combine partners on one ticket. So the best deal I’ll talk about is only available starting from the east coast and you’d have to book a separately priced ticket to get there.
The plus side would be the gems about to be discussed…
Transfer partners to earn Etihad Miles:
- Amex MR (1:1)
- Citi TY (1:1)
- Cap1 (1,000:750)
- Marriott (3:1)
- Barclay AP (1.4:1)
(Thanks to FM’s spreadsheet of “List of Transfer Partners“).
OneWay Partner Prices
You can find all Etihad partners and award charts on this page.
However, I created a sheet you can view that tries to cross compare all partners that have flights departing the US, which you can find here.
It also lists all the US destinations for foreign partners in the bottom row (as well as stopovers). This is super relevant because you can not connect two partner awards for one price, they would be priced separately, which could greatly increase the cost.
However, it’s hard to easily display visually, so I’ll paste a couple of prime examples here.
US to Europe with Etihad Miles:
|AA||Royal Air Maroc||Brussels (to BRU)||Air Europa (distance based)||Scandinavian Airlines (distance based)||Air Serbia (to BEG)||Alitalia|
|Econ||20* – 30||22||27||32+||32 – 46||45||60 – 180|
|Biz||50||44||44||71+||71 – 102||64||120 – 160|
US to Asia 1 with Etihad Miles:
|Asiana (distance based)||ANA (distance based)||Hainan (distance based)|
|Econ||35 – 53||43||41+|
|Biz||59 – 88||78||81+|
|First||117 – 176||156||139.5+|
Again, all prices are oneways, including the spreadsheet above.
The spreadsheet probably already gave away the big Etihad gem, but there’s more than one, so stay with me!
Etihad Miles for American Airlines
Spoiler alert, tomorrow’s post is actually about redeeming Etihad miles on AA flights, which may contain a bunch of amazing stopover deals, the most useful deals to most of us in the USA, and a bunch of possible loopholes.
While I’ll go into the super oddities of redeeming Etihad miles on AA flights tomorrow, -(it really does deserve a post of its own)- all you need to know for now is that Etihad is currently using AA’s super old award chart, and it’s kept alive some of the best prices in the miles world. These were some of the best prices in 2011 and they are definitely some of the best prices today.
Just as a tease for tomorrow’s post, here is a map of economy prices (it takes a good minute to load):
The obvious ones you’ll see here are:
- AA First Class to Asia for 67.5k and Asia 2 for 67.5k
- Off-peak to South America for 20k
- The rest of South America for 17.5k (year round)
- Off-peak to Europe 20k
- Off-peak to Asia 1 25k
I’ll go into way more detail tomorrow… But you can already see that there’s a lot of value here. Plus, stopovers.
Etihad Miles for Royal Air Maroc
Royal Air Maroc (using Etihad Miles) is a distance-based program… with one peculiar feature: all flights above 2,001 flown miles, (which isn’t a long distance), have the single price of 22,000 miles in economy and 44,000 miles in business. (Most distance based airlines top out at somewhere around 10,000 flown miles).
This means that you can book a flight to their hub, Casablanca, Morocco (or possibly Marrakesh) and then continue on to another place, like most major cities in Europe, Dubai, Egypt, Kenya, etc…
This is an absurdly great deal which you should book while it lasts. This shouldn’t be bookable but I’ve confirmed it is.
Also, I personally get all of my premium cabin information from the dude who has seemingly flown every premium cabin possible, Lucky at OMAAT. Which is to say that this business class passed his standard in his Royal Air Maroc Business Class Review.
You can view a list of their destinations here. You’ll find they have destinations all over Europe.
Then I made a map of all Royal Air Maroc destinations here.
The only problem here is that there are only 4 US destinations:
- New York (JFK)
- DC (IAD)
- Miami (MIA)
- Boston (BOS) – Begins 22 June 2019
To search for availability, create an account and go to this page. (If you just created an account, log out and back in if it doesn’t work).
But the deal is worth it for anyone who can easily / cheaply get to any of those 4 cities.
You just can’t beat 22k economy and 44k business class tickets to all over the Middle East, and Africa. Heck, it’s a great deal to Europe, especially with a stopover in Morocco!
As I’ll discuss at the end, agents are fickle, so make sure they price a stopover as a free stop and not a separately priced ticket.
I also wonder if they would allow you to continue onward to Brazil… That would be a heck of a oneway.
Etihad Miles for Brussels Airlines
This award chart is super odd, because it shows the price for specific segments, like New York to Brussels. Then it seems that if you want to fly onward somewhere else you have to tack on another segment at that segment’s specific price.
Thus, it seems great for a very small number of routes.
Similar to above, one issue is that there are only 3 destinations in the US and Canada:
- Toronto (YYZ)
- DC (IAD)
- New York (JFK)
For direct flights from any of those to Brussels (BRU) it is 27,000 miles in economy and 44,000 in business class. A decent deal.
But to tack on another flight to get elsewhere in Europe (or the world) you’d have to consult this award chart.
Here is a map of all destinations with prices.
Over all, some of the cheapest flights from Europe to Africa, some cheap flights within Europe, and a decent flight for those near DC, New York or Toronto.
- 5k for Sri Lanka to Maldives and lots of India
- 8k Bangkok to Hong Kong
- 12k for Sri Lanka to Bangkok
- 14k for Sri Lanka to Muscat, Oman
- 18k for Sri Lanka to Hong Kong
- 3.5k intra-Europe flights
- 8k for flights to the “Stans”, Caucasus, and the Middle East
- 13k/26k for Prague to Seoul.
This might be the cheapest flight from Europe to Asia period.
- 5k Europe flights
- BEG to Tel Aviv and Beirut for 11k/15k
It’s 3,000 miles for flights under 1,000 flown miles, which can get you around Brazil, like Rio (GIG) to Sao Paulo (GRU). This route is a bad example, but I find other flights in Latin America to sometimes be expensive, which would make 3k a great deal.
Okay, a better example is GRU to Asuncion, Paraguay (ASU). Often this is a $200 flight, but it would only 6,000 miles (because it’s under 1000 flown miles)!
Availability is good and seems to be the same as their site.
Details From Traveler’s Experiences
In my search for any traveler experiences, I actually found this FlyerTalk thread to be useful- (the content was useful, the website is unusable). Here are some lessons:
- Must book 14+ days in advance.
- This is the ultimate HUCA (hang up and call again) miles program. Try different offices at different hours.
- “Serbian agents are great.” May direct automatically, in which case calling at night or really early morning may help.
- Apparently, people have had a stopover priced as two one-ways. Agents are fickle.
- Someone stated that Etihad agents may not show availability at all unless you actually go through a real booking (i.e. put in names and details).
- Fees vary to an odd degree. Someone said their Royal Air Maroc tickets were $200 in business class, which doesn’t make sense in terms of YQ or airports. But it’s really not bad.
Take a Royal Maroc flight in business class to Athens with a stopover in Morocco for 42,000 miles.
Then take an AA flight with your home as a stopover, with a later segment onto your “final destination” of Hawaii (or wherever really) for another 20,000 miles off-peak.
Of course, you can always redeem on Etihad flights too and have the aspirational Etihad Apartment. But I’m a deal kinda guy, and this deal is absurdly good.
Much more tomorrow!