Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has at last launched its new 'Etihad Guest' frequent flyer loyalty programme, with a launch ceremony at the exclusive London-based Boodles jewellery store. Here we bring you the programme's full details.
The programme was unveiled by Peter Dunkin, Etihad's general manager for the UK and Ireland. According to Etihad, the basic concept behind the programme is the removal of the restrictions often associated with airline loyalty programmes, and the introduction of a range of features and services designed to cater to public demand.
Geert W. Boven, acting CEO for Etihad Airways, explained: "Having carried out research of the issues surrounding frequent flyer schemes, we know that the travelling public are increasingly seeking out incentives and benefits that indicate a genuine respect for their custom while rewarding them."
Features and benefits
In summary, the programme's main features and benefits include:
- Flexible travel, with anytime, any flight availability
Recognising a common criticism of frequent flyer programmes (the fact that accrued miles are not always easily redeemable for the flights the member wants), Etihad's new programme has no blackout periods or flight redemption restrictions. Every flight has an allocation of GuestSeats throughout each of the three zones which offer the best value for miles and can be booked for a fixed mileage rate. Etihad has also introduced the idea of OpenSeats to ensure that members are still able to choose when they would prefer to travel and redeem their miles on the flight of their choice. While the mileage required is determined according to the fare level (class) travelled in, as long as there are seats available members still have the option to redeem their miles whenever it is most convenient for them to travel.
- Choice of payment: miles or cash contributions
Etihad also noted that flexibility is key to many travellers. The new programme offers all its members the opportunity to use a combination of miles and cash when redeeming rewards, through its Miles+Cash option. Using an online 'slider tool', members can select any combination of miles and cash values when redeeming. They are then able to see in real-time which proportions of miles and cash will work best for them.
- Immediate redemption potential
Address the concern that frequent flyers seldom enjoy instant gratification for their airline miles, Etihad has set up partnerships with a range of non-flight companies. Whether taking advantage of the rewards on offer or topping up their mileage balance with the cash payment option, members are actively encouraged to treat themselves to rewards from the moment they start earning miles. The programme's innovative 1 Mile Redemption concept ensures that members can redeem as little as 1 mile for a reward when they use the Miles+Cash option.
- Wide range of non-flight rewards
Etihad has partnered with a network of airline, car rental, financial, retail and leisure partners, with the aim of providing greater mile earning and redemption opportunities, along with a range of members-only discounts. The programme's online Reward Shop (www.etihadguest.com) contains the full catalogue of redemption options.
- Added value, and membership tiers
The programme was also created to provide members with added value, both in terms of dynamic mileage value and other added-value elements (such as flexibility and choice). There are three membership tiers (Etihad Guest, Etihad Guest Silver, and Etihad Guest Gold) based on the number of miles earned during the year. The Silver and Gold levels provide extra benefits such as priority check-ins, lounge access, up to 15Kg excess baggage allowance, free Limousine services, and fast track immigration.
- Miles for reward flights with cash contributions
Interestingly, members can earn miles on their reward flights - if they choose to part-pay for the flight with cash (using the Miles+Cash feature). Miles are awarded based on the cash portion of the ticket price.
Membership is free and mileage accrual is immediate, with individuals from every country aged two years old and upwards being eligible to join the programme. New members can sign up on the internet, and membership application forms are available on-board all Etihad flights, at reservations offices, in lounges (at Abu Dhabi and London) and at check-in desks. Passengers can also request a mail-in membership form by calling the Etihad Guest Service Centre.
Peter Baumgartner, head of marketing for Etihad Airways, said: "Etihad remains committed to changing the way our guests see the world and, with our expanding network of global destinations, we will continue striving to set new industry standards which enhance the traveller's overall experience."