Emirates Skywards vs Etihad Guest
Let's see which carrier takes you farther, higher, and with a bigger smile on your face.
For the sake of comparison, we’ll choose Beirut as a destination again, but this time, let’s assume you’re flying out of Abu Dhabi, not Dubai.
According to the Etihad Guest call center, an economy flight to Beirut from Abu Dhabi will give an Etihad Guest member 2628 air miles, and the equivalent in tier miles. That’s 30 miles less than Skywards.
Silver and Gold members earn 25 percent and 50 percent more air miles respectively; but like Skywards, they earn the same tier miles as regular Etihad Guest members.
Air miles expire every three years, whereas tier miles expire every year.
Finally, like Skywards, there are credit cards out there that can get you Etihad air miles. Do your own research.
Let’s look at that Beirut flight again: if you’re a basic Etihad guest member and you have 25,000 air miles, you can redeem your miles for a flight to Beirut. However, you’ll need to pay an additional AED785 in taxes.
The call center couldn’t explain why, but they did say that the amount can fluctuate.
Non flight rewards
Etihad has a long list of products that it delivers around the world. And unlike Emirates, shipping costs are included in the price, which is important.
Furthermore, products don’t have minimum air miles requirements.
Kipp lauds the program’s flexibility.
Like Skywards, Etihad Guests need 25,000 tier miles or 20 segments to become silver members, and 50,000 tier miles or 40 segments to become gold members.
But here’s where the two programs differ: silver members need 20,000 tier miles or 15 segments to maintain their membership; and gold members need 40,000 miles or 30 segments to do the same. In short, Etihad silver and gold members need 20 percent less tier miles and segments to maintain their membership than their counterparts on Skywards.
Complementary seat upgrade
Regular Etihad Guests don’t get complementary upgrades, neither do silver members (unless the airport decides otherwise). As a silver member, however, you can pay for an instant upgrade while you’re on the flight, but it isn’t cheap.
Gold members can get upgraded, but it’s rare.
Final score: 31
Verdict: Etihad Guest wins, not because it’s perfect (those taxes really are ridiculously high), but because Skywards could use some work.
We forgot to mention something: Silver members on both airlines are allowed access to the business lounge. But note that the Skywards silver members need to brave the 30 minute walk from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport.
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