You can now buy Etihad Guest miles: when is it worth it?

Guide to buying Etihad Guest miles for travel on Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, American Airlines and more.

GUIDE: Buying Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: June 12, 2017
UPDATED: June 12, 2017

Etihad Airways has joined the likes of American Airlines, Alaska, United, Avianca and Starwood in selling miles for their frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest.

In this guide, we outline what you can use Etihad Guest miles for from New Zealand, how much they cost to buy, and how to make a purchase.

To get the basics down, you may want to have a read of our guide to why and when you should buy points.

We also have a guide on the best uses of Etihad Guest miles for travellers in New Zealand.

What can I use Etihad Guest miles for?

Etihad flights

Etihad Guest miles can, of course, be used on Etihad flights and, again, it’s the premium cabins that you’ll get the most value out of. Unfortunately for Kiwis, Etihad still don’t fly direct from any New Zealand airport to Abu Dhabi. This means you can only redeem Etihad Guest Miles on Etihad Airways if you are commencing your journey from Australia, so you would need to organise a positioning flight from New Zealand to Australia separately.

Virgin Australia flights

Redeeming your Etihad Guest Miles for travel on Virgin Australia is often a great option for South Pacific, Trans-Tasman and Australian domestic flights, but note that the booking process isn’t straightforward, requiring a phone call.

You’ll see in the table later on that it generally makes more sense to buy Economy tickets on Virgin Australia with cash and Business Class tickets with miles.

American Airlines flights

Etihad Guest miles can be used on American Airlines flights between Auckland and Los Angeles (and onwards).

They will be launching a Premium Economy cabin on these flights come late August 2017, which will be a great new direct-flight option for trips to the USA.

Other airline partners

Etihad Guest miles can also be redeemed for travel on 27 airline partners – the ones that fly to New Zealand include:

  • Air New Zealand
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Philippine Airlines

How much do the miles cost?

Miles can be bought for a cost of $20 USD per 1000 miles.

That gives a base value of 2 USD cents per mile.

You can see below that using miles instead of cash to book a flight will make sense in many cases, especially with Virgin Australia and American Airlines – however make sure you always confirm award availability and revenue seat pricing before committing to a miles purchase and booking. Note also that you can only purchase a maximum of 100,000 miles per calendar year.

*All redemption prices in the tables are in USD, one-way, and do not include booking fees, taxes and other charges

On Virgin Australia

The sweet spot in this first table are the Virgin Australia Business Class redemptions priced at 13,800 Etihad Guest miles.

OriginDestinationEtihad Guest Miles
required for Economy
Etihad Guest Miles
required for Business
Cost buying miles Economy (USD)*Cost buying miles Business (USD)*

On Air New Zealand

Based on how much flights with Air New Zealand usually cost, I can see little to no value in purchasing points to use on any of the routes below.

OriginDestinationEtihad Guest Miles
required for Economy
Etihad Guest Miles
required for Business
Cost buying miles Economy (USD)*Cost buying miles Business (USD)*
Domestic NZDomestic NZ1300026000$260$520
BrisbaneNorfolk Island1300026000$260$520
SydneyNorfolk Island1300026000$260$520
AucklandGold Coast1700034000$340$680
AucklandSunshine Coast1700034000$340$680
AucklandNiue Island1700034000$340$680
ChristchurchGold Coast1700034000$340$680
RarotongaLos Angeles4500090000$900$1800
AucklandBuenos Aires105000210000$2100$4200
AucklandSan Francisco105000210000$2100$4200
AucklandLos Angeles105000210000$2100$4200
AucklandHo Chi Minh105000210000$2100$4200
AucklandHong Kong105000210000$2100$4200
Los AngelesLondon105000210000$2100$4200

On American Airlines

There are reports that it can be very difficult to find award availability on American Airlines through Etihad, even if the same seats are shown as available on the AA website – be prepared for a frustrating phone call and staff who aren’t sure about what they’re doing.

Nevertheless, if you can snag one, their mileage rates are pretty good, especially for Business Class flights across the Pacific, coast-to-coast domestic in the US, and flights around the Hawaiian islands. The cost to purchase and redeem miles on these routes is almost always cheaper than purchasing a fare directly.

OriginDestinationEtihad Guest Miles
required for Economy
Etihad Guest Miles
required for Business
Etihad Guest Miles
required for First
Cost buying miles Economy (USD)*Cost buying miles Business (USD)*Cost buying miles First (USD)*
AucklandLos Angeles3750062500-$750$1250
Los AngelesNew York City125002500032500$250$500$650
Los AngelesLondon (OP)200005000062500$400$1000$1250
Los AngelesLondon (EP)30000$600
LondonLos Angeles300005000062500$600$1000$1250
Interisland HawaiiInterisland Hawaii5000$100

On Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines have return flights from Auckland to Shenzhen three times per week.

For a one-way ticket from Auckland to Shenzhen, you’ll need to redeem / spend:

  • 41,000 miles for Economy, at a cost of $820 USD
  • 81,000 miles for Business, at a cost of $1620 USD

Redemption rates for internal flights in China are much better, albeit as a result of some of the shorter distances between major cities.

A one-way flight from Shanghai to Beijing for example is only 7,000 miles in Economy, or 14,000 miles in Business. This would cost $140 USD and $280 USD respectively.

An ultra short one-hour flight between Beijing and Dongying is only 3,500 miles in Economy, or 7,000 miles in Business. This would cost $70 USD and $140 USD respectively.

On Korean Air

Korean Air has daily return flights between Auckland and Seoul.

For a one-way ticket from Auckland to Seoul, you’ll need to redeem / spend:

  • 67,000 miles for Economy, at a cost of $1340 USD
  • 94,000 miles for Business, at a cost of $1880 USD

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to purchase miles to use on these routes, at these prices.

On Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines have daily return flights between Auckland and Kuala Lumpur.

For a one-way ticket from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll need to redeem / spend:

  • 62,000 miles for Economy, at a cost of $1240 USD
  • 124,000 miles for Business, at a cost of $2480 USD

At this price, I’d completely give Malaysia Airlines a miss for long-haul redemptions altogether.

I would only consider redeeming Guest Miles for flights on Malaysia Airlines if they’re within Southeast Asia, e.g. Kuala Lumpur to Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City, which are both one-way legs that would set you back a more modest 7,000 miles in Economy, or 14,000 miles in Business. This would cost $140 USD and $280 USD respectively.

On Philippine Airlines

You should be able to find revenue seats at around the same cost as the redemption routes below.

OriginDestinationEtihad Guest Miles
required for Economy
Etihad Guest Miles
required for Business
Cost buying miles Economy (USD)*Cost buying miles Business (USD)*

On Etihad

If you can get yourself to Australia, here are some of the key Etihad redemption routes that could be useful from this side of the world (on an actual Etihad plane!)

RouteEtihad Guest MilesCost buying miles (USD)*
Sydney to London Business Class163225$3264.5
Sydney to London First Class217065$4341.3
Melbourne to London Business Class159812$3196.24
Brisbane to London Business Class162969$3259.38
Perth to London Business Class157082$3141.64
Melbourne to Abu Dhabi Business Class93686$1873.72
Melbourne to New York JFK Business Class182338$3646.76
Perth to New York JFK Business Class179522$3590.44
Melbourne to Los Angeles Business Class202048$4040.96
Perth to Los Angeles Business Class199232$3984.64

How can I buy miles?

You can buy Etihad Guest miles through this link.

Before you do so, here are a couple of important notes:

  • You can buy a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction and 100,000 in a calendar year
  • Points post within 24 hours
  • Points purchases are managed by, meaning this won’t qualify as a travel purchase for credit cards with bonus points categories

How else can I get Etihad Guest miles?

Earning Etihad Guest miles is pretty difficult from New Zealand, with no current credit card partners for everyday spend – however it is still possible, depending on your spending habits. See our full guide here.

Summing up

For now, my take is that it isn’t worth buying Etihad Guest miles speculatively.

However, if you are looking at using cash for a Business Class seat on a domestic Australian, South Pacific or Trans-Tasman Virgin Australia flight, it is probable that you can save money by purchasing and using Etihad Guest miles instead. There are also some good value redemption opportunities with American Airlines, and on Chinese domestic flights with Hainan Airlines.

It is possible that we see Etihad Guest launch promotions with bonus points or discounts for buying miles, in which case we will update this guide and the attractiveness of this option will increase.

You can now buy Etihad Guest miles: when is it worth it? was last modified: June 12th, 2017 by Matt Moffitt