Etihad launches ‘revolutionary’ loyalty plan


ETIHAD Airways has today launched its Etihad Guest programme.

The programme revolutionises airline loyalty initiatives and echoes the airline’s personalised and customer-focused approach to travel, said a spokesman.
The initiative is being rolled out throughout its global network of 35 passenger destinations simultaneously. At the core of the programme’s creation is the absence of restrictions traditionally associated with existing loyalty schemes, replaced instead with a flexible range of features and services designed to cater to public demand, said Geert W Boven, acting CEO of Etihad Airways.
The key features the programmes offer its guests, according to Boven, are:
* Flexible travel, with anytime, any flight availability: Recognising that travellers’ biggest criticism of frequent flyer programmes is that accrued miles are not always easily redeemable, Etihad’s new plan has eradicated the concept of blackout periods and restrictions. Every flight has an allocation of GuestSeats throughout the three Zones, that can be booked for a fixed mileage rate. Etihad has introduced the concept of OpenSeats to ensure that guests are still able to choose when they would prefer to travel and redeem their miles on the flight of their choice.
* Choice of ‘payment’, whether purely miles or a cash contribution: Etihad is one of the few to offer all its members the possibility of using a combination of miles and cash when redeeming rewards with its Miles+Cash feature with the help of an online slider tool.
* Immediate redemption potential, as of the first mile accrued: Etihad’s wide range of established partners have been carefully chosen to ensure that guests are able to treat themselves from the moment they accrue mileage, from as little as one mile. The airline has partnered with a network of airline, car rental, financial, retail and leisure partners.
* Added value, with miles that are worth more: Members are entitled to extra benefits the more miles they earn, from priority check-in, lounge access and up to 15kg excess baggage allowance to complimentary Limousine service and fast track immigration.
* Earning miles on reward flights through cash contributions: Passengers travelling on a flight that has been half-financed with cash will receive miles worth 50 per cent of the total flight.
The programme received nearly 3,000 global applications for membership within the programme’s first 24 hours, said an airline spokesman.

Etihad is now offering passengers more than 350 hours of movies and television programmes, following a major upgrade of its in-flight entertainment (IFE).
The audio and video on demand (AVOD) includes features such as building a ‘video favourites’ list for the duration of the flight, in addition to more than 200 music albums, which increases by ten every month, and 70 international feature-length films.
Etihad’s new fleet of aircraft are fitted with the Thales TopSeries i4000 system which offers more than two weeks of continuous entertainment, covering a wealth of languages and cultures.
The airline recently added a 20th aircraft to its fleet, a three-zone Airbus A340-500, making it one of the youngest commercial airline fleets in the world.

Etihad passenger numbers from Bahrain are up 82 per cent, the airline said. During the first half of this year the airline carried more than 25,000 passengers from Bahrain. Etihad operates daily flights on the Abu Dhabi-Bahrain leg.