Etihad Airways, the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates, has on Tuesday launched its Etihad Guest programme, a unique proposition that revolutionises airline loyalty initiatives and echo's the airline's personalised and customer-focused approach to travel.
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 uncompromising restrictions traditionally associated with existing loyalty schemes, replaced instead with a flexible range of features and services designed to cater to public demand.
Geert W Boven, the acting CEO of Etihad Airways commented, "With our hospitality-orientated approach Etihad Airways is certain to raise a few eyebrows amongst its peers, many of whose frequent flyer-related schemes remained relatively unchallenged by the industry until now. However, 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."
Essentially, the key features that the programme will offer its guests are:
1) 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 for the flights they'd want, Etihad's new blueprint for loyalty has eradicated the concept of blackout periods and flight redemption restrictions. Every flight has an allocation of Guest Seats throughout each of the three Zones which offer the best value for miles and can be booked for a fixed mileage rate. However, unlike other airlines, Etihad has introduced the concept of Open Seats 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. While the mileage required is determined according to the fare level travelled in, as long as there are seats available guests have the option to redeem their miles whenever is most convenient to them.
2) Choice of "payment", whether purely miles or a cash contribution:
Unlike most airlines, Etihad recognises that flexibility is the ultimate mark of respect to its loyal guests. As such, it 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. Using the online slider tool, guests enter a combination of miles and cash values into the relevant MyMiles or MyCash fields. By moving the innovative slider bar they are then able to calculate which proportion of the two will work best for them at the time of redemption.
3) Immediate redemption potential, as of the first mile accrued:
Mindful that frequent flyers are rarely able to enjoy instant gratification on their "points", 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. Whether opting to take advantage of the great range of rewards on offer or topping up the outstanding mileage balance with the flexible cash payment option, guests are given a warm welcome and actively encouraged to treat themselves to their well deserved rewards from the moment they start accruing their air miles. Indeed, the 1MileRedemption concept ensures that members can exchange as little as one mile when taking advantage of the Miles+Cash option.
4) Range of rewards, with a network of non-flight partners to choose from:
Etihad has quite literally gone that extra mile by partnering with a network of airline, car rental, financial, retail and leisure partners and in doing so aims to offer Guests greater mile earning as well as spending opportunities alongside an attractive range of discounts. The Reward Shop is just a click away with the full range of reward categories, including flights, Etihad Holidays, entertainment, electronics, lifestyle, experiences, auctions, raffles and charity donations - all available on www.etihadguest.com.
5) Added value, with miles that are worth more:
The initiative focuses on delivering greater value to its Guests - both in terms of dynamic miles value and added value elements, such as flexibility and choice. The result of this is that an Etihad mile is worth more than any miles offered through competitors' equivalent programmes, especially when combined with the uniquely personalised Miles+Cash option.
Added to this, with three tiers to qualify for - Etihad Guest, Etihad Guest Silver and Etihad Guest Gold - members are entitled to extra benefits the more miles they earn, ranging from priority check-in, lounge access and up to up to 15kg excess baggage allowance to complimentary Limousine service and fast track immigration.