Etihad Airways Introduces Fare Choices: Is This a Devaluation?

received an e-mail message from Etihad Airways this morning, which announced a new policy — effective as of Monday, September 14, 2015 — called Fare Choices:

Introducing Fare Choices: Tailor-made fares for every guest

Dear Brian,

When it comes to booking a flight, not everyone has the same needs. Some guests like to travel light and on a budget, whilst others may want to make last-minute travel decisions, or carry extra baggage.

From 14 September we will introduce Fare Choices, offering you the option to choose your ticket flexibility, baggage allowance, and many other benefits.

Now you can select a fare with the relevant services, giving you the power to pay for what you really need.

The most significant changes seem to be checking in based on elite tier status, as expressed here by FlyerTalk member DevilDawg1960

The check-in based on tier status is definitely a real downgrade. Luckily I have booked my 6 award flights in first and business for next February so the old rules apply and I will be able to use premium check in. Lounga access reamins unchanged. Doesn’t seem to make any sense to me but would not stop me from booking a J or F award in the future if it was best for my needs. Limo service remains for award flights from what I see which is a much important benefit.

…and the reduction in the luggage allowance, as expressed here by FlyerTalk member xobile

The new excess luggage rates from the US/Canada are abhorrent.

Currently an additional 23 kg box is $140-$175, depending on it it was booked online or at the airport (used to $137/500AED a few years ago). The new rates put it at $210 online/$300 at the airport. Extra weight from 23-32 kg goes from a flat $50 (payable only at the airport) to $87.5 (online) to $125 (airport).

I frequently travel with extra weight/pieces, and this change alone will push me completely to Emirates.

Also, upgrades to a higher cabin will no longer be possible if you are a member of the Etihad Guest frequent flier loyalty program and your ticket was booked in what are known as Economy Class Breaking Deals or Business Class Breaking Deals.

I am still searching for some positive comments and news pertaining to Fare Choices at this time — although there are supposedly more baggage allowance benefits on many routes for Etihad Guest members who have earned Silver, Gold and Platinum elite tier status; extra baggage fees are purportedly slashed up to 90 percent; and new mile accrual rates with more miles earned on higher fare choices.

If your tickets were issued prior to September 14, the old rules apply; but if your tickets are issued on or after September 14, the new Fare Choice rules apply. If you change your ticket and it is reissued on or after September 14, the new Fare Choice rules apply as well.

Current Baggage Policies

Here is a list of the baggage policies currently in effect at Etihad Airways:

Maximum weight and dimensions
To / from Brazil, Canada and the US: 158cm (50x70x38)
To / from all other destinations: 207cm (45x72x90)
Each item must not exceed 32kg.

This applies to all baggage including pre-purchased excess baggage. Baggage that exceeds the limits and dimensions shall only be processed through Etihad Cargo.

 
JOURNEY ECONOMY CLASS BUSINESS CLASS FIRST CLASS INFANT
To / from Brazil 2 bags, up to 32kg each 3 bags, up to 32kg each 3 bags, up to 32kg each 1 bag, up to 23 kg
To / from Canada and the US 2 bags, up to 23kg each 2 bags, up to 32kg each 2 bags, up to 32kg each 1 bag, up to 23 kg
To / from all other destinations Bags with a total not exceeding 30kg Bags with a total not exceeding 40kg Bags with a total not exceeding 50kg 1 bag, up to 10kg

Checked baggage allowance – Etihad Guest members*

Each item must not exceed 32kg and dimensions of 207cm (45 x 72 x 90).
*Not applicable for flights to/from US, Canada and Brazil.
 
TIER FIRST CLASS BUSINESS CLASS ECONOMY CLASS
Etihad Guest Platinum 70kg 60kg 50kg
Etihad Guest Gold 65kg 55kg 45kg
Etihad Guest Silver 60kg 50kg 40kg
Etihad Guest 50kg 40kg 30kg

Hand baggage (carry-on) allowance

Each item must not exceed dimensions of 111 cm (40 x 50 x 21).

 
JOURNEY ECONOMY CLASS BUSINESS CLASS FIRST CLASS INFANT
All destinations 1 bag, up to 7kg 2 bags, up to 12kg in total 2 bags, up to 12kg in total 1 bag, up to 5kg

Fare Choices in Detail

The following unedited content is from the official Internet web site of Etihad Airways, with the breakdown of the fare classes and frequently asked questions found here:

Have you booked your ticket before 14 September 2015?

Our new Fare Choices apply to bookings made on or after this date. If you booked before this date, the new policy does not apply to you, even if you are travelling later.

If you change your booking after this date (for example, changed the date or moved to a different flight) the new rules will apply.

For bookings ticketed before 14 September 2015:

  1. Date changes and cancellation fees will be as per the rules at the time of purchase. Contact us or your travel agent to find out how to change your ticket.
  2. Our old baggage allowances and charges policy applies.
  3. All bookings, regardless of fare option, are eligible for paid upgrades when available.
  4. No Economy Class guests will receive priority check-in apart from those who receive it as a benefit from Etihad Guest or our partner programmes.
  5. In Business Class, guests flying in the lowest booking class (Z) are not eligible for the Etihad Chauffeur service. If in doubt, please check with our Contact Centre to find out whether your flight is eligible.
  6. The number of Etihad Guest Miles awarded will be determined by the date you bought your ticket, not the date of travel. Tickets issued after 8 July 2015 will be affected by the changes to the earning rates. The current earning rates will apply for tickets issued before 8 July, even if the travel date is later.

 

Here is Fare Choices at a glance:

Click here to access Fare Choices at a glance by Etihad Airways.

Economy Class

 
FARE TYPE BREAKING DEALS SAVER VALUE FREEDOM GUEST SEAT
Booking class T, E U, V L, Q, M, K H, B, Y N
Fare basis YB YS YV YF GY
Miles earned 25% Etihad Guest Miles 50% Etihad Guest Miles 75% Etihad Guest Miles 100% Etihad Guest Miles 0%****
Hand baggage 1 bag, up to 7kg 1 bag, up to 7kg 1 bag, up to 7kg 1 bag, up to 7kg 1 bag, up to 7kg
Checked baggage* 1 bag, up to 23kg 1 bag, up to 23kg 2 bags, up to 23kg 2 bags, up to 23kg 2 bags, up to 23kg
Date changes** No For a fee For a fee Free 1st change free*****
Refund** No No For a fee Free Fee of 2,000 miles
Free for Gold & Platinum members
Upgrade eligibility No Yes Yes Yes No
Priority check-in*** No No No Yes Based on tier status

Business Class

 
FARE TYPE BREAKING DEALS SAVER FREEDOM GUEST SEAT
Booking class Z W D,C,J I
Fare basis JB JS JF GJ
Miles earned 115% Etihad Guest Miles 130% Etihad Guest Miles 175% Etihad Guest Miles 0%****
Hand baggage 2 bags, total of 12kg 2 pieces total of 12kg 2 pieces total of 12kg 2 pieces total of 12kg
Checked baggage* 2 bags, up to 32kg 2 bags, up to 32kg 2 bags, up to 32kg 2 bags, up to 32kg
Date changes** No For a fee Free 1st change free*****
Refund** No For a fee Free Fee of 2,000 miles
Free for Gold & Platinum members
Upgrade eligibility No Yes Yes No
Priority check-in*** Yes Yes Yes Based on tier status
Lounge access Yes Yes Yes Yes
Chauffeur No Yes Yes Yes

First Class

 
FARE TYPE FREEDOM GUEST SEAT
Booking class R, A, F O
Fare basis FI GF
Miles earned 250% Etihad Guest Miles 0%****
Hand baggage 2 bags, total of 12kg 2 bags, total of 12kg
Checked baggage* 2 bags, up to 32kg 2 bags, up to 32kg
Date changes Free 1st change free*****
Refund Free Fee of 2,000 miles
Free for Gold & Platinum members
Priority check-in*** Yes Based on tier status
Lounge access Yes Yes
Chauffeur Yes Yes

Notes

Guest Seat: Available for members to purchase using their miles. Guests can choose to pay for up to 25% of the fare with cash.

* General Baggage Policy. Please refer to Baggage allowances for specific details on baggage limits for your route.
** Date changes and cancellation policy varies by route.
*** Etihad Guest Platinum and Gold members are eligible for premium check-in
**** Guests will earn miles on the portion of fare paid in cash and can pay up to 25% of the fare with cash.
***** A charge of AED100 will be implemented on each additional change.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

8 thoughts on “Etihad Airways Introduces Fare Choices: Is This a Devaluation?”

  1. Kenny says:

    More often than not, it’s not good news when an airline tells you they’re making changes to offer you more “choice”

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Even more revealing to me is when members are told about the changes in benefits prior to the date of the change, Kenny.

      If the change was beneficial to the consumer, would it really matter when the change in benefits occurred?

      “I am sorry; but because your flight will occur before the benefits change, you will have to pay a higher baggage fee or have a smaller baggage allowance…”

  2. Ryan says:

    Way too confusing for my little brain!

  3. Christian says:

    As they say in futurama, “Good news, everyone”. I’m with Kenny.

  4. Maem says:

    Hi Brian – I’ve written about this here (http://milesandevenmore.blogspot.in/2015/08/big-changes-etihad-mis-advertise.html) and as I see it, the key issue with this is that the various fare buckets (choices, as Etihad calls it) are not always available. It isn’t like, I want to travel today, but I don’t want any frills, so let me book a Deals or a Saver ticket. Those may not be available. Which, combined with the reduced benefits, is a double (or more) whammy!

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you for providing additional details in your article, Maem; and thank you for providing a link to your article.

  5. Sue Johnstone says:

    I’m confused booked from London to Brisbane in Economy Freedom so I’m allowed 2 x 23kgs luggage…however the return journey I booked Economy Breaking Deals which only allows me 1 x 23kgs…..what’s that all about….not quite sure how that works, anyone with any ideas ??

    Thank you

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      The Fare Choices option became effective only last month, Sue Johnstone.

      I do not have experience with Fare Choices and therefore cannot give you a definitive answer; and I have yet to hear from a contact at Etihad Airways pertaining to definitive confirmation of the policies — but my guess would be to choose the lowest common denominator.

      In other words, act as though your entire trip requires one bag of up to 23 kilograms in weight.

      I would surmise that it would be similar to flying as a passenger seated in the premium class cabin on the origination portion of your journey; but the return part of your journey has you seated in the economy class cabin. In that case, you certainly would not be eligible for the benefits of passengers seated in the premium class cabin on the return journey — including the baggage allowance — if you are seated in the economy class cabin.

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