Etihad Guest Adds New Redemption Partner: Saudi Arabian Airlines

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Etihad Guest is one of our favorite niche airline award programs. Just like Turkish Miles & Smiles, there's plenty of value to be found in the program — if you just know where to look.

As it isn't a member of any major airline alliance, Etihad partners with an eclectic mix of airline partners. And, this week, Etihad added another one of those partners: Saudi Arabian Airlines.

While those of us based in the U.S. may not know the airline well, Saudia operates passenger flights to over 100 cities and 40 countries. But, how many of these destinations are good redemptions on Etihad Guest? Let's take a look.

Etihad Guest Redemption Chart for Saudia Awards

Like with many of its partners, Etihad Guest utilizes a distance-based award chart for Saudia award flights:

Flight DistanceEconomyBusiness
0-5005,00010,000
501-1,00010,00020,000
1,001-1,50019,00038,000
1,501-2,00028,00056,000
2,001-3,00035,00070,000
3,001-4,00047,00094,000
4,001-5,00054,000108,000
5,001-6,00070,000140,000
6,001 +85,000170,000

Prices are one-way and awards are priced by segment. So, if you're connecting through Riyadh or one of Saudia's other hubs, you'll need to price out the miles required for each flight separately.

Example Saudia Award Rates

Saudia currently operates the following nonstop flights from the U.S. to Saudi Arabia:

  • New York (JFK) to Jeddah (JED) and Riyadh (RUH)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD) to Jeddah (JED) and Riyadh (RUH)

As these flights are all over 6,000 miles in distance, you'll have to pay 85,000 Etihad Guest miles for a one-way economy flight or 170,000 Etihad Guest miles for a business class flight. Those are some awful rates.

The rates are similarly high on mid-haul flights between Saudi Arabia and Europe. The 6-hour flight between Jeddah (JED) and London Heathrow (LHR) almost maximizes the 2,000-3,000-mile distance band. Still one-way flights cost:

  • 35,000 miles each way in economy
  • 70,000 miles each way in business class

However, short-haul flights are much more reasonable. You can book Saudia award flights between 501 and 1,000 miles in distance for 10,000 Etihad Guest miles in economy or 20,000 Etihad Guest miles in business class. This includes regional flights such as Riyadh (RUH) to Beirut (BEY) and Medina (MED) to Dubai (DXB).

book dozens of Saudia award flights for 10k Etihad Guest miles each way
A small sample of Saudia's flights under 1,000 miles in length. Image generated using Great Circle Mapper.

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad Guest miles are some of the easiest miles to accumulate. You can transfer points from four (of the five) major transferrable point currencies:

You can also transfer hotel points at less-optimal rates from:

  • Hilton Honors (10:1)
  • World of Hyatt (5:2)
  • IHG Rewards (5:1)

Or, you can buy Etihad Guest miles. Typically buying miles at full rate isn't a good deal. However, Etihad Guest sells miles at no more than 2¢ each. That price recently dropped as low as 1.2¢ during a recent buy miles promotion.

Other Ways to Book Saudia Awards

Just because you can redeem Etihad Guest miles for Saudia award flights doesn't mean it's the best option. If you have flexible point currencies, you may be able to book Saudia awards for a lower rate through other programs.

Saudia's other mileage partners include SkyTeam partners such as:

  • Delta SkyMiles (Amex partner)
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (Amex, CapOne, Citi)
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Amex, CapOne, Chase, Citi, Marriott)
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia (Amex, CapOne)

Despite Delta's recent devaluations, Delta's award prices are fairly reasonable for Saudia award flights to the Middle East. However, the taxes and fees can be excruciatingly high:

You might want to book Saudia awards through Delta instead of Etihad Guest

Bottom Line

It's always good to see new airlines partnerships form. As Etihad has some excellent award rates on its other partners, I had high hopes when I initially saw this new addition. However, the mileage rates for Saudia award flights are extremely high on most routes. You're likely better off booking Saudia awards through other programs.

For long-haul flights, you'll want to use your Etihad Guest miles on other partner airlines — such as American Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, or Brussels Airlines. However, you might be able to find some value in the new Etihad-Saudia partnership on short-haul flights.

What's your favorite use of Etihad Guest miles?

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