Ouch! Etihad Devalues One of Top 10 International Sweet Spots

Let this serve as cautionary tale #3 (this was tale #1 and tale #2) to anyone that has a strong desire to redeem points for an amazing trip but waits too long to cash in.

BACKGROUND

I have written many times about a sweetspot that exists through a partnership between Etihad Airways and Royal Air Maroc. Essentially, it goes like this…redeem 44,000 Etihad points and you can have a one-way business class seat ANYWHERE Royal Air Maroc flies.

WHERE DOES ROYAL AIR MAROC FLY?

AWARD CHART

Etihad has an extremely generous award chart with their partner Royal Air Maroc. If the distance from your origin to your destination was more than 2001+ miles, the award ticket would only costs 44, 000 miles.

There are a few destinations that are missing from the map above but to make this simple, if you’re interested in flying in business class from:

  • Washington DC – Casablanca = it costs 44,000 miles
  • Washington DC – Casablanca – Nairobi, Kenya = it costs 44,000 miles
  • Montreal – Casablanca – Paris, France = it costs 44,000 miles
  • Washington DC – Casablanca – Doha, Qatar = it costs 44,000 miles
  • New York – Casablanca – Sao Paulo, Brazil = granted, it’s a unique way to get to Brazil but… you got it…44k!

MY HUGE REGRET

For the past week or so, I’ve been planning a big trip and last night all the pieces aligned. Hotels were available, award flights were available, and my calendar was clear. This is/was the route:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Buenos Aires (EZE); Delta A330
  • Buenos Aires (EZE) – Sao Paulo (GRU); Turkish A330
  • Sao Paulo (GRU) – Casa Blanca (CMN); Royal Air Maroc 787-9
  • Casa Blanca (CMN) – Miami (MIA); Royal Air Maroc 787-8
  • Miami – Europe???

I had not completed the itinerary beyond Miami, however, I was planning to continue flying from Miami to Europe depending on how I felt as we got closer to the trip departure.

IT WENT DOWNHILL IN LESS THAN 24HRS

Last night I received an alert that Delta had changed the type of plane they were going to be using for my first leg (ATL-EZE). They were no longer using an A330 but had now swapped it out and replaced it with a 767-400ER. I just flew their 767 last week to Hawaii and was more interested in flying their A330 so this was not an exciting development.

Exhausted and unwilling to do any more research, I decided to go to bed early.

This morning I saw a message from Miles to Memories reporting the Etihad devaluation. I immediately called Etihad hoping, perhaps, there was one reservation agent that had not received the memo and I would still be able to reserve it for 44k. Once I had that booked, I would suck it up and book Delta’s 767. However, after a few HUCA’s (Hang Up, Call Again), it was confirmed Etihad Guest had switched to a per-segment pricing scheme on Royal Air Maroc flights.

In other words, instead of 44k, Buenos Aires – Casablanca – Miami would now cost 88,000 miles. Hard pass!!

FINAL STAMP

RAM doesn’t have a particularly large fleet of planes – 55 to be exact – but they currently operate a modern fleet of Boeing 787-8’s and 9’s to New York (JFK), Washington, DC (IAD), and Montreal (YUL), Miami (MIA) and Boston (BOS).

And all their 787-9’s have a new gorgeous interior…

While this is clearly a devaluation, there is a silver lining, as Etihad has now added the option to stopover in Casablanca. Historically, you were forced to make a direct connection, but now you can fly from the U.S. to Morocco, spend some time exploring Casablanca, then continue to your final destination.

While I’m not excited about the new pricing, flying from the U.S. to Europe in business class with a stopover in Morocco for as little as 56,000 miles is still a solid deal.

What do you think about this change? Excited? Disappointed? Indifferent?

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