Buying Etihad Guest Miles For Cheap Virgin Australia Travel

Etihad Guest is the frequent flyer program by (you guessed it!) Etihad. What makes the Etihad guest program so interesting for Australian frequent flyers is the fact they have a very nice partnership with Virgin Australia allowing you to redeem your Etihad Guest miles for travel on Virgin Australia and vice versa.

Thanks to American Express Membership Rewards and Flybuys it’s possible for Australians to earn Etihad miles on their everyday spend. Since 2017 both Etihad and Virgin have started selling frequent flyer points and right now Etihad guest is offering a 20% points bonus on purchases over 5000 miles. (Offer ends 20 May 2018)

In this article, we’ll have a look at how you can redeem these points for cheap travel in business class on Virgin Australia.

Fly Virgin Business Class For $524

My favourite way to use Etihad Guest miles is to fly business class from Perth to Melbourne which only costs 21,800 Etihad Guest miles and $21.53 in taxes!

Buying the Etihad guest points required would come to a total cost of US$380 which roughly works out to AU$503.

Where to buy these points?

Etihad sells their points through the points.com storefront (as do many other airlines) to get the 20% bonus points, click here to get to the promo page.

Ok, I got the points! How do I book?

Etihad guest redemptions on Virgin Australia can only be booked over the phone. To research availability, it’s advisable to login into your Velocity Account and check for award flights to see if any are available. In most cases, Etihad shares the same award inventory with Virgin.

  • Step 1: Log into Velocity Frequent Flyer and take notes of the award flight you want (dates, flight number etc.).
  • Step 2: Call the Etihad guest centre on 1300 532 215 and request to make a reward redemption with Virgin Australia.
  • Step 3: Pay your taxes with credit card over the phone, and your ticket will be issued almost instantly.
  • Step 4: Since Etihad can’t select seats on Virgin flights, call Virgin Australia on 13 67 89 and give the agent your ticket number (reference numbers are different on Etihad). The agent will also be able to link your booking to Velocity Frequent Flyer so you can monitor the flight or check in online.

Things to keep in mind

  • You can buy a maximum of 60,000 miles per transaction and 100,000 per calendar year.
  • Etihad Guest miles will post within 24h.
  • Point purchases are managed by points.com, which means it won’t count as an airline category for your credit card (no double points on Amex).

Other Routes

There are plenty of other Virgin Australia routes for which you can redeem your Etihad Guest miles. We’ve compiled a full redemption table for both Economy and Business class flights around Australia and to New Zealand.

[table id=7 /]

Using Etihad Miles + Cash

Etihad allows you to buy the additional points required at the checkout if you don’t have enough in your account. The requirement is that you hold at least 75% of the required miles.
Miles bought at the checkout stage are discounted to 0.9c which is a good saving over the regular price of 2c (US$). Obviously this price is even better than what’s on sale with so technically you could buy the 75% required and top up the remainder at the time of booking. This would result in a total price of US$329, however I can’t confirm whether it’s possible to buy the extra miles over the phone when booking.

Topping up Etihad Guest Via Amex

Most American Express cards transfer to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 ratio which is perfect if you have a redemption in mind. Please note that it can take up to 7 business days for your miles to transfer so if you’re in a rush, this is probably not ideal.

Will I earn status and points?

No. You won’t be earning any status credits or points for flying on a redemption ticket even when you purchase the points outright.

Buying Etihad Guest conclusion

Strategically buying Etihad Guest miles for redemptions on Virgin Australia is by far one of my favourite ways to use Etihad. Unfortunately, redemptions on their own flights are rather expensive and as I outlined in my post about flying Etihad First Class, it’s better to redeem AAdvantage points for a trip with Etihad.

This is the second time Etihad has offered miles at a discounted rate, so it’s most likely going to repeat a couple of times each year.

Bonus Offer History

November 2017: 20% Bonus Miles

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Rohit
Guest
Rohit

Hey Immanuel, Per-Mel is one of the many sweetspots on Etihad redemption table for VA, as are: Syd-Cns Bne-Nan Syd-Zqn Mel-Hti I flew Sydney-Cairns last year in winter and it was a nice experience. Would love to find out whether the remaining 25% points can be bought over phone as you mentioned. Probably wise not to rely on it though. A word on transfer from AmEx, it took me full 7 days to send points across to Etihad guest. Although AmEx says 3 days, that is misleading and caused me to make several calls to both AmEx and Etihad. Also,… Read more »

Scott
Guest
Scott

G’day Rohit and Immanuel (thanks for the Etihad points guide), I’ve just tried to get a virgin redemption via Etihad from Mel-Per, and I had 82% of the Guest miles. I was not able to purchase the extra points while on the phone to Etihad and was advised to make a purchase via Etihad.com which would take approx. 24 hours to show in my account and were priced at whatever available rate they were online. I purposely left myself with more than 75% so I could try this out. And it failed. Who knows, it may work for someone else.… Read more »