Etihad: 50% Extra Free on Pay Now Book Later Vouchers

Etihad has launched a scheme where you can buy vouchers to redeem for flights in the future. We suspect the airline is short of cash, as a “pay now, book later” promotion is tantamount to the airline running a cash-call on its passengers. What crazy times we live in! Keep reading, it gets crazier. They’ve called it a Travel Bank, which we couldn’t help but chuckle at. “We’re running out of cash!”
“Let’s tell everyone we’re a bank so that they deposit their money with us”

Etihad 50% extra voucher

On its own this promotion makes no sense. Why on earth would you hand over large sums of cash without getting a ticket in return? 50% extra free is why. Etihad is sweetening the deal by boosting the credit you buy with a 50% bonus. Pay $1,000 and receive a $1,500 voucher.

Vouchers are valid for 2 years from purchase. The 50% bonus applies to vouchers purchased between 10 June and 24 June.

There has to be a catch, right? We’d advise going in eyes wide open on this apparent deal. Like the stock market, there’s an element of speculation involved with a purchase like this.

What if Etihad goes bust?

Despite being billions of dollars in debt, as a state-owned flag carrier, we’re not sure the Abu Dhabi authorities will be allow Etihad to go under. If it runs into trouble, the more likely outcome is dropped routes and fewer aircraft in its fleet. That could mean they no longer serve the destinations you need.

Will Etihad vouchers be redeemable against all flights?

We’re pretty sure you’ll be able to redeem them on any Etihad flight you choose. Whether you’ll be able to redeem them against all fare categories remains to be seen. For example, will promo fares be included?

From what we can see in the small print, the vouchers are redeemable against all flights and classes of travel after 1 August 2020.

Will Etihad simply crank the prices up now they have your money?

We’re not cynics, so we thought we’d test this theory on Google Flights for a trip from London to Seoul (via Abu Dhabi). Surprisingly, it appears that Etihad has jacked their prices for 2021 bookings. Business class fares jumped 35% about 3 weeks before the start of this promotion. Before the crisis, we saw fares in Etihad’s first class apartments for £2,100.

Etihad fares from London to Seoul on Google Flights

What we can’t predict is what prices will do in the future. If they drop massively, you could get a deal. That said, you could also just buy the cheap flight when you see it and keep the cash in your pocket until then.

I found a cheaper Etihad fare on Expedia, can I use my voucher?

You can only use the voucher when you book directly with Etihad’s voucher booking site Etihad Travel Bank. If you see a better price elsewhere for the same flight, try calling to ask them to match it, but don’t hold your breath.

BG1 Verdict

If you fly Etihad frequently, you’re probably going to spend this money one was or another with the airline. A little speculation might see you bag a deal in the future, or not.

If you’re looking at the Etihad 50% extra voucher deal wondering whether this might be an opportunity to try Etihad on the cheap in the future, we would advise against it. The price of airline seats is currently high but the prices will begin to fluctuate once again as soon as flights (and competition) resume in earnest. We see no reason to take the risk of being out of pocket.

We’ll pass on this.

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