Etihad chauffeur service discontinued for Business & First Passengers

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Etihad Airways is one of my favourite First Class products out there. The airline has consistently been devaluing benefits for their premium cabins given their financial situation not being the best right now. First, the exclusivity of the lounges went away with them allowing access in exchange for dollars. Now this.

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As per Etihad Airways, on the back of customer feedback, they are going to be taking away the complimentary chauffeur service offered to premium cabin guests across the world as of July 3, 2017, and will replace it with specially negotiated rates in these cities. The change does not affect the Abu Dhabi hub, presumably, since Etihad owns a fleet of cars here and in other cities it works with different vendors for the services.

Etihad Chauffeur Service... no more!

Etihad Chauffeur Service… no more!

First & Business Class tickets issued prior to July 3, 2017 would be honored for the free chauffeur service. It is important to note that about 11 months ago, Etihad also discontinued the free chauffeur eligibility for all their redemption tickets in premium cabins.

Etihad believes that customers don’t look at the full package while buying tickets. So it is you and me to blame for this change really. In their words

Many customers prefer to make their own ground transportation arrangements. The decision by Etihad Airways to change its offering has been taken to provide increased choice and to ensure fares remain as low and as competitive as possible, while retaining best-in-class service for all guests, in all cabins.

Residence Guests not affected

Guests travelling in The Residence onboard the flagship Airbus A380 fleet will continue to receive complimentary chauffeur services at all A380 destinations – Abu Dhabi, London, Paris, Sydney and New York.

Everybody can book a paid airport transfer and earn Etihad Miles

As per Etihad,

As part of the initiative to improve the value proposition for travellers, the airline will also extend the paid airport transfer option to all guests across all cabins and allow Etihad Guest members to accrue miles on their chauffeur bookings.

Economy passengers can buy their way in to all Etihad lounges

Etihad recently started to offer their premium lounges in a few cities to passengers in Economy for a price. Earlier, only First, Business & Elite frequent flyer passengers could get in to use these services.

Now, all lounges across the world, including the ones at Abu Dhabi, London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Washington D.C., New York JFK, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles can be enjoyed by Economy guests as well, for a fee of course.

Bottomline

This is bad news at many levels. For a premium cabin traveller, it is not the snob value of travelling in a premium cabin, but they pay for a package of services. When Etihad and their peers in Dubai offered a limo service, it was one more reason to pick Etihad over the other carriers. With the discontinuation of this service, and the slightly higher rush in the lounges, some of the perks of flying with them would sure be diminished.

What do you think about the new changes by Etihad? Are you okay with them or hate them?

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  1. I have needed to change a business class flight in September to return earlier that originally planned and was just told about this. I’ve been disgusted with Etihad’s after care with changing flights anyway, but this just puts the nail in the coffin. I am a platinum frequent flyer and fly at least twice a year Australia to Manchester return per year. I’m moving to Emirates moving forward. Etihad have lost the edge for me now and apart from One girl in their Manchester customer are who helped me massively, the customer service is dreadful!

  2. Can I get Etihad to pay my bus ticket for airport transfer , after paying top dollar for Business Class.
    Lucky, it is only AUD 2.50 , so should not be too much a drain on resources.

  3. I am holding a Etihad First Class ticket for travel after July 3rd. How do I book self-pay Etihad chauffeur? Website does not have the info. I understand the service is still available for a price. I know the free benefit is kaput, but I don’t want the inconvenience of a private car service. Etihad’s service was always stellar. It’s a shame that cutbacks are necessary on such a fabulous product, although the approx. $30,000 I paid for my ticket, stings a bit more now.

    • @dr.j. since your ticket was issued before July 3, you are eligible for the free chauffeur service. You just need to call Etihad to book it.

  4. Etihad is not doing itself any favours. In Brisbane Emirates is increasing their services to three a day. Etihad still has one and now the removal of their chauffeur. Interesting to see if fares are reduced as to have the chauffeur the fares are at least $500 extra per person. Etihad pax will now revert to Emirates. Cannot see how removing this service is to our advantage has advertised by a Etihad.

  5. I like the new concept of having a neighbour free seat of Etihad (if reasonable). We can choose 1/2/3 neighbour free seats

    If i get a 3 seat configuration for myself at a good price.. I wont mind skipping business when fares are atrocious.

    The diners card of HDFC gives literally lounge access anywhere

  6. This was coming. I was told by the Etihad Chaueffer 2 weeks back when he picked me from the Hyderabad airport. He said all drivers are fired.

    He mentioned he did get into Emirates Chaueffer agency so good on him. Etihad Lounge in NY JFK was serving Smirnoff and Red label. The lady in the bar counter mentioned that 3-4 months back all top brands were removed.

  7. I’ve booked a miles ticket in business using my Jet miles for 7th of July. I saw you have said that tickets booked before 3rd Jul doesn’t fall in this category. Could you please tell me if I will get the benefit?

    • @Geeth, all complimentary tickets anyways don’t get the benefit since last year August. So you won’t get this benefit in my view.

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