Start July 3, a mini revolution will happen at Etihad Airways, the Abu-Dhabi based air carrier. The Gulf airline, which claims to be one of the best in the world, will start to charge its passengers for the use of ancillary services.
In a press release, the carrier explains that it will introduce a series of changes designed to offer increased value and flexibility based on customer feedback.
“The airline is to amend its chauffeur policy following a review of usage by premium guests across all major markets. The complimentary chauffeur service will be retained at Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub and replaced with a paid option at specially negotiated rates in all other cities. The changes will be implemented from 3 July 2017.
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.
Guests travelling in The Residence (the deluxe first class product) 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.
First and Business Class tickets issued prior to 3 July 2017 will not be affected by these changes and will receive complimentary chauffeur service across destinations where the service is currently offered.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, Executive Vice President Commercial for Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad Airways is constantly looking at ways to improve its value proposition for guests, focusing on the service elements that are most important to them. This change is being put in place as the airline looks to evolve its product proposition while continuing to match individual customer requirements. Following a review, the chauffeur services we offer will be amended globally, with the exception of Abu Dhabi, where there are a high number of users of the service.
“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.”
Another small revolution is to open Etihad lounges to Economy Class passengers against a fee. Over payment, Y passengers will then be able to visit the airline’s dedicated lounges around the world, including its Premium Lounges in Abu Dhabi, London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Washington D.C., New York JFK, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles.
Al Bulooki continued: “On the ground, premium class guests can enjoy free access to Etihad Airways’ collection of outstanding lounges. By offering paid access to Economy Class guests, these signature lounges can now be enjoyed by all who desire to experience our award-winning facilities.”
Guests travelling on Etihad Airways Business Class tickets can now also pay and upgrade to the airline’s luxurious flagship First Class Lounge & Spa when flying from, or transiting through Abu Dhabi.
On board, Etihad Airways is now introducing an innovative new ‘Neighbour-Free Seat’ option in Economy Class. The service provides guests with the option to enhance their flying experience by ‘bidding’ for up to three empty seats next to their original seat – subject to availability and cabin configuration.
This gives guests the opportunity for increased space, comfort and privacy, at a price that is affordable. Guests can bid at the time of booking online. Successful bids will be confirmed 30 hours prior to departure.
While some might think that the new measures are introduced to generate cash for the carrier, this range of paid services might soon be followed by the competition in the Gulf area.