Etihad Airways eliminates free chauffeur service for premium passengers

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is eliminating its complimentary chauffeur service for its business and first class passengers at all its international destinations. A paid option “at specially negotiated rates” will replace the free service. Economy class passengers can also avail the new paid service, and Etihad Guest members will accrue frequent flier points.

The cutback is part of a series changes the airline says are “designed to offer increased value and flexibility based on customer feedback.”

The airline will continue to offer the complimentary chauffeur service at Abu Dhabi and for passengers travelling in The Residence at the airline’s A380 destinations. The changes are effective July 3, 2017. The free service will continue to be offered on first and business class tickets issued before July 3.

Paid lounge access

Etihad will offer economy class passengers paid access to their premium lounges in Abu Dhabi, London, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, Washington D.C., New York JFK, Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles.

Business class passengers can upgrade to the airline’s flagship First Class Lounge & Spa at Abu Dhabi.

Neighbour-free seat

Etihad is allowing economy class passengers the option to bid for up to three empty seats next to their original seat at the time of online booking, subject to seat availability and cabin configuration. Bids will be confirmed 30 hours before departure.

Share your views

These changes are being effected close to the airline’s withdrawal of its San Francisco flights due to “lower than planned yields and load factors”. Is the Gulf dream collapsing? What will Etihad service morph into? How will it compete with Emirates and Qatar Airways?

Share your thoughts via a comment.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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