Etihad Guest is one of the hidden gems of airline mileage programs. They are transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy. They have a wide array of airline partners, one of which is Royal Air Maroc based in Casablanca, Morocco.
Why is Royal Air Maroc a great deal using Etihad Guest Miles? Here’s a simple reason: all long-haul trips on Royal Air Maroc cost only 44,000 Etihad Guest miles one-way for business class.
That’s an amazing value for transatlantic business class to Morocco, with onward connections to mainland Europe, the Middle East, and the heart of Africa.
I recently took a trip on Royal Air Maroc and got to experience business class on their 787-8 Dreamliner (old long-haul business product), 787-9 Dreamliner (new long-haul business product), and their domestic 737 aircraft. Those trip reports will come soon. Before then, I wanted to explain how I used Etihad Guest miles to book my flights.
I found that opening a Royal Air Maroc frequent flyer account (Safar Flyer) was helpful in finding seats, despite the kinks in the website. Once you’ve made an account, you’ll want to click, “Buy your ticket with your miles.” Search for the route. If you find a date that shows available seats in the class you want, there’s a good chance Etihad can see those seats as well. I found that Etihad saw seats on days that Royal Air Maroc’s website showed availability when I searched, and didn’t see seats on days that the RAM website didn’t show availability.
That said, I can’t guarantee that these will match, so you can always just call up Etihad Guest to see what they have available. Etihad Guest’s number is 877-690-0767. I’ve called a few times and have usually had good agents. When you request a ticket, they have to set up a dummy reservation first and request the seats, so you’ll be on hold for about 10 minutes.
Before I booked my tickets, I made “test transfers” of small amounts of Amex Membership Rewards points and Capital One miles to Etihad Guest. Both of thest posted immediately. When the Etihad agent confirmed the availability, I completed the full transfer. She instantly saw 176,000 miles in my account ready for use for 2 roundtrip tickets.
Etihad does charge the fuel surcharge on Royal Air Maroc tickets. My JFK-Casablanca ticket cost $204.40 per person in taxes. My Marrakesh-Casablanca-JFK ticket cost $289.90 in taxes (charged in Moroccan Dirham since it departed Morocco). This matches the fuel surcharges and taxes listed on a paid ticket on ITA Matrix.
I ended up getting 2.7 cents per mile out of my Etihad Guest miles, not a bad real-world value.
Etihad Guest miles can be obtained through transfers from Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Capital One Miles. You only need 44,000 miles + $200-$250 US for a one-way business class ticket from several east coast cities to Morocco with onward connections to Europe, the Middle East and much of Africa. Availability is pretty good.