Etihad Award Cancellation & Refund – It Isn’t Fast or Automatic

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Etihad Award Cancelation Refund

Etihad Award Cancellation & Refund Takes Longer Than Average

From my recent experience, the Etihad award cancellation & refund process takes longer than average. Longer than I expected, to be honest. Due to a change in travel plans, we had to cancel tickets and rebook. This cancellation process was sub-standard and took more effort than should be required.

Etihad Award Cancellation/Refund Policies

We needed to change our award booking on an upcoming trip to Egypt. In a previous post, I covered how to use Etihad Guest to book tickets on Royal Air Maroc. Originally, business class on the Cairo-Casablanca leg of our flight home wasn’t available, so we had booked Casablanca-São Paulo only. It required 44,000 miles. The entire Cairo-Casablanca-São Paulo route costs the same 44,000 points one-way, per person in business. Now that the first leg was showing availability, we wanted the whole thing. Why not? It’s the same amount of points.

Because this is a change of route, you can’t change the ticket. You have to cancel. Etihad has a friendly policy of allowing a date change with same passenger/same route for only 100 AED ($27.23 US), which I’ve done, and it’s simple. This change is different. Etihad policy requires canceling the original ticket. You’ll get 100% of your taxes refunded but lose 10% of your points as a penalty. I preferred that over buying the first leg of the journey (Cairo-Casablanca).

Delays in Points Refund

The taxes were refunded to my credit card within 24 hours. The points were another story. I received an email confirmation from the phone agent, and it said points could take up to 30 days to refund. I found that hard to believe, because this is 2019. I’ve yet to encounter an airline that took this long to refund points, but the Etihad award cancellation actually took this long.

After 2 weeks, I sent a tweet to Etihad to ask about my points. They told me to call customer service. Customer service asked how long I’d been waiting and then told me “partner award cancellations can take up to 40 working days”. AKA keep waiting. That is even longer than the original timeline of 30 days. 40 working days is 8 weeks!

After 3 weeks, I searched for how long Etihad award cancellations & refunds should take. I found this thread on Flyer Talk. I saw multiple reports of people not getting their points until specifically telling Etihad, “I want my points back.” You’d think this was a given, but maybe not. The best advice? Email and include your information, canceled ticket information, how long you’ve been waiting, and your account number. Then, wait a week for a reply.

Etihad Guest Follow-Up

True to what I’d read, I got an automated “we received your email” and then an actual response a week later. The response merely told me that my email had been sent to the relevant department for investigation & action.

Within 5 hours, I had another email. This email told me that my points refund was processing and should arrive shortly. Another email came an hour later, telling me my points were in my account. They also apologized for the delay and provided a reference number, in case the points hadn’t shown up yet.

Etihad Award Cancelation Refund points

Final Thoughts on Etihad Award Cancellation & Refund Process

It appears that you really do need to tell Etihad to send the points back to you. Nothing about getting your points back seems automatic. The taxes were refunded to my credit card quickly, as expected and as is normal. The points process takes longer than any company I’ve encountered. Without sending the email, I think I’d still be waiting. Yes, we were approaching the 1 month mark, but the Twitter and phone teams both just told me to wait and wouldn’t even look at my ticket to investigate. The phone agents cut me off before I could even tell them my case number. This makes me think it wasn’t the timing but the email that made the points show up. Others reported waiting several months (well past the timeline) and only getting points after sending an email.

Luckily, we had the points to spare while waiting for these points to come back. I was willing to transfer new points to make our desired booking. I know I’ll use Etihad Guest for other bookings in the future, so having my refunded 79,200 points sitting in my account isn’t a problem. If you don’t have the points to spare, or if you don’t think you’ll make another booking with them, this delay is a problem. Most people won’t send in new points while waiting for the old ones to come back. This could mean losing a booking option. Etihad needs to improve the awards cancellation/refund process. It’s the most inefficient points refund I’ve ever dealt with.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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  1. I cancelled an award on Etihad metal with Etihad points and they were returned to me automatically though it took a week or two as I recall with the expected 10% haircut so I think it may be YMMV.

    • I think it’s partner awards only for this. All of the agents I talked to kept saying “it’s a partner” as the reason to not handle the inquiry and to just keep waiting. At some point during the original cancelation, the phone rep even told me they have to get some kind of head nod/approval for canceling with the partner and then sending me the points back. How Royal Air Maroc saying “we acknowledge” takes a month for sending the points back to me from Etihad is the part that makes no sense.

  2. I have had these same problems with Etihad. I moved 240K of Citi TY points to Etihad in hopes of getting, at the time, Brussels air line. It took 30 days for my points to arrive and then there was no Brussels Bus. Class seats. I finally found AA flights on AA metal and booked those. Due to a hurricane we had we had to cancel and rebook. They took 10% of our points, but it took slightly over 30 days to get points back in the account.

    These were for the 50K AA business class flights. Those flights are for non stop one way. In our case we had to reposition to Washington to take the flights. As it turned out we would have been better off booking from our home city for the 57K points.


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