Steve Creedy, 21 October 2015

Virgin Australia part-owner Etihad has joined forces with Coles’ loyalty scheme “Flybuys” to allow members of both programs to earn frequent flyer points and, in what is claimed as a world first, status credits.

The alliance, in competition to the giant Qantas-Woolworths nexus, will allow shoppers to combine Flybuy points with Etihad Guest miles to use shopping to earn travel to more than 100 destinations.

They will earn Etihad Guest tier miles when they shop at any Coles Supermarkets, Coles Online, Coles Express, Liquorland and First Choice Liquor stores nationwide.

Airlines normally link status credits to travel, rewarding passengers for the number of flights they make and the level of fares they pay.

The tier miles count towards Etihad elite frequent flyer status which gives travellers access to bonuses such as lounge access, priority check-in and increased baggage allowances on Etihad and its partner airlines. Etihad has three premium tiers: silver at 25,000 points, gold at 50,000 points and platinum at 125,000 points.

Those with linked accounts earn one Etihad Guest tier mile for each dollar spent up to maximum of 2500 tier miles per month, although an introductory offer valid until December 31 offers three tier miles per dollar capped at 5000 per month.

“The launch today of the partnership with Flybuys is exciting news for millions of Flybuys members,’’ said Etihad chief commercial officer Peter Baumgartner.

“Now they will be able to turn their weekly shopping at Coles and other selected stores into travel to exciting destinations worldwide.’’

Etihad Airways is offering Flybuys members an introductory deal up to 25 per cent off all economy and business class fares (excluding breaking deals) to anywhere on the airline’s global network for bookings made between November 3 and December 4.

Flybuys members booking through the loyalty program until December 31 will also get five Flybuys points per dollar spent on Etihad fares.

Extracted in full from The Australian.