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View From the Wing
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Rated: February 2010- When you first view the home page of Etihad Guest, you'll notice that there's a lot going on. But because only one element of the design is cycling through different graphics, you aren't overwhelmed. And the subdued, dark color scheme pleasingly holds the design together.
Etihad Guest has chosen to offer the world to its members by including the word "world" in all the featured links such as Your World, Etihad World, Premium World, Shopping World, Experience World, Travel World, Fun World and Giving World. Although visitors to the site can probably figure out what the different "worlds" are about, a more mundane approach would be more user-friendly. For example, instead of "Your World" it might be more helpful if the link was simply titled
"Your Account". Regardless, if you're not sure what the different "worlds" are referring to, you only need to mouse over them to get a dropdown list of what's available in that link.
The site is built around enticing members to spend their miles and the home page looks more like an online shopping mall than the home page of a frequent flyer program. You can instantly see how you can spend your miles in the middle section of the page. Click on the Details button next to "Porsche Design Wallet" for example, and you'll be directed to a page where you can either add this item to your online wishlist, or use Etihad's unique slider tool to either purchase the item with only miles (10,739) or enter a dollar amount on the slider and view the mileage needed to supplement the cash you are willing to spend. For example, we entered US$50 and learned that with $50 and 6,497 miles the wallet could be ours. With $100 we would only need 2,255 miles. You can purchase items with only one mile in your account.
A Reward of the Day is also featured on the home page. On the day we visited, a strawberry lollipop with pure edible gold was on offer for 7,664 miles (or a combination of miles and cash).
Along with shopping, you can find all you need to know about the Etihad Guest program. Enrollment takes just a few minutes and will give you the opportunity to decide if "HRH" or "Brigadier" is a more appropriate title to go with your name. One of the mandatory fields to complete is your passport number. Once enrollment is complete, you can print and cut out your membership card. You are able to choose your own user ID and password.
Members can book award flights online--and all flight awards are available to book online--mostly because the airline does not have any airline partners to pose an online booking challenge. You will have the option of booking a GuestSeat or OpenSeat (OpenSeat redemptions cost more but have more availability). Members can also claim missing credit for Etihad flights online and donate to charities. Members can also sign up for raffles and bid with their miles on online auctions.
The site could use a more simplistic approach to make it more user-friendly. As it is now, there's a lot to draw your attention away from the task you had in mind when you signed on. But maybe that was their intention all along ... anyone for a gold-infused lollipop?