One of my favorite redemption options for short journeys has been BA Avios historically. I just redeemed 9,000 Avios for flights worth $550 in Japan the other day. However I have found a new favorite – especially for these non-aligned airlines – the new program is Etihad Guest.
Etihad partners with an enormous array of partners and maintains a different award chart for each partner! This does not make it easier.
Here are the best values I found:
1) Mahe, Seychelles to Port Louis, Mauritius on Air Seychelles for ~7,500 Etihad Guest miles One-Way, this flight clocks in at $573 most days a year . At these values it's even worth buying miles.
2) Some of Garuda Indonesia's routes are short and expensive and not flown by Lion Air like Malang to Jakarta. Instead of paying $200 for a one-way, use 5,000 Etihad Guest miles instead.
3) Alitalia offers most Italian domestic routes for just 6,000 Etihad Guest miles Round Trip. Many of these flights fetch high cash prices.
4) Flights under 500 miles start at just 3,500 Etihad Guest miles with Hainan Airlines. Their hub is Beijing and Haikou Airport.
5) Flights with Asiana start at 6,000 Etihad Guest miles as Round Trip. Flights from Seoul to Jeju clock in at $318 usually – that's 5 cents or more from redeeming Etihad Guest miles.
6) Bangkok Airways has a number of monopoly routes in South East Asia like Ko Samui-Bangkok or Siem Reap-Bangkok. 7,500 Etihad Guest miles will get you there one-way – replacing a cash payment of $200 or more.
7) Malaysia Airlines offers Round Trip redemptions from 7,000 miles. The airline has a great network in Malaysia and beyond.
8) Czech Airlines offers redemptions from on 3,500 miles for many destinations from it's hub in Prague and Karlovy Vary.
Frankly I was blown away by the number of options Etihad Guest provides for short legs. Please note that not all redemptions are available as one-ways and you have to call in for these. The agents I spoke to were VERY knowledgeable and friendly.
#Update – Etihad Guest agents currently can't do any redemption bookings on any partner. They are working on fixing this but have no ETA.
How to get Etihad Guest Miles?
If you have a non-US American Express credit card or Citibank credit card there is a good chance they are a transfer partner. In the US the best option is Starwood to Etihad Guest which is a 1:1 transfer partner. Starwood throws in 5,000 miles for each 20,000 StarPoints transferred.