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One of the less “hidden” sweet spots in the miles and points world has been using Etihad Guest miles to fly on Royal Air Maroc. I say less hidden because several years ago, this was an amazing sweet spot where you could fly ANA first class for an incredibly cheap amount, or Brussels Airlines for a roundtrip from the US to Europe for under 30,000 miles. Tragically, like all good things in life, many of the outrageously good deals have been devalued away. But flying Royal Air Maroc is still a very attractive use of Etihad Guest miles (and also Citi ThankYou points, as they are a 1:1 transfer partner)

How many miles is it to fly Royal Air Maroc with Etihad Guest miles?

To fly one way to/from Casablanca to New York (JFK), Washington DC (IAD) or Montreal (YUL), it costs 22,000 miles in economy class or 44,000 miles in business class.

Because Etihad’s award chart for Royal Air Maroc is distance based (see above), you can add an additional leg past Casablanca for no additional charge. I believe this should be available to go to anywhere else Royal Air Maroc flies including Africa and Europe. We booked our flight from RAK (Marrakesh) to CMN (Casablanca) to JFK.

Note that you can NOT add additional legs in the US, as Royal Air Maroc does not partner with any US-based airlines. So if you don’t live in a North American city that RAM flies to (New York, Washington DC and Montreal at this time), you will have to make your way to the gateway city on your own. In our case, we’re likely to take advantage of Frontier’s Kids Fly Free promo to grab a $39 flight for the two of us.

(SEE ALSO: Connecting flights on different airlines: When it’s a bad idea)

What are the taxes and fees to fly Royal Air Maroc with Etihad Guest miles?

While the mileage cost is super attractive, unfortunately the taxes and fees (i.e. “fuel” surcharges) are pretty bad. We were booking a one way from Morocco to the US, so we were quoted in Moroccan Dirhams – 3694 Dirhams (USD$385.19) for CMN-JFK and 3835 Dirhams (USD$399.95) for RAK-CMN-JFK. This was total for 2 people, so for economy, you’re looking at about USD$200 in taxes and fees. This matches up pretty well with the fees shown in ITA Matrix

The taxes and fees on a business class redemption are higher. Again, for 2 passengers JFK-CMN I was quoted $560

Soos Jozsef/BigStock.com

Can you get a stopover using Etihad miles to fly Royal Air Maroc?

While you can continue past Casablanca into Europe, the Middle East or Africa, tragically, stopovers are not permitted. You can only get a layover of up to 24 hours, if that is something that you are looking for.

What are the cancellation and change fees using Etihad miles to fly to Morocco?

I was quoted that you could make changes to the award up to 24 hours before flying for only USD$27, and a cancellation fee would be 10% of the miles used. Both of those seemed incredibly generous, though I hope I don’t have to take advantage of either!

rayints/BigStock.com

How long does it take to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Etihad Guest miles?

I had read in various places that it took 7 days to transfer Citi ThankYou points to Etihad Guest points, so I was prepared to have to wait, but in my experience, transfers from Citi ThankYou points to Etihad Guest miles were instantaneous.

As soon as I transferred the miles, I refreshed my balance through Award Wallet and the miles showed up in my Etihad Guest account.

How to find Royal Air Maroc availability

It’s not actually too painful to find award availability on Royal Air Maroc. First, create a free Safar Flyer account, and head to the Buy your ticket with miles section and put in your dates / routes

Ignore the number of miles needed as that’s the number of Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer miles. In my experience, the availability shown on the Royal Air Maroc website matches up pretty well with what the Etihad call center is able to see.

How to book Royal Air Maroc with Etihad Guest miles: My experience

You do have to call in to book Royal Air Maroc with Etihad Guest miles. I used the USA call center though I have heard good things about both the Serbian and UK / Manchester call centers. My first 2 phone calls were fruitless. The first agent told me that the overwater / long leg of any award booking has to be operated by Etihad, and the 2nd agent kept trying to route me through Abu Dhabi and then telling me that the award was impossible. Undaunted, I hung up and called again and the 3rd agent was quite knowledgeable. As soon as I told him my routing, he immediately said “Oh – on Royal Air Maroc?”. It was then I knew I had a star! It took about 30 minutes on the phone to complete the booking, but he was able to provide me with all of the confirmation codes

 

 


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