Etihad Airways announced today that they’ll be launching a second daily flight between Abu Dhabi and New York as of March 1, 2014. This seems like fairly short notice on which to launch a new longhaul frequency, but that could very well work in our favor (as I’ll explain below).
The new frequencies very nicely complement the existing ones. Etihad’s current schedule on their New York route is as follows:
EY101 Abu Dhabi to New York departing 10:30AM arriving 5:30PM
EY100 New York to Abu Dhabi departing 10:40PM arriving 7:25PM (+1 day)
The new frequencies are more or less on the “opposite side” of the clock, as follows:
EY103 Abu Dhabi to New York departing 1:45AM arriving 8:45AM
EY102 New York to Abu Dhabi departing 12:35PM arriving 9:20AM (+1 day)
From Abu Dhabi to New York I far prefer the new nighttime frequency, since it’s much better for connections and also means you don’t “waste” a whole day flying. On the return I’m kind of indifferent. With the earlier frequency you leave New York early but have the whole day in Abu Dhabi, while with the later frequency you leave New York late but also arrive in Abu Dhabi late.
I’ve flown Etihad Airways in Diamond First between New York and Abu Dhabi a few times. I flew them from New York to Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi to New York in 2011 using ANA miles, and again in 2012 from Abu Dhabi to New York using American AAdvantage miles.
This tidbit in the press release is interesting:
Initially, the new flights will be operated by Etihad Airways using two tri-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft leased from its strategic partner, India’s Jet Airways. From May 1, 2014, Jet Airways will operate these flights.
So if the frequencies will be operated by a Jet Airways aircraft it’ll be this Jet Airways 777-300ER configuration, and not Etihad’s 777-300ER. It’s even more interesting that the frequencies will be operated by Jet Airways as of May 1, 2014. Regardless, both products have eight fully enclosed first class suites.
The exciting thing about them adding an extra frequency so late is that award availability is spectacular on the route. Every date I’ve looked at has at least two first and business class award seats on the new frequency.
Check out my previous post for how to search Etihad award space. They have changed the website slightly since then, though the idea is that you want to sign up for an Etihad Guest account and look for “Guest” availability. If they show “Guest” availability in any cabin it should also be bookable through American AAdvantage, for example.
Lastly, for what it’s worth, for travel between the US and the Middle East/India American charges 67,500 miles in business class and 90,000 miles in first class one-way. Since Etihad Airways isn’t a part of the OneWorld alliance you can’t book a OneWorld distance based award on them, unfortunately.