Redeem Miles For Etihad A380 First Class?

There’s no doubt that the “hottest” new aircraft entering the commercial aviation market this year is Etihad Airways’ A380 (sorry Your Excellency, your plane might be a distant number two, unless we count the amount of drama, in which case you win by a landslide).

I think any of us airline product “nuts” would love to try The Residence or First Apartment on the Etihad A380. Unfortunately unless you’re super wealthy (or can run a slightly more successful Kickstarter campaign than I can), The Residence is more or less off limits, at ~$40,000 one-way between London and Sydney.

That leaves the First Apartment.

First-Apartment
Etihad Airways A380 First Apartment

Is there any way to speculatively book a flight now in hopes of it eventually being operated by an A380? Often when an airline announces an equipment change they don’t immediately update it in the GDS, so you have a short period where you can “beat” the airline before they have a chance to update inventory.

Unfortunately Etihad has been lightning fast with updating award inventory when routes are scheduled to be operated by A380s. Before even officially announcing A380 service they’ve been blocking first and business class award space on routes that are eventually operated by the whale jet.

Which brings me to the one route where I’d speculate we may be able to beat Etihad to the punch.

Etihad’s first A380 destination was London, and they announced that in 2015 they’d commence A380 service to Sydney and New York. A380 service to Sydney is commencing in June 2015, while the exact details of New York service haven’t yet been announced.

It’s now approaching late November, which means award tickets are bookable through mid-October 2015. Etihad is continuing to release a good amount of first class award availability to New York through the end of the schedule.

Etihad-Award-Space-A380

Etihad-Award-Space-A380-1

So will Etihad have the A380 on the New York route by mid-October of next year? It’s certainly not a guarantee. But I think there’s a chance for sure. And if not, then I’d keep looking at space, and hopefully the award availability trend continues for the next couple of months, assuming they don’t officially announce the A380 service on the route by then.

I do think it’s safe to assume that EY100/101 will be the frequency operated by the A380, since it’s their “flagship” flight to New York. I can’t wait to see how the US Pre-Clearance facility does with A380 service!

Bottom line

If you’re an Executive Platinum with American and have AAdvantage miles to burn, it can’t hurt to lock in an Etihad award between New York and Abu Dhabi for ~11 months from now. As a reminder, here’s a primer on how to search Etihad award space.

When do you think Etihad will commence A380 service to New York?

Comments

  1. One thing people found “distasteful” about the Kickstarter Campaign (and I don’t agree with them) is the fact that you were given a luxury product for a ridiculous price without returning much value outside of a single blog post that your readers were directly paying for. I think one way you could run an actual sucessful campaign is to agree to donate the cost of a regular first class ticket (110,000 miles?) and the equivalent of your earned miles to the AA charities. Might be something to consider if you ever want to try kickstarter again.

  2. I’ll have to try Etihad first class, now that they fly from SFO. I am not sure about the suites though. I find this all very isolating, and like people around when I travel for long hours. Perhaps just not as many as crammed into UA ghetto 777 biz class.

  3. I know how you could make your kickstarter campaign more successful: bring your dad along as your +1. We’d all pay the big bucks for that. ­čÖé

  4. US to AUH, maybe. AUH back to the US, after your trip reports on the pre-clearance disaster zone? Perhaps if it was totally free. But spend $ or miles to be put thru that? No way; not even if they gave me a First Apartment for the price of Economy… ­čÖü

  5. Seeing how Etihad has handled award space on their A380 routes so far it wouldn’t be beyond them to announce the NYC-service for November 2015 (or any date just ahead of the bookable window) to have only paid availability available…

  6. Hi,

    I am hoping to get an award flight with Etihad in about 18 monthstime from Europe to Australia (yes I know it is technically 2 awards) in first class.

    Is this very unlikely with the A380 going to Sydney? Do they fly to Melbourne at all?

    I don’t expect to get residence or apartment obviously but just a standard F.

    Dale.

  7. @ Dale — They do still have a second frequency that’s operated by a 777 with first class as of now, so I’d say there’s a good chance of that staying the same. It’s tough to say for sure 18 months out, though. They do also fly to Melbourne.

  8. @Dale: Other than the A380 flight, availability in F out of Australia is plentiful. Also try BNE which has stacks of availability and is operated by a 789 from June 2015.

    Got BNE-AUH-JFK in F booked myself for late September 2015. Keeping my fingers crossed for an unexpected aircraft change to 380 for EY101!

  9. I just got an email from Etihad that they’re changing my EY101 flight in November to a Etihad on 77W JetAirways Configured Aircraft. Do you think they’ll change this again for the A380?

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