Ruh-roh. There has never been a better time to redeem American miles for travel on Etihad Airways, given that Etihad is making First Class Apartment award space available from Abu Dhabi to London and from Abu Dhabi to Sydney.
Searching Etihad award availability through Etihad’s website is pretty straightforward, and in practice American AAdvantage members have access to the same saver level award availability that Etihad makes available to their own members.
However, I’ve received several reports from readers today that have tried to book book Etihad tickets using American AAdvantage miles, only to be told that there’s no availability. At first I thought it was an isolated incident, though after doing some research it appears as if it’s actually a widespread problem. American AAdvantage doesn’t seem to have access to most Etihad award availability right now.
Some Etihad routes remain bookable, while others aren’t. For example, when I called, the agent could see space on Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi but not on New York to Abu Dhabi. And the agent couldn’t see any space on London or Sydney to Abu Dhabi, despite it showing as available through Etihad.
For those flights that seem to be “blocked,” the flights don’t even show in the system when reservations agents are searching. So it’s not that the flights are showing correctly and just don’t show availability, but rather the flights altogether aren’t displaying. That means it’s not just first class that’s being blocked, but all classes of service.
In the middle of last year, there was a glitch whereby American AAdvantage couldn’t see Etihad award availability, and it took almost a month before that was fixed.
The way I look at it, there are three possible explanations:
- This is a very temporary IT glitch, and it’ll fix itself within a day or two
- This is similar to what happened last time, and could take a while to fix (we don’t actually know what happened last time, whether it was truly an IT glitch or what)
- This isn’t a coincidence, and might be similar to what I suspect is going on between Alaska and Emirates
What concerns me most here is that it’s only some routes that don’t seem bookable, which is curious…
Anyway, I’ve reached out to a contact at American for clarification, and will report back. Here’s to hoping it’s just a temporary IT glitch.
Really the reason for the interim post on this is to confirm “no, it’s not you,” given the number of people that have contacted me to ask if they were doing something wrong when calling to book Etihad awards.