Etihad Adds First Class Service To Singapore

As a general rule of thumb, my three favorite uses of American AAdvantage miles are for travel in first class on Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways, and Japan Airlines.

While most of my travel originates in the US, some of the very best values on the American AAdvantage award chart are for travel to/from the Middle East. While traveling from the US to the Middle East is a bit pricey, at 90,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class (though certainly flying Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment takes the sting out of it!), there are several other awesome values when traveling to/from the Middle East.

Etihad-A380-First-Class-01
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment cabin

What are the best values, in my opinion?

  • Middle East to Europe: 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class
  • Middle East to Asia 1 or Asia 2: 45,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class
  • Middle East to Australia: 60,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class

AAdvantage-Middle-East

It’s tough to beat redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel to Europe or Australia, given that Etihad flies the A380 to both destinations. You can redeem miles for Etihad A380 first class to London, and starting later this month you can redeem miles for Etihad A380 first class to Sydney.

However, I think it’s also worth pointing out what an exceptional value award travel from the Middle East to Asia can be. Etihad operates a first class cabin on flights from Abu Dhabi to Seoul Incheon and Tokyo Narita, though as a general rule of thumb they don’t operate first class on other routes to Asia.

For example, last year I flew from Seoul Incheon to Abu Dhabi in first class, and despite a long delay, it was a fantastic use of 45,000 AAdvantage miles.

Which brings me to the reason for this post — Etihad is adding first class to a third Asian route starting this summer. Etihad Airways will begin flying the Boeing 787-9 daily between Abu Dhabi and Singapore as of August 1, 2015. Per airlineroute.net, the flight will operate with the following schedule:

EY470 Abu Dhabi to Singapore departing 10:00PM arriving 10:15AM (+1 day)
EY473 Singapore to Abu Dhabi departing 8:10PM arriving 11:45PM

As far as I know, this is the only Etihad destination in Southeast Asia which will feature a first class cabin.

Etihad-787-First-Suite

While Boeing 787-9 first class isn’t as good as A380 first class, it’s still a very nice product.

And for 45,000 AAdvantage miles one-way without fuel surcharges, it’s a great value to boot. Award availability is generally quite good on the route in first class, with two saver level award seats on many flights. As a reminder, here’s a primer on searching Etihad award space.

Etihad-SIN-Awards

Bottom line

I think a lot of people overlook some of the great values on American’s award chart for travel not originating or terminating in North America. The Middle East has an especially large number of “sweet spots,” so it’s nice to see an Etihad route to Southeast Asia with first class.

Comments

  1. It also looks like a decent value proposition to transfer Citi TY points to them, as well…..A little more miles, but not by much…your opinion?

  2. So Ben, you’re saying it’s worth it to get AA points even if you never fly through the US or American?

  3. we don’t really overlook those special values on AA chart… but most of us don’t have the same flexibility as you do and we just don’t fly between those regions too often.

  4. while these products do look amazing, i just don’t really care to travel to the middle east at all. If I’m going to use my hard earned miles, it’s going to be to get to a destination that interests me.

  5. once i went out of my way to fly SYD-AUH-JFK on EY F + EY J, with a 34 layover in AUH (just enough to tour Dubai)

    didn’t come cheap at all – 120K+ AA miles for those 2 legs (which are 2 different awards since AA has very strict transit region constraints)

  6. When you say no fuel surcharges, what are you going to pay in cash for taxes etc..? Thanks

  7. Right you don’t want to just travel to Abu Dhabi to experience this. What’s being suggested is travel though.. Abu Dhabi or Dubai is a wonderful stop over city. We stopped at Dubai for 3 days on hour way to hong Kong on emirates a380 first suite. We will be doing same thing at Abu Dhabi on our return trip from Sydney back to Seattle next spring… Just to experience the etihad 1st apartment and arrival lounge, and their new 1st lounge at Abu Dhabi. When we mention our trips to people some raise their eye brows with expressions on their face why middle east?!? My sister in law literally told us she is worried about our safety… Oh please sister! 🙂

  8. I have to disagree with the comments above. Thank you for posting these stuff Ben! Most people think that these info aren’t of much use to them, in fact, if you map out itineraries on a more macro level, people would be surprised how useful they will be

  9. That has made a great day even better. I booked (paid) F return flights with Etihad LHR->SIN at Christmas. Your review of First was so good, that even though we’re not going to Singapore and in fact are going to Phuket, I deliberately booked that flight as it was one of the rare places where Etihad actually maintained First the entire way after we had to swap in Abu Dhabi. Now I get to experience First Suites the entire way on 2 brand new planes.

  10. Hi Ben,

    This is awesome. I actually booked SIN-AUH last week using AA miles in first class. At the time of booking, the aircraft they were using was A330-300. Just looked at my itinerary and the aircraft has been switched to the 787-9. I’m excited that I get to try this as well as the apartments.

    Thanks.

  11. “As far as I know, this is the only Etihad destination in Southeast Asia which will feature a first class cabin.”

    EY also operates 13 weekly 3-cabin to Kuala Lumpur. 1 daily on EY A333 and 6 weekly on Jet Airways B 77W. The only 2-cabin flight is the Sunday EY 413/416 rotation operated by VA B77W.

  12. It’s an even better value if you have an AAdvantage credit card that refunds 10% of all miles used (up to 10,000).

  13. When you say getting to London/Europe is great on EY, you mean from AUH-LHR right? EY doesn’t fly from the US to London AFAIK. US-EU on EY would be an incredible use of AAdvantage points!

  14. @ Ken — Yep, that’s correct. They don’t operate any flights between Europe and the US.

  15. @ Craig — Hmmm, interesting. I was looking at inventory in fall, when the route seems to exclusively be operated by two cabin planes.

  16. @ Lantean — Agreed, though in fairness also have a lot of readers based outside the US, and they always complain my posts are too US-centric. So was trying to mix it up a bit. 😉

  17. @ Jubbin — Absolutely, they have some great redemption rates on their oneworld partner airlines.

  18. Actually etihad also uses a 777-300ER to Kuala Lumpur so its not the only place in south east asia with Etihad first class. It also uses a A330-200 but that does not have first

  19. Correction I found out that etihad had flown MANY planes with first class to south east asia.

    It uses 3 77W Daily to Bangkok

    Uses 2 77W to Manilla

    And uses 1 77W to Jakarta

  20. @ Johnson — The 777s to Jakarta and Manila are all two cabin planes without first class.

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