Yesterday I posted about the concerning situation, whereby Etihad first class award tickets didn’t seem to be bookable using American AAdvantage miles. This isn’t the first time where American has had trouble accessing Etihad awards, and in the past they were always quickly fixed.
What made this different was that it was only first class awards which couldn’t be booked, while economy and business class could be booked as usual. That’s the first time we’ve a glitch like that.
Naturally it made me a bit suspicious. Long term I do think we’ll see a trend whereby many airlines restrict premium cabin award space exclusively to members of their own frequent flyer program, as Singapore KrisFlyer already does, and as Cathay Pacific is considering doing.
The good news is that this doesn’t seem to be the case here, as AAdvantage miles can once again be booked for travel in Etihad first class as usual. As a reminder, here’s a post about how to search Etihad award space — as long as there’s “Guest” seat availability, it should also be bookable with American miles.
So what happened here? It certainly could have just been a system glitch. It’s also possible that Etihad was testing new functionality for making different space available to members of different programs. That’s especially feasible given that they just announced an award chart devaluation, whereby the cost of premium cabin redemptions are going up significantly, in some cases.
Even though this was a false alarm, I do think there’s a lesson to take away from this. Some airlines already restrict premium cabin awards to members of their own program, and that’s a trend we’ll see expanded further.
My philosophy in this hobby has always been to “earn and burn.” Opportunities arise, and opportunities go away. The “earn and burn” mentality goes beyond award redemption costs. While miles devalue, the opportunity to efficiently redeem for certain products will go away over time. While in general it makes sense to save/invest your money, in the case of miles it makes sense to burn ’em as fast and efficiently as you can!