One of my favorite uses of American AAdvantage miles is for travel in Etihad first & business class. While Etihad isn’t part of the oneworld alliance (their rival, Qatar Airways, is), they are an American Airlines partner. So that means you can earn and redeem AAdvantage miles on Etihad Airways.
Heck, perhaps my favorite use of American AAdvantage miles is for travel in Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment between Abu Dhabi and London, as it costs just 40,000 miles one-way. It’s arguably the world’s best first class product, and at just 40,000 miles one-way, it’s quite a value.
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment cabin
I’ve written in the past about Etihad Airways award availability trends, and specifically about how inconsistent they are with award space:
- Last minute, Etihad will often open up every last first class seat for awards, while other times they won’t make any at all available, even when the cabin is wide open
- In advance, Etihad is often quite generous with award space with availability on virtually every date, while other times they have no seats for months at a time
In other words, the key to finding Etihad award space is to just look at trends every few days, as sometimes “switches” seem to be flipped. Today there might not be a single award seat between the US and Middle East for three months, while tomorrow every single date over that three month period might have award space.
Anyway, I was looking at Etihad award space this morning, and noticed that Etihad is releasing a ton of first class award seats between the US and Abu Dhabi for next summer. Most availability is only on the eastbound legs, as availability isn’t as good going from Abu Dhabi to the US.
Admittedly summer isn’t the ideal time to go to the Middle East, but if you want to connect onwards, this is a great option. And of course it coincides with most school holidays.
Anyway, for next summer Etihad has six or more first class seats on many flights from virtually all US gateways to Abu Dhabi.
This includes Dallas to Abu Dhabi:
Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi:
New York to Abu Dhabi:
San Francisco to Abu Dhabi:
And Washington to Abu Dhabi:
Keep in mind that the above planes have only eight first class seats total, so they’re literally making 75% of first class seats available on awards on many dates. It’s not often you can book international first class for the entire family on a single flight, so this is one of those rare opportunities.
If you need help searching Etihad award space, see my primer on how to use the Etihad website to search award availability. While not all dates have six seats available, a vast majority of dates have at least two seats, and many have four to five.
Unfortunately at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any first class award availability in Etihad A380 first class between New York and Abu Dhabi, as that service is launching on November 23, 2015.
American charges 90,000 AAdvantage miles for one-way first class travel between the US and Middle East/India. This includes connecting flights on both ends, pending saver award availability. So you can add a flight from the US gateway, as well as an onwards flight to India, etc., at no additional cost.
Also keep in mind that American allows five day holds of award tickets, so you can hold this space for a few days while you finalize plans.
While the Middle East in summer may not have any appeal to most, I do think it’s worth pointing out when there’s this amount of first class award space available on individual flights.
All around Etihad has a fantastic first class product, especially if you can get on one of their more modern aircraft (in general you’ll want to avoid their flights operated by Jet Airways aircraft, if possible).
Anyone taking advantage of Etihad’s excellent first class award space?