The Trick To Redeeming American Miles On Etihad

It’s now less than a month until American’s award chart devaluation, which kicks in for bookings as of March 22, 2016 (even if travel is on subsequent dates). That means a lot of people are trying to lock in AAdvantage award tickets before the cost of many awards goes up.

One of the best uses of American miles is for travel on Etihad Airways, as many awards for travel on Etihad are going up in price substantially. To give a few examples of one-way first class award price increases:

  • US to Middle East awards are increasing from 90,000 to 115,000 miles
  • Europe to Middle East awards are increasing from 40,000 to 62,500 miles
  • Australia to Middle East awards are increasing from 60,000 to 100,000 miles

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 1
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments

Etihad has one of the world’s best first class products on their A380s, with their First Class Apartments. They fly these to London, New York, and Sydney, and soon to Mumbai and Melbourne. And it’s even quite easy to redeem American miles on these flights.

The best way to search Etihad award availability is through Etihad’s website. If they show “Guest” availability, it should also be bookable using American AAdvantage miles. American doesn’t show Etihad award availability online, so you have to call AAdvantage reservations to book.

Etihad-Awards

However, for a few months now, American has had issues seeing and booking some Etihad award availability. It hasn’t been consistent, but certain availability on certain dates hasn’t been bookable through American.

Fortunately there has been a workaround — American Airlines’ call center in Australia has access to all Etihad “Guest” award availability, as it should be. Assuming you’re outside Australia, their phone number is +61-2-91011948, and the easiest way to phone them up inexpensively is through Skype or Google Voice. The call center is open 24/7, and the process shouldn’t take much longer than calling American’s US call center.

This workaround has existed for months, which leads me to believe it’s not intentional blocking, but rather some system glitch on American’s part, which is perhaps way down on their list of priorities to fix (perhaps they’ll get to it around March 23). 😉

In the meantime it’s probably almost good news for those of us “in the know,” since we’re able to book award space which others don’t have access to.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 4
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment

Bottom line

I get emails on an almost daily basis from people complaining about not being able to book Etihad award availability, so hopefully this workaround is helpful, as it should work consistently.

There has never been a better time to redeem American miles on Etihad, given the impending devaluation!

Have you used the Australia call center trick to book AAdvantage awards on Etihad?

Comments

  1. looking to book Cairo-SIN business class for family of 4 using AA miles, which would be a better choice, Etihad or Qatar in your view ? Qatar currently only 2 biz class seats from CAI-DOH, 4 biz class seats DOH-SIN (A350). Etihad should have 4 biz class seats available on both legs, Ethiad 787 business studio from DOH-SIN

  2. @lucky – Do you have any experience in changing an existing booking? I have CDG-AUH-MLE in F with AUH-MLE in Y. J space opened up so I was thinking about calling and having them swap that leg of the trip but I don’t want to risk getting the ticket in limbo since I read somewhere else that is better to have AA Australia put the tickets on hold and then call AA US to book them. Any info or experience on this kind of situation?

  3. Any comments on AA not releasing any saver awards on AA metal for any day in 2017? Schedule loaded through Jan 20, but no saver awards. I suppose that’s another thing they will fix on March 23

  4. I didn’t need to call the Australia line. Recently went to AUH from JFK and had no problems with US call center finding availability. And that includes originally booking on business and upgrading to F a few days before the flights when F space opened up. I guess l was just ‘lucky.’

  5. No availability on US to ME route. You picked the trip two days out to find availability. Find something a few weeks, months out on a380.

  6. Back a little while ago when there was all that availability on the A380 Apartments, I booked by calling Australia. Had a great, easy experience, aside from the slight delay on Google Voice (it would take about 2-3 seconds for the agent to hear what I had said). The lady was very nice — I almost told her how much I love Tim-Tams and that I wish they had them in the US.

  7. Hi Lucky,

    I called the german AA office and had no trouble booking LHR – AUH , MEL im First.

    However, do you have an idea why I had to pay 269€ p.p. in tax and surcharges? I remember that you wrote a couple of times about the very low cost (50$ or so??) of booking EY using AA miles. Does the country of booking the tickets come into play for those costs?

    Cheers
    Thenewone

  8. I found space on the Etihad website for LHR-AUH-MEL in F and called the US reservation desk for American. After waiting an hour to speak to an agent (I used the callback feature) I spoke to someone who couldn’t find any of my dates in anything but Y. She even gave me attitude and sighed heavily! I then called the Australia number, spoke to an agent immediately and she found the exact dates I wanted, in F. Very strange.

  9. I see virtually no seats in F on any Etihad route from the US from April to end of schedule. Are there any seats???

    The only F seats I see bookable are those from Europe. AM I missing something?

  10. I found a seat on Etihad. To book now it will cost me 45.000 Aadvantage miles. After March 22, it will be only 40.000 miles – however, the seat could be gone by then. Any chances to get 5000 miles back later if I book now?

  11. Yes. Gary, you have written about it and I appreciate it. It’s just frustrating when domestic availability to the gateway is so poor.

  12. Ouch, wrong blog. Sorry Ben. But what do you think is up with zero domestic availability on saver awards in 2017?

  13. @Andrew B – They do sell them in the US. I’ve seen them at Target. They’re sold here by Pepperidge Farm.

  14. @ Terence — I’d go with Etihad, but, frankly, ex-CAI it almost always makes sense to book revenue!

  15. Thanks, Ben.

    I’m planning an around the world trip in January 2017: SEA-SYD, SYD-AUH, AUH-JFK-SEA, all in 380-F if possible (Qantas, Etihad) using saver awards
    I cannot find anything on Qantas (from LAX or DFW) so booked LAX-ICN-SYD on Korean using Delta miles early January (A380- business). I plan to add the segment SEA-LAX later (if Delta allows it)
    I booked two awards (by calling AA Australia) on Eithad (380-F) SYD-AUH plus AUH-JFK but on the wrong dates, both end of 2016. The second award also has an AA segment JFK-SEA.
    I am a Delta Diamond and an AA EXP so can make changes or even cancel everything, if I understand the rules correctly.
    What are my chances of finding the correct dates later this year, first half of January? I should be able to change dates easily using the same number of miles, correct? If I need to change to Business class to get the correct date, it will be recalculated using the new chart, correct?

    I like the idea of going from JFK to YVR on CX (F). Would AUH-JFK-YVR-SEA still be one 90K award?

    jrseattle

  16. @ Greg – You should be searching either 12 months out or the current week for F availability. Same goes for routes not starting or terminating in the US. Aside from the occasional windfall of seats opening up on a particular route all at once, you should be very flexible about travel dates. And if you want the Apartments, expect that availability may be further restricted not only because they book up fast but also because Etihad may limit partner redemptions to the 777 and other planes.

  17. @Thenewone Flying out of the UK is relatively expensive for award travel as you still have to pay the air pollution tax or something like that which is usually around 200 euros on a paid ticket so the price you paid is normal especially out of lhr

  18. @Chancer Thanks I was looking at only April-October. I didn’t look at 12 months out, or leaving this week. unfortunately if that is the only way, the AA devaluation will hit before any possible dates from April-October could work for me.

    @jrSeattle I wouldn’t count on the “F” from JFK-YVR on CX opening up for you. If you are looking for a single seat a day may pop open, but chances are it won’t coincide with your award. If you are looking for 2 seats, forget it.

    I was just wondering how people were booking North America to Middle East with AA miles. Just to clarify I am not wrong, there is NO space from April to October on any route from North America to AUH and beyond.

  19. A follow up question re my around the world trip early 2017:
    Would it be better to book a) AUH-JFK on Etihad in business on the A380, followed by JFK-YVR on CX in First (777) for the actually desired date (is available now) or b) AUH-JFK in First on the A380 followed by an AA flight in domestic first for the wrong date?
    In the case of a) it will book as a 1st class award (90K) and I should be able to upgrade to 1st if space opens with no extra cost, correct?
    In the case of b) I should be able to change the award to the correct date if space opens.
    The desired date is somewhat flexible (give or take a few days) around January 18, 2017

    jrseattle

  20. Thanks so much Lucky,

    I was able to book it without a hitch (THEY ARE SO NICE!!!). Got ZRH-AUH in Business for 30k and AUH-LAX Apartments for 90k.

  21. I’m seeing ZERO Guest First availability on any AUH>JFK flights for the next 11 months?! Are we experiencing another “outage”.

  22. Hey, lucky. Is there a some sort of 12 month rule for award travel on AA? Say if I book an award today for travel in Dec 2016, do I have to finish all travel by Feb 2017 no matter what change I make latter? Or can I wait till Nov 2016 and change the ticket travel date to April 2017? Thanks!!

  23. @ Jason – Travel must be completed within 365 days from the initial ticketing date. That rule is pretty much the same for all major airlines.

  24. Looking at flights out of Australia on the Etihad website and I see that Guest seats incur a Carrier Charge (YRF) on top of any airport taxes, country fees, etc… A sample booking out of SYD in business costs at total of AUD$361.57 that’s AUD$276.80 in YRF charges. Does american charge you these?

    Cheers

  25. This works like a charm! Back in late December I wanted to book the Etihad flight from Dulles to Abu Dhabi but the US Call center showed no flights at all and the Etihad website showed no availability. Called the Australia call center and the flight was booked in 5 minutes.

    I’ve also used the Australia call center when there is bad weather in the US and our call center is slammed, usually able to get through to Australia immediately.

  26. No availability from AUH-JFK on the A380 on date I need to fly. Right now I have AUH-IAD booked in business. Worth it to upgrade to F, even on a 787?

  27. I booked in F from AUH to JFK in june. called US call center and didn’t show. Called Australia and I as booked in less than 5 minutes. Thanks to Lucky I am taking some amazing trips that I never dreamed was possible even with all of my points. I also got my friend to burn his miles on the same flight, but he is in Business…Any way he can be waitlisted to First? Thank you!

  28. Hi. If I book pre-devaluation for January 2017 and then change post-devaluation to April 2017, same route, will they charge the extra miles?thank you.

  29. @Carolyn: If you book a ticket in March 2016 you can only move to by a maximum of 365 days after the ticketing date, i.e. not to April 2017.

  30. @OzDan: thanks for the answer. Is it the ticketing date that counts or the date that your first flight takes place? Also do you know if they will move the dat s without charging the additional miles? Thank you. Carolyn

  31. @ Carolyn – It’s the ticketing date that matters not the date of the flight that was ticketed, so 365 days from the day you called/went online for your ticket. AA said they wouldn’t charge the new redemption rates for date changes after devaluation but who knows.

  32. Ben, I am trying to find any Information for Air Berlin Award space on Etihad First. Can this be done or is it just Business and economy.? American and many others in Oneworld can be redeemed on Etihad. But i seem to be at a dead end when it come to redeeming Airberlin on Etihad first ? Is there any solution?

  33. This is not a plug … this is actually happened!

    I hired Juicy Miles an Australian award booking service to book flights for 4 people using AA miles. They got me the suite for two and the other two in biz BKK-AUH-LAX when I couldn’t even find one seat from the US website!

  34. @lucky @greg I was having trouble finding space from JFK-AUH in F however I found a post on flyer talk that said one should search round trip availability in order to find space from JFK-AUH. Make JFK-AUH the return segment on the date you are searching for and a lot more availability will pull up. So always search AUH-JFK-AUH.

  35. @M & iv thx for your reply. If i would add for example FRA to the route (FRA – LHR – AUH – MEL), could that lower the cost?

  36. Can some one please advise me if getting the First class award ticket issued through the AA agent in Australia (for the taxes in AU$) using a US credit card with no foreign transaction fees would create any issues related to my ticket from Abu Dhabi to JFK? Thanks in advance.

  37. Ben, Danke für die Antwort ..After reading your Posts on Etihad First Award space through AA….. Do you still consider AA to be the best program to earn and burn for etihad first?…(even with the impending changes) As I am based in Europe, so flying partners and crediting to AA. I have business flights to SEZ,BKK,NRT,ICN and Australia coming up in the next 4 months…so with no chance on AB would you consider this to be the best Option or is there something else I’m missing ?

  38. I wish I got around to booking earlier when there was actually space to MEL. Looks like a ton of space on 77W but none on A380. I guess ill just have to get the AA credit card later and get the extra miles needed at the new rates

  39. So which has a better lounge. AUH or MEL?. I finally found some space from MEL as usually the hub lounges are better than non-hub on most carriers

  40. Just hit the Jackpot, I booked 2 First classes BOM-AUH-JFK flights using AAdvantage miles around 3 months ago but the AUH-JFK leg had only space on Jet Airways configured. Today AAdvantage called me saying that they are “sorry but because of a schedule change they would be changing my wife and I to an earlier flight on the A380”! Super happy that my bet paid off!

    Now for the question: since our transit time is 4:10hours (10 more than the 4 hours limit) my understanding is that I need a transit visa, is this correct? If so how does this process work?

  41. It looks like Etihad is blocking inventory in the USA somehow.

    If you call AA USA they don’t see availability but will in Australia as you already mention. Additionally, if you call ANA USA they also don’t see availability but ANA Singapore does.

    It seems to be a pretty BIG coincidence.

  42. Anyone have experience with this? I tried calling Australia, but they cannot see the availability I’m seeing on EY.com for award tickets? Am I missing something or doing something wrong?

    It shows 6 Guest Seats available in Business (with a cost of 216k miles on their chart).

    What don’t I understand here? Or is their site not an accurate reflection for AA anymore?

    AUH-LAX
    Flight 171

    Is the call center trick over???

    Thanks

  43. I have same exact issue as Mitchell even the same flight EY 171. I tried calling AA Australi and they even cannot see the space.

  44. Any experience on changing award travel departure dates post American devaluation? Booked Aadvantage award for Etihad AUH-LHR apartments changing it to departure for 3 days later, would I have to shell out the additional 22,500 miles differences? (40,000 pre devaluation to 62,500 miles currently)

  45. 2 Guest Business seats opened up from DFW – AUH on Etihad’s website. However, I called AA and they don’t see them available. I called 3 times so far, and then went ahead and even called AA’s Australian service center. No availability there either. I’m thinking there must be a batch processing when EY’s inventory is loaded into AA’s. It would be nice to know at what time of the day that sync happens.

  46. I have the same issue, i see 4 Guest economy seats on the Etihad’s website for DFW-HYD, but AA-North America and AA-Australia cant see any availability for the given date.

  47. Just booked 2 business class tickets from MLE-AUH-JFK for July 16, 2017 on Etihad using AA miles. Tried calling AA resv in US and they couldn’t see availability. Called Austrailian resv and they found availability right away. The only hold up is getting a flight from JFK to Sea on the same reservation. Thanks for the tip! Looks like this is still very relevant info.

  48. I just called australia to book 2 tickets from auh-iad everything sounded great but I didnt received a conformation and still have miles in my account… the seats are also now not showing on the etihad site… did someone scoop me? or does it take a few days… (its been 24 hours since I called.)

  49. I just booked my first class flight from Abu Dhabi to JFK by calling the AAdvantage office in Australia and it worked!! The US phone # couldnt find me anything but the Australian one see everything! Thank you so much ! Horray!

  50. Lucky, I just booked two business class tickets from AUH-IAD by calling AAdvantage office in Australia. Initially, US based reps were unable to see the same tickets.So, calling Australia definitely paid off for me. I vaguely remembered reading about this on your site so when I searched for this article on Google it was on top of the list. Thank you! Happy New Year and best of travels and all the success in 2017.

  51. This post is almost a year old, but the workaround still works (and is still necessary). I called AA desk in the US, and they were not able to find three business class seats on Etihad (KUL-AUH, AUH-IAD and returning legs). Lo and behold, when I called the Australian office, they were able to book it. Thank you for sharing this info!!

  52. So frustrating – Australia can see the seats I want, but as soon as I give them my FF number, they see I’m executive platinum and transfer me to the US office, which can’t see the seats. How have you dealt with this?

  53. Hi Lucky,
    Forgive my ignorance but do I use the AAdvantage zone table to assess how many points required for Etihad/Qatar or the respective airlines? I.e. Europe – Pacific region one way would be 85k?
    Will

  54. I am AA Platinum (not EP) but called American’s US Platinum number first and they couldn’t find AUH-JFK on A380 availability whatsoever, even though Etihad’s site shows plenty of availability. So I called Australia’s American center and got an immediate answer, excellent service, and a quick reservation complete. I might start calling them for everything, lol. American’s customer service people here in the US leave something to be desired. Sometimes I get a great upbeat person who is patient but usually it’s someone either incompetent or apathetic.

    Anyway, the “workaround” to book Etihad still works as of now, at least.

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