AMAZING DEAL: Redeem American Miles For Etihad A380 First Class

Later this week Etihad will finally begin service with their cutting edge new A380s. The inaugural flight will be from Abu Dhabi to London on December 27, and I can’t wait to be on it in the First Class Apartment.


As is often the norm when airlines take delivery of an aircraft with a new type of “product,” Etihad has up until now heavily restricted premium cabin award space on the plane.

Up until now they haven’t consistently been releasing any first or business class saver award space on the A380, and certainly haven’t released any saver award space in The Residence (I don’t expect that last part to change).

Anyway, Running with Miles has pointed out that Etihad A380 First Apartment award availability between Abu Dhabi and London is fairly readily available through the end of the schedule. Many flights even have two first class award seats.



You can search award availability on Etihad’s website, and if there’s “GuestSeat” space then you can also book it with American miles. Here’s a primer on searching Etihad award space.

Best of all, redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad between Europe and the Middle East is a heck of a deal, at just 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class. That allows connections within Europe or the Middle East as well, if you’d like.

If you’d like to redeem American miles for travel between the US and Middle East in first class (which allows you to route via Europe), that will run you 90,000 miles one-way.

Personally I’m a fan of booking that Europe to Middle East award separately, since I tend to think it’s a better value and you can have a stopover in Europe that way.

For what it’s worth, Etihad’s second A380 route will be between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, and I’ve yet to find saver A380 first class award space on it.

Bottom line

Personally I would assume this is a change in strategy and not a glitch. This product is only “special” for so long, and in reality having different award availability patterns than other aircraft isn’t necessary.

On the plus side, this means there are now two airlines on which you can easily redeem miles for showers (Emirates being the other airline)!

(Tip of the hat to Running with Miles)


  1. Thank you for sharing this Ben. I am putting to use some of this load of AA miles to redeem on the A380. Since I’ll be in Dubai in March I could make my way to Abu Dhabi & fly it to London! Can’t wait to see and hear about your experience flying the whale jet! Happy holidays.

  2. So would you say this is more of a keep in mind for booking or OMG BOOK NOW IT WILL BE GONE?

  3. Any thoughts on avoiding the APD for award bookings X:LHR? ~$300 in taxes for the departure. Fly CDG-LHR-AUH?

  4. Great to hear EY is not as stingy as SQ was when the suites debuted back in 2007. I believe it was in 2012 when SQ suites were made available on the saver level? Regardless, I hope the Residence will soon be made available in the saver level too.
    Enjoy the inaugural!!! If I make it to AUH on time, I hope to get a glimpse of you at the lounge.

  5. @ James M. — While I don’t think it’s a glitch, I also assume demand will be fairly high at the beginning, so wouldn’t be surprised to see most seats disappear quickly.

  6. I booked this last week, and I’m really excited!

    Lucky – Do you know when the new Qatar first class lounge will open? Reason why I ask is because, if I’m flying first class (aa award) LON-AUH-DOH-MLE, would I be able to use the new first class lounge? Because there’s no first class in the DOH-MLE leg so I’m not sure…

  7. Got it. 40k CPH-LHR-AUH. Note that agent couldn’t find availably for HEL. Total taxes were $120.30, plus the $35 phone res fee.

  8. Ben,
    Using AA miles.
    Wife and I have booked AUH direct to IAD.
    Would like to change to AUH to LHR (to experience the A380).
    How can I then get from LHR to IAD?


  9. Wow, thanks! I currently have LHR-DUS-AUH return booked, with the 787-9 in First. Would you recommend switching both to the A380, or just one way to sample both products?

  10. Ben,

    What would you recommend flying from the West Coast (LAX) in first to get to LHR or close to it? Or, vs. versa, what would you recommend flying to get from LHR (or close to it) to the West Coast (LAX?) BA seems like a possibility, but anything else you would recommend?

  11. @ pointie — The only two oneworld options with first class are BA and AA, and AA almost never releases award space. So by default, BA is just about your only option.

  12. @ Shawn — I probably would, assuming you can find BA space from London to Washington on their A380. There will be fuel surcharges then, though.

  13. @ JC — If you’re connecting off first class from Abu Dhabi to Doha on Qatar then I believe so. I believe it will open in the second quarter of next year, give or take.

  14. I did the book now, ask questions later…got MAD-LHR-AUH one way…but my question now is can I change the city i’m starting out at after the fact but still keep the LHR-AUH? There were only two seats award seats available and I took both of them…would I have to cancel the whole ticket and rebook from wherever I choose and hope the two seats I have open back up to rebook? Or would AA allow me to change the starting seating, not make me cancel the whole thing, and just give me an updated price based on the taxes? I’m probably fine with MAD, but just curious of my options.

  15. @ ThaiDai — US Airways doesn’t partner with Etihad, so until Dividend Miles merges into AAdvantage, you can’t redeem US Airways miles for travel on Etihad.

  16. Thank you for the response….another question about AA awards, I know you can take EY to ABU (under 24 hours) and make your destination a place like the Maldives for the same amount of mileage (90k, I believe)…..however, that only gets you there (to the Maldives) – how would you get back to ABU? Another, separate ticket?

  17. Fantastic. I have a booking for next August on J on the A380 on Etihad from LHR-AUH so far. Just a few residence seats all over August seem available.

    QR also has restricted A380 F availability a lot. Let’s see what will come up.

  18. Hey Lucky,

    is it possible to fly Europe-AUH-LAX/JFK using AA miles on EY in F? Just wanna avoid BA’s high YQ and inferior service ^^

  19. Only problem is, LHR-AUH is not long enough a flight to truly enjoy an “apartment”. 🙂 Would be a lot better from North America. However, I do understand that London is an important market for them.

  20. Ben- am I correct in assuming this could be had for as little as 36k miles if you have an AA credit card due to the 10% redemption rebate? If so, that’s insane…

  21. @Lucky, thanks for confirming and your write up. The $206 ORD-AUH roundtrip fare on Etihad that hit the wire this morning was very timely in conjunction with your article…have ARN-LHR-AUH in the Apartment on hold as we speak for 40k +$111 taxes pre-rebate.

  22. Ben,

    Hope the flight has worked out by now.

    San-lax-jfk-Lhr-auh all in F except san-lax should price at 90k yes? What if the san-lax isn’t Y saver? Cheers.

  23. Do you know how far out they load the award schedule? Looking to book first class award using AA miles on Etihad next November – business class awards are available but the latest in 2015 that i see first class space is into March.

    Do they typically wait to release first class award space until closer to departure?


  24. ^
    That’s AUH to JFK, btw. Like I said, first class award space stops near the end of march. Didn’t know if that’s just the way the load it, or if it’s people booking up later in the year hoping for A380 flights.

  25. @ Eric — It goes in waves. Sometimes they release it when the window opens, sometimes they don’t. I’d monitor closely, because it frequently changes.

  26. Lucky, any sense of when the 380 will start flying to jfk in 2015? I’d prefer to wait for that flight to try this but if it’s late in the year I might jump on the lie route.

  27. Just to clarify, the column under “GuestSeat” is the equivalent of MileSAAver and can be booked by AA. This is “GuestFirst” and is some form of first class. Is it the Apartment? The columns that are under “OpenSeat” would be the equivalent of AAnytime and can’t be booked by AA. This includes “The Residence”.

  28. @ Randy — Correct, that’s First Apartment if the flight is operated by an A380 (it’s the only first class there is).

  29. Lucky, for those not based in the UK anyway, does it make more sense to position to somewhere outside the UK and then connect to this flight at LHR (e.g. on a short-hop BA flight)? Would that help bring down the big UK departure taxes?

  30. Ben, can I book MAD-LHR-AUH-BEY on a single award? I know LHR-AUH-BEY can be booked on a single award, but I am trying to avoid the ADP.

  31. @ Nab — That exceeds the maximum permitted mileage by more than 25%, so wouldn’t be allowed on a single award.

  32. Is there an example of a routing valid for AA redemption that includes LHR-AUH, but originates outside the UK to avoid the APD? I couldn’t find any such published fares…

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