What To Do When American Agents Can’t See Etihad Award Space?

One of my favorite American AAdvantage airline partners is Etihad Airways. While they’re not part of oneworld, they are an AAdvantage airline partner, and they’ve been great about making all saver level award space available through American.


Searching Etihad award space directly through Etihad’s website is quite straightforward, and once you’ve found “GuestSeat” availability you can call up American and they’ll typically see the same award availability.


Over the years there have been a couple of instances whereby American didn’t have access to all Etihad award availability, for whatever reason. In one case the “link” between the two airlines was down for nearly a month, which sucked.

But one problem I hear fairly frequently is that Etihad’s website shows two first class saver award seats, but American can only see one seat.

The good news is that there’s a workaround. If you call up American and they only see one Etihad award seat (despite Etihad’s website showing two “GuestSeat” award seats), simply have the agent create two record locators and book the passengers separately.

In other words, when the agent creates a record locator and pulls one seat, the second seat suddenly becomes bookable as well. Given that American allows five day courtesy holds on award tickets, this is extremely straightforward and there’s no risk.


Have you had luck using this method in instances where there was a discrepancy between the availability Etihad’s site and AAdvantage agents showed?

(Tip of the hat to Ross)


  1. Did that… I told you about this like a month ago in your reader comments. You’re getting too many notes!

  2. Can you then combine the PNR’s in case of IROP? How about if one of those tickets is for a kid? Does that cause issues? And yes I’ve taken my kids into first class and they behave much better than most of adults do.

  3. Need some help on best action I can take…Had A380 booked from LHR-AUH…Etihad just did an aircraft swap and now I’m on the A340, which of course I don’t want…but, the other two flights that day do not have any availability…what are the chances of them switching me to one of those flights? And any idea why, only on Tuesdays starting in Aug, they would swap flight out? Thank you.

  4. I ran into an issue with EY when trying to modify an existing reservation. I saw space on EY’s site, but reservation agent claimed there was no availability. I assumed it was a hang up, dial again type situation, so I did with no luck. Hoping 3rd time was the charm, instead of beginning with my existing reservation, I just asked if she saw space on the flight I wanted. She confirmed there was space, but ran into the same issue as the other agents. She put me on hold and forced the reservation through with some help from the rate desk after it priced incorrectly. Seems that EY’s & AA’s connection need some TLC.

  5. @ tim — It’s rare to see three seats in advance, but close to departure it’s not unusual to see three first class award seats.

  6. @ Tim — Nope, you can’t combine PNRs, though shouldn’t have a problem even if a kid is on a separate PNR.

  7. @Tim – Not sure if it will work on Etihad but it worked on KLM. I’d call them up and inform them of this, guys at KLM put both PNRs in the notes of the other one so the check-in agent was able to see it and didn’t charge us UM fees. (He told me if I hadn’t called, he would’ve automatically requested the service 24 hrs in advance and thus have to charge me €80)

  8. We use our Amex-Plat for our business and put around $15MM on it every year which means a lot of points. The challenge is finding decent seats when we travel to Pakistan (most of the airlines have stopped going there) on a more recent trip, We took AF from IAD-DXB and then Etihad. We could have done Etihad all the way to Karachi – There was A LOT of award availability but Ana doesnt let you book flights if its less then 4 days to departure and thats when you see most of EY’s availability.

    Another option would be Qatar but booking through BA, BA blocks Qatars business class space from Doha.

    Any suggestions?

  9. Hi Lucky,

    Can I book a FC award ticket to Colombo( you mentioned in another blog) via AUH with only 67500 AA miles operated by Etihad? Is that doable? If it is, I think I could enjoy one more segment and save 22500 miles. If it is not, I have to spend 90K miles anyways, where else I can go with ETihad FC? Doha? My destination will be Tokyo this July. But I want to fly with Etihad FC. I have around 160k aa miles, enough for the second leg from Mideast to Japan hopefully. Thanks.

  10. @ ahmed — Qatar should have a good amount of space if you’re flexible and booking in advance. Are you saying you don’t see availability through BA, or…? Because they shouldn’t “block” the space.

  11. Hi Lucky

    I have tried several times to check availability SYD to CDG with AA Australian call centre, I have seen 5 & 6 seats available on the Etihad web-site, but every time I call they advise nothing available.

    I think I will use your booking service when I have my dates sorted.

    1 question: Are you able to fly Etihad Syd to Zag when using AA miles, you can with Qantas & BA


  12. @ Allan — You would need to book it as two separate awards if you want to fly Qantas. As far as availability goes, are you sure you’re looking correctly for the “GuestSeat” availability?

  13. I dont see the space. when I do Khi-Iad – I tried breaking down the trips and turns out that Khi-doh they show a lot of space but DOH-IAD nothing for business class but on a most recent trip two weeks back the doh-iad business class was half empty and on the same dates when i look for awards through qatars own system i see a lot of space.

    When i try to book DOH-Iad separately, it feels like BA tries to route me through london on a BA flight-

    can it be that it blocks the awards when it can go to the same destination?
    who else can i book qatar with amex mr

  14. Thanks for quick response, yes definitely seats available on Etihad website eg. SYD to CDG guest seat, guest first showing 5 seats 28th of September?

  15. @ Allan — That seems to be phantom award space. When you search availability on the individual segments you’ll see that there are only two seats on the SYD-AUH flight. Definitely a glitch, unfortunately.

  16. I flew etihad in august and american still will not give me the awards. They will only credited me a small connecting flight even though it was on the same ticket! I have had to write five times and it is nuts.

  17. Thanks a lot for this post, with this workaround I have been abl to book two first class award tickets between Abu Dhabi and London on the A380 ! Can’t wait to fly it !
    Keep up the good work with your blog.

  18. Hey Lucky,
    Any suggestions – I’m trying to book a single seat on a flight where Etihad shows two Guest First seats available but AA doesn’t see any. Is there anything manual they can do to find the availability?

  19. Brilliant tip, many thanks ! Just called AA looking for two seats and they showed no availability, despite Guest seats being available (for two of us) on Etihad.

    Found this blog, then called AA back. Asked them to do one, no problem. Asked them to set up a separate reservation for the second one. Yep, it worked !

  20. Hi Ben,

    I hit a snag today where Etihad shows 10 seats (on several flights) each day for several days in June, open in Business from Abu Dhabi to Sydney…but the American agent can see absolutely nothing on any day. Have you run into this before, and any suggestions?

  21. @lucky…calling the Australian call center hadn’t even occurred to me. I’ll give it a try. Is that a trick I would know if I’d been around longer?

  22. Hi Ben, I found a new issue, check it out and let me know if you have an idea or workaround. So Etihad.com shows first class available on July 25th 2016 from Mumbai to JFK, on flights EY203 and connecting in Abu Dhabi on July 26th 2016 on the holy grail EY103 AUH to JFK, but if I check just AUH to JFK on July 26th its shows no availability for the same flight ? Thanks, Dennis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *