6+ Etihad First Class Award Seats On Many Flights

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.

Etihad 777 first class

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.

Bottom line

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?


  1. Not ideal in summer? Abu Dhabi is the hell in Juli/August!:) I’ve been there ( thank god only 2days) and it’s a pure torture. So great opportunity for more than 2people, but it’s hotter than in hell:)

  2. Just be aware that the Jet operated 77W have a different F product that the EY operated aircraft, though they are still suites. Also there have been reports that the service on 9W operated aircraft is inferior to that on EY metal.

  3. Having just flown LHR-AUH on the 380 Apartment I agree. I also flew RT IAD-AUH on the Dreamliner. It is tops! No apartment or shower, but great ride. Lots of space, big windows!

    I also agree west own from AUH would be nice.

    BTW while in Abu Dhabi, I used free night from Hyatt CC to stay at Hyatt Capital Gate. Stunning hotel, large room, etc.

  4. Summer in the middle east is all about shopping malls, for dining, entertainment, socialising, and shopping. you are not suppose to sit at the beach or walk around your hotel

  5. @Mohammed..i only can speak about Germany..but here are enough idiots who fly to ME in summer just because of the low hotel prices, complimentary half-board etc. And guess what..their main intention is a beach and pool holiday’lol’. Btw…noone should fly Jethiad, especiallY not long-haul..the overall experience there is C+ and not F

  6. @ Heather @ pass the dressing…

    Yes, maybe. If you put in F class on that routing it will always show nada, as there is no F class to MLE, and it assumes you want F the whole way. So you have to search separately and then call as always. Most AA agents will understand and price as 90k all the way.

    However…b careful of the weather in Maldives during summer months, it can SUCK. Think weeks of solid rain possible. Kind of takes the shine off (literally 😉 Ive been 5 times and would never ever consider outside of December to April/ May.

    Just my 2 cents, and hope it helps.

  7. Will be flying back to Doha by myself twice next year (family will come back after me) so have been keeping an eye on the Etihad availability.
    I do have a question, when I search LHR to AUH 1st class it’s available. When I search LHR to DOH it’s not available (only business). I assume this is because there are only two classes on the hour long AUH to DOH flight? Can I still, for 40k points book this, but it’ll just be business class for the short flight?

    Regarding the Maldives, I spent a week there last July. It rained when we arrived but the rest of the week was beautiful. Maybe we were just lucky?!

  8. Seems to be plenty of R space AUH-JFK around Thanksgiving. That’s EY 103 leaving (unfortunately) at 3:20 am.

  9. Nice, but how much of that inventory is made available to AAdvantage members ? I have a case (AUH-BNE in Aug 2016) where the Etihad Guest website shows 5 seats available in GuestFirst, but where two successive AA agents would only see and let us book Business Class awards.

    We took the business class to secure the rest of the itinerary in the expectation that a more clairvoyant agent would allow an upgrade on the AUH-BNE leg at some later stage (still plenty of time). Current AA policy is that the change from business to first should still be exempt of fees other than the changes in miles and taxes, right ?

  10. Two days ago I saw first class Etihad seats available from multiple US cities to New Delhi for Sep 2016 (GuestFirst). As of yesterday they have all disappeared. Now I cannot see any business or first class seats available for AAdvantage miles to New Delhi at all from now through Oct 2016. Plenty of economy seats available. Any idea what’s up?

  11. Lucky, I see some Guest First available on EY website but AA agent can’t see it. Is it being blocked again or should I HUACA?

  12. Thank you so much for the tip Tiffany! was able to put 2 F award on hold for AUH-SFO. I have 2 paid F for AUH-LHR-LAX-AUS from a mistake fare priced at $1300 per person, need to get off at LAX and travel on a separate ticket to SF. I’d love to try EY’s First Apt on their A380 (which will be far superior than the Jet Airways 77 as I read), also it’ll be my first time taking BA First. However I can also appreciate the direct flight and worry that the late night flight to LHR is too short and I’ll be too tired. I didn’t enjoy the Cathay First mainly due to the late departure from HKG. Any advice?

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