Etihad Releasing A380 First Class Awards To The US Last Minute

Earlier in the week Etihad commenced daily A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and New York, which was a pretty exciting development. I had the opportunity to be on the inaugural flight, and suffice to say it was a fantastic experience.


Etihad has what I’d consider to be the world’s best first class hard product, with their First Class Apartments. Given that the A380 has a single aisle in first class with only two seats per row, it’s outrageously spacious.


Etihad first announced that they’d be flying the A380 between Abu Dhabi in New York back in March, and initially they didn’t release much first class award space.

Then in May Etihad suddenly opened up two first class award seats on most A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and New York, which allowed hundreds to snag awards to try the product. This matches Etihad’s general trend for releasing award availability, which can best be summed up as wildly inconsistent.

However, since the huge amount of award space we saw in May, we haven’t really seen much A380 first class award space between Abu Dhabi and New York. Now that Etihad has launched the A380 flights to New York, are they making any last minute awards available?

It looks like Etihad is making some last minute A380 first class awards available between New York and Abu Dhabi. For example, tomorrow’s New York to Abu Dhabi flight has two first class award seats:


Meanwhile the flight the following day has first class award space as well:


As a reminder, here’s a primer on how you can search Etihad award space using Etihad’s website.

Etihad first class is a fantastic use of American AAdvantage miles. A one-way first class ticket between the US and Middle East/India will cost you 90,000 miles. After the AAdvantage devaluation of March 22, 2016, the cost will increase by 25,000 miles each way, to 115,000 miles.


Bottom line

For the past several months it has looked like Etihad has been blocking A380 first class award space between Abu Dhabi and New York, in anticipation of the launch. While award space is far from wide open, the good news is that it looks like Etihad isn’t in fact blocking the space.

If you want to redeem AAdvantage miles for the Etihad A380 to/from New York you’ll want to keep an eye on award space, in particular last minute. There’s definitely a shot of that space opening up.

Have you managed to snag an award seat on the Etihad A380 between Abu Dhabi and New York?


  1. I would say they aren’t “blocking space” per say, but when they were flooded with “free seats” / award seats they probably have an unwritten # of seats they are willing to give up per month/year/flight/etc and when they were flooded w/ bookings, it just dried-up. I think it’s as plain as that. Supply and demand. Time is short, it’s better to have a seat used than empty.

    That’s my 2 cents

  2. I have an EY F AUH-LHR award booked with AAdvantage, connecting to BA F LHR-JFK booked using AS MileagePlan.

    I don’t have additional AA miles at this point so if space opened up should I consider buying miles to switch to a direct flight on EY (and pay a change fee since in AA’s eyes I’d be changing my destination), and paying AS a fee to cancel the BA award?

  3. Just a quick side note since you mentioned using AA miles for F awards to India. EY has recently eliminated their F service to Delhi except for one Jetihad flight a day, which does not have a good connection to their A380 JFK route.

  4. If the main availability is only for the following day, that’s as good as blocked for me. 🙁

    Just no way I can go on one day notice. And then what about getting back, can you depend on a return flight being available on a daily basis?

  5. Any tips on booking a seat during March, May, or August period? I have gone through their website and see everything is sold out, except for last minute seats.

  6. @lucky/pointpros folks – I dont have elite status w AA anymore, and since a lot of these awards open up closer to last min than in advance, it always sucks having to bite the bullet and pay an extra $75 on top of all the taxes/fees and sometimes surcharges.

    is there anyway if I feed you the exact flight info that I want (becoz I’ve already done the research,) that you could guys could book it w your EXP status and thus avoid the fee for me? if this is possible, I’d happy to hear. dont mind compensating yall a bit for your time either. win-win situation right?

  7. These last minute seats may work for people on the East coast, but there is almost no connecting AA saver space available, even in Y.

  8. I just flew on EY103 and had a fantastic experience both on the ground and up in the air. It was my second Etihad flight but the first time using the US preclearance facility. Since this flight departs at 3:20am, there were only two other US flights that departed plus/minus 2 hours (San Francisco flight and Chicago flight.) thus, I didn’t think it was crowded at all during security and immigration. Plus there’s a lounge after security/immigration (sorry I forget if you mentioned this before) but I think Etihad read your previous posts to improve the overall premium cabin ground experience! Thank you for that!

  9. What are your thoughts on doing a same day change? i.e. book the other AUH-JFK flight operated by the Jetihad 77W and ask same day to move to the A380 flight? Would that work?

  10. @ Ben — Nope, you can’t do a same day change/standby on Etihad flights. You’d need to be rebooked, which would require there to be award space.

  11. @lucky Can you clarify on “you can’t do a same day change/standby on Etihad flights”? Does this apply to upgrading award from business to first as well as swapping from Jetihad 777 to A380? Can we make changes the day before (as it looks like space opens up ~48 hours out)? Thanks!

  12. @ RayY — You can make any of those changes directly with American assuming there’s the award space needed. And that can be up until a couple of hours before departure. But you can’t do any sort of standby.

  13. Lucky,

    Any idea why Business Guest Seats are totally GONE on the JFK to Abu Dhabi flight (EY102)? I’ve checked often over the last several months and there were always 2 Business Guest Seats available daily stretching all the way to the end of the schedule. Now it’s completely barren…and this has been the case for a few weeks.

  14. Any recommendations on seats for a couple? We are presently booked in 3A and 4A, but did you see any benefit in being on the other side of the plane in 3K and 4K?

  15. @Joey,

    How long before departure did you need to leave the main lounge to go through security? I know they were insisting on a very long time earlier this year, which cuts into your time to enjoy the lounge and spa.

  16. @lucky this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore…looking at JFK-AUH on the 380 for today or tomorrow and though expert flyer shows space no guest availability is there!!! #lament

  17. Ben,

    Looking now at Etihad’s A380 routes for the next couple of days, it seems they are not releasing award seats on their flights with Apartments unsold. Am I misreading information, or do you see this as well?

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