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How to book Etihad flights with American AAdvantage miles

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Based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways is not a member of any alliances, but it has 26 airline mileage partners. You can book Etihad flights with a number of frequent flyer programs, including ANA, Korean, and American Airlines to name just a few.

Here is what you need to know about finding award space and booking your flight with American Airlines AAdvantage® miles.

Routes from the U.S.

Etihad flies between Abu Dhabi and 6 cities in the US: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York – Kennedy, San Francisco, and Washington – Dulles. From Abu Dhabi, Etihad can connect you to almost 90 other destinations around the world.

Where to Search for Space

The Etihad website is an easy and quick way to look for an award with no login required. It shows one date at a time, but you can quickly see whether or not the saver award is available for the next 7 days.

When you see some ridiculous number as in our example above, it means there is no Saver Award availability (red box), while more reasonable amount of miles indicates that the award space is available (green box).

Routing Rules when Booking with American AAdvantage® Miles

When you are using American AAdvantage® miles to book Etihad, you have to take into account its strict routing rules. With a few exceptions that have been made specifically for Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific, you can’t fly to your destination via a third region, and you must use the most direct routing. You can view our full guide to using American Airlines miles, but here is a brief summary of what you can do.

  • You can fly nonstop from the US to Abu Dhabi or other destinations in the Middle East via Abu Dhabi.
  • You can fly nonstop between Abu Dhabi and other Etihad destinations.
  • You can fly between the U.S. and India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and other Indian Subcontinent countries via Abu Dhabi because, as far as AA is concerned, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent act as the same zone, even though they display as two different award zones.
  • All other routings will require separate awards. For example, flying between the U.S. and Australia on Etihad in coach will cost 82,500 miles: 40,000 between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi and 42,500 miles between Abu Dhabi and Australia.

All awards that are booked with American Airlines miles on Etihad will be priced according to American Airlines’ Partner Award Chart. Here are one-way prices at a glance between Abu Dhabi and the rest of the world.

A one-way award from the U.S. to the Middle East or India will cost 40,000 miles in Economy Class or 70,000 miles in Business Class and 115,000 miles in First. Interestingly, a flight between Abu Dhabi and Australia that takes about the same time as the flight between Abu Dhabi and New York costs more in Economy and Business Class (42,500 and 80,000 miles respectively), but only 100,000 miles in first.

What’s interesting about the product

Etihad offers great service in all classes including Economy, but clearly, what sets this airline apart is its opulent First Class cabin in A380.

Etihad has an incredible First Class suite called First Apartment. There is also an ultra-luxurious, 3-room suite called First Residence that comes with a personal butler, but it’s unattainable on miles anyway. The Apartment, on the other hand, can be booked quite easily. Etihad flies A380 between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, and Mumbai.

The Etihad First Class cabin features 9 enclosed apartments with an extra-wide chair, separate bed, 24-inch TV, huge vanity, and a personal chef that will customize any meal to your preference. The Apartments share a shower, which, although smaller than the one on Emirates, gives you the same 5 minutes of hot water bliss.

Key Opportunities

If you want to fly the First Class Apartment, here are the routes to consider, from worst to best in chances of scoring a seat for a decent price.

From Worst to Best

  1. JFK–AUH. In general, Etihad blocks all A380 First Class availability from New York to Abu Dhabi.
  2. AUH–SYD–AUH: Ditto.
  3. AUH–JFK: Good availability if you can book 9-11 months in advance.
  4. AUH–MEL–AUH: Excellent availability
  5. AUH–BOM–AUH: Excellent availability.

The best way to stretch the value would be flying from Mumbai via Abu Dhabi all the way to Melbourne in First Apartment for 100,000 miles, followed by a flight from Mumbai to New York for 115,000 miles. Every other combination would mean paying two separate awards.

How to Book

You’ll need to call AAdvantage® on 1-800-882-8880, and the agent will waive the fee because Etihad awards can’t be booked online. Sometimes, U.S. based agents can’t see the Etihad award even though it’s there. If encounter this problem with a U.S. based agent, you can call this Australian AA number: +61 02-9101-1948. Use Skype or your favorite internet calling app to avoid the long distance charges.

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