6 or More First Class Award Seats Available on Most Etihad U.S. Departures

This is credit to One Mile at a Time who points out that Etihad is opening 6 or more first class seats on most of its US flights for next summer.

Etihad offers first class from New York JFK, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

  • American charges 90,000 miles each way for first class awards between the US and ‘Middle East/Indian Subcontinent’. This means 90,000 miles covers US – Abu Dhabi, it includes connections in North America to the international gateway city, and it includes connections beyond Abu Dhabi to elsewhere in the Middle East as well as India and surrounding region (including the Maldives and Sri Lanka). American allows you to put awards on hold for 5 days, and you can transfer Starwood points to American generally within the timeframe necessary to issue tickets.

  • Citibank points transfer directly to Etihad.

Availability is much better from the US to Abu Dhabi than it is back to the U.S. So if you cannot find Etihad award space coming back, consider splitting up your group (including flying American’s partner Qatar, or Alaska miles on Emirates) or flying via Europe.

It’s amazing that six first class seats would be available on flights with only eight seats, and on flights like Los Angeles – Abu Dhabi which is still the third longest flight in the world.

It’s one of the better hard products, offering excellent catering (extensive dine on demand menu and an onboard chef), and it’s very available. And with American miles, and even Etihad’s own points, it’s reasonably priced.

They even offer a car service to (business and) first class passengers, available on departure and in your arrival city, but not offered in Abu Dhabi if you’re merely connecting there and have a long layover.

Etihad’s new Airbus A380 flies London – Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi – Sydney and will be entering service New York JFK – Abu Dhabi come late November. I have several segments booked on that service (“First Apartment”).

Here’s how to snag Etihad First Class award seats.

search Etihad’s website for Guest First space. That’s the ‘low level’ space, and American AAdvantage generally has access to that space.

Once you find the space on the Etihad website, call American Airlines to book that space (you cannot search the space at AA.com, and you cannot book it there, fortunately American will waive the telephone booking fee).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for this article! I’m looking for award space to MLE from SFO and as a longtime AA EXP, Etihad is a good option either from SFO or LAX. Finding space on Qatar from/to any US gateway is tough from what I’ve seen. The Etihad SFO product is still frequently a Jet Airways aircraft but I’ve recently noticed several times a week now, Etihad seems to substitute the Jet Airways 777-300ER for their own 777-200LR, as is used daily for the LAX-AUH run. It looks like the frequency is about every other day or every third day they have the equipment swap. I’m wondering how much longer they’ll continue to use the Jet Airways aircraft for SFO. From what I’ve heard, its aging and the product isn’t nearly as good as Etihad’s own. That is enough to make me consider a quick hop down to LAX to ensure I’d get the Etihad experience.

    All of that said, I use KVS Tool frequently to look for award space. Are you aware of what Etihad class inventory I need to look for that AA would have have access to as you indicated above? First is ideal but I’d consider Business as well.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. Just called AA reservations and placed a flight to AUH on hold for 2 in first in July. The agent was rather confused but got there in the end. However, when I asked about continuing on to the Maldives I was told that it required a separate booking altogether and required additional miles. Then was told there was nothing available for weeks for ward travel. Would you be willing to extrapolate on “and it includes connections beyond Abu Dhabi to elsewhere in the Middle East as well as India and surrounding region (including the Maldives and Sri Lanka)”? Thanks so much for any assistance on how to get to a vacation destination from AUH in July.

  3. @BDMNL – the agent you spoke to was wrong, as long as you (1) do not stay in Abu Dhabi for 24 hours and (2) stay within the “Middle East/Indian Subcontinent” region then it won’t cost additional miles for a connecting flight beyond Abu Dhabi as long as award space is available.

  4. @BDMNL Be very careful with the Maldives in July please. Weather!!!!…. It can be atrocious.

    Im a HUGE fan of the Maldives, been 5 times and headed back soon, but I would never consider the summer months. You could have a week of solid rain, and then it goes from paradise to… well, pretty much hell, I would imagine.

    But hey…thats just me. Enjoy wherever /whenever you go.

  5. @SFOFlyGuy You don’t need to worry about inventory classes when using KVS to search EY, it will only find availability in F, C, and Y that is available to partners.

    If you were searching manually on the Etihad website you would need to look for “Guest Seat” award availability (NOT “Open Seat”), and indeed this is the only thing KVS looks for when it parses the site.

  6. As a AAdvantage member, I find it quite annoying that I can’t fly to Asia from the US East Coast via the Middle East on Etihad or Qatar, and instead need to put together two awards which makes it uneconomic to fly east to Asia. Often, the best routings to Southeast Asian destinations from the East Coast are flying east, and I resent that AA makes me fly west to use my awards, and that empty seats on EY and QR are unusable to Asia.

    To join the side conversation going on about the Maldives, I leave it to anybody to exercise their own personal ethical judgment about travel there, but do realize that we are talking about a Country that sentences woman to death by stoning for adultery, and has sentenced 15 year old rape victims to 100 lashings. To me, the Maldives has taken the Cuban travel model of setting up Potemkin Tourist Villages — away from the suffering caused by the harsh religious dictatorship — to its absolute extreme. These island paradises are about as real as Epcot, and hides a society much more akin to Afghanistan or North Korea. It might be beautiful, but there are lots of beautiful places in the world that are not as artificial or supportive of oppression. Just my two cents, but it always surprises me that the Maldives is able to avoid the inevitable discussions which accompany travel to places like North Korea, Burma (until a few years ago), or Cuba.

  7. @Red…thank you! I didn’t realize that KVS Tool will only look for the appropriate available class inventory. Some searches (mostly for Star Alliance) just return all of the available booking codes so I wasn’t sure if I needed to be looking for availability in one of those.

  8. @ Gary…Just wanted to thank you so much for your very generous advice. I managed to tack on AUH – MLE in business class for no extra miles (as you indicate in your comment above). I could not believe that the fees were only $7.00 a ticket from LAX all the way to MLE! I also snagged Turkish Airlines Business class on MLE – IST – IAH on the way back. I could not be happier.

  9. @SFOFlyGuy: As @Red had already noted, KVS Tool automatically displays the appropriate Partner Award Availability for EY. The same actually applies to *A Award Availability.

    Please consult the KVS Tool User Guide at http://Help.KVSTool.com/#Classes for full details on the Award Booking Classes for each of the 112+ airlines that are supported.

    @Red: Thanks for helping a fellow KVS Tool Member!

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