American Having Problems Booking Etihad First Class Awards

American AAdvantage seems to be able to ‘see’ Etihad business and economy award space, but first class awards that are offered to Etihad Guest’s members do not appear to American agents.

Will M. asked today about a flight he was trying to book, his first class had American not seeing the space even though he could see the first class awards open on Etihad’s site.

I’ve checked this out myself, across a variety of routes and dates. And the problem appears limited to first class awards.

Historically American AAdvantage has had access to Etihad awards space on the same terms as the Etihad program offered saver space to its own members. First class awards book into the “O” bucket, business “I” and economy “X”.

You can search for Etihad awards via Etihad Guest, and anything showing “Guest First” means availability in “O” or saver first class.

American AAdvantage has almost always seen the exact same inventory when booking these awards. Two exceptions:

  • When American has had systems issues talking to Etihad, but when that has occurred it has been across the board for Etihad flights and not limited to a single cabin.

  • Occasional flights, representing less than one half of one percent of the times I’ve inquired. For instance, I once wanted an Abu Dhabi – London flight where Etihad showed first class available and American never did. That’s one of only two flights I’ve ever run into where American couldn’t see the space Etihad was offering (outside of the IT errors mentioned above).

I can come up with three explanations. No matter what has changed, it’s happened within the past few days, and I’ve had no difficulty with American’s access to Etihad first class availability up until today (though had not searched over the weekend).

  1. Etihad is no longer making its first class awards available to American out of the same ‘O’ bucket as before, or has imposed point of sale restrictions on the availability so that American doesn’t have as much award space as is given to Etihad’s own members. That’s not something they’ve ever done before.

  2. American is now blocking the space, although their liason to Etihad doesn’t appear to be aware of this (they seem as in the dark as to the issue as anyone else).

  3. There’s a new IT glitch, different from ones in the past in that it only appears to effect one booking class.

Definitely developing, I’ll be watching this closely as Etihad first class is one of my two favorite uses for American AAdvantage miles. I have four trips currently reserved (in their A380 First Apartment).

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, 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. Didn’t Etihad recently devalue their own miles? I suspect that their overall plan is to limit awards for F seats– first by requiring more of their own miles, then by blocking AA redemptions.

  2. Thanks for reporting this Gary. I have been having trouble booking EY F seats for 2 weeks now. Thought it was just me…

  3. ILDC -I managed to book SYD AUH about 5 days ago. Ticketed today. Can’t reserved anything though, even tho the agents can manually see the space in the gds their reservation system doesn’t let it be booked.

  4. I ticketed a first class award on 03rd June. I did have to spend an hour as their system is incorrectly pricing the award. CSR had to escalate it to the care team and issued the ticket after a long hold.

  5. With all these AAdvantage mile junkies… including my self snatching up all available 1st class apartments on A380 left and right, I didn’t think this would be sustainable for the long run. Hope it’s a simple IT glitch…

  6. If you snooze you lose, and I think I snoozed

    I have LAX – AUH booked on the triple seven in Jan ’16, but I’ve waited re: first apartment. Maybe I’ll get lucky and get an airplane swap, but otherwise I think I blew this

  7. Not sure if it is connected or not, but I’m having an issue trying to book a CX first class award. The reward shows on BA & JAL websites but the AA agents (and I have spoken to several) claim they don’t see it. They do see the business and economy seats though on same day.

  8. This relationship will be gone in 12 months, trust me 😉

    It makes no sense for EY now. The gap between AA and EY pricing for the same seat is huge from July 8th, even before you factor in the carrier surcharge which I assume AA will sidestep.

  9. @Raffle except that they’ve JUST expanded their codesharing relationship (SFO/DFW-AUH) and they’ve just expanded their FF relationship (earning AA miles on *any* EY flight).

  10. @Raffles

    absolutely not, if anything, in 12 months Etihad will be AA shareholder… eventually they’ll want to buy as much as they would be allowed. I would buy AA stock just for this reason, it will go up for sure.

  11. Does anyone know if this got fixed? Just tried to get 2 seats on AUH to LAX and it’s not showing up on AA.

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