One of my most frequent and best uses of American AAdvantage miles over the past 7 years has been booking first class awards on Etihad. I’ve used them to fly to the Maldives four times, to India, to the Gulf region and from the Mideast to Australia to name just a few.
While they’ve eliminated some US flying, cutting back in New York and Los Angeles and eliminating Dallas and San Francisco flights, they still offer service from New York JFK, Washington Dulles, and Chicago (without a first class cabin).
And they offer an excellent hard product in first class — suites with doors, and on their Airbus A380 the ‘First Apartment’ with an on board shower. I find their meal service to be excellent as well. Business class is a reasonable hard product, and very good on their Boeing 787s and Airbus A380s.
Etihad Boeing 777 First Class
Etihad awards have just become bookable on the American Airlines website. There’s no need to search the space on Etihad’s site if you’re using American Airlines miles, or call to book. That’s brand new. (HT: SeeBuyFly via @xJonNYC)
What’s especially interesting is that business and first class awards departing the U.S. are broadly available, space that’s been difficult to get American Airlines agents to ‘see’ and has required a trick to even find the space, and then ringing up foreign call centers to ticket.
Last August American made several partner airlines bookable online only to pull the availability the next day. Clearly it was a test, though perhaps not one meant to be made live yet. They brought web booking for a couple of those partners back a month later.
Regardless of whether this turns out to be a temporary test or not it’s nice to see American Airlines investing in their partnership, giving signs of hope that it may continue. American terminated its codesharing with Etihad and has attacked the airline aggressively in the press and in political back rooms over the past four years. Rumors have swirled that Etihad might join Star Alliance.