Etihad’s big announcement about the most luxurious travel product in commercial aviation has been all the rage.
I’d love to fly it, but the truth is I’m not going to. It’s way too pricey for me and at this point there’s no reasonable way to access it with miles.
And goodness can striving to book it generate controversy!
It isn’t just ~ $20,000 one-way. It’s also bookable with miles. Just a lot of them.
Note that the Residences are a separate booking class from first class.
The new A380 has a first class (“Apartments”). And it also has a single Residence for up to 2 people.
There are no saver first class awards (“Guest First”) that I’ve seen yet for the Apartments. Each day I’ve searched it shows as unavailable. However — eventually — and once the product rolls out across more planes and more destinations I would expect them to release some award space at the saver level.
Etihad will let you redeem your points as cash, though. In fact they’re an airline that’s one of the furthest along in treating their points as cash. Less than 5000 points will get you a new wallet, for instance, including shipping.
And so it’s not surprising that you can use points for a Residence flight. Here’s what it costs one-way London – Abu Dhabi on the A380.
That’s 2,365,199 Etihad Guest points plus 183.21 British pounds. Because over 2.3 million points isn’t enough to cover the one-way ticket.
Compare that to just 55,243 points for a saver first class award onboard their 777.
The Etihad Residence costs nearly 43 times as many miles as a saver first class seat.
But it is possible to redeem for an A380 residence…
If you must rack up points towards a Residence award, Etihad has a relationship with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank for a suite of Sharia-compliant cards. Their Visa Platinum has a 50,000 point signup bonus and earns 2.5 points per dollar spent (!) based on current exchange rates (2.5 miles per 4 AED).
That earn rate is probably what won the card a Freddie last month. But personally I’d rather burn the points for traditional first class, or ideally a First Apartment once award space opens up.
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But is the card churnable? You’d only need to get 47 cards to rack up the miles.
I actually think it’s great that EY at least made it open to points but just like you said in this post, it’s super hard to collect over 2 million miles. Wow. I think what Lucky is doing is clever and innovative and yes I cannot wait to read his review but at the same time, if anyone out there is redeeming points for the Residence, I’d like to hear that person’s story!
If I had that many miles, I think I’d rather pay the $20k, then use my miles for 43 first class seats.
Are Americans eligible for the card? Is there a foreign transaction fee to use it in the US?
I’m waiting for a misfiled fare. One day we may be able to book this for cheap…
If that ADIB card earns bonus miles on gold-plated toilets and Maseratis, I bet a lot of folks will be well on their way to a Residence redemption!
For the price of a fabulous villa in the Maldives for a week, you’re still just riding in an aluminum tube for 12 hours. I guess it’s simply a matter of priorities.
Bizarre that people would pay anything to go to that gaudy sweaty arriviste dump.
@Andrew-If you’re referring to the Maldives, please feel free to substitute “two nights at Cap Ferrat” instead.
@JetAway – for people who can afford that, i don’t think it’s a matter of priorities. they can have both. and then some.
@gary – do you know if “the residence” is for a single pax or can two people share it for the same price? if you can share, then it would be a bargain! 😉
@robert – why limit it to 2? I say get 50 of your closest friends and pack them all into the residence, which then makes it the same cost as that 777 ticket!
I’m sure this would go over well as a story on Al Jazeera: Dual US/Israeli citizen buys residence class for entire US Jewish fraternity (oh, say, let’s pick some kids from one of the most obnoxious ones that gets in trouble all the time….shouldn’t be hard to find that),they are allowed to board because they are just US citizens, but the real plan is……..[finish this with something funny if you have been in a fraternity]
Why isn’t it a round number? And is the 69 at the end a code for what you can do with your guest in the apartment?
How many miles do you earn if you pay cash?
It’s really exciting to me that there is something you and other “flyer experts” will not attain. Ha!