Etihad Is Cancelling One of Their Two New York A380 Flights, What Should I Do?

Etihad has been pulling back from the U.S., just as they’ve been pulling back from investments in foreign airlines. They decided to stem their losses in air berlin and Alitalia. They’ve cut routes around the world as their appetite for growth at the expense of their balance sheet has subsided.

They eliminated their Dallas Fort-Worth flight after American severed its codesharing relationship. They eliminated their San Francisco flight after Air India starting San Francisco – Delhi.

Etihad still flies to Los Angeles, New York JFK, Washington Dulles, and Chicago (as well as Toronto). Their New York JFK flight has been double daily Airbus A380 service.

Etihad Airbus A380 in Abu Dhabi

However they’re eliminating one of the New York JFK flights effective October 1. The flight will be operated by an A380 six times a week and by a Boeing 777 on Tuesdays. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

    New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, 10:55 pm – 8:05 pm+1, Etihad EY100
    Abu Dhabi – New York JFK, 9:55 am – 4:10 pm, Etihad EY101

I’ve got a roundtrip planned to the Maldives flying Austin – New York JFK – Abu Dhabi – Male and return. Right now the schedules line up so I fly straight through. There’s no overnight along the way in either direction.

Etihad First Apartments

My outbound will continue to operate as-scheduled, but my return no longer will. To keep my itinerary I’ll need to overnight in Abu Dhabi. That’s not the end of the world, but a late arrival into Abu Dhabi and a morning departure means a wasted night. And I’m not even sure it’s worth leaving the airport grounds, I’d probably stay in the clean but dorm-like Premier Inn at the airport.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but then I started to consider options, ideally sticking with first class award availability but being open to business for flights not over 8 hours.

  • There’s Etihad A380 award space Abu Dhabi – London. If I’m going to overnight somewhere perhaps I’d rather London? But if I go to London maybe I want to do more than just one night, but that means (1) a separate award [more miles] back from Europe, and (2) flying British Airways home [fuel surcharges].

  • I could fly Emirates home, spending the night in Colombo. I might prefer a couple of nights. I’d fly back to Houston to get their Airbus A380, and I’d need to either book a car service or a United flight home. And since Alaska charges too many miles I’d be looking at fuel surcharges there, too.

  • There’s Etihad A380 first class award space to Paris. And a couple of nights there are always worth doing. However getting space home from Paris to Austin without double connecting looks ugly at the moment.

  • I considered flying Qatar through Doha but there’s no Male – Doha space, and no connecting anymore Abu Dhabi – Doha.

Emirates A380 First Class

This trip isn’t until the fall. I may change my mind a dozen times between now and then. But I’m just not sure what I want to book for now. I had planned to just do a straight trip to the Maldives and back but that’s appealing less and less due to this schedule change.

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. This is the single biggest humble brag I have read this calendar year. Well done

  2. MLE-HKG-DFW or LAX on CX/AA?

    I’m not 100% sure, but I thought I had read somewhere AA had updated the region routing exceptions to allow this.

  3. Look at it this way, you enjoy the food and beverage on the late night MLE-AUH flight, get 5-6 hours of sleep, then head to Etihad lounge where you get to enjoy it all over again. By the time you are half way through your flight to JFK, you’ll easily get at least 6 hours of sleep.

  4. On hold with AA as I read this, same situation with a 12 hour layover coming back from MLE into AUH, and my JFK connections on AA are now 10 minutes with no other reasonable J space open. Looked at QR but theres no space in J to switch to

  5. If you want to use points to fly the Middle Eastern airlines in premium classes, now is the time. Despite what some self-identified “thought leaders” wanted to believe, these companies — and their over-the-top products — existed solely because of the billions of dollars of Mideast government subsidies. Those subsidies are now diminishing (no one can afford to lose billions forever), so the routes and perks are declining. They will almost certainly decline further. Fly while you can, and while the product is still good, because the trajectory is only one way. Down.

  6. You’re going about this the wrong way. Instead of trying to get home you should consider MLE-DXB-SEZ and spend a few days in the Seychelles. I mean as long as you insist on showing us your first world problems let’s go for broke, eh?

  7. I found the overnight in AUH pleasant. Lots of hotel options. I did it after Lax-AUH, so it was a long flight first.

    Last time I didn’t do that- it was super rushed to catch my flight to Mumbai. On the way home DEL-AUH-LAX it was the worst transfer imaginable and I was in F. Literally felt like there could be a stampede with lisa if life, all lines merged into one, a seething mass of humanity. If I hadn’t pushed and jumped the queue I would have missed my flight. I vowed to overnight if I ever did it again.

  8. Maybe consider flying back with Korean Air? At the very least, they do have a very generous cancellation policy.

    You could also consider Singapore but that would be quite a few segments (at a minimum MLE-SIN-SFO-AUS).

    Any award space on Turkish?

  9. I”m also doing MLE-AUH-JFK early next year and got rebooked on the new AUH-JFK which will now include a 12 hour overnight layover. I’ll probably just stay nap in the lounge.

  10. @marcmsj and @Gary Leff End of Jan 2018 we are MLE-AUH landing 23:25 and now rebooked AUH-JFK 10:15-3:50pm. This being our first (how funny to say first as that implies there may be more of these potential trips of a lifetime) time in the AUH F lounge my question is:

    What is the sleeping/napping arrangements like? Reasonable isolated/comfortable/safe to sleep over night? I guess I could pay for a hotel, but rather not have to deal with leave airport and coming back in.

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