Excellent Award Availability and Excellent First Class: Etihad is Now an American AAdvantage Redemption Partner

Yesterday afternoon I got a tip from reader Abdou that Etihad flights were now bookable as awards with American AAdvantage miles.

I meant to blog it right away, but looks like both Online Travel Review and One Mile at a Time beat me to the punch.

While first and business class upgrade space (R and X inventory, respectively) are published through Sabre, and thus also searchable using the KVS tool and Expertflyer, the only way to search for award seats that I’m aware of is signing up for an Etihad Guest account and then using their website to search space.

All reports so far are that American AAdvantage has access to the same award inventory that Etihad Guest members do. And that award availability is, so far, quite excellent. Like four first class award seats on a single flight New York JFK – Abu Dhabi and onward in business class for the short flight o Male. This may be the new best frequent flyer redemption strategy to the Maldives, at least until everyone catches on.

Ben offers a good primer on searching for space:

To search for Etihad Airways award space you should sign up for their Etihad Guest frequent flyer program, which is free.

Once you’re logged into your account, click on “Your Miles” and then “How to Redeem” in the tab on the left.

On the next page click the link that reads “Click here to book flight.”

On the next page enter your travel details and click “Search flights.”

Then on the final page click the box right under “GuestSeat” availability at the top of the page. If you click it and the flights aren’t greyed out, they should be available. If they’re greyed out, the flights aren’t available.

Here’s Etihad’s route map to give you an idea where spending American miles with Etihad can get you.

It opens up a variety of options in Africa (Cairo, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Casablanca, Khartoum) and India, Pakistan, and environs (Bengaluru, Chennai, Dhaka, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lahore, Mumbai, Delhi, Peshawar). Not to mention Baghdad, Erbil, and Tehran.

From North America they service Chicago and Toronto in addition to New York. And they’ll take you to vacation destinations like the Seychelles in addition to the Maldives.

While you cannot include Etihad as part of a distance-based oneworld award, since of course the airline is not a part of oneworld (and so you can’t circumvent American’s routing rules by using a single one-way award to Asia via the Middle East, you still need to cross the Pacific), you can include multiple American Airlines partners on an award, so flying from the US to Europe on Iberia or British Airways and then picking up Etihad from London, Paris, or Germany.

Happy award hunting! Their new first class product looks excellent…

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. Excellent news Gary. Since I am not familiar with OneWorld, I’ll ask a dumb question. Is it possible to redeem 135k miles for a Biz award from the west coast, SFO-ORD/JFK (AA) – AUH -MLE (EY)?

  2. @Pegasus without checking the award chart that sounds like the right mileage, and that would certainly be a permissable routing. (Another sould be SFO-LHR-AUH-MLE)

  3. That is great news. Thanks.

    “It opens up a variety of options ….Peshawar.” Now that is an interesting destination, where you would need an armed guard for your airport to the hotel trip ;). Of course a short hop across the Khyber Pass and you could add Afghanistan to your list of ‘have been to’ countries.

  4. I placed 2 seats on hold for LAX-JFK-AUH-MLE in First last night. AAdvantage priced the itinerary at 115,000 miles (90,000+25,000 i.e. two awards) because they say the route is not published – so one price for LAX-AUH, and another for AUH-MLE. I asked for the rate desk to check on this, and still came with the same answer. Not sure if it’s worth it.

  5. Thanks Gary. If going through LHR on BA or AA wouldn’t there be the expensive fuel surcharge added? Whereas, ORD and JFK we can avoid the surcharge?

  6. @Pegasus If flying BA, American will add a fuel surcharge. That’s not a LHR issue. Of course SFO-LHR non-stop is available on BA, not AA, so LHR on AA would mean SFO-LAX/DFW/ORD/JFK-LHR-AUH-MLE.

    The LHR issue is about the premium cabin departure tax, which only applies to trips originating in the UK. A connection doesn’t eat that fee.

  7. Gary, this is off topic but appreciate any suggestions..my mother passed away in Australia overnight, I’m trying to get myself and three kids back there for the funeral from EWR (or other NYC)next Wednesday (would need to leave Sunday latest), I have plenty of Amex, given it’s four pax I understand may have to combine some paid tickets etc appreciate any suggestions, previously I’ve utilised Air Canada, was thinking for flying via Singapore, I know Qantas don’t have a lot of business or first seats available, any suggestions much appreciated, Thanks

  8. Anyone else having trouble creating an Etihad account? I keep on getting this error:
    An Error occured while creating profile.Please Try again (EX_90)

  9. Good stuff Gary as usual. This is huge. And great for those of us that suddenly have millions of AA miles to do something with as we edge those accounts into the final phases of the lifetime program where non-BIS count 🙂

  10. @thesilb “Ding ding ding, we have a winner…” I actually expect to cross the 3mm threshold on the oneworld megado charter.

  11. @Eli presumably for any route where they offer first class, but if you’re going somewhere other than India/Middle East American may be pricing as two separate awards currently

  12. Per Etihad website

    To help serve you better, we will be conducting an upgrade to our systems from Thursday 20th October 23:00 to Saturday 22nd October 19:00 (UAE Local Time).

    During this time, no services that require logging in to your Etihad Guest Account will be available online.

    The Etihad Guest Service Centre will also be unable to access your account details.

    We apologies for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience and loyalty!

  13. Hi Gary, thanks for the information.
    In the last part you mentioned that Etihad award redemption can’t be used for a one way ticket to Asia via the Middle East.
    I needed to book a similar ticket but reverse, i.e. one way from India to Chicago, and Etihad would be a perfect fit. So, is that possible ? I tried looking up on AA website but couldn’t see any information on it.
    Thanks in advance.

  14. @Rajesh: You have to call AA to book Etihad and any other “partner” flights. Those cannot be booked online at AA.com.

    @Gary: I tried the procedure you outline (via Ben) for check award availability for ORD-AUH in J Dec 2 or 3. While the EY site shows availability, AA says otherwise. EY could possibly be releasing different inventory to its partners?

  15. @AKTCHI I haven’t experienced that yet, and while it may happen I’m not aware of and haven’t experienced it happening. As with all things AA, hang up/call back, different agents have different levels of familiarity in booking partner awards. I find this to be the case using AA to buy Cathay all the time.

  16. @Gary Thanks. I knew about “call back” rule but somehow forgot it in the new excitement about Etihad. 🙂 I called AA back and it worked again. One question: How do you go about selecting seats. I have Business Class AA partner award. Do I have to call AA or Etihad? Anyway I can select online? Thanks again.

  17. @Gary Thanks for the pointer. It worked pretty smoothly.
    I called AA to get the EY PNR.
    Then tried EY website with no luck (I knew it was hopeless, but couldn’t resist trying :)).
    Called EY and it was straightforward to get the seats assigned.

    It helps to have an EY FF number and actually punch it in to get through to an agent: I was connected to their Mumbai call center right away and they were most professional. Without EY FF # you are on hold forever. Or at least that was my one-time experience.

  18. I tried to get an F seat on AUD – CDG on Dec. 21st. The Etihad site shows availability but AA agent can’t see it.

  19. What are the maximum award seats per flight. The maximum I have seen is 5Y and 2J. I need 3J. Have anybody seen Etihad opening up more J seats once the 2J are booked. May be closer to departure. I am looking for ord-auh or JFK-auh or iad-auh.

  20. Anyone else having trouble creating an Etihad account? I keep on getting this error:
    An Error occured while creating profile.Please Try again (EX_90)

  21. please,inform how can i solve this problem “An Error occured while creating profile.Please Try again (EX_90)”


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