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