Looks Like Despite All the Trash Talk, American and Etihad Aren’t Breaking Up After All

With American, United, and Delta trying to get the federal government to muscle Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar out of the US market and to block future expansion (especially on transatlantic Europe routes), many readers have been concerned about what this would mean for the usefulness of their miles.

The relationships here are complicated. American is an Etihad partner even though it is a Qatar partner in oneworld. And even though they are lobbying hard to cut Etihad’s US expansion plans off at the knees.

As One Mile at a Time notes, American is now even expanding its codesharing relationship with Etihad to include Dallas and San Francisco – Abu Dhabi. So American thinks that Etihad shouldn’t be able to fly here because they’re so subsidized, but American will happily sell even more tickets for Etihad flights.

  • This means there are more flights on which you’ll be able to earn American AAdvantage miles. You can only earn American miles on Etihad flights to and from North America if booked as an American codeshare. Starting April 30 you’ll be able to do this on flights that didn’t previously carry an American code.

  • Much more importantly, this signals a relationship that is getting closer rather than crumbling — or at least helps counterbalance the public feud — and gives me more confidence in the value of my AAdvantage miles.

Every time I hear Doug Parker speak against the big Middle East carriers I wince a little for my very large AAdvantage account balance. Because one of my absolute favorite redemptions is Etihad first class.

  • Availability is quite good from the US, with good business class availability for connections beyond Abu Dhabi

  • The inflight product is very good — suites with doors, and that’s not even counting the unparalleled First Apartments that you can use American miles for (currently for bookings on the New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, London – Abu Dhabi, and Sydney – Abu Dhabi routes).

So it’s great to see some evidence that the relationship between American and Etihad could be an enduring one despite the silliness perpetuated by the heads of American, United, and Delta.

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. Have you ever true divide Etihad Miles to book any of their partners (like AA)? Disaster. You have to either call the call centre 2 weeks in advance or email them and hopefully they may have something. I have a large Etihad balance and trying to use them on their so-called partners is near Impossible owing to “sorry, Sir…no availability for any of the 4 routes you have asked for in the coming 11 months”. I kid you not.

  2. @iahphx he is addressing one report (that i have addressed as well) about specific subsidies — and even if you buy his position it does not follow that the startup phase of US airlines was not heavily subsidized. Heck Delta’s privileged position at Tokyo Narita comes about as the *spoils of war*.

  3. @Mike I find it easy to use Etihad’s miles to book Etihad flights on their website. Partner redemptions are a different matter, though I don’t find their call center worse than many others’.

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