ACT FAST: Plenty of Etihad First Apartment Award Space Open Abu Dhabi-New York JFK for 3 Passengers

Back in May when Etihad announced that their Airbus A380 would be serving New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, award space was wide open.

Etihad currently has the single best first class product in the sky on their A380. Emirates, for instance, features four seats across on the upper deck of their A380s. Etihad has two seats across — a single aisle — in that same space. Like Emirates, as a first class passenger on Etihad’s Airbus A380 you can have a shower in the sky as well.

For awhile Etihad stopped making award seats available on the New York JFK – Abu Dhabi route. It was still possible to secure awards London – Abu Dhabi and occasionally from Abu Dhabi to Australia. Recently they started releasing seats very close to departure (e.g. within a day of travel).

Now Etihad is releasing award space in advance again in first class on the A380 for Abu Dhabi-New York JFK. And when they do there’s as many as 3 seats available.

Interestingly the space appears to be available in advance for Abu Dhabi – New York JFK and not New York JFK – Abu Dhabi.

Here’s a search for 2 passengers Abu Dhabi – New York JFK:

Dates on the calendar showing “235,330” have 2 first class award seats available on a single flight for that route, although some dates will only have that flight available on the Jet Airways 777 and not the Airbus A380.

When the A380 is available, there may be as many as 3 First Apartment seats bookable as saver awards. And that’s out of a cabin with only 8 First Apartment seats.

It’s not available every day, sbut it exists and across the schedule.. on January 7 as of this writing, in late January, in February, in May and June, etc.

Here are searches for three first class award seats showing availability every day for a week in First Apartment in April, June and November. July through September award space for 3 exists but isn’t as good.

First Apartment award space this good isn’t likely to last, so act quickly.

Booking Etihad Awards

Etihad first class awards are bookable using their own miles (Citi ThankYou Rewards transfer to Etihad) and of course with American AAdvantage miles.

American Airlines charges:

  • 90,000 miles each way between the US and “Middle East and Indian Subcontinent” which means to Abu Dhabi and also beyond to other destinations in the Middle East, in India, and surrounding region including the Maldives.

  • 40,000 miles each way between Europe and “Middle East and Indian Subcontinent” so you could fly Amsterdam – London (British Airways) – Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380) – Delhi (Etihad first class) for those miles.

  • 60,000 miles each way between Abu Dhabi and Sydney and between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, where they offer A380 service.

Those prices will be going up for new bookings made March 22 onward. So now is a great time to use your AAdvantage miles for the Etihad First Apartment!

Search Etihad’s website for Guest First space. That’s the ‘low level’ space, and American AAdvantage generally has access to that space.

Note that some routes feature the Airbus A380 and other aircraft, only the A380 has the First Apartment so pay attention. (Although regular first is great, too.)

Once you find the space on the Etihad website, call American Airlines to book that space (you cannot search the space at, and you cannot book it there, fortunately American will waive the telephone booking fee).

For the past several weeks American agents have had difficulty seeing available Etihad seats. The workaround is to call American’s reservations number in Australia because what they see seems to match what Etihad shows on their website.

(HT: Adam D.)

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. Gary, where is the post from the other day that allowed us to ask you anything travel related? I can’t find it anywhere and was going to check to see if you answered my question yet. I even did a search with the key words “ask me anything” and all I got was a post from Sept. 4th.

  2. Wish AA made LAX-JFK awards available in J or F.

    While I’d love to try the A380, not sure if it’s worth the transit through JFK vs. LAX-AUH nonstop on Etihad. I might do it if I didn’t have to pay for a positioning flight.

    That would be a good article, how AA partners are available, but no connections on their own metal (at least not from the West Coast).

  3. I’ve tried calling, but the agent isn’t showing availability on any dates that show GuestFirst availability online.

  4. Also, I asked the agent to check every date over a month-long period for any availability, and she said nothing was coming up. (Even if the dates I was looking at got snapped up, it seems highly unlikely that all of the availability showing online would have been booked.)

  5. @Scott America. I noticed the availability before this posted, so didn’t read through the whole post. Thanks for the tip–I’m about to get on the phone again!

  6. Etihad also has good (business) availability from DUB on A332s – a return to AUH is $34 + 60,000 miles. Saves a decent amount of cash if you’re base is DUB or if you’re trying to avoid UK APD.

    I booked DUB-LHR-AUH (F on A380) – DUB (J on A332) for $130 + 70,000 AA miles as I couldn’t get F on A380 both ways for my dates.

  7. I called about AUH-JFK for 11/12. Its showing as available online but AA said they didn’t have availability.

  8. Also on hold with australia call centre- anyone know if there is an elite number down under or just the regular line?

  9. I waited about ~30 min and got through.

    Unfortunately it seems like they are blocking some of the availability based on your origin. AUH-JFK had 2 seats available, but when I added MLE-AUH, only 1 seat was available. If I wanted to book them as separate awards, I could get the space for 2 but then of course it increases the cost in miles.

  10. Waited on hold for 35 minutes – was able to process the booking in 5 minutes. Super nice agent – telephone fees waived. Thanks Gary!!

  11. AUH-JFK on hold. The agent said that if I wanted to add MLE-AUH to the itinerary, in any class of service, I would have to book the ticket as a separate award.

    Also, a silly question–if the reservation was held through the Australian customer service line, does that mean I have to call Australia again to ticket? Or can I complete the reservation through the American customer service number?

  12. Now I know why I can’t get through. I noticed this myself this morning and called a few times and kept sitting on hold. Then I check the blog and see it’s the top post. All makes sense now.

    Prolly been on hold for 30min hopefully not much longer.

  13. Booked two for MLE-AUH-JFK by calling Australia. About 45 minutes on hold. US hold times were even longer so didn’t bother.

    Oddly enough my preferred date was available then disappeared, so I got the day before. Agent seemed to think it was snagged right as she was booking it.

  14. Wasn’t too long after 30min I got through. Already had a J award so rebooked myself one day later (which was my ideal date anyways) and into F. $150 fee was waived after the agent called her service desk (same origin, destination and airline). They have to refund miles and taxes and then recollect so technically ticket is on-request then should be ticketed within 2-3 days she said.

  15. Gary, I looked at the “ask anything” post and didn’t find a reply to my question. I will post it again here and please answer it. If you don’t know the answer just let me know. Here goes– I have an award ticket in Biz class on United for LAX-SYD and was wondering how to go about getting it changed to a 1st class ticket. Right now there’s no saver space available although there’s been 6 empty seats since I booked the original ticket. I read somewhere that you can call in and pay the $200 change fee and give them the extra 10k miles and be put on a waitlist for the seat. Is that really true? I don’t want to go through the hassle and sound like an idiot if this is something that is not possible. The flight is coming up on Jan. 19th and I wonder if you think they will open up a saver seat or not and if there’s a way to be notified if and when a 1st class seat opens up. Thanks in advance.

  16. Hi Gary,

    I am trying to book one way from India to US but there is no availability of enough seats from India-AUH. So, I will need to book India-AUH on business class and AUH to US in first class.

    What would be best way to book it? Will I need to spend 67.5K + 90K aa miles for each segment or can it be part of single reservation under same PNR?

    When both segments shows different availability in different coach class, how does award booking work?

    Also, what would be cancellation policy for such award bookings?


  17. @ alex, did they charge you for 1 award or 2 award for your mle-auh-jfk? I was charged 2 awards, economy from mle-auh and first class from auh-jfk.

  18. @shah – single reservation, 90k miles per person one way

    cancellation/redeposit is $150 for the first passenger and $25 each additional on the same reservation

  19. Thanks very much for posting both this news and the very useful suggestion to try the Australia AA line, Gary. A great holiday gift!

    Tried a couple of times via the domestic AA Executive Platinum line but neither of the very competent customer service reps could find the F availability I’d found at the Etihad site. Then skyped the Australia line (where, for what it’s worth, the CSR I reached was actually located in Fiji). I had to wait on hold for about 45 minutes before reaching a CSR. Then the very nice CSR found and booked what I wanted without any problem. She said I’d get an email with the ticket confirmation in 2-3 days.

    For those who have not been through this drill before, it can save some potential hassles down the line if you get both the American and Etihad record locators (which are different) at the time of booking.

  20. I’ve been stalking the A380 on the JFK-AUH route for months and months. Your email was right on time. I called the US Advantage desk and they could not see availability in first class. So I put on hold Qatar business class JFK-DOH-MLE, since I didn’t see any awards departing JFK on the Etihad website. I then called Australia. Agent said the lines were on fire for Etihad tickets. He immediately booked/put on hold my MLE-AUH-JFK for 90k miles, one award ticket for 2 people. On a lark I asked about JFK-AUH-MLE and HE HAD IT on BOTH A380 & 777 for the JFK-AUH leg. Of course we selected the A380. Again, one award for 90k miles each for 2 people. We are soooooo very very very excited. Mahalo Gary, couldn’t have done it without you!! 🙂

  21. @gloria wong

    I paid 180k for 2 people MLE-JFK, so each passenger was one ticket at 90k. I’m not familiar with AA as much, it hasn’t deducted miles yet so I’m a little worried as its been 9 hours.

  22. Thank you so much, Gary. I had a confirmed CX F for this weekend. After reading your post, I tried my luck with EY and voila, I just put a SGN-AUH-JFK on hold. For the record, the US AA Exec Plat desk agent I talked with was able to see all the award space on EY.

  23. When I checked availability, I see 3 first seats under guest seats but when calling AA, they don’t see them. Any idea?

  24. Wow people here are stupid. Read the full post Call the Australian number, stop asking stupid questions

  25. @Alt you need to call the Australian number (though some people report success with UK) in order to book. American appears unable to see much Etihad first class award space, I believe there are ‘point of sale’ restrictions in place on Etihad’s side that block the US calls centers from booking.

  26. I originally had a HKG-EWR flight on CX J booked in April.
    After I saw this, I was able to call AUS number & book HKG-AUH in J and AUH-JFK in F.
    Very excited!

    Thanks so much for posting this!

  27. Should have called last night! Made a list of 5 possible dates and when I woke up this morning, 3 of the 5 were were showing as sold out. Have a pair of seats on the 5 day hold now and seeing what I can build around it.

    FWIW, I called the UK number and got through in under 5 minutes.

  28. I don’t see any availability from New York city to Abu Dhabi for the whole of Jan, Feb, March? I am I doing something wrong?

  29. @Kieran – I didn’t see availability either for JFK-AUH. I just asked for it when speaking with the Australian AAdvantage desk and they had it. I was originally prepared to take Qatar JFK- Maldives then Etihad on the return. I’m now going round trip on Etihad and JFK-AUH-JFK portions on the A380 in first class. It cannot hurt to ask. Good luck!!

  30. I called to book new dates and I was surprised that instead of 90K, I was told that it will be 115K for Business/First combo (India-AUH business, AUH-JFK First)

    For booking I made in 2015, it was 90K.

    Can anyone confirm similar scenario where one part of trip is in business and AUH-JFK is in First and fare is more than First class award fare?

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