Wide Open Etihad First Class Awards For 8 Months Of 2023

Etihad first class award space is fairly open for two passengers on the Washington Dulles – Abu Dhabi route from April through November, 2023. The easiest way to book these seats is through Air Canada Aeroplan. The opportunity was first spotted by Thrifty Traveler‘s premium airfare deal alert service.

The DC route isn’t an Airbus A380 (‘first apartment’), but it’s the one where first class awards have been the most prevalent, and the airline does offer a true first class suite.

Aeroplan’s awards are distance-based. DC – Abu Dhabi runs 130,000 miles each way in first class. You can add stopovers for additional miles, which is an option I love – spend some time in the Mideast and continue on to India, the Maldives, or elsewhere.

  • Aeroplan is a transfer partner with American Express, Chase, Capital One and Bilt
  • There are no fuel surcharges, and you can combine with other partners (such as United to fly to and from Washington Dulles domestically, Air India or Asian carriers, or even other Aeroplan partners in the Gulf).

Booking Etihad awards has long been a pain through AAdvantage. AAdvantage charges 115,000 miles each way whether flying to the Mideast or Indian Subcontinent, but I haven’t tried ringing their foreign call centers to see whether the space is bookable for them.

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. whats the best way to search availability? As I remember, the AA site only shows economy on Etihad.

  2. @ECR12 – You can search with Aeroplan. Recently, even the call centers abroad have had trouble seeing the award space.

  3. @ Gary — Thanks for the reminder. Saw the email while out shopping and had already forgotten. Booked 2 r/t for MLE next year! I think that’s the most points I’ve ever redeemed at once, which I suppose might be a good thing. My spouse has threatened to start buying merchandise with our miles!

  4. @ Gary — EY’s Studio business class is so nice that I decided to book business with AA miles instead. Costs 57% less. This is a case where the extra miles are simply not worth the cost. Hope my spouse doesn;t buy an toasters while I’m not looking.. 🙂

  5. How is Etihad these days? Is it still a “top tier” product in Biz and First, or have they slipped in the last 2-3 years?

  6. Booked two IAD-AUH-JNB in late August at 140k Aeroplan points per person. I had transferred a heap of chase UR points with the 30% bonus earlier in November, so I’m fine with high redemption rate. Haven’t traveled in Etihad F since 2016 (LAX -AUH-MLE). Looking forward to experiencing the F Dreamliner product.

  7. @DC Perfectly adequate. The F product to DC is very nice and I find it more than worthy. Add in the simplicity of originating or transferring at AUH (and the U.S. immigration clearance there) and it’s quite nice. The J is perfectly fine. I would rate it somewhere in-between Qatar (at the top) and EK (below..especially if stuck on the 777). I used EY a lot this year and have some new bookings right away in early 2023 – so clearly I have no issues with the product. And I am picky.

    Of course, nothing beats EK F. But at the current redemption rates and fuel charges why bother. It’s not THAT great.

  8. I booked for this May in July before their devalue. It’s been there forever. I booked IAD to AUH in F and then AUH to ICN in J with a stopover for two days in AUH to experience the Al Maha Resort. Found it for two people and used my 50k aeroplan certs from the credit card sign on bonus to book.

  9. This has been wide open for quite some time. It’s simply too expensive now for the average person to redeem for it on a whim. At 140k miles+ taxes we’re talking about ~$2k each way.

  10. I can not find any availibity on Aeroplan, American or Etihad for 1 in first Class.
    Is the true or phantom award space?
    My ideal dates would be between May 1 and May 7 of 2023.
    Thanks for any help.

  11. @Omar. Fair point. $2k each way for first class or even business long haul on etihad however is a great deal in my opinion.

    @andrew With the July devaluation most F. Class awards went up by 10k. Using chase certificates does help.

    I bought two one-way flexible first class awards from iah to Auh (stopover), and business from auh to JNB to CPT (last leg with SAA). The latter segments don’t offer bookable first class

    Each flexible ticket with a stopover was 163k points plus $100 each. Total was 226k with two chase certificates.

    I bought points at the Last aeroplan Point sale at about 1.3c/mile, so my out of pocket cost for 226k points was $2940 and another $200 in taxes for two very long segments in premium cabins.

  12. how do you add on the united segment prior? and how do you add a stopover? can both be done online or do you have to call? and can both be done on the same one-way itinerary?

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