I have 2 Etihad A380 rides coming up this week, and I’m giddy like a kid in the candy shop. One of these awards was booked months ahead of time, and the other – yesterday.
On Sunday, I am headed to Abu Dhabi in Etihad’s pearl business class from New York with my dad for our annual father/daughter trip (yes, you can expect a “Dad Post”). We’ll be spending 5 days in UAE and then coming home on the same aircraft in the First Class Apartments.
Our original plans included flying Turkish Airlines’ business class from Boston to Istanbul, and then continuing on to Amman to make the drive to Petra before heading to Dubai; however, we realized we’d be trying to squeeze way too much in such a short amount of time.
With the big American Airlines devAAluation just days away (March 22), I figured it would be best to simply “put those miles to good use” and see what was available at the last minute. To my surprise, there were 7 business class seats available on Etihad on the date we were looking to fly!
Finding the Award Availability
Etihad awards are bookable with American Airlines miles and the current pricing is as follows:
- Economy: 45,000 miles each way
- Business Class: 67,500 miles each way
- First/Apartments: 90,000 miles each way.
If you have a Citi AAdvantage credit card, you’ll get 10% back in redeemed miles (up to 10,000 a year), so that’s an automatic 10,000-mile savings right there.
If you try to search for Etihad awards on American Airlines, you won’t find anything because Etihad award space is not searchable there. Instead, head on over to the Etihad Guest website to look for availability.
Input your dates and class of service, and if your results show a “GuestSeat” option, that means that there is space available that’s bookable with partner airlines, such as American Airlines.
Booking The Award
Once you find availability, you’ll have to call American Airlines and book the award over the phone. Since the Etihad awards are not bookable online with American Airlines, the agent will not charge you a phone booking fee. The taxes on the awards are super low ($7 in my case!).
If you want to lock in the 90,000 first class awards/67,500 business class awards before March 22, do know that American Airlines allows free date changes as long as the origin and destination both remain the same.
With that being said, you can book a speculative award and then change the date as many times as you want if space should become available on desired travel dates.
As an example, you could even book a first class award from JFK-IAD (on the 787)-AUH and then switch it to JFK-AUH (on the A380) if a seat opens up.
Booking The Extras
The most amazing thing about flying Etihad as a business or first class passenger is that it comes with a lot of “extras” and they really do live up to their “Flying Reimagined” slogan compared to most airlines (especially for business class passengers).
Business class and first class passengers get black-car airport transfers to and from your destination (In the US it’s up to 60-70 miles driven distance to and from the airport). Once you land in Abu Dhabi, your chauffeur will drive you anywhere within UAE, including Dubai, which is about 90-minute drive in itself.
After you book your award, ask the American Airlines agent to provide you with your Etihad Airways PNR so that you can book your chauffeur.
In my case, since there are 3 of us traveling together in business class, they’re sending us a Cadillac SUV to take us to JFK. Not bad…
Another great thing about flying with Etihad is that the lounge experience is supposed to be exceptional. What I’m most looking forward to is this on my way home:
Luckily I am fortunate enough to not need a wet shave, so I guess I will settle for a blow out ;).
Oh and Dad is most excited about not having to pack pajamas because unlike most airlines, Etihad provides pajamas for business class passengers too. However, last time he forgot to pack pajamas with the expectation of receiving them in flight, this happened. Here’s me hoping that will never be the case again!
Have you booked Etihad awards with your American Airlines miles before? If so, how was your experience?