How to book Etihad flights with American Airlines miles

One of the mantras in the miles and points collecting world is “earn and burn.” In other words, don’t hold on to your miles, earn them and spend them as quickly as you can. I’m not one who subscribes to that model, however. I believe in earning miles as quickly and easily as possible, and THEN once you have enough for the trip that you want, you can redeem them the flight of your dreams.

For quite some time now, I’ve been accumulating American Airlines miles, wondering what we were going to do with them. American partners with the airlines of the OneWorld alliance (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc) but the availability and fees associated with traveling some of those airlines can be prohibitive.

If you’re looking to fly domestically, you can absolutely use your miles on American Airlines. Award space can be hard to come by, but 25,000 miles for a domestic trip is enough to make some people happy. Here at No Mas Coach! we want something a little more… unique.

Enter, Etihad

Etihad, in my opinion, is one of the best uses out there of your American Airlines AAdvantage miles. I mean, after all, how many other ways are there that exist to be able to use your miles to fly in an “apartment?”

For only 62,500 AAdvantage miles, you can fly from Europe to anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent. Flying from the US to Abu Dhabi seems to be a challenge because there is an issue finding space on the flight. 8 hours in an apartment is a deal.

Why the Apartment?

Where else are you going to get an ottoman, a sofa, a recliner, a vanity mirror, a shower, a 24 inch TV, an in seat minibar, an on demand personal chef, and a community bar on an airplane for this price? It’s a heck of a deal!

Etihad dining together

Etihad dining together

 

Etihad Bed

Etihad Bed

 

Etihad First Class Apartment

Etihad First Class Apartment

How to Book?

First you’ve got to find availability, which means you’ve got to search the Etihad website for the space. Go here to book the flights, and then scroll down to this box:

Etihad Booking

Etihad Booking

Once you choose your from and to, you’ll come to the following screen. AH, before I go on.. you should know that the majority of the flights to JFK (what most people want to redeem for) are often not available. So if you’re starting there, then look elsewhere 🙂

Etihad Booking 2

I’ve highlighted a couple important parts to note. First, you need to find “Guest First” availability. That’s where you’ll find the seats you can book with your AAdvantage miles.

Also, you’ll notice on the top that on some days have a cost that is almost 5x as much. Those days don’t have any space available, so don’t even bother!

Once you find your flight…

You won’t be able to book this online, and you won’t be able to do it on the phone with the USA call center. It’s a waste of time and efforts. You’ll end up getting in a fight because you KNOW there is space but the “supervisor” will say that nothing is there. Just avoid.

Instead, call Australia! They’ll be able to find the space. Their number is +61 291011948. Once you do, you’ll be able to book with miles just as normal! 

Sweet Spots

I think one of my favorite sweet spots is from Europe to Middle East/Indian Subcontinent. Why is that so important? Because it includes… wait for it… the Maldives!

You can also use this to go all the way to Australia from Europe for only 115,000 miles. Think about taking the Apartment from London to Abu Dhabi (8 hours) and then Abu Dhabi to Australia (14 hours). That’s a heck of a lot of time! 

For those naysayers that say there isn’t any space available, it’s wide open! Here’s one date I found in October just randomly searching…

Etihad Australia

You won’t have to pay the fees that you see on Etihad’s website, as American will charge you significantly less. That’s a win!

How to get AAdvantage Miles?

Currently the AAdvantage credit cards on the personal side are both offering 50,000 miles on signup and the business version offers 60,000 miles. 

I don’t have the business card yet, so I’m taking “advantage” of the offer to get a free one-way ticket.

If you scored both the personal AND the business, after some basic minimal spending, you would have enough miles to get a round trip ticket to and from the Maldives from Europe!

 

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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6 Comments

  1. Yawn, flyertalk regurgitation

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    • Yawn, boring comment regurgitation 🙂

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  2. While earn and burn works for some people, I don’t think that it’s really the best use of miles in many situations. If you -must- use a specific type of miles for an award, then the chances of that redemption being the best value around are not great. Better to have a few options. You’ll get hit with devaluations, but that should be offset by cheaper award prices, and you have more options on dates, connections, and which airline or alliance to fly.
    As to Etihad availability, any idea if there’s availability to or from the US in First Class either far in advance or near departure date?

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    • I looked and I couldn’t find any. That’s why we decided to head to London using Delta miles and then connect from there 🙁

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  3. Unfortunately, you can not redeem 115,000 AAdvantage miles for LHR-AUH-SYD. AA does not allow this routing. You have to either transfer in Asia or Doha, and if you transit through Doha, only Qatar to Qatar flights are allowed. (which means you can not travel with BA to Doha and then QR to Sydney.)

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    • Good eye, you’re right! Stupid routing rules…

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