Use American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for Etihad First Class
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Hilary Stockton
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Use American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for Etihad Diamond First Suites

 

With all the gloomy news about devaluations, from Changes to the British Airways Executive Club to the effective devaluation of American Express Membership Rewards points and most recently the on-again, off-again devaluation of Hilton HHonors points, it's nice to have some good news to share: you can now use your American Airlines miles to book Etihad Airways flights, including First Class awards. 

Etihad's Diamond First Suite is one of the nicest first class products, and for that matter, their business lie-flat seat that they offer on  A340-500, A340-600, A330-200 and B777-300ER flights is also excellent. They even offer Etihad Chauffeur, a complimentary limousine service for Diamond First and Pearl Business guests to and from a number of airports, including New York JFK, London LHR, Toronto, etc. If Abu Dhabi is your final destination, the service provides service from the airport to anywhere in the Emirates. Check out this video tour of Diamond First Suites:

 

Now, you might be thinking--I have no trips planned to Abu Dhabi or the Middle East, so why should I care? Well, the nice thing is that Etihad flies to some pretty nice destinations from Abu Dhabi--think the Maldives and Seychelles award travel (although note that Africa would require a second award due to AA award rules) in addition to Johannesburg, Cape Town, Casablanca, Alexandria, Istanbul, Kiev, Moscow, Delhi, Mumbai, and many others:

Use AA Miles for Etihad First Class to the Maldives

 

You can also combine multiple American Airlines partners on an award, say taking British Airways to Europe then Etihad from a European gateway to Abu Dhabi although frankly I'd be most interested in trying one of Etihad's Diamond First Suites from NYC to Abu Dhabi, with an onward flight in Pearl Business Class to Male, Maldives. Here's American Airline's Partner Award Chart.

If you managed to pick up 150K or more AA miles from the AAdvantage Citi cards before that deal died, you're well on your way to the 180K AA miles required for a First Class flight to the Maldives. Or, you can redeem 135K AA miles for business class. Even if you missed the expired Citi deal, you can still earn AAdvantage miles by applying for Citi AAdvantage cards on the Best Travel Credit Cards page

We'll be adding this Etihad option to our post Tips for Booking Award Tickets to the Maldives, but in the meantime, I thought it would be useful to some to see the search process.

1. Go to Etihad Guest Redemption

You'll want to go to http://www.etihad.com/en/plan-and-book/book-redemption-flights/ to be able to search for awards even if you don't have an Etihad Guest account. Note that only Guest Seat space is available for AAdvantage award redemption; OpenSeat awards for more miles are only available to Etihad Guest frequent flyer members.

 

2. Enter in Your Search Parameters

Enter in your origin and destination parameters. The first time I did this I made the mistake of not going segment by segment, and just plugging in NYC and Male; don't do this. Instead, go segment by segment, so for NYC-Male, break that into New York to Abu Dhabi (NYC-ADH) then a search for Abu Dhabi to Male (which will be in business class only; no first class award). Here's the result for NYC-Abu Dhabi

Use AA Miles for Etihad First Class NYC-Abu Dhabi (AUH)

 

And for Abu Dhabi to Male:

Use AA Miles for Etihad First Class Abu Dhabi-Male Maldives

 

3. Now that you've found availability, you'll need to call American Airlines to actually ticket the award. AAdvantage no longer charges a phone booking fee for partner award redemptions that cannot be booked online, so you should not be charged a fee. Also see our post Comparing Airline Award Ticketing Fees and How to Avoid Them

So this is a great new option to have if the Maldives (or Seychelles, or other place Etihad flies) is on your bucket list!

Related posts:

Maximizing Awards Using American AAdvantage Miles

Etihad First Class Review

Best American AAdvantage Miles Bonus Offers Available Now

How to Find Star Alliance Award Seats

How to Book a "Crazy" Award Routing

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Comments
Picture?type=large Ehtesham Q. commented 19 Oct 2011

What a wonderful news. Indeed this opens new doors to so many bottlnecks. I was wondering what differece it will make if Etihad becomes one world partner. I mean mileagewise. Do we still need the same amount of aa miles for award redemption?

Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Oct 2011

@Ehtesham Hmm, I think that's a big "if" since I haven't seen any mention that Etihad could become a Oneworld partner :) but if it did, that would open up the distance based Oneworld award chart, where mileage required is often comparable to a regular partner award, yet allows as many stopovers as you can fit into the itinerary (see http://travelsort.com/blog/tips-for-planning-complex-awards-with-multiple-destinations)

But at least for now, you'll need to refer to http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/aadvantageAllPartnerChart.jsp since Etihad isn't a Oneworld partner.

@Inray, referring to the link above, it's 90K in coach roundtrip, since the Maldives is included in Indian Subcontinent/Middle East in this chart.

 

Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Oct 2011

Inray, Sorry about that! Yes, C is biz, I misread your query; you probably already saw it in the chart, but business roundtrip would be 135K.

Picture?type=large Greg P. commented 19 Oct 2011

Great post.  I appreciate your step by step instructions on booking an award through the Etihad website. Thanks.

It looks like availability is fairly good as well.  In your blog you mention that you could go JFK-AUH - Istanbull among others.  Would Istanbull still be at the higher award level of 180K AA miles, or would it be at the 135K Europe level. 

I would love to try those first suites.

Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 Oct 2011

Thanks Greg, glad it's helpful! Turkey is considered to be part of Europe, so it would be 125K AA miles for a roundtrip to Istanbul in First Class, or 100K in Business. I'll add a link to AA's award chart in the post. 

Picture?type=large Ehtesham Q. commented 22 Oct 2011

I am confused and surprised on one thing. According to AA chart the amount of miles required for an award between US to Indian subcontinent is 90k miles in first class. Now is that one way only? Etiahd miles for an etihad award for the same route is 180k. This I presume is a return award. Am I right? I am just trying to figure out which strategy will be more economical. In December I am flying this route in Y with the family and wanted to know where should I pool my miles for future such awards.

Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 22 Oct 2011

Hi Ehtesham, yes, in the AA chart, the amounts listed are one-way; so 90K each way for first class, or 180K for roundtrip in first class. I'm actually seeing more miles required by Etihad for a first class rt award NYC-Abu Dhabi (~220K), and even more NYC-Male via Abu Dhabi rt (~280K) using Etihad's Mileage Calculator, so I'd say AA is where you want to earn your miles, but perhaps I'm missing something.

Picture?type=large Liam B. commented 08 Oct 2012
Coming late to this post...just want to check if I am reading this right.....I am based in Dublin so Europe to Middle East is showing 40Kx2 for a First class flight to ME. That seems to be great value for such a good product. What would you recommend in how to book to Seychelles ?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 09 Oct 2012
Liam, Yes, it would be 40K AA miles each way for First Class on Etihad, e.g. LHR-AUH. The problem with trying to get to the Seychelles is that it will be two separate awards, since you cannot get to Africa (which for AA includes Seychelles) by any third region, except Europe, resulting in 2 separate awards: LHR-AUH and AUH-SEZ. And AA's distance based award requires two oneworld partners, so if you went that route, you'd need to fly more than just Etihad, e.g. BA to AUH, then Etihad AUH-SEZ. Also note that Etihad's AUH-SEZ route is Economy and Business only, no First. So you'd be looking either at 115K AA miles total for an all business class itinerary via AUH on AA distance award chart, or 150K AA miles roundtrip for First to AUH then Biz to SEZ, also on distance award chart. At least once Qatar finishes oneworld integration in 12-18 months you'll have another partner option for the distance award.
Picture?type=large Dale R. commented 29 Mar 2013
Hi, Can you use Etihad under an AA award for flights from Europe to Australia and vice versa - Australia to Europe? This is 80K in first of course and Etihad would be a great option. You don't mention Australia though so wasn't sure if allowed. Etihad definitely flies here but whether you can use them is another matter altogether. Dale.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 May 2013
Dale, sorry for the delay, just saw this--yes, you can book Etihad First Class one way Europe to Australia or the reverse for 80K AA miles each way. As with all Etihad awards booked with AAdvantage miles, you'll need to call in to book.
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