• Anatomy of an Award: India to United States in Etihad and American Airlines First Class for 90,000 AA Miles
  • Trip Report: Etihad Business Class from Chennai to Abu Dhabi
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Lounge, Abu Dhabi (Including Shave and Massage)
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Seat, Suite, Vanity, Amenity Kit, Pajamas, Bed, Sleeping
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Food, Drink, and Onboard Lounge
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Shower and Bathroom
  • Trip Report: Etihad First Class Apartment from Abu Dhabi to New York: Service and Wrap Up
  • Trip Report: American Airlines A321 First Class from New York to Los Angeles

I have broken my 15 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to New York into four parts because I had over 200 photos and several videos from the flight. This section covers roughly the first half of the flight and my review of the suite and related amenities.

Etihad 103
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – New York (JFK)
Depart: 3:20 AM on January 27, 2016
Arrive: 9:10 AM
Duration: 14 hours, 50 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2H (First Class)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.33 PMThis is it. This was my palace for 15 hours from Abu Dhabi to New York.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.51 PMI was the last First Class passenger to board about 30 minutes before the scheduled 3:20 AM departure. I was met at the door with a smile and escorted to my seat in the second row of First Class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.25.58 PM

Etihad has nine First Class Apartments on its A380s spread across four-and-a-half rows  in the front of the upper deck.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.08.03 PM

The other half of the first row, across from a First Class Apartment, is the living room of the Residence, which has its own bathroom with shower, and bedroom. The Residence was empty for my flight, so the living room was used for storing carry ons.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.34.27 PM
Residence Living Room, Filled with Carry Ons for My Flight

The nine First Class Apartments alternate between seats near the aisle or seats near the window and forward-facing seats or backward-facing seats. I had a forward-facing seat near the aisle. Next time I would choose a seat near the window for better views during take off and landing. Those seats are lettered A and K.

The Suite

The First Class Apartment is huge and easily the best flying suite in the world. Broadly, it consists of a large seat facing a television, a couch that becomes your bed, and a vanity. The couch/bed takes up the entire width from aisle to window. The seat takes up about half that width.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.03 PM

The Seat

When seated, you can use the couch as an ottoman to kick up your feet.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.15 PMNext to the seat is a touch screen remote control and an area large enough to set a drink and some dates.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.21 PMOn the other side of the seat is another touch screen to control your seat and the suite’s lights. Below that are physical buttons, yet another way to control the seat’s position and windows.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.41 PMThe seat can be reclined, made softer or firmer, and even has a massage feature. I didn’t test any of this out because I spent most of my time in the bed.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.52 PMI was only in the seat for take off, landing, and my main meal. While it was very large and plenty comfortable, I prefer to relax and work lying down.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.51 PM

The Bed

The bed in the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is 6’8″ long and 2’6″ wide. It is very large and comfortable. You can ask for a turndown service any time, including before take off. I knew I would want to sleep as soon as we took off, so I asked for and received a turn down while we were still on the ground.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.33 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.57 PMThe most unique feature of the bed is that you can remove part of the barrier between your apartment and the one next door if you are traveling with a companion.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.25 PM

While you cannot exactly snuggle, you can enjoy some pillow talk or a good night kiss. (Compare this to Suites Class on the Singapore A380 where the divider can be completely removed creating a double bed for two.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.36 PMThe bed has a mattress pad, bedding, a blanket, a large pillow, and a medium pillow. The bed was ideal for sleep, and I immediately conked out for the first half of the flight.

Because my bed was made at take off, I actually hopped in it during our ascent and tried to close the doors to fully enclose the suite. They wouldn’t stay shut, though, until we leveled off.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.22 PM

Even after I woke up, I spent most of my time in the bed, watching the television (which can swing out to be viewed in bed), using my laptop, and even getting breakfast in bed before landing.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.44 PM

While in the bed, there was another touch screen remote control within reach that I could use to control the television and call for service.

Storage

The suite has several storage areas, though none is big enough for a carry on bag. This is the main weakness of the suite.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.02 PM

For smaller, personal-item-sized bags like my laptop bag, there is ample storage under the couch/bed.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.08 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.27.28 PM

For other small things you want at hand like your computer or reading materials, there is storage within reach of your seat.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.42 PM

But your carry on will not fit in the suite for take off or landing, and there are no overhead bins. Instead, mine was taken and stored in the Residence’s living room since it was empty. When it was taken, I was asked whether I would need the bag back during the flight, and I didn’t. I assume if I had, it would have been brought back after take off to sit on the floor until landing. Certainly there was plenty of room for it there.

Amenties and Vanity

The Emirates A380 First Class Suite has a small vanity with a make up mirror. The Etihad A380 First Class Apartment has a full sized vanity, which is much more impressive. (So impressive in fact, that I had to feign indifference in this photo.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.21 PM

On one end of your couch, there is a small cabinet that you can open to reveal a three-part mirror. Inside is your amenity kit and some amenities.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.27 PMThe amenity kit actually contains only ear plugs and a sleeping aid that you are supposed to roll onto pulse points to relax yourself.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.17 PM

The rest of the amenities you’d normally find in an amenity kit line the vanity.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.31 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.37 PMOther amenities of the suite include noise-cancelling headphones…
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.15 PM

…which plug in via magnet not prongs…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.02 PM

…pajamas, and slippers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.52 PM

The PJs and slippers were very comfortable. I put the pajamas on before take off and took them off about 30 hours later when I woke up from a nap in Los Angeles.

Bottom Line & How You Can Book Your Own Etihad Apartment

I hope you enjoyed the tour of Apartment 2H on the Etihad A380.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.35.32 PMThe Etihad First Class Apartments are without a doubt the nicest, largest flying suites. Everything is meticulously designed for extreme comfort.

I love that the seat and bed are separate, so that you can have both ready at all times. I was very impressed by how the television was easily visible from either spot, and how each spot had a touch screen remote control.

I would suggest selecting a window seat for better views on take off and landing and to select two adjacent suites if traveling with a companion, so you can remove part of the partition between the suites while you sleep.

In May 2015, I booked my suite for 90,000 American Airlines miles + $39 (including Business Class from India to Abu Dhabi and American Airlines First Class from New York to Los Angeles.). The same award will cost 115,000 miles if booked March 22, 2016 or later. If you can book by March 21, you can lock in the current price for travel through February 2017.

You can even book this award at current prices if you have zero miles right now.

Get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Key Links:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

3

I am in the air flying the Etihad First Class Apartment on its A380 from Abu Dhabi to New York.

This is one of the best flights of my life, but “First Class” is a misnomer, since Etihad offers a three room “Residence” on the same flight, making my accommodation technically second class.

For a day, there was a 1% chance in my mind I’d be flying the Residence.

About two days before my flights, I finally sent a direct message on Twitter to American Airlines asking for my Etihad confirmation number, so I could select seats on my Etihad flights. This is standard procedure. You need to get the confirmation number of the operating airline from the airline whose miles you used to select seats.

When I called Etihad, I selected a seat from Chennai to Abi Dhabi (3A, but all the seats were equal to me) and asked for seat 4A or 4K on the Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles flight. The reason I wanted 4A or 4K is that they are forward facing window seats.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 7.28.08 AM

My back up plan was 3A or 3K, backward facing window seats.

Unfortunately the agent told me that not only were the seats I wanted taken, but all seats he could assign were taken. Unprompted, he said, “I’ll put in a request for seat 1A for you.”

“OK, thanks!” I said and hung up before he could look at the seating chart.

1A is The Residence, a three room suite.

Now, I knew my chances were very slim of being in The Residence, but I gave myself a 1% chance. Etihad had had some cancellations and delays to New York and Washington-Dulles because of Jonas, so I thought maybe people had changed their reservations and stacked up on my flight. If they all had confirmed seats in an Apartment and the Residence was open, maybe this guy requesting it for me would get it for me. 1% chance, like I said.

Any way, I showed up in Chennai and I got seat 2H printed on my boarding pass, a forward facing aisle seat. No big deal since most of the flight was in the dark, and I can sit by the window on my couch/bed if I want.

Full trip report coming soon!

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

The three best uses of ThankYou Points are:

  1. Transferring to Singapore miles to book Singapore Suites
    Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 6.56.37 PM
  2. Transferring to Singapore miles to book United First Class to Hawaii
  3. Transferring to Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights
Singapore Suites

Singapore Suites is inarguably one of the nicest First Class in the world. It is the only First Class where the two middle seats can have their barrier removed to form a single double bed, pictured above.

From the United States, you can book it from Los Angeles to Tokyo or Singapore and New York to Frankfurt or Singapore. Or you can book it within Asia/Pacific as part of a larger trip.

106,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles are enough for over 20 hours in Singapore Suites on two flights for one person or for two people to fly 6.5 hours from Singapore to Beijing in Suites together.

United First Class to Hawaii

It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 70,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one. See Guide to Booking United Flights to Hawaii with Singapore Miles for full details.

106,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles are almost enough for two roundtrips in First Class (120k) to Hawaii.

American Airlines Flights with Etihad Miles

The Etihad chart for flying American Airlines flights is almost exactly the same as American Airlines’ own chart for American Airlines flights including for off peak awards:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.31.05 PM
EO = Off Peak Economy, EP = Economy, B/F = Business, P = First

That means you could use 106,000 ThankYou Points for two roundtrips to Japan or Korea or a roundtrip in Business Class to Europe.

Last year we even saw a transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles that made these deals even better. For more info on booking American Airlines flights with Etihad miles and that transfer bonus, click here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

24

Let’s talk about how to use American Airlines miles for awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. American Airlines has the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far and some of its nicest partners fly these routes.

Etihad First Suite on 787
Etihad First Suite on 787. I have mine Booked for May.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, please use my links. The commission is what allows me to dedicate the time to writing this series.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

The Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is one very large region on the American Airlines award chart. It contains:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Turkmenistan
  • the United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan

The Partners for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Awards

As I noted in the post on American Airlines award routing rules, awards to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent must fly directly from North America to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent or can transit Europe. They cannot transit East Asia even though trips from the West Coast to India might be as convenient or more convenient via Asia.

American Airlines partners with direct flights to the Middle East or India from North America:

  • Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi)
  • Qatar Airways (Doha)
  • Jet Airways (Mumbai)

Other American Airlines partners with hubs in the region:

  • Gulf Air (Bahrain)
  • Royal Jordanian (Amman)

Plus any partner that flies between the United States and Europe or Europe and the Middle East can be potentially useful, so don’t forget about:

  • American Airlines
  • Airberlin
  • Qantas (London to Dubai)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • British Airways

Award space on American Airlines, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, and Qantas is searchable on aa.com. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Awards space on Iberia, Royal Jordanian, and Qatar is searchable on ba.com. Here’s how to search ba.com.

Award space on Gulf Air is searchable on Expert Flyer. Here’s how to search Expert Flyer.

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Award space on Jet Airways is searchable by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Pricing

From North America to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, American Airlines charges:

  • 45,000 miles one way in economy
  • 67,500 miles one way in Business Class
  • 90,000 miles one way in First Class

Compared to competitors, American charges fair prices. Compared to the rest of American’s outstandingly cheap award chart, these prices are unfortunately more expensive than I’d like. Ultimately though I have paid 90,000 miles for one way in Etihad First Class from Chennai, India to Los Angeles.

American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region.

Booking the Awards

To book 99% of Middle East and Indian Subcontinent awards, you need to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. You will not have to pay a phone fee since the award is not bookable online. I recommend searching award space on aa.com, ba.com, Expert Flyer, and etihad.com before calling and feeding the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight with award space instead of relying on the agent’s searching skill.

Routes

There are too many routes to cover all of them, so I’ll restrict myself just to the direct Etihad and Qatar flights from the United States the Middle East.

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi and from there throughout the region including 11 cities in India and five in Pakistan.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 6.57.44 PM

Etihad flights feature First, Business, and economy class.

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin.

Qatar flies from seven American cities to Doha and from there throughout the region including 12 Indian cities.Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 7.00.44 PM

Qatar’s flights to the United States do not feature First Class, just Business and economy.

In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

I realize I haven’t said much useful about the award space to the Middle East, but it is difficult to sum up space on dozens of routes across several airlines and cabins. Better to just tell you which airlines to start with and where to search that award space.

Bonus

Europe to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way in Business Class and 40,000 in First Class. There are some awesome products you can fly for those prices:

Bottom Line

American Airlines has amazing partners to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, topped by Etihad and Qatar.

Awards are pricier than most places on the American Airlines award chart at 45,000/67,500/90,000 miles one way in economy/Business/First. Awards must fly directly from North America to the region or connect in Europe. They cannot go via East Asia.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules, which are in effect until March 21, 2016. On March 21, 2016, you can book travel through February 16, 2017 that is “locked in” at current prices and will not be affected by the subsequent devaluation. Starting March 22, American Airlines will have a new worse award chart.

American Airlines miles are currently the most valuable airline miles for ultra-luxury awards because Delta and United devalued their award charts in 2014, but American’s has been the same for several years. For example, a roundtrip in First Class to Southeast Asia costs:

  • 135,000 American Airlines miles
  • 260,000 United miles on United partners
  • Delta miles cannot book First Class (160,000 Delta miles in Business Class)

That means you and a companion can travel to Bali or Bangkok in First Class with almost the same number of American Airlines miles (270,000) as one person using United miles would need (260,000).

What are six great ways to use the 106,000 American Airlines miles you’d have after meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® for ultra-luxurious First Class?

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

The Deals

I’ll give the miles price of a one way award because American Airlines allows one way bookings (we’ll cover that later), and I’ll give the price after a 10% rebate in parentheses. That’s because the American Airlines personal card offers 10% of the miles back on all American Airlines redemptions up to 100,000 miles redeemed per calendar year.

1. Cathay Pacific First Class for 67,500 (60,750) miles

Trip Report: New York to Hong Kong

You can book Cathay Pacific First Class one way for 67,500 American Airlines miles between the United States and Southeast Asia.

Cathay Pacific First Class is a throne…

IMG_0031

…that turns into a large and comfortable bed.

IMG_0051

Cathay Pacific First Class comes with some of the best food, fanciest wines and liquors, and most attentive service in the sky.

IMG_0045

And best of all, award space is widely available from the United States to Hong Kong and from there to the rest of Asia.

2. Etihad First Class for 40,000 (36,000) miles

Etihad First Class costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between Europe and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives. From the United States to those destinations is 90,000 miles.

Etihad First Class on its newest A380 has a couch that seats several people and a separate bed.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Etihad’s fully enclosed suites are the most spacious in the sky, and there’s a shower onboard that you can use in flight.

Award space is widely available on the A380 between London and Abu Dhabi and Sydney and Abu Dhabi. First Class award space between the United States and the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent is now available within a few days of departure. I booked Abu Dhabi to New York for later this month.

3. Qantas First Class for 40,000 (36,000) miles

Qantas First Class costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between London and Dubai. From the United States to Australia, the cost is only 72,500 miles on flights of over 14 hours!

Qantas First Class features an open suite that converts into a bed…

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM

…or a table for two.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Qantas First Class is widely available between London and Dubai, Dubai and Sydney, and London and Sydney for low mileage prices. It is not widely available between the United States and Australia, but there is some availability if you can plan your trip one year in advance.

4. Malaysia Airlines First Class for 70,000 (63,000) miles

Trip Report: Paris to Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia Airlines First Class on its A380 costs 70,000 miles between Kuala Lumpur and London.

Malaysia Airlines is a very large and comfortable seat that converts into an extremely long and wide bed.

The all-you-can-eat satay cart was the best food I’ve ever had in the sky.

And the attentive service–that included kneeling down to seat level for interactions–was way better than you’d ever get from a US-based airline.

Malaysia Airlines First Class is widely available between Kuala Lumpur and Europe.

5. Japan Airlines First Class for 62,500 (56,250) miles

Japan Airlines First Class is among the best in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 2.37.20 PM

It combines a mostly enclosed suite with a wide, fully flat bed and impeccable service and food.Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 2.37.30 PM

Japan Airlines First Class between the United States and Japan costs 62,500 American Airlines miles one way.

6. British Airways First Class for 50,000 (45,000) miles

British Airways First Class on the A380 from London to South Africa is only 50,000 miles. Between the United States and Europe, the price is only 62,500 miles. The A380 flies to Los Angeles and Washington-Dulles.

British Airways First Class is a partially enclosed seat that turns into a fully flat bed.

There are fuel surcharges when you use American Airlines miles to book British Airways–the only fuel surcharges for any bookings in this post–but if the schedule is convenient, they may be worth paying. British Airways First Class is moderately available between the United States and Europe and between London and the rest of the world.

Also check out First Class on the British Airways 787-9 from 40,000 (36,000) miles one way on a ten hour flight.

Bottom Line

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. You can earn these miles to redeem on the current chart with the current rules.

You can use these miles to book ultra-luxurious First Class awards on several American Airlines partners. Book by March 21, 2016 and fly by February 16, 2017 to get the prices quoted in this post. If you plan to book March 22 or later, read this post.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

22

Brussels airlines is a partner of Etihad Airlines, and this is the amazing award chart for roundtrip redemptions.

Etihad Brussels redemption chart

Coupled with the 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles until December 31, 2015, that would make a roundtrip between Brussels and New York 30,000 ThankYou Points in flat bed business, and 18,000 ThankYou Points in economy. Those deals are fantastic, so I figured some serious investigation was in order.

How to Book a Brussels Airlines Flight with Etihad Miles

To book Brussels Airlines flights with Etihad miles, first you have to search united.com for Saver award space on Brussels flights. Then you have to call Etihad to book.

  • You cannot search etihad.com for award space because it only displays Etihad flights.
  • You cannot book flights operated by other airlines that you find on united.com. Etihad partners with Brussels, not Brussels plus all its partners. If this confuses you, see There is No Transitive Property of Miles.

To search on united.com:

1. Fill out the Book Travel box on the home page of united.com, and be sure to check “search for award travel”:

united book travel box

2. Choose a flight that has Saver award space that us operated by Brussels.

united saver award 2

3. Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find on united.com.

4. To book that flight with Etihad miles, call Etihad at 888-8-ETIHAD. Tell the agent you want to book a Brussels Airlines flight and feed them the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found on united.com.

My Experience Booking a Brussels Airlines Flight with Etihad Miles

I easily found Saver award space for a roundtrip economy flight between New York and Brussels during the month of June on united.com. Availability was generally open for economy over the summer months, but no space was open in business. I took the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space I found and had to feed it to 10 different Etihad Guest representatives over the course of two days, because the agents were having a near impossible time seeing the same award space that I saw on united.com.

After some serious nudging (see specific details about what to say to Etihad Guest’s representatives below), the last representative I spoke to was able to find space, but oddly enough it was for a business seat on the same roundtrip between New York and Brussels that I originally found only in economy. He also told me that the total of all fees would be $94.70.

With conflicting information these results are obviously not definitive, but the experience was informative nonetheless. Below is a summation of what I know and what I still don’t know from spending two days on the phone with various representatives.

What I Do Know

  • You can only redeem Etihad miles on Brussels flights between New York and Brussels. Washington, DC is also listed as a destination for Brussels Airlines on Wikipedia, so I asked some of Etihad Guest’s representatives for availability and prices for roundtrip flights out of Washington, DC to Brussels guessing that perhaps it was left out of the chart on accident. Every representative that I asked had the same response: You cannot book flights in and out of Washington, DC, for no good reason other than it’s not listed in the redemption chart, and that is the rule.
  • You can redeem Etihad miles on a Brussels flight that originates in New York. It does not have to originate in Brussels like the redemption chart might convey.
  • One way awards are not permitted for Etihad redemptions on Brussels Airlines, only roundtrips (or as they phrase it in the footer of the chart: “Mileage Values in this table are for return journeys only. One way redemptions are not permitted”)
  • The mileage amounts on the redemption chart for roundtrips in economy and business are indeed 21,972 miles and 36,620 miles respectively– each of Etihad Guest’s representatives I spoke with confirmed that.
  • If you do manage to find award space over the phone, the award has to be booked out of New York to Brussels or vice versa to get the value, adding on other Brussels Airlines flights to either end is technically possible but will be like paying for two awards.
  • Don’t call Etihad Guest’s US offices (1 888 8 ETIHAD) as they were the least helpful. I recommend the UK office (+44 0345 6081225). More on that and other call strategies below.

What I Do Not Know, and Why I’m Not Sure

I am not sure that Etihad miles can actually book Brussels award space because:

  • The award space found by the final Etihad Guest representative (in Business Class from June 2 – 13) I spoke to from the UK office is not available on united.com:

business not available

no biz saver return

If Etihad miles can book Brussels space, I think there are no fuel surcharges on the award, but I am not sure. The Etihad Guest representative that found space for me in business on the flight from New York to Brussels quoted all taxes and fees to be $94.70. If you purchased the same ticket in cash, ITA matrix shows taxes of $94.70 and fuel surcharges (YQ and YR) of $873.50, meaning that he was quoting a price with no fuel surcharges.

ita matrix jfk to bru

That is a promising sign that the space is bookable with no fuel surcharges, but considering only one agent got that far, and I didn’t actually book, I am not ready to promise that there are no fuel surcharges on the award.

Advice for More Efficient Communication with Etihad Guest Representatives

The first step is choosing which Etihad Guest office to call. Their UK office (+44 0345 6081225) was the most helpful to me and this FlyerTalker. Etihad Guest’s US offices (+1 888 8 ETIHAD) were the least competent. I tried the offices in New York, Chicago and Washington DC at different times of day over the course of two days, to ensure a different pool of representatives, yet still met no one capable of actually helping me. The UAE office was slightly more informed and at least had the award searching software on their computers (unlike one of the representatives from the US!)– but still no dice when it came to availability.

The next and most important step is clearly communicating what you want them to do for you. Emphasize that you would like to redeem your Etihad miles on a Brussels Airlines flight, not an Etihad flight. Feed them the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found previously on united.com. Finally, before they put you on hold to search, suggest they put a “longsell query into their system”, or if they don’t understand that term suggest they do it manually or directly. A FlyerTalker suggested that choice of wording that ultimately led the final Etihad Guest representative I spoke with from the UK office towards the answer I wanted– availability!

Another point to mention is that the redemption chart lists mileage for roundtrips, as it is easy to make the assumption that the mileage amounts are for one ways because of the way chart is set up. I had more than one Etihad representative make that mistake. Nudge them towards the asterisk at the the bottom of the chart that reads “Mileage Values in this table are for return journeys only. One way redemptions are not permitted”.

What to Do If You Want to Book This Space

If you want to book New York to Brussels roundtrip in economy for 18,000 ThankYou Points or in Business Class for 30,000 ThankYou Points, here’s what you should do.

  1. Find award space on united.com.
  2. Call Etihad Guest’s UK office to confirm that an agent sees that space, and get him to quote total taxes and fees.
  3. Transfer ThankYou Points to Etihad miles before December 31.
  4. Hope award space doesn’t disappear during the approximately seven days it will take for the Etihad miles to post.
  5. When the miles appear, book the Brussels flights with Etihad miles.
  6. Report back your experiences in the comments of this post.
  7. I will send you $100 on PayPal from my own pocket to the first person to send me proof of the booking and steps to replicate it as a thanks for increasing the knowledge of the miles community.

Bottom Line

The best case scenario is that you can book a roundtrip Business Class flight to Europe without fuel surcharges for 30,000 ThankYou Points after the transfer bonus. That’s an incredibly awesome deal.

The worst case scenario is that all the flights mentioned are completely unbookable due to lack of availability and/or a disconnect between Etihad Guest and Brussels Airlines. That would be a bummer.

The middle scenario is that the award space is bookable, but with fuel surcharges, taking a lot of the value out of the deal.

We still don’t have proof that you can redeem Etihad miles on a Brussels Airlines flight.  But considering the range of scenarios, I do not think putting a bit of time and research into this yourselves would be a waste. And if that’s not enough incentive, prove that you booked it and tell the rest of us how to do it and I will gladly give you $100 out of my own pocket.

Happy hunting. 

This deal wouldn’t be possible without Citi ThankYou points. Luckily, ThankYou Points are easy to get. Through December 31, 2015, 1,000 ThankYou Points transfer to 1,250 Etihad miles.

  • Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.26.59 PM

 

With the miles earned from the sign-up bonuses of the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, you could have 106,000 ThankYou points to turn into 132,500 Etihad miles via the 25% transfer bonus. That’s more than enough to book four roundtrip trips to Europe in Business Class in a flat bed as long as Etihad can book Brussels Business Class.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

The ThankYou Premier’s offer has expired. See the current top credit card offers for free travel here.

Until December 31, 2015, you can book American Airlines flights to Europe, Brazil, Argentina, or Chile for 16,000 ThankYou Points or Japan for 20,000 ThankYou Points each way with no fuel surcharges.

Etihad Guest’s generous chart for American Airlines flights plus the current transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles combine for an unbeatable offer.

The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card each come with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. You can get both and meet both minimum spending requirements for 106,000 ThankYou Points, more than enough for three roundtrips to Europe during the current promotion.

I previously wrote about the Etihad Guest 25% transfer bonus from Citi Thankyou points through December 31, 2015. In that post, I explained that booking First and Business Class Etihad awards with Etihad miles is not a good deal. However there are 25 other airlines you can book with Etihad miles, American Airlines being one of them.

How to Book American Airlines Flights with Etihad Miles

To book American Airlines flights with Etihad miles, first you have to search aa.com for MileSAAver award space on American Airlines flights. Then you have to call Etihad to book.

  • You cannot search etihad.com for award space because it only displays Etihad flights.
  • You cannot book American Airlines flights that only have AAnytime award space with Etihad miles. Partners can only access each others’ Saver space.
  • You cannot book flights operated by other airlines that you find on aa.com. Etihad partners with American, not American plus all its partners. If this confuses you, see There is No Transitive Property of Miles.

Because of the last point, you will improve your search results by excluding American Airlines partners from your aa.com search results. To do that, select “American Airlines and American Eagle” only on the advanced search page.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.19.05 AM

Choose a flight that has MileSAAver award space.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.58.58 AM

Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find on aa.com.

To book that flight with Etihad miles, call Etihad at 888-8-ETIHAD. Tell the agent you want to book an American Airlines flight and feed her the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found on aa.com.

When to transfer?

I transferred ThankYou Points to Etihad miles in July to book an Air Serbia flight. It took seven days for my Etihad miles to appear. I’d perform my award search, make the transfer, then book when the miles arrived. There is a chance that award space disappears in the interim, but there is no way around that risk.

Fuel Surcharges?

I went through the process of booking an American Airlines flight with Etihad miles to test whether there are fuel surcharges on the booking.

When using American Airlines miles, there are no fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.55.43 PM

However when buying a cash flight, American Airlines fares often have fuel surcharges, like that flight above from New York to Paris, which has a $258 fuel surcharge one way.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.55.28 PM

Those fuel surcharges will usually be collected by foreign loyalty programs that collect fuel surcharges. For instance, using British Airways Avios to book that same flight would involve paying the $258 fuel surcharge.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.22.17 PM

Does Etihad collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights?

No!

I called Etihad to price out the same exact flight, and she quoted a price of 20,000 Etihad miles (16,000 ThankYou Points) and $30. That roughly lines up with the $27.80 in taxes on the cash flight and shows that Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights.

Best Values on Etihad Chart for AA Flights

Etihad miles are region based, and as you can see, the Etihad chart is almost exactly the same as American Airlines’ own chart for American Airlines flights including for off peak awards.

Exhibit A:  Award chart for using Etihad miles on American Airlines flights

Exhibit B:  Award chart for using American Airlines miles on American Airlines flights

Here is Etihad’s chart for one way awards on American Airlines flights:

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.31.05 PM
EO = Off Peak Economy, EP = Economy, B/F = Business, P = First

I find great value in the off peak awards:

  • 16,000 ThankYou Points to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile for much of the year
  • 16,000 ThankYou Points to Europe from October 15 to May 15 each year

There is also value in booking flat bed Business Class on American Airlines flights for 40,000 ThankYou Points year round to Europe, Japan, and Southern South America.

Bottom Line

Etihad has a very cheap award chart for booking American Airlines flights, basically identical to American Airlines’ current chart for its own flights. Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines award flights and has access to all MileSAAver award space on aa.com.

Through December 31, 2015, 1,000 ThankYou Points transfer to 1,250 Etihad miles. ThankYou Points are easy to get.

  • Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

 

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

9

First Class on the Etihad A380 is one of the nicest suites in the world, and I am looking forward to flying it next month. You get a couch, bed, seat, and shower at 35,000 feet in a suite so spacious that there are only two per row on the widebody A380.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.55.33 PM

For many months, there was no First Class award space on Etihad’s New York to Abu Dhabi route in either direction, but a few weeks ago Etihad began releasing First Class award space within a few days of departure. This is the only American route on which Etihad flies an A380.

The reappearance of award space is a big deal because you can book Etihad First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives for only 90,000 American Airlines miles each way with no fuel surcharges. (The prices goes up to 115,000 miles after March’s devAAluation.)

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. That’s enough to fly Etihad A380 First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives.

  • How can you book the Etihad A380 last minute award space?
  • How much award space is there?
  • What is the back up plan?

Trying to book last minute award space always presents practical difficulties. Here is how I would book this space.

How to Book the Space

  1. Find GuestSeat award space on etihad.com within three days of departure.
  2. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. There will be a $75 close in booking fee, but no phone fee.

There have been some reports lately of the American Airlines call center not seeing all the space Etihad has put into the GuestSeat bucket, so call the American Airlines Australian call center at +61 02-9101-1948. It only costs 2 cents per minute through your gmail account.

How Much Award Space is There?

I have been monitoring for the last several days. The pattern has been that there is A380 First Class award space in each direction within three days of departure.

Not all flights have First Class award space within three days of departure, but no flights have First Class award space more than three days before departure.

When there is award space, it is often just one seat, though there were five First Class award seats available four days ago from Abu Dhabi to JFK on the day of departure.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 11.25.28 AM

Right now there is one First Class award seat from JFK to Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.24.18 AMScreen Shot 2015-12-14 at 11.24.29 AM

Back Up Plan

It is inherently risky to count on last minute space because if it isn’t available when you want it, you are just a few days away from departure with no flight.

If I were going to try to book this last minute Etihad A380 First Class space, here’s how I would plan to minimize risk.

  1. I’d only plan to do this one way. For instance, I’d book a one way return from India to the United States months in advance, and I would just try to use Etihad last minute space for the outbound.
  2. I would have 90,000 American Airlines miles and 80,000 United miles ready.
  3. I would start looking to book Etihad First Class award space three days before my preferred departure, and I would try to book the last minute Etihad award space until the day of my preferred departure. Having a few possible departure dates doubles or triples your chances for success.
  4. If space never opened up, I would book Etihad Business, Etihad economy, or use United miles to book economy or Business Class.

How Good is Etihad economy and Business Class space at the last minute?

Etihad economy and Business Class space is very good, so if you can’t book your dream First Class, you can definitely still take the trip.

American Airlines charges 45,000 miles each way in economy and 67,500 miles each way in Business Class to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 11.27.05 AM

Business is still a flat bed, though nowhere near the luxury of First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 11.28.01 AM

Plan B.5: United Miles

United and its partners should have very good last minute space to the region also. It will cost 42,500 miles each way in economy and 80,000 miles in Business Class.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 11.28.40 AM

Bottom Line

If you want to book Etihad A380 First Class to or from the United States, it is within your grasp. Amass American Airlines miles, United miles, and book the other parts of your trip in advance.

Three days before departure, start looking for award space all the way up until the day of departure. If none appears, book plentiful Etihad Business and economy award space, or use United miles to book a partner award.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. That’s enough to fly Etihad A380 First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Etihad is again releasing First Class award space on its daily A380 flight between New York and Abu Dhabi that you can book for only 90,000 American Airlines miles each way.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles, more than enough miles to fly Etihad First Class on the A380.

I am looking forward to flying the route in January because First Class features a shower, and each suite has a couch/bed and seat. The plane looks amazing.

In the past, award space on the route has alternated between brief plentiful periods and long non-existent stretches. Now we see a new pattern. Award space is only being released on the route in each direction at the last minute.

You can search for award space here on Etihad’s site.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.11.23 AMResults will look something like this. Remember that American Airlines miles can only book seats in the Guest Seat column.Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 1.11.39 AM

Right now I see one First Class award seat from New York to Abu Dhabi on the flight that departs in six hours (above) and three on the December 3rd flight from Abu Dhabi to New York.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 10.21.30 AM

This story broke a few days ago, and in that time award space has existed on several flights within a few days of departure, leading to the conclusion that Etihad A380 First Class award space is being released at the last minute between the United States and Abu Dhabi.

Last time award space popped up on the route, I excitedly booked it from Abu Dhabi to New York. Since American puts the Middle East and India in the same region, I decided to start the award in India to explore it for the first time. Since American charges the same whether I ended the award in New York or anywhere else in North America, I also tacked on a First Class leg on American’s new A321T for no extra miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 4.39.10 PM

The award priced out at 90,000 American Airlines miles and about $35. I paid with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card to get 3x points on the taxes.Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 11.23.51 PM

Bottom Line

Etihad is now releasing its amazing A380 First Class as award space between New York and Abu Dhabi in the last few days before departure. You can book the space for 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles, more than enough miles to fly Etihad First Class on the A380.

The price of this award goes up to 115,000 American Airlines miles one way if booked after March 22, 2016.

Further Reading

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

11

Etihad is offering a 25% transfer bonus from several programs including Citi ThankYou Points through December 31, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 7.56.24 PM

To be clear, this transfer bonus comes entirely from Etihad and not from Citi. Citi’s thankyou.com still shows the standard 1,000 to 1,000 transfer rate with no transfer bonus.Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 7.57.39 PM But Etihad’s email about the transfer bonus mentions “Citibank Citi Miles.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 7.59.00 PM

And inspecting the list of “available markets” lists points earned on the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card as eligible for the transfer bonus.
Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 7.58.01 PM

Good Deal?

Using Etihad Miles for Etihad Flights

Etihad Guest Miles aren’t very good for booking First Class on the Etihad A380, which is a current obsession of mine.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.55.33 PM

For instance, Etihad would charge 88,022 Etihad miles + $175 to book Abu Dhabi to London in First Class on the Etihad A380. During the transfer bonus, that’s 71,000 ThankYou Points. You could book the same flight for 40,000 American Airlines miles (and way fewer dollars out of pocket), which you could get from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.50.50 AM

A better deal, but not quite a good one, is booking JFK to Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class for 117,556 Etihad miles + $179, which would be 95,000 ThankYou Points during the transfer bonus. You could book the same flight for 90,000 American Airlines miles + $6.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.09 AMJFK to Delhi, which would feature two flights in First Class is 124,000 ThankYou Points during the promotion. Again, this would cost only 90,000 American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.53 AM

So don’t use Etihad miles to book Etihad First Class unless you don’t have American Airlines miles, which are easy to get. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Using Etihad Miles for Other Flights

Etihad Guest miles can be used on 25 other airlines. On Etihad’s page, you can click on “Know more” and then click to bring up the redemption table for that airline’s flights.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.13.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.13.31 AM

 

Here is the award chart for using Etihad miles on American Airlines flights. All the prices are the same as if you used American Airlines miles, which means with a 20% transfer bonus, you can book the United States to Europe for 16,000 ThankYou Points on off peak dates or book the United States to Europe for 40,000 ThankYou Points in American Airlines Business Class. I have never booked American Airlines flights with Etihad miles, so I don’t know whether fuel surcharges will be collected. I do know that there are no fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights within the Americas.

I have used Etihad miles to book a flight on Air Serbia. I needed to fly from Belgrade to Bucharest, and Etihad miles are the only way to book that flight on Air Serbia with miles. The award cost me 5,000 ThankYou Points + $23. During the transfer bonus, that would be 4,000 ThankYou Points.

Bottom Line

Etihad is offering a 25% bonus on ThankYou Points transferred to Etihad Guest Miles for the rest of 2015. This does not offer value for booking Etihad First Class, but it does offer great value for booking partner flights like American Airlines, Air Serbia, and 23 other partners.

This is the rare transfer bonus that runs for long enough that you can get the points needed before the transfer period ends.

  • Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 3.26.59 PM

 

Getting Both Citi Prestige and Citi Premier for 100,000 Bonus ThankYou Points

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Etihad First Class space is widely available for next summer between the United States and Abu Dhabi for two passengers with connections throughout the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. The award space costs 90,000 American Airlines miles one way plus low taxes.

Until Tuesday (10/27/15), the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

 

Included in the $450 annual fee, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit.

 

I have never flown Etihad First Class. I am booked to fly Etihad First Class on the A380 in January. Here’s how I booked that.

And I booked myself an award in Etihad First Class on the Dreamliner that I will have to cancel.

Etihad First Class looks awesome, and it is widely available between the United States and Abu Dhabi for two passengers next summer. American Airlines charges 90,000 miles each way on the route. The price is the same no matter where you start in North America and no matter where you end in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Maldives, or Egypt (or vice versa.)

To search for Etihad award space that American Airlines miles can book, create a free Etihad Airways account, and go to the award search page. American miles can book all the space in the Guest Seat column. Ignore the number of miles and cash listed in that column. You will pay 90,000 American Airlines miles plus low taxes (and not the fuel surcharges you’d pay if you booked with Etihad miles.)

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New York to Abu Dhabi

Award space is great in Summer 2016 from New York to Abu Dhabi on the 777, not on the A380.

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 6.31.15 PMYou can quickly see a week of availability above the daily results. All the days that say “Miles 117556″ have award space American Airlines miles can book. (Again you will pay 90,000 American Airlines miles plus low taxes, but knowing the price Etihad charges for its Guest award space will allow you to scan a week of award space at once.) In the week below, every day except June 27 has Guest award space.

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Washington-Dulles to Abu Dhabi

This route features the 787 Dreamliner. Guest award space (“Miles 121222″) is available almost every day in June.
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That space is available for two people on the overwhelming majority of days.Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 6.36.06 PM

Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

Award space from Abu Dhabi to the United States is also wide open. There is space every day this week in June 2016 (“Miles 143981″):
Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 6.46.19 PM The space is, again, for two passengers.Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 6.46.23 PM

Where Etihad Flies

Etihad flies to Abu Dhabi from six American cities, and connects from Abu Dhabi throughout the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, the Maldives, and Egypt, which American Airlines’ award chart has in one huge region.

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Bottom Line

There is fantastic space in Etihad First Class for two passengers for 90,000 American Airlines miles each way to Abu Dhabi and beyond. Book that space now or with the miles you get from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. It offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months only until Tuesday. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement.

 

H/T One Mile at a Time

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

In May, I booked myself an award in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment for January 2016. I am looking forward to flying the spacious suite with a couch/bed and separate seat from Abu Dhabi to New York. This post explains how I booked that award.

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Etihad is a partner of American Airlines, and you can book First Class between the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent and North America for 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

Get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Since American Airlines counts all of the Middle East, Egypt, Maldives, and Indian Subcontinent as one region, I decided to start the award in Chennai, India. I’ve never been to India, and Chennai is conveniently close to Sri Lanka, which is in American’s Southeast Asia region (Asia 2). I was planning to use that fact to fly cheaply to Sri Lanka on an American Airlines award, hang out there for a few days, then book a cheap cash or Avios flight from Sri Lanka to Chennai. Now I think I’ll just fly a low cost carrier from wherever I am in Southeast Asia to Chennai a few days before the flight.

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Since American charges the same number of miles no matter where I end in North America, I added New York to Los Angeles for zero extra miles. It will give me a chance to fly American’s three cabin First Class on the route.

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Award Searching

This award is centered on flying Etihad’s A380 in First Class to luxuriate in the onboard suite and to take a shower seven miles above land. For that reason, and because I always suggest starting your award search with the longest segment, I first searched for Etihad A380 First Class award space.

As I explained in Where to Search All 24 American Airlines’ Partners’ Award Space, you search Etihad award space on etihad.com. You need to find award space in the GuestSeat column to be able to book the flight with American Airlines miles. Right now I don’t see any First Class award space on the Etihad A380 between New York and Abu Dhabi in either direction that is bookable with American Airlines miles. (I do see plenty of space on the 777 that operates on the route.)

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We have seen award space in First Class on the route come and go quickly and dramatically a few times. I booked in May when award space was wide open, even though it had been non-existent the week before. You can be sure I’ll cover when award space opens back up between JFK and Abu Dhabi in First Class on the Etihad A380.

Once I had my First Class space, I worked backward to get the space from Chennai to Abu Dhabi. This is classic segment-by-segment searching. On shorter regional routes, the top cabin is Business Class, so that’s what I searched.

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Award space is fantastic in Business Class on Etihad regional flights. I selected the 10 PM departure, which gives me a two hour layover in Abu Dhabi. I noted the date, cabin, and flight number. I ignored the price listed on etihad.com because I was using American Airlines miles, which means paying the American Airlines price.

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Last I searched for award space from New York to Los Angeles in First Class. Award space is often wide open in First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Remember that you need to find MileSAAver (not AAnytime) award space on American Airlines flights to hook them onto partner flights, and still pay the lowest mileage price.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.18.34 PM

I picked an 11 AM departure to give me another two-hour layover.
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You can confirm that every New York to Los Angeles flight has American’s newest First Class product by clicking “View Seats” and seeing this 1-1 configuration.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.19.25 PM

Award Booking

Next I called American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. I fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the three flights I wanted to book.

She pieced it together easily and quoted me a price of 90,000 American Airlines miles and $79.

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That sounded pretty good, but I asked her if she had waived the $40 phone fee, since I couldn’t book the award online. That’s American’s new policy.

She hadn’t. Once she removed the phone fee, I paid only $38.55 in taxes plus 90,000 miles for a trip that will fly from Chennai to Los Angeles in two super fancy First Classes, and a solid Business Class.Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.22.44 PM

Getting the Miles

Get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

I booked myself an incredible award from India to Los Angeles that will let me finally see the world’s second most populous country and finally fly the second commercial First Class with an onboard shower. It is a perfect mix of destination and aspirational products, and it cost me 90,000 American Airlines miles + $39.

You can get both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, which are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement in the next three months to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles.

Unfortunately award space in Etihad First Class on the A380 comes and goes, and right now there is none. But if history is a guide, that is likely to change soon, and I will cover when award space opens back up.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

From February 1, 2016, Emirates will fly daily between Dubai and Panama City, which will be the longest scheduled commercial flight at over 8,500 miles. The flight is blocked for 17:35 heading west. Hopefully the flight will be bookable with Alaska miles, and it will definitely be bookable with Japan Airlines miles.

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I have a special interest in long flights because when I am flying an ultra-luxurious First Class, I don’t want the flight to end. Eight hours–a typical transatlantic flight–are not enough. I want 12 hours, maybe 16 hours.

Right now the top ten longest flights include five that are bookable with American Airlines miles. That’s important because American has the cheapest award chart, and for a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. One of these flights costs only 67,500 miles in First Class.

  • #1: Dallas to Sydney on Qantas: 8,578 miles and 16:55
  • #3: Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles on Etihad: 8,390 miles and 16:30
  • #7: Abu Dhabi to San Francisco on Etihad: 8,168 miles and 16:15
  • #8: Dallas to Hong Kong on American: 8,123 miles and 17:05
  • #10: New York to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific: 8,067 miles and 16:15 (my trip report)

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What’s the Award Space on These Ultra-Longhauls?

#1: Dallas to Sydney

The longest current flight in the world is operated by a Qantas A380. “That’s awesome!” you might be thinking since the Qantas A380 has a fantastic First Class product.

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Yes, but Qantas releases almost no First Class award space on its A380 routes to America.

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Right now there is decent economy award space in both directions on the route. And there are exactly two days with a Business Class award seat from Dallas to Sydney in the next 11 months. (Here’s my review of Qantas Business Class on the A380.)

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When First Class space does appear, it is usually 8-11 months out and a single seat. It costs only 72,500 American Airlines miles one way.

#3 and #7: Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles and San Francisco

Award space in First Class is pretty good (and sometimes great) on Etihad’s flights to California. You can search on etihad.com as described here. All Guest Seat award space can be booked by calling American Airlines.

The Los Angeles flight is operated by a 777-200LR (trip report here).

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Award space is mainly available this week and next Spring, though award space is scattered throughout the calendar. Look for days that say “Miles 144,024.” You will not pay that price because American charges only 90,000 miles one way in First Class between the United States and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.

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San Francisco is operated by a leased Jet Airways plane (trip report here).

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Award space is very available on this route–this week next Winter, and next Spring.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.59.07 PM
Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 6.59.42 PMNearly every day has award space in Etihad First Class on the San Francisco route.

#8 Dallas to Hong Kong

American Airlines has released zero Business and First Class on the route for the next 11 months. It is being very stingy with longhaul premium cabin award space on its own flights at the moment. Thank god for partners.

The award would cost 67,500 American Airlines miles one way.

#10 New York to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific releases tons of Business and First Class award space on its several daily fights from New York to Hong Kong.

The best times to look are in the few days before departure and 11 months out on ba.com. Then book by calling American Airlines.

Tomorrow, unfortunately, there is no First Class space on the route, though one flight has six Business Class seats.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.43 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.50 PMLooking 11 months out, we see a pretty predictable pattern. Most flights have 1-5 Business Class seats, and some flights have 1-2 First Class seats.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.02.43 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-20 at 7.04.10 PMAmerican charges 55,000 miles one way in Business Class and 67,500 miles in First Class on the route.

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I flew this exact route and loved it. I slept for eight hours early on and enjoyed the service and entertainment for about eight hours. (See my trip report.)

IMG_0051

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles can book five of the world’s 10 longest flights, each 16 hours or longer. If you can snag one of these flights in Business or First Class, you are in heaven. You’ll enjoy a full night sleep, two full meals, and plenty of time to take advantage of the entertainment options.

Award space varies on the route from zero (AA’s DFW-HKG flight) to very little (Qantas’ DFW-SYD flight) to tons (Etihad’s California routes and Cathay Pacific’s JFK route.)

Right now, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That’s enough miles to book several of these routes one way.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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I just used 5,000 ThankYou Points to book a one way award flight from Belgrade to Bucharest.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 1.57.34 PM

I transferred my ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest Miles, which is the frequent flyer program for Air Serbia and several other airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.17.14 AM

I have a ton of ThankYou Points because the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card are each offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases on the cards in the first three months. (Compare the Premier to the Prestige.) You can get both for 100,000 bonus ThankYou Points.

Etihad Guest / Air Serbia Award Chart

Air Serbia is not a member of one of the three alliances, but is a member of the “kind of fourth alliance” of airlines in which Etihad has bought a stake. The only way to book Air Serbia flights with miles is with Etihad Guest miles. Here’s the award chart for Air Serbia flights using Etihad miles in its entirety:

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 6.33.59 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-07 at 6.34.13 PM

Belgrade to Bucharest is 4,550 miles one way in economy and 6,450 miles one way in Business Class. For a one hour flight, I didn’t even want to pay 1,900 miles extra for Business Class.

When I investigated Air Serbia awards two weeks ago, I learned that you do not pay fuel surcharges on the flights, only government taxes.

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, and you must transfer in increments of 1,000.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.29.21 AM

I have tons of ThankYou Points because there are two awesome cards with huge sign up bonuses at the moment, and I have both:

To transfer ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest miles, you must open a free Etihad Guest account, and then complete the transfer on thankyou.com. First click “Points Transfer” under “Do more.”

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Select “TRANSFER NOW” next to Etihad Guest.

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Type in the number of miles you want to transfer. You need to transfer in increments of 1,000, so I had to transfer 5,000 points for my 4,550 mile award.

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Enter your Etihad Guest frequent flyer number, and you’re done.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.57.06 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.57.31 AMThe transfer is not instant. It took about one week for my Etihad miles to show up in my account. I initiated the transfer July 9 at 4 AM ET, and the miles were in my account when I checked July 16 at 9 PM ET. (I wasn’t checking constantly, so they could have arrived up to 24 hours sooner than I saw them.)

Interestingly, the transfer–my first account activity–triggered a 500 miles “Enrolment Bonus” that I didn’t expect. Perhaps your first transfer will also.

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Booking Etihad Guest / Air Serbia Award

To book an award, call 800-8-ETIHAD. I don’t know of any way to search award space beforehand, but all the short Air Serbia flights I’ve inquired about have had award space.

I had searched flight times and prices on kayak.com, and there was only one Air Serbia-operated flight on the day I wanted. Etihad Guest Miles CANNOT book Air Serbia-marketed flights operated by other carriers, like the 9:15 AM flight below operated by TAROM.

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The agent said there was award space on the flight I wanted and that it cost 4,550 miles + 20.78 euros. I paid with Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, since it has no foreign transaction fees and earns 3x points per dollar on travel and gas purchases. The taxes were charged as $22.85 on my statement.

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I received a confirmation email of my new ticket while I was still on the phone with the agent.

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Why Not Just Use ThankYou Points to Purchase Flight Directly

ThankYou Points can book you onto many flights, including Air Serbia flights, two ways.

  1. The way described above: by transferring mile to one of ThankYou Points’ 11 partners and booking award space according to an award chart
  2. By using the points like cash toward any flight at a rate of 1.25 to 1.6 cents per point.

The flight I wanted was available on thankyou.com to be purchased with points like cash.

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I have the Citi Prestige® Card, so I can use my ThankYou Points to book American Airlines/US Airways flights at a rate of 1.6 cents per point or any other airline’s flights at a rate of 1.33 cents per point. The $115 flight is about 8,700 points at 1.33 cents per point.
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I booked it for 4,000 points less (but $23 in taxes) by transferring ThankYou Points to miles before booking. Always consider both ways to book flights with ThankYou Points before choosing one option.

Bottom Line

In a few weeks, I am headed to Romania for the penultimate stage of my four months in Europe. (The last part is hopping around to four cities for a day each with this cool United award.) There are no good train or bus options from Belgrade to Bucharest, luckily there is a great option with ThankYou Points.

Transfer 5,000 ThankYou Points to Etihad miles and book an Air Serbia flight for 4,550 miles + $23.

This isn’t just useful if you want to go to/from Serbia. Etihad Guest Miles are also the miles of big airlines in Italy, Germany, and Austria.

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Getting ThankYou Points is easy:

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

10

Air Serbia award flights start at 4,550 Etihad Guest miles plus government taxes with no fuel surcharges. Etihad Guest miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

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Why Air Serbia?

I plan to spend a month or so in Belgrade, Serbia this summer, so I was looking at flight options for people to visit me or to get me from Serbia to Romania. Air Serbia serves a decent roster of European and Middle Eastern cities from its hub in Belgrade.

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What is Etihad Guest?

Air Serbia is 49% owned by Etihad, and Air Serbia’s frequent flyer program is Etihad Guest, which is kind of a mini fourth alliance.

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I’ve pretty much ignored the program until now because if you want to book Etihad flights, you get a better deal redeeming American Airlines miles than Etihad miles. (I had previously assumed you got a better deal on airberlin and Niki flights with Avios and Alitalia flights with Delta miles, but I will check those assumptions.)

Air Serbia Award Chart

However, there is no way to book Air Serbia flights other than with Etihad Guest miles, so I took a look at the Air Serbia award chart. Here it is, in its entirety:

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The award chart is distance-based and doesn’t worry about round numbers with prices like 4,606 miles and 9,773 miles one way.

Business class is a modest premium over economy, about 50% more.

Most intra-European Business Class on airlines like Lufthansa or British Airways features the exact same seats as economy (same width and leg room) but the middle seat in each group of three seats is blocked out. If that’s how Air Serbia Business Class is, I wouldn’t bother paying even a 50% premium even though it comes with food, an iPad on flights over three hours, and lounge access. Air Serbia’s pictures online, though, show a 2-2 configuration like you’d find in domestic First Class in the United States, presumably with similar leg room.

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Unfortunately I can’t find exact dimensions of Air Serbia’s Business Class seats online.

How to Book, Taxes & Fees

Unfortunately you cannot search or book Air Serbia award space online. You need to call 888-8-ETIHAD at least 14 days prior to travel to book your award. Air Serbia’s website says award bookings do not include “YQ tax” AKA fuel surcharges.

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I tested out one flight to see what taxes and fees were included on an award booking.

I picked this one way flight from Belgrade to Skopje, Macedonia because I’ve always had a fascination with Macedonia.

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The flight only costs $110.14.

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Of that, almost half, or $47.71, is made up of taxes and fuel surcharges.

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Specifically, the taxes listed as Serbia LG, Serbia RF, and Serbia RS are $23.17.
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When I priced out that flight as an award ticket, the Etihad Guest phone agent quoted me a price of 4,550 miles + 20.78 euros.

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That’s pretty close to $23.17. That tells me that booking Air Serbia awards with Etihad guest miles does NOT incur the YQ fuel surcharge or any phone fee, just the miles listed plus government taxes, which you can estimate very closely on ITA Matrix.

There were two flights from Belgrade to Skopje on the day I had the agent search. There was award space in economy on both flights. I don’t want to draw any conclusions from such a small sample, but I anticipate that award space is widely available on nearly every Air Serbia flight in economy and Business Class based on the fact that intra-European award space is a gimme on most airlines.

Is This a Good Redemption?

You save $87.10 by using 5,000 ThankYou Points (because you have to transfer in 1,000 point increments.) That’s getting 1.74 cents of value per point, which I think is pretty good. At that value, the sign up bonus on either the Citi Prestige or ThankYou Premier would be over $870.

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

Citi ThankYou Points and SPG points transfer to Etihad miles at a 1:1 rate. These are the best cards to earn Etihad Guest miles:

I transferred ThankYou Points to Etihad miles, and the miles took seven days to post in my Etihad Guest account. Combined with the 14 day advance booking requirement, make sure you plan ahead with your Air Serbia redemption.

Bottom Line

Etihad Guest miles are the only way to fly Air Serbia, which has a very cheap award chart for travel to and from Belgrade. Awards start at 4,550 Etihad Guest miles and Business Class is only about 50% more. Awards incur government taxes, but no fuel surcharges or phone booking fees.

You can get Etihad Guest miles by making a 1:1 transfer from Citi ThankYou Points or SPG points. Get the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card or Citi Prestige® Card, each with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points.

Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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