For the second time, I used 5,000 ThankYou Points to book a one way Air Serbia flight award flight. This time I booked a $323 flight from Prague to Belgrade for $25, meaning I got 6 cents per ThankYou Point because I understand the sweet spots of all frequent flyer programs instead of only focusing on American-based programs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.08.34 AM

I transferred and booked before the 30% American Express transfer bonus to Etihad miles was announced, which would have allowed me to book for 4,000 Amex points and get 7.5 cents per point of value.

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

ThankYou Points are easy to get because the Citi Prestige® Card is offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months.

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 in its entirety:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.27.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.27.39 AM

Prague to Belgrade is 5,000 miles one way in economy and 7,125 miles one way in Business Class. For a two hour flight, I didn’t even want to pay 2,125 miles extra for Business Class.

You do not pay fuel surcharges on Air Serbia award flights, only government taxes.

(By the way, that Belgrade to New York route is intriguing. It begins June 23, 2016 and will operate five times per week on a leased Jet Airways A330 that features 18 Business Class flat beds in a 1-1-1 configuration. The Business Class price is competitive and could be a route to watch if award space is as good as it is on shorthaul flights. During the current 30% transfer bonus from Amex to Etihad, you’d need only 50,000 Membership Rewards for a one way in a flat bed!)

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

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

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.29.21 AM

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.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.56.16 AM

Select “TRANSFER NOW” next to Etihad Guest.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.56.41 AM

Type in the number of miles you want to transfer. You need to transfer in increments of 1,000.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.56.59 AM

Enter your Etihad Guest frequent flyer number, and you’re done.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.57.06 AMScreen 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 last year. This time, the transfer took five days. I transferred Thursday afternoon, and the miles posted the next Tuesday afternoon.

We have seen 25% transfer bonuses from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles before.

In April 2016, Amex Membership Rewards added Etihad as a transfer partner. There is a 30% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Etihad miles through June 15, 2016.

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 the two daily Air Serbia flights were $323 one way.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.44.09 AM(A decent itinerary with one connection was $267, and an overnight in Istanbul was $130, so using points on the expensive direct flights was ideal.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.03.41 AM

I asked the agent if there was award space on the day I wanted, and she said there was award space on both flights that day. This didn’t surprise me because there has been award space on every short Air Serbia flight I’ve ever inquired about. She quoted a price of 5,000 miles + 22.08 euros.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.43.34 AM

This exactly matched the taxes on the paid ticket according to ITA Matrix, which were 597 Czech koruna. The award did not include the approximately $20 fuel surcharge that the cash ticket included.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.50.12 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.51.29 AM

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

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.58.39 AMI immediately went to airserbia.com and typed in the confirmation on the home page.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.00.21 AMI was able to select my seat, an aisle in the second row.Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.01.32 AM

Bottom Line

In a few weeks, I am flying from Prague to Belgrade to start a big new undertaking (more on that in a future post.) The direct flight was a ridiculous $323, and even overnighting in Istanbul would only bring the price down to $130.

Instead I booked the flight for 5,000 Etihad miles + $25. I got the miles by transferring 5,000 ThankYou Points, which means I got about 6 cents per ThankYou Point of value.

Etihad Miles aren’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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.17.14 AM

And you can also use Etihad miles to fly American Airlines flights for pre-devaluation prices.

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.

American Express just added Etihad as a Membership Rewards transfer partner in April, and it is now offering a 30% transfer bonus through June 15, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 12.08.18 PM

 

For the next six weeks, 1,000 Membership Rewards will transfer to 1,300 Etihad Guest Miles.

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 68,000 Membership Rewards.

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 91,000 Membership Rewards during the transfer bonus. You could book the same flight for 115,000 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 119,000 Membership Rewards during the promotion. Again, this would cost 115,000 American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.53 AM

So Etihad miles are competitive with American Airlines miles to book Etihad flights during this transfer bonus, but that’s not saying much. Both types of miles are still expensive for booking Etihad flights. The real value of Etihad miles is to book other airlines’ flights.

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 AMScreen Shot 2015-11-16 at 10.13.31 AM

For redeeming Etihad miles on American Airlines flights, the Etihad’s award chart is nearly identical to the old American Airlines award chart before the devaluation that happened March 22, 2016, at least for now. Remember 62,500 miles one way to Australia in Business Class and 20,000 miles one way to Europe in Economy? You can’t book those with American Airlines miles anymore, but you can with Etihad miles!

  • 125,000 Etihad miles (97,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Australia roundtrip in American Airlines Business Class
  • 40,000 Etihad miles (31,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Europe roundtrip in American Airlines Economy (however that out of pocket amount would skyrocket if you returned from London because of departure taxes, choose one of these European cities with lower taxes instead)

A few months ago I wrote about how you can fly to Europe in a flat bed for 37,000 ThankYou Points. That’s because it costs:

  • 36,620 Etihad miles (29,000 Membership Rewards) + $94.70 in taxes = New York to Brussels roundtrip in Brussels Airlines Business Class (featuring a flat bed)

This is technically still speculative, as I eventually found an Etihad Guest agent who found a Business Class award seat on this flight but I did not actually carry out the booking.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a sweetspot, but it is useful to know that if you ever need to book a flight on Air Serbia for some reason, hopping over to Romania on a Eurotrip perhaps, the only miles you can use to book their awards are Etihad miles. I just booked an award for 5,000 Etihad Miles (4,000 Membership Rewards) + $23 from Prague to Belgrade.

Bottom Line

American Express is offering a 30% bonus on Membership Rewards transferred to Etihad Guest Miles until June 15, 2016. This does not offer great 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.

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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.

4

American Express added Etihad Guest miles as its 17th airlines transfer today.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.29.18 PMYou can send Membership Rewards in increments of 1,000 points to Etihad miles at a 1:1 rate.
Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 7.30.14 PM

 

Etihad Guest is already a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. In November 2015, we saw a 25% transfer bonus from many programs including Citi ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest miles. I expect if we see a future transfer bonus like that, American Express Membership Rewards would be included.

Uses of Etihad Miles

Etihad Guest miles are NOT good for booking Etihad flights. Here is my post on Sweet Spots of the Etihad Guest Program.

I think the best current awards are to fly American Airlines flights with Etihad miles at prices identical to the old pre-devaluation American Airlines award chart. For instance, you can fly AA flights to Europe seven months a year for 20,000 Etihad miles each way and no fuel surcharges.

I’ve also written about how you can fly to Europe in a flat bed for 36,620 Etihad miles + $94.70 in taxes in Brussels Airlines Business Class. This is technically still speculative, as I eventually found an Etihad Guest agent who found a Business Class award seat on this flight but I did not actually carry out the booking.

The only award I’ve booked myself with Etihad miles was Belgrade, Serbia to Bucharest, Romania on Air Serbia for 4,550 Etihad miles (now 5,000 miles) plus taxes. Air Serbia flights can only be booked with Etihad miles, award space is wide open, miles prices are cheap, and some of its routes are expensive. I recently transferred another 5,000 ThankYou Points to Etihad miles to be ready to book another Air Serbia flight this summer.

Transfer Speed

Last year, my Etihad miles took seven days to post after transferring from ThankYou Points. This week, the same transfer took five days to post.

That’s my best guess for the speed of American Express Membership Rewards transfers, though I will look for reports of people’s transfer times to see if they differ from ThankYou Points.

While there is no way around the risk that your award space disappears before your miles arrive, Etihad allows awards to be put on hold for 24 hours, so take advantage of that while your points are transferring between accounts.

Other Top Transfer Partners of American Express Membership Rewards

My other favorite AMEX transfer partners are:

Bottom Line

American Express Membership Rewards now transfer 1:1 to Etihad miles. This is great news–not to fly Etihad First Class–but to fly Etihad partners like American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Air Serbia.

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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.

You can book yourself a tour around Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia stopping in four places for only 100,000 miles total with nearly half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in four places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

Much like the Mega Trip to the Caribbean and South America I wrote about a few days ago, this deal relies on piecing together some sweet spot awards (and this time also a low cost carrier flight within Europe) into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, knowledge of the sweet spot awards is useful.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Chicago > Paris > Istanbul > Doha > Bangkok > Chicago

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 1.54.50 PM

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that American Airlines flies to.
  • Paris could be replaced by anywhere that is in Europe, but that will affect the cost of the low carrier flight to Istanbul.
  • Istanbul could be replaced by any nearby city with low cost carrier flights from Europe, although this would affect the out of pocket cost as well as the miles price which will probably go up if you choose a different city since the following award is flown with distance-based Avios to the Middle East.
  • Doha can really only be replaced by Amman as the two oneworld hubs in the Middle East.
  • Bangkok could be replaced by a different Asian city that is anywhere from 3,001 to 4,000 miles away from Doha or Amman.
  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that Cathay Pacific or Alaska Airlines flies to.

United States to Paris

Before American Airlines devalued their award chart, you could book economy flights to Europe for 20,000 American Airlines miles during the Off Peak season (October 15 – May 15). With American Airlines’ devaluation, the price went to 22,500 miles one way and, more alarmingly, the available dates were dramatically reduced. However you can still use Alaska or Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights in economy to Europe from October 15 to May 15 for 20,000 Alaska or Etihad miles. Here is such a flight on alaskaair.com:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.13.32 PM

You can search for and book award space right on alaskaairlines.com’s home page, just check the “use miles” box in the search tool. You don’t even need an account with Alaska’s Mileage Plan loyalty program.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.27.07 PM

There is space every day of November.

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You can book this same award flying American Airlines flights for 20,000 Etihad miles. 

Some other options you might want to consider depending on what kind of miles you have and where you live:

Paris to Istanbul

Low cost carriers are an economical way of hopping around Europe, especially when you’re trying to save your miles for higher value long distance redemptions.  I found the following flight from Paris to Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines for under $100:

pegasus flight

As is often the case with these discount airlines, the catch is that you have to watch how much you pack. You get one free carry on that can weigh 17.5 pounds. I am a proponent of one bag travel, but understandably you might want a little more room if you’re going on a trip with as many climates as this one. Luckily it’s only $6 more to bring about 44 pounds of luggage.

Istanbul to Doha

The next two legs are Avios awards. Why? Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. Why pay 20,000 American Airlines to fly Istanbul to Doha (the same price that London to Delhi would be), when you can pay 10,000 Avios?

You can book a one way ticket between Istanbul and Doha in Economy for 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86 in taxes and fees.

avios price

You can search search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

avios award space

Doha to Bangkok

It costs 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62 in taxes and fees to fly from Doha to Bangkok, Thailand.

doha to bangkok price

You can search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

doha to bangkok avios space

Bangkok to United States

You can fly Cathay Pacific’s Business Class featuring a fully lie flat bed for only 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles…

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.35.25 PM

…and about $55 in taxes and fees. The following screenshot is from ITA matrix, which breaks down the costs of a normal revenue ticket. Alaska Airlines does not collet fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific awards, so we know that the amount of out of pocket expenses will be approximately the sum of the taxes and other fees:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.41.40 PM

You cannot search for Cathay Pacific award space on Alaska’s website. Use British Airways’ search tool instead– here’s how to search ba.com. The easiest time to find award space in premium cabins on Cathay Pacific flights is immediately prior (a couple weeks or less before travel) or about 11 months out from travel. For example, the availability shown below is for about 11 months from now, and five out of the seven days displayed have three to eight Business Class seats available each day.

bkk to us

bkk to us

Cathay Pacific flights can be booked by calling Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at 1-800-654-5669.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

     United States to Paris = 20,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $19

     Paris to Istanbul = $80

     Istanbul to Doha = 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86

     Doha to Bangkok = 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62

 +  Bangkok to United States = 50,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $55


    100,000 Miles and $302  

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between the United States and Paris in Business Class it would cost an additional 30,000 Alaska miles for a total of 130,000 miles and $302.

How to Get the Miles Needed for this Trip

Alaska Airlines Miles

The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnableEach one has a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus for simply signing up– no minimum spending requirement. For the Business Card you have to charge one purchase to earn the bonus.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines credit card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening. SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. SPG Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

Etihad Miles

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

British Airways Avios

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are ideal, since they transfer 1:1 instantly to British Airways Avios miles.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

You can see four destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for 100,000 miles and $302 with about half the trip in a flat bed. The deal relies on using Etihad or Alaska miles to fly American Airlines off peak economy to Europe; using a low cost carrier in Europe; using Avios for direct, region-connecting flights; and using Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific home.

The exact destinations in this post are mostly guidelines and can be subbed out for your preferred spots, as long as you understand how these sweet spot awards work.

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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.

8

This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.

Etihad miles are easy to accrue as Etihad Guest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Starpoints from SPG.

Etihad Guest is the loyalty program of Etihad Airlines, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates based out of Abu Dhabi. It is not affiliated with any alliance, but it does have many partners:

  • Air New Zealand
  • Air Serbia
  • Air Seychelles
  • Air Berlin
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • American Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Etihad regional
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • GOL
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysian Airlines
  • Oman Air
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • South African Airways
  • Sri Lankan Airlines
  • UIA
  • Virgin Australia

Routing Rules

One Ways

When redeeming Etihad miles on Etihad flights, one ways cost half the price of a roundtrip.

For partner redemptions, it varies–there is no hard and fast rule about booking one way awards. For instance, when redeeming on American Airlines, you can book one way awards for half the price of a roundtrip. However when redeeming on Brussles Airlines, all awarsds price at the roundtrip level.

Stopovers and Open Jaws

The tangible information I could find regarding stopovers on Etihad flights is the following from the terms and conditions on etihadguest.com: “Stopovers in Abu Dhabi are permitted on GuestSeat Rewards only where the booking is made via the Etihad Guest Service Centre” (ie by calling in).

For partner redemptions, I couldn’t find any information on stopovers or open jaws, though for partners you can book one way (like American Airlines), you know a roundtrip can have two open jaws.

Some partners have a defined set of routes you can redeem on each with its own price, some use distance-based pricing, and some use region-based pricing. Check each partner’s page on etihad.com for more details on the award rules for each partner.

Fuel Surcharges

Etihad doesn’t collect fuel surcharges when redeeming its miles on its own flights. However, in addition to taxes, it does collect $50 per longhaul Saver (“Guest”) segment in economy, $100 in Business, and $150 in First.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 4.30.51 AM
The 370 AED extra for Saver (“Guest”) award space compared to Freedom is $100 for one longhaul Business Class award

As far as I know, Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on partner awards. I know for a fact, fuel surcharges are not collected on awards that fly American Airlines or Air Serbia, and I do not think they are collected on Brussels Airlines flights.  Let us know in the comments if you have any first hand experience with other partners.

Sweetspots for Redemptions

For redeeming Etihad miles on American Airlines flights, the Etihad’s award chart is nearly identical to the old American Airlines award chart before the devaluation that just happened last week, at least for now. Remember 62,500 miles one way to Australia in Business Class and 20,000 miles one way to Europe in Economy? Can’t book those with American Airlines miles anymore, but you can with Etihad miles!

  • 125,000 Etihad miles + taxes = United States to Australia roundtrip in American Airlines Business Class
  • 40,000 Etihad miles + taxes = United States to Europe roundtrip in American Airlines Economy (however that out of pocket amount would skyrocket if you returned from London because of departure taxes, choose one of these European cities with lower taxes instead)

About a month ago I wrote about how you can fly to Europe in a flat bed for 37,000 ThankYou Points. That’s because it costs:

  • 36,620 Etihad miles + $94.70 in taxes = New York to Brussels roundtrip in Brussels Airlines Business Class (featuring a flat bed)

This is technically still speculative, as I eventually found an Etihad Guest agent who found a Business Class award seat on this flight but I did not actually carry out the booking.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a sweetspot, but it is useful to know that if you ever need to book a flight on Air Serbia for some reason, hopping over to Romania on a Eurotrip perhaps, the only miles you can use to book their awards are Etihad miles.

Unfortunately Etihad miles offer poor value on Etihad flights. Each award costs more Etihad miles than it would cost with American Airlines miles, even on American’s new devalued chart.

Searching Award Space and Booking

To search award space for Etihad’s own flights, you can search at etihadguest.com. A “GuestSeat” is the equivalent of Saver level. If you just want a quote on how many miles an award on their own metal would cost, you can input your city pair into their mileage calculator.

To search award space for one of Etihad’s partners you must look elsewhere because etihadguest.com only displays award space on its own flights. Check out the list below to see which sites you should use to find award space for each of Etihad’s partners. Remember to look for Saver space as that is what should be available to all partners.

  • united.com – Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Brussels Airlines,  South African Airways
  • ana.com – ANA
  • aa.com – Airberlin, American Airlines,
  • britishairways.com – Malaysian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines
  • delta.com – Alitalia, GOL, Korean Air, Virgin Australia
  • airfrance.com – Czech Airlines
  • alaskaairlines.com – Hainan
  • Call – all other airlines

Partner award space is not bookable online with Etihad miles. Call Etihad Guest at (+44 0345 6081225). That is the UK office number, which I recommend calling over the US office as the agents in the UK have been much more proficient in my experience. Tell the agent the partner airline you want to fly,  and feed them the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found using one of the sites above.

Transfer Bonuses

Etihad has been known to run transfer bonuses from Citi ThankYou Points, like this one for 25% at the end of 2015.  If you had used Etihad miles transferred from ThankYou Points during the period of the bonus, that roundtrip Business ticket between New York and Brussels in a flat bed would have cost only 28,000 ThankYou Points. That is a downright steal. To give you a frame of reference, the same award would cost 140,000 miles roundtrip using United miles.

Etihad Trip Reports

If you’re interested in learning more about Etihad’s product, read the trip reports below. I traveled from India to the US in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment as well as their Business Class for one leg.

Getting Citi ThankYou Points to Transfer to Etihad

The best cards to rack up Etihad miles are the:

Transferring ThankYou Points to Etihad Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 12 airline transfer partners. You must transfer in 1,000 point increments.

Screen-Shot-2015-11-15-at-7.57.39-PM

IMPORTANT – In my experience, Etihad miles have taken seven days to post to my Etihad Guest account after transferring from ThankYou Points. While there is no way around this risk, it is important to take into consideration as award space is prone to change. Etihad allows awards to be put on hold for 24 hours, so take advantage of that while your points are transferring between accounts. I would even try pushing the agent for a longer hold than 24 hours by explaining that you are waiting for your Citi ThankYou Points to hit your Guest Account.

Bottom Line

There are some incredibly high value partner redemptions using Etihad miles. You can fly American Airlines for the same amount of miles that it used to cost on American Airlines’ pre-devaluation award chart. You might even be able to fly roundtrip to Europe in a flat bed for 37,000 miles and minimal taxes, or 28,000 ThankYou Points if you catch it during a transfer bonus!

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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.

4

At midnight Central Time, the American Airlines devaluation struck.

However, you can still book American Airlines flight at the old prices if you use Alaska or Etihad miles. I don’t know how long this will last, maybe a few days or months, until they notice and ape American’s higher prices.

Let’s back up a little bit.

It just so happens that Alaska Airlines and Etihad Airways, partners of American Airlines, charge the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did until yesterday. Both airlines even allow the booking of off peak awards on the same off peak dates as American allowed until yesterday.

I say “it just so happens” because there is nothing expected or ordinary about this. British Airways, another American Airlines partner never charged the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did, nor did it have discounts for American Airlines off peak awards. As a general rule: different miles, different rules, different chart. But for whatever reason, Alaska and Etihad decided to copy American’s chart when using Alaska or Etihad miles to redeem American flights.

And those copied charts are still in effect today.

Using Alaska Miles

For instance, if you go to alaskaair.com and search for an award to Buenos Aires in May…

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.58.06 PM

…you see a lot of flights for 20,000 miles.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.59.20 PM Those are the price you would have paid yesterday for American Airlines off peak awards.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 1.59.38 PMThat is particularly amazing because American Airlines did away with off peak awards to Southern South America today. The same award costs 30,000 American Airlines miles today.

Alaska has different charts for every airline to every region. You can find the charts for using Alaska miles to Europe here. American Airlines awards still show yesterday’s generous off peak dates and price instead of today’s less generous dates and 22,500 mile price.
Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 2.00.08 PM

Using Etihad Miles

Similarly, Etihad’s chart for flying American Airlines flights is the same as it was yesterday when it matched American Airlines’ old chart.

Here is a full post on using Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights.

What This Doesn’t Mean

These are Alaska and Etihad charts for flying American Airlines airplanes.

You can NOT use these charts to fly other American Airlines partners. For instance, don’t expect to call Etihad and say, “Hi, I found great award space to Sydney in First Class on aa.com that flies Qantas, and I want to pay 72,500 Etihad miles to book it.” Qantas is a partner of American Airlines, not Etihad. (And if it were a partner of Etihad, it would have its own award chart. The chart in this post is for flying airplanes that say American Airlines on the side.)

Getting Alaska Airlines and Etihad Miles

Thank You Points transfer 1:1 to Etihad miles.

The Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card come with 50,000 and 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively 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 96,000 ThankYou Points, more than enough for three roundtrips to Europe during the current promotion.

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. Right now the SPG cards have their biggest bonuses ever. The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnable.

How Long Will This Last?

Etihad and Alaska clearly made conscious decisions to copy American Airlines’ chart (for whatever reason, this is actually unusual.) Now that the AA chart has changed, I assume the other charts will change. We will see how long that takes.

If you want to book American Airlines flights, for the moment, you should use Alaska and Etihad miles.

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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

Here is a video I filmed in January inside the Etihad A380 shower that you can access if you fly in a First Class Apartment:

It is part of a series of trip reports on the flight:

Throughout the video, I compare it to showering in First Class on an Emirates A380. Here’s a video of that:

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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.

1

Etihad 271
Chennai (MAA) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Depart: 9:25 PM on January 26, 2016
Arrive: 12:15 AM on January 27, 2016
Duration: 4 hours, 20 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A321
Seat: 1F (Business Class)

I arrived at Chennai International Airport at 6:30 PM about three hours before my flight to Abu Dhabi, and promptly had trouble getting in the building. You have to show a soldier your boarding pass or itinerary to be let into the airport. After a minute, I was able to pull up my itinerary on the American Airlines app to be let in.

The check in lines were long. I was third up in the Business Class line, and it took me over 20 minutes to be checked in because of some problem with a passenger in front of me. I might have been better off in the much longer economy line.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.24.27 AMThis is a flaw in the Etihad check in procedures. Instead of one agent assigned to the Business Class line, all (or at least several) agents should pull customers from the Business Class line before the economy line.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.24.33 AM
My view for 20 minutes while another Business Class passenger’s check in was sorted

Once I got in front of the agent, I was checked in within two minutes and handed boarding passes to Abu Dhabi, New York, and Los Angeles plus a lounge invitation for Chennai.

Travel Club Lounge, Chennai

In Chennai, Etihad Business Class passengers have access to the Travel Club along with pretty much anyone else flying Business Class on a Middle Eastern airline or who has Priority Pass or many credit cards. That means I could have gotten in for free no matter which airline I was flying with my Priority Pass membership that is included with my Citi Prestige® Card. (More details on the Citi Prestige’s lounge benefits here.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.30 AMAs a general rule, the more people that can access a lounge, the more meager its offerings will be, but this lounge’s offerings were middling-to-solid. You could definitely get a full meal and drinks, though the lounge was hardly elegant or luxurious.

The buffet consisted of sandwiches, chips…
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.24.38 AM …toast, muffins…Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.24.43 AM …and a selection of hot Indian food.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.24.49 AM I love Indian food, so I was ecstatic with the options, both vegetarian…Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.25.58 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.26.11 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.26.17 AM …and non-vegetarian.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.26.06 AM

For drinks, there was a standard selection of water, juices, and sodas.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.26.28 AMI can’t comment on the ordinary alcohol selection because I happened to be traveling on India’s Republic Day, which a sign at the lounge’s reception noted is a dry day.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.37 AM

The Chicken Varutha Curry, Aloo Gobi, and Mix Veg Curry were delicious. I scarfed down a few plates in the dining section of the lounge.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.26.23 AM Then I moved to the section of the lounge without dining tables to catch up on emails and download some shows for my flights. The wifi was fine for the former, but download speeds were slow.

I lost track of time and ended up having to run to the plane. The lounge is in a very inconvenient location–near gate 11–on the opposite side of the airport from Etihad flights–gate 18.

The Flight

I was one of the last people to board, and the last Business Class passenger. I went to my assigned seat 4A in the last row.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.06 AM

Already at the seat were a pillow, blanket, menu, socks, headphones, and eye shade.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.20 AMScreen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.24 AM

I was offered a pre-departure beverage from a tray of water, orange juice, and champagne and selected a water.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.14 AMFlight attendants also offered a selection of newspapers and magazines before the flight.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.58 AM

Right before take off, I asked if I could move to the first row because 1D and 1F were both empty. When the flight attendant confirmed that they would remain empty, he told me I could move.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.20 AMIn general Etihad Business Class on the A321 has a lot of leg room. While the seat is similar to domestic First Class on an American airline, you have about 11 extra inches of legroom. If anything, the bulkhead probably has a little less legroom, but it has plenty for my 6’4″ frame.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.27.25 AMThe last order of business before take off was to take dinner orders. I went with the chicken.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.20 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.31 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.43 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.48 AM Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.28.53 AM
We pushed back three minutes early and were quickly in the air. Dinner service commenced rapidly. Twenty-three minutes after take off, I had this tray in front of me.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.32 AM The chicken dish was exemplary. I also really enjoyed the olive oil and balsamic vinagrette combination with the personal bread basket.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.39 AMAfter dinner, I reclined the seat to watch a movie.

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.14 AMEtihad has a wide selection of movies available on a touch screen that pops out of your armrest.
Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.29.44 AM The four hours in the air passed quickly between movies and reading.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.30.30 AM Shortly before landing, flight attendants passed out individual cards with our connecting information, a nice touch.Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 10.30.38 AM

We landed a few minutes early and taxied to a remote stand. There was a bus exclusively for the 14 Business Class passengers, so we got to the terminal quickly where we had to clear security before I could head to the lounge.

Overall

For a mid-haul flight, Etihad Business Class offers a very nice product. While not a flat bed, you get a seat with generous recline and a ton of leg room. The entertainment offering is varied, and the food is very good.

I did think that the pillow worked better in theory than in practice. It is a nice, medium-sized pillow. I probably would have loved it on a lie flat bed. However, when reclined on a seat, it was a bit too thick for my taste, so I mostly didn’t use it.

The flight attendants were quick and friendly.

Etihad Business Class was a nice way to get to Abu Dhabi for the main event–Etihad First Class on an A380–but I wouldn’t pay much a premium to fly it on short flights.

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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.

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.

On the Etihad A380 in First Class, there is a ton of food and a dedicated chef. You can eat as much of the food as you’d like, prepared to your specifications, whenever you want.

Similarly, there is enough booze to send an entire frat to the emergency room, and you can drink as much as you’d like whenever you want.

When I was escorted to my suite upon boarding (see that beauty here), I was asked if I’d like a drink. I ordered champagne, and Bollinger 2005 was poured at my seat.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.39.29 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.39.39 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.39.54 PM

The champagne was served with dates and a hot towel.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.57 PMBefore take off, I was given the food and beverage menus.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.26.39 PM

The food menu had some appetizers and entrees listed; some proteins, sides, and sauces listed for you to mix-and-match for yourself; and snacks, desserts, and breakfast options.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.03 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.08 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.12 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.16 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.20 PM The drinks menu had 11 wines listed plus beers, spirits, cocktails, mocktails, and soft drinks.Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.45 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.24.49 PM

I was stuffed from the lounge (report here) and my previous flight and exhausted since we took off at 4:27 AM, so I didn’t order anything else before take off.

When I woke up, the flight was more than halfway done, so I was ready to start taking advantage of the elaborate offerings.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.46 PM I had a mimosa and water brought to me while I contemplated my order.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.31.56 PMAfter careful consideration, I went with the Arabic mezze to start, followed by the tenderloin served with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and roasted new potatoes.

I asked about breakfast in bed, and the flight attendant told me that while it was possible he didn’t recommend it because the tray was so small that my order wouldn’t comfortably fit on it. Instead, I dined at the large table in front of my seat while I watched live BBC.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.08 PMA fennel terracotta was served as an amuse bouche.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.13 PM It amused my bouche. but I was ready for the main event, which I had paired with a Heineken, Chivas 18 on the rocks, and a water.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.18 PM Next came the Arabic mezze, which had a variety of delicious bites. I really liked the hummus and ate all of it before the flight attendant realized he had forgotten to serve the mezze with pita.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.22 PMEverything about the meal service is personalized, and the flight attendant was coming past my seat every few minutes to clear my plate and bring the next course. The third course was a very tasty three bites of orange sorbet to clear the palate.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.40 PMFinally I got to the main course.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.51 PMThe steak was cooked to my specification–medium–which is unusual for a flight. The highlight was the oven roasted potatoes, which tasted even better bathed in the jus with which I had ordered my steak.
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.32.57 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.10 PM Finally for dessert, I selected the chef’s special–a take on tiramisu, which was creamy and decadent.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.15 PM I don’t know where my head was, probably floating along somewhere with the Chivas 18, but I didn’t order any cheeses after the meal, which is often my favorite course. By the way, my take on Chivas 18 is that it tastes better and smoother than other whiskeys I’ve tried, but it doesn’t taste good. I couldn’t imagine just sitting around and sipping it for its taste. I imagine it is an acquired taste, and I don’t plan on acquiring.

As the flight continued, I read, watched movies and TV, and used the inflight internet, which was fast enough to watch ESPN highlight videos for the steep price of $22 for the flight.

As I did all those things, I ordered more drinks. I had a Bloody Mary…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.20 PM…a glass of rosé…

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.34.09 PM…and a scredwriver with a splash of lemon-lime juice. All the drinks tasted great and were promptly served.

Other than my shower and a quick look at the onboard lounge, I stayed in my suite the whole time. The onboard lounge directly behind the first class cabin has two couches, a small table, and some alcohol displayed.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.31 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.28.54 PM

It doesn’t have the atmosphere or appeal of the bar on the Emirates A380. While I spend the majority of Emirates flights at the bar, I only spent 15 minutes here, and I think it was deserted through most of the flight.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.34.47 PM Two hours before take off, I decided to have a snack. I ordered the Etihad steak sandwich and french fries, to be served to me in bed while I watched TV. The flight attendant promptly brought me a small tray with the sandwich and potato chips. He explained that there had been a miscommunication about my french fries, and that they were already cooking.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.33.57 PM The fries were served a few minutes later.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.34.02 PMThe steak sandwich is really quite delicious, and I recommend it as a snack after you’ve had the full meal experience.

Bottom Line

The food and beverage selection and execution in Etihad First Class is superb, the equivalent of a nice, free restaurant on the ground. (Where are those?)

Shout out to Chef Dash for making it happen!
Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.34.56 PM

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.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

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:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
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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.

26

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

Etihad Brussels redemption chart

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 is 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 22,000 ThankYou Points or in Business Class for 37,000 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.
  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.

Bottom Line

The best case scenario is that you can book a roundtrip Business Class flight to Europe without fuel surcharges for 37,000 ThankYou Points. 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.

Happy hunting. 

This deal wouldn’t be possible without Citi ThankYou points. Luckily, 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

With the miles earned from the sign-up bonuses of the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, you could have 96,000 ThankYou points. That’s more than enough to book two 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.

I landed in Abu Dhabi at 12:30 AM from Chennai, about three hours before my scheduled departure to New York of 3:20 AM. I was excited to spend time in the Etihad Premium Lounge, though I didn’t know how I’d fit everything in since my boarding pass listed a boarding time of 1:50 AM.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.19.39 PM For now, First Class and Business Class (even Residence) passengers all share the Etihad Premium Lounge. A new lounge for First Class and Residence passengers is scheduled to open in May. First Class passengers have a special section that is roped off, which is where I set my bags to have a look around.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.09 PMAt the back of the First Class area is another roped off private room for the Residence passengers, which was empty.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.03 PM

The lounge is fairly large with several buffet stations that mostly repeat each other. In the back of the lounge are a salon and a spa.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.20.22 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.20.10 PMEach offer a free service to First Class passengers.

At the salon, the options are an “Express Clipper Cut,” “Express Wet Shave,” and “Express Beard Trim and Tidy.” I love a true wet shave and hadn’t had a proper shave in about two years, so I scheduled one for 1 AM.
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.19.46 PM Then I went next door to the spa where there were five options for free 15 minute massages: back, foot, hand, “The Hedonist,” and “The Realignment.” Plus there two facial options. In retrospect, I should have gotten my first facial, but I scheduled “The Hedonist” instead for 1:40 AM. If I had been even a few minutes later, I wouldn’t have been able to squeeze a massage in before my flight because the spots book up quickly.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.20.16 PM

Buffets

I had about 15 minutes to kill before my shave, so I took a look around. The buffets have a wide range of Western and Eastern foods. Here’s just a small sample of what was available.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.21.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.21.44 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.21.50 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.21.56 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.01 PM a Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.33 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.37 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.46 PMThe buffets were spread out in the lounge among the many seating areas, which had a variety of possible seats and were all relatively full.

Seating Areas

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.15 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.22 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.52 PM

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.50 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.05 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.11 PM

First Class Menu & Secret Menu

A few of the food options intrigued, but I wanted to see if First Class passengers had other options, so I held off on food for the moment. and went back to the First Class section. A waiter appeared with a menu, which read as follows:Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.22.57 PM I immediately recognized all of the items from the various buffets, which was a bit of a letdown. When I asked, “Oh so it’s basically the stuff from the buffet, but you bring us the plate?,” he said, “Yes, but there is also a secret menu for First Class.”

The “secret” menu is unwritten, but he offered me steak, shrimp, and chicken curry.

When I selected the filet medium, he offered several possible sauces and sides, and I went with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. He also listed the fresh juices, and I selected orange. I asked him to bring the steak at 1:15 AM, since that’s when my shave was scheduled to end, and I headed back to the salon.

The Shave

I really enjoyed the shave! I was sporting several weeks of growth, so it was a tall order, but the barber was up to the task. The salon area had two chairs and two friendly and skilled barbers who were working nonstop on appointment after appointment.

Fifteen minutes after this…

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.14 PM …I looked five years younger. (Booo! Good thing it grew back in a few days.) :)Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.27 PM

Midnight Snack

When the shave wrapped up, I headed back the First Class section, and when the waiter saw me, he brought my meal right out. Overall the waiter was excellent and very solicitous. “Can I bring you some bread? Another drink? Dessert?” etc. He was really trying to give away the free food.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.35 PM I supplemented my steak with a plate of mashed potatoes, chili, and jalapeños from the buffet.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.40 PM Both plates were excellent, though skipping food entirely is also a reasonable choice since the onboard food is amazing as well. After my midnight snack, I headed to the spa for my massage.

Massage

“The Hedonist” is designed to “release headaches and stress, and induce relaxation with a gentle massage of pressure points.” All of that appealed to me, since I planned on sleeping as soon as I boarded. (And that is what happened.)
Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.23.46 PM For the massage, I laid on the table, and the masseuse stood near my head. She massaged head, face, neck, and shoulders. It was a fantastic massage that I wish had lasted a full hour like the free massage you get when flying Thai Airways First Class out of Bangkok, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The massage ended at 1:55 AM, 85 minutes before my flight, but five minutes after the boarding time listed on my boarding pass. By this point, the lounge had emptied out considerably, and I headed straight to the boarding gate.

U.S. Preclearance

Abu Dhabi has U.S. Preclearance, which means United States Customs and Border Patrol performs immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi, and you arrive in the United States as if you were a domestic passenger.

In theory, I’m sure this is great for a lot of people. I have Global Entry, though, and I would have spent a lot less time in U.S. customs and immigrations had preclearance not existed. Here’s the process.

Step 1: Get in the Premium Boarding Line to have your passport and boarding pass checked. I’m sure having a separate line is useful a little bit earlier, but by the time I arrived both lines were deserted.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.16 PM

Step 2: Wait, wait, wait. Apparently when I got there, immigration was so backed up that they had us wait in a holding area before going any further. I was able to access free wifi here, so the 35 minutes sitting down was no big deal. A huge crowd had assembled by 2:36 AM when Etihad representatives began allowing First and Business Class passengers to proceed.

Step 3: Security, which was my third security screening for only two flights. (Pre-Chennai flight, upon landing in Abu Dhabi, and pre-Abu Dhabi flight.)

Step 4: U.S. immigration, which did have Global Entry machines. Good thing I have that because there were still a lot of people in the regular lines.

Step 5: U.S. customs, which is a breeze if you have Global Entry.

Until going through preclearance, I wasn’t sure whether there were Global Entry machines in Abu Dhabi. Now that I know that there are, I would have asked Etihad personnel if I could go through instead of waiting 35 minutes before security, since I had Global Entry. Test out their response and share it in the comments if you get a chance.

Because you are requested to start this process 90 minutes before your flight, you might finish with a lot of time before boarding. For that reason, Etihad has a U.S. Premium Lounge by the gates for flights to the United States.

U.S. Premium Lounge, Abu Dhabi

By the time I arrived, my flight’s boarding was already underway, so I just popped in for some photos. It was a smaller version of the main Etihad Premium Lounge with a limited selection of the same food and drink options.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.22 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.28 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.38 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.43 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.24.48 PM

Boarding

Finally at 2:51 AM, I boarded the plane while Group 2 was boarding, only 29 minutes before the scheduled departure. (We ended up not pushing back until 4:07 AM. No reason was given on board, which would have annoyed me if I were in economy, but I was thrilled to get extra time in First Class. I assume the delay was for people passing customs and immigration.)Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.25.00 PM

Continue reading about the flight itself here.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 1.29.44 PM

Bottom Line & How to Access the Etihad Premium Lounge

Etihad’s ground services stand out the free 15 minute shave or hair cut and the free 15 minute massage for First Class passengers. The food options are very good, but a half step below some other world class lounges. Overall I preferred the Thai Airways First Class lounge in Bangkok and Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai.

The rest of the ground experience in Abu Dhabi is annoying–having to clear customs and immigration and sit around for 35 minutes greatly took away from my lounge time. This was partially, but not completely, made up for by the smooth arrival as a domestic passenger in New York.

Business and First Class passengers can access the Etihad Premium Lounge.

In May 2015, I booked my First Class 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.

Business Class costs 67,500 American Airlines miles right now and goes up to 70,000 miles on March 22.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

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.

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:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
------------------------------------------------------------

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.

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.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

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:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®
------------------------------------------------------------

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!

------------------------------------------------------------

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.

------------------------------------------------------------

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.

29

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.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

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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