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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Update at 11:45 PM: A previous version of this post speculated the space was phantom because I couldn’t book it on my only attempt before writing the post and rushing to dinner. Many people commented they had booked the space, and I succeeded in booking myself a January 2016 flight from Abu Dhabi to New York in Etihad First Class apartments.

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Award space is wide open for two passengers on almost every flight from New York to Abu Dhabi and vice versa between December 1, 2015, when Etihad starts flying its A380 to New York, and the end of the schedule in March 2016. (Hat Tip Lucky)

I was excited to see the space because just last week I wrote that there was no space in First Class on the A380 on the route.

I want to fly the route because First Class features a shower, and each suite has a couch/bed and seat. The plane looks amazing.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

JFK to Abu Dhabi

Here is award space in January and February from JFK to Abu Dhabi. All the days that say “Miles 111000″ have award space for two passengers in First Class on the A380.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 6.14.33 PM

Abu Dhabi to JFK

And here is the space on the route at the beginning of the A380’s time on the schedule from Abu Dhabi to JFK. All the days that say “Miles 111346″ have award space for two passengers in First Class on the A380.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 6.20.07 PM

I don’t see award space past March 18 although the award booking calendar extends a few weeks beyond that. Come to think of it, that’s a pattern for A380 First Class I’ve noticed: no availability in the last few weeks of the schedule.Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 6.18.44 PM

Excited I decided to book myself an award for 90,000 American Airlines miles + taxes. The 90,000 mile price is the same whether you start in New York or anywhere else in North America to which Etihad publishes a fare, and the same whether you end in Abu Dhabi or anywhere else in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives.

I decided to start my award in Chennai, India because I have never visited India. I decided to end my award in Los Angeles because it will allow me to tack on New York to Los Angeles in a flat bed on American Airlines’ A321 for zero extra miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 4.39.10 PM

I found a date in January to fly from Chennai to Abu Dhabi in Business Class, then two hours later from Abu Dhabi to New York in an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, then two hours later from New York to Los Angeles in another flying First Class bed.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.58.32 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 10.59.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 11.00.08 PM

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

 

 

It is worth noting that on my first call, the agent did not see the award space I saw on etihad.com, and on the second, she didn’t see space on every date where I saw it. You may need to hang up and call again or be flexible.

I’m ecstatic with my award: 15 hours in one of the nicest commercial cabins in the world, six more hours testing out American Airlines’ transcontinental First Class, and my first trip to India!

Further Reading

————————————————————————————————————
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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 an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

 

8

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What’s so special about Etihad’s route from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi? It’s the only American route of the fanciest commercial cabin in the world, with the westbound flight clocking in at just under 15 hours.

Source: gcmap.com
Source: gcmap.com

The First Class suite with a couch/bed and seat costs 90,000 American Airlines miles between the United States and the Middle East/India if Etihad releases award space. Even if you don’t live in New York, you can connect there in American Airlines First Class for zero extra miles on the award (assuming you are following the rules in this post.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Plus the Etihad A380 has a shower for First Class passengers and onboard lounge/bar.

Pretty soon I’ll head to Europe for four months, and I would love to fly the Etihad A380 between London and Abu Dhabi while I’m there. (I ran down that award space in this post.)

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings, so the award would only cost 81,000 miles net.

Or you can get the business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Or you can get both cards and get 62,000 American Airlines miles after meeting their spending requirements.

But there’s a problem…

Award Space

Right now, Etihad flights are bookable through late March 2016. The New York to Abi Dhabi route starts December 1, 2015, so there are about four months of bookable flights in each direction and zero award space in First Class.

There are a lot of days with GuestSeat availability in First Class on the daily flight operated by a 777, but none on the A380.

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.19.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.19.43 AM

Seriously, almost every day has award space in First Class you can book with American Airlines miles–all the days below that say “Miles 111000″–but none of that space is on the A380.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.23.08 AM

 

In the past few months, occasionally award space has opened up in First Class on the A380. That’s always quickly disappeared or been booked.

Hopefully going forward award space opens up in First Class on the A380 between Abu Dhabi and JFK in at least one direction.

Here’s award space on the other two Etihad A380 routes for comparison, both of which have award space for 1-2 people on many days:

Booking Etihad Awards with AA Miles

First read: How to Search Etihad Award Space

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Etihad award flights. You just find the award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book it, and pay the government taxes on the flights. (There is no longer a fee to book American Airlines awards that can’t be booked online, like Etihad flights, by phone.)

Tips for Award Searches

Ignore the miles price listed on etihad.com. You will pay 90,000 American Airlines miles instead.

American Airlines only has access to award space in the “GuestSeat” column. You’ll notice this space prices out for about 111,000 Etihad miles. Knowing what Etihad charges is convenient because it allows you to scan the dates at the top of your award search to see which dates have GuestSeat award space. (Again, you won’t pay 111,000 miles, but knowing what Etihad charges makes award searching quicker.)

Bottom Line

Starting December 1, 2015, one daily frequency of Etihad’s New York to Abu Dhabi service will feature an A380. If you want to fly the product for 90,000 miles one way (or 81,000 if you get the 10% rebate given to people with a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®), we’re still waiting for sustained First Class award space to be released.

Award space is better on the longer flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and London to Abu Dhabi.

I’ll continue monitoring award space on this route in First Class to improve my understanding of the award space patterns on this route.

Further Reading

Application Links

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

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 an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

5

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

What’s so special about Etihad’s route from Sydney to Abu Dhabi? It’s the longest route of the fanciest commercial cabin in the world, with the westbound flight clocking in at just under 15 hours.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 8.57.49 PM

This suite with a couch/bed and seat costs only 60,000 American Airlines miles between Australia and the Middle East/India.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Plus the Etihad A380 has a shower for First Class passengers and onboard lounge/bar.

Pretty soon I’ll head to Europe for four months, and I would love to fly the Etihad A380 between London and Abu Dhabi while I’m there. (I ran down that award space in this post.)

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings, so the award would only cost 54,000 miles net.

Or you can get the business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Or you can get both cards and get 62,000 American Airlines miles after meeting their spending requirements.

With my goal to fly the Etihad A380 in mind, I took a look at award space between Sydney and Abu Dhabi for the next 11 months, and here’s what I found.

Booking Etihad Awards with AA Miles

First read: How to Search Etihad Award Space

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Etihad award flights. You just find the award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book it, and pay the government taxes on the flights. (There is no longer a fee to book American Airlines awards that can’t be booked online, like Etihad flights, by phone.)

From Sydney to Abu Dhabi, you will pay 85 AUD ($65) plus the 60,000 American Airlines miles for a First Class award.

 

From Abu Dhabi to Sydney, you will pay 160 AED ($44) plus the 60,000 American Airlines miles for a First Class award.

Tips for Award Searches

Ignore the miles price listed on etihad.com. You will pay 60,000 American Airlines miles instead.

American Airlines only has access to award space in the “GuestSeat” column. You’ll notice this space prices out for about 120,000 Etihad miles. Knowing what Etihad charges is convenient because it allows you to scan the dates at the top of your award search to see which dates have GuestSeat award space. (Again, you won’t pay 120,000 miles, but knowing what Etihad charges makes award searching quicker.)

Award Space

Etihad has two daily flights in each direction between Sydney and Abu Dhabi. Right now neither is serviced by an A380. Starting June 1, one of the flights will be serviced by an A380.

Abu Dhabi to Sydney Award Space

The first day with award space from Abu Dhabi to Sydney at the moment is June 27.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.17.52 PM

Award space is infrequent for the first several months, but when there is space, there are occasionally two First Class award seats on the same plane like on July 6.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.18.30 PM

By mid-September award space increases some like this week with award space on three days…Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.20.58 PM

…or these back-to-back days with award space in October…Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.22.19 PM

…or these five days in a row with award space in February.
Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.24.03 PM

But the bottom line on award space between Abu Dhabi and Sydney is that I see no grand pattern of availability, and it is never very good for very long. If you want to fly the Etihad A380 in First Class on its longest route, you need to find award space on the flight and build the rest of your trip around the award space. It’s not a route where you can find your hotels and activities first, and then just assume space will be easy to find.

Syndey to Abu Dhabi

Flying into the wind, the westbound is about an hour longer, and award space is MUCH better.

Here is a week in July with award space on five days in First Class from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.25.47 PM

And in July, here’s a week with award space on six days.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.26.09 PM

In August, there is a week during which award space is available on six days.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.26.48 PMIn January 2016, there is a week with award space on five days.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 2.27.40 PM

Bottom Line

Starting June 1, one daily frequency of Etihad’s Abu Dhabi to Sydney service will feature an A380. If you want to fly the product for 60,000 miles one way (or 54,000 if you get the 10% rebate given to people with a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®), book your award space on these flights now for travel through March 2016.

Award space is better on the longer flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

I’ll continue monitoring award space on this route in First Class to improve my understanding of the award space patterns on this route.

Further Reading

Application Links

 

 

8

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

What’s so special about Etihad’s route from London to Abu Dhabi? It’s the cheapest way to get into the fanciest commercial cabin in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 1.13.46 AM
Source: gcmap.com

 

This suite with a couch/bed and seat costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between Europe and the Middle East/India.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Plus the Etihad A380 has a shower for First Class passengers and onboard lounge/bar.

Pretty soon I’ll head to Europe for four months, and I would love to fly the Etihad A380 between London and Abu Dhabi while I’m there.

Its 40,000 mile price is just more than the sign up bonus on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, which comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings, so the award would only cost 36,000 miles net.

Or you can get the business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Or you can get both cards and get 62,000 American Airlines miles after meeting their spending requirements.

With my goal to fly the Etihad A380 in mind, I took a look at award space between London and Abu Dhabi for the next 11 months, and here’s what I found.

Booking Etihad Awards with AA Miles

First read: How to Search Etihad Award Space

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Etihad award flights. You just find the award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book it, and pay the government taxes on the flights. (There is no longer a fee to book American Airlines awards that can’t be booked online, like Etihad flights, by phone.)

The United Kingdom has the world’s highest departure taxes, and the United Arab Emirates has very low departure taxes, so the direction you choose to fly matters a lot for price.

From London to Abu Dhabi, you will pay 185 GBP ($276) plus the 40,000 American Airlines miles for a First Class award.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.34.20 AM

From Abu Dhabi to London, you will pay 80 AED ($22) plus the 40,000 American Airlines miles for a First Class award. That’s $254 less to fly westbound, which also happens to be a one hour longer flight, since it is into the wind.
Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.35.47 AM

Tips for Award Searches

Ignore the miles price listed on etihad.com. You will pay 40,000 American Airlines miles instead.

Ignore the cash component listed next to the mileage price. That includes a small fuel surcharge that you will not pay when booking an American Airlines award. You’ll pay the taxes listed above.

American Airlines only has access to award space in the “GuestSeat” column. You’ll notice this space prices out in the 54,000 to 55,000 Etihad miles range. That’s convenient to scan the dates at the top of your award search to see which dates have award space for that price. (Again, you won’t pay that price, but knowing it makes award searching quicker.)

Award Space

Etihad has three daily flights in each direction between London and Abu Dhabi. Right now only one of those is served by an A380. By June, two will be. By August, all three are on A380s on most days.

Right now there is occasional award space on the daily A380 frequency. The next date from London to Abu Dhabi with First Class space on the A380 is April 24.
Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.25.57 PM

Space is infrequent on the A380 frequency this Spring. The second date with space is May 12.
Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.28.46 PM

By late June, I see more award space on the A380 in First Class, probably due to the second daily A380 frequency.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.32.15 PM

There are dates with two award seats on the same flight in Etihad A380 First Class, but that’s pretty rare in Spring and Summer 2015.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.33.51 PM
In August, all three frequencies are served by A380s most–but not all–days. Award space becomes more common. August 18 has two A380 flights from London to Abu Dhabi, one with one First Class seat and one with two.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.35.36 PM

By late September, award space drastically improves. October 1 has two flights with two award seats each in First Class. And as you can see, several days that week have award space in First Class on the Etihad A380.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.39.03 PM

Check out this week in mid-November with six dates with award space in Etihad First Class, some days with multiple flights with award space and multiple seats on each flight.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.41.24 PM

So far I’ve only shown London to Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi to London (below) shows similar patterns of award space inclduing the wide open availability in mid-November on tons of flights.Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.42.25 PM

Bottom Line

For the next few months, there is some award space in Etihad First Class on their A380 between London and Abu Dhabi. If you want to fly the product for 40,000 miles one way before August, make securing this flight your top priority, and build your trip around the award space.

In September, October, and November award space gets a lot better. In those months, you can integrate award space into a trip plan more easily.

Whether the change in award space has to do with the season, how far out you search, or the fact that more frequencies will be on the A380 by August is hard to say. I’ll continue monitoring award space on this route in First Class to have a better mental model of the cheapest way to fly the fanciest commercial airplane.

Further Reading

Application Links

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

On many routes, Etihad releases tons of Business and First Class award space within one week of departure. You can book this ultra-luxury award space without fuel surcharges with American Airlines miles.

Twitter follower Patrick found four Etihad First Class award seats this week on a flight from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi and asked whether that was normal.

The answer is that it depends on the route. Let’s take a look at three routes in Business and First Class to find the pattern:

  • London <-> Abu Dhabi (A380)
  • Washington-Dulles <-> Abu Dhabi (787 starting 3/15/15)
  • New York-JFK <-> Abu Dhabi (A380 starting 12/1/15)

The Product

Etihad First Class on its newest A380 has a couch that seats several people and a separate bed and costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between London and Abu Dhabi. (When it starts flying New York to Abu Dhabi in December, it will cost 90,000 miles each way.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Etihad’s fully enclosed suites are the most spacious in the sky. Etihad First Class also features an onboard shower and lounge.

Getting the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, which comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, give you enough miles to fly Etihad First Class. The card even gives you an automatic 10% rebate on all America Airlines awards (up to 100,000 AA miles redeemed per year), so the final cost is 36,000 miles.

Etihad Business Class is a fully flat bed that costs 30,000 American Airlines miles between Europe and the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent or 67,500 miles between the United States and the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent.

Award Space in the Last Three Weeks

I looked at award space over the next three weeks in Business and First Class on etihad.com. Here’s how to search for award space on etihad.com. For the purposes of this post, just remember that American Airlines can only book award space in the GuestSeat column on etihad.com.

Abu Dhabi <-> London

Abu Dhabi to London didn’t show much First Class award space over the next three weeks. There’s only one day with space, it only has one seat, and it isn’t even on the A380 flight.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.18.30 AM

In Business Class, Abu Dhabi to London also only had one day with award space in the next three weeks.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.19.47 AM

But this was not the pattern for all the routes. For instance, London to Abu Dhabi shows fantastic award space in Business and First Class in the next few weeks.

Six out of the next seven days–all the days that say “Miles 43857″ on the calendar–have Business Class space between London and Abu Dhabi. (Remember that American will only charge 30,000 miles for this space not 43,857 miles.) Many of the dates, like March 12 below, have award space in Business Class on both daily flights including the A380 service.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.20.56 AM

When there are six or fewer seats available for awards, that fact is noted in the search results, and yet that fact is not noted in the screenshot above meaning there are 7+ award seats in Business Class on each flight that you can book with American Airlines miles.

The award space in Business Class from London to Abu Dhabi appears to open up one week before departure because none is available after March 16. (On this route in Business, Saver award space is denoted by “Miles 43857.”)Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.21.29 AM

In First Class, the award space from London to Abu Dhabi is also wide open for the next week with award space every day, denoted by “Miles 54949.”Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.22.12 AM

Many days have 1-2 seats on the A380 service.

This space also appears to open up one week before departure because between one and three weeks out, there is only one more day with First Class award space, March 18.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.22.26 AM

Washington-Dulles to Abu Dhabi

Etihad puts its new 787-9 Dreamliner on the Dulles route Sunday. First Class award space–denoted by “Miles 114444″ on the calendars below–is excellent on the route within one week of departure with up to four First Class seats being released.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.23.31 AM

Beyond this week, there are three other days in the next three weeks with First Class award space between Washington and Abu Dhabi, March 27-29.
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.23.45 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.23.56 AM

Right now these days just have one seat on the Dreamliner, though more space is likely to open within one week of departure.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.24.08 AM From Abu Dhabi to Washington, we see the same pattern, excellent First Class award space–denoted by dates that say “Miles 114640″ below–within one week of departure.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.24.41 AM

Two and three weeks out, there is no award space.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.24.59 AM

New York <-> Abu Dhabi

There are two daily flights between New York and Abu Dhabi. On December 1, 2015, the A380 will begin to fly one of those frequencies. As of March 8, there was no award space on the A380 in First Class for any date it is scheduled to fly. (Some briefly opened and was either booked or taken back.) Will last minute award space open?

From New York to Abu Dhabi, there is award space in First Class for the next week, denoted by “Miles 111000.” Many days have four First Class award seats.
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.25.39 AM

This space is widely available for all of the next three weeks.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.25.54 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.26.04 AM

From Abu Dhabi to New York, the pattern is different. The award space is wide open this week (“Miles 111010″), but not for the two weeks after that.
Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.26.37 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.26.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.27.02 AM

Bottom Line

On some routes, Etihad releases tons of First and Business Class award space as departure approaches. Let me summarize for the routes and cabins I searched:

  • London to Abu Dhabi in First Class: opens up one week before departure
  • London to Abu Dhabi in Business Class: opens up one week before departure
  • Abu Dhabi to London in First Class: does not open up at last minute
  • Abu Dhabi to London in Business Class: does not open up at last minute
  • Washington to Abu Dhabi in First Class: opens up one week before departure
  • Abu Dhabi to Washington in First Class: opens up one week before departure
  • New York to Abu Dhabi in First Class: widely available the three weeks before departure
  • Abu Dhabi to New York in First Class: opens up one week before departure

The most common pattern was widely available award space in the last week before departure. This may not be the pattern for your preferred route and cabin, but you can easily discover your pattern by searching etihad.com.

All the award space in this post can be booked by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Since the space cannot be booked online, American Airlines will not impose a phone booking fee.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Getting both cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 106,000 American Airlines miles soon.

————————————————————————————————————
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

8

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

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.

What You’re Reading

This is the eighth post in one comprehensive guide that tells you everything you need to know about American Airlines miles. Now is the time to write this guide because now is a special time to earn American Airlines miles.

Getting both cards and meeting their minimum spending requirement would earn you 62,000 American Airlines miles, but you can do even better.

This guide will explain the rules, quirks, tricks, and options for redeeming those 156,000 American Airlines miles all in one place. It might just put my Award Booking Service out of business when it comes to redeeming American Airlines miles.

If you find this guide to redeeming the most valuable miles in the world to be useful and want to apply for the credit cards that earn them, 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
  • US Airways
  • Airberlin
  • Qantas (London to Dubai)
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • British Airways

Award space on American Airlines, US Airways, 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 Egypt to Washington DC.

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, and the third, Emirates, only partners with Alaska Airlines among American airlines. 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 have to pay a $35 phone fee per passenger. 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.

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.

Right now the personal and business American Airlines cards are each offering 30,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first three months.

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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 an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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The Etihad A380 is the plane I most want to fly in First Class. The suite is so big, you get a seat and an entire couch/bed next to you. The suite is so big that First Class is in a 1-1 configuration on an A380. (Most airlines are 1-2-1.) The suite is so big that I might barely want to leave it to check out the onboard shower or Lobby lounge. Here’s the Etihad page on their “First Apartments.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

I booked myself First Class on the Etihad 787, but I really want to get on the A380 which already flies from London to Abu Dhabi and begins flying from Abu Dhabi to Sydney on June 1, 2015.

I’ve mentioned a few times that award space between London and Abu Dhabi in both directions is available for up to two people per flight, and that it costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles each way in First Class. That’s a steal!

There are no fuel surcharges. Taxes out of London are high, but here’s how to dump them.

An even better deal, though, is paying only 60,000 American Airlines miles one way in First Class between Abu Dhabi and Sydney for 14+ hour flights–again with no fuel surcharges and just modest taxes.

Award space between Sydney and Abu Dhabi is excellent in both directions, and I often see two award seats on the same flight in First Class.

How to Search Award Space and Award Space Picture

As I mentioned in Where to Search All American Airlines Partners, Etihad award space is searched on etihad.com’s award search page.

First I searched Abu Dhabi to Sydney. This flight leaves at 10:15 PM and lands at 7:05 PM the next day. It’s just shy of 14 hours.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.13.18 PM

Since I would most like to visit Australia near its summer, I searched as late in the award calendar as possible. Award bookings are currently available through about Christmas.

I found no award space in December on the A380 in First Class. But I found ample space in November–on some flights for two passengers–until November 21. That’s already late Spring in Australia, so the weather should be pretty good by then.

Here’s what a typical award search result looks like.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.13.42 PM

Let’s break it down a bit. At the top is a calendar that shows how many miles First Class is each day. We will never pay these amounts. We’ll either pay 60,000 American Airlines miles if there is award space accessible to American Airlines or have no chance to book the space if there isn’t.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.13.49 PM

The miles listed are important though because you pretty quickly distinguish the cheapest price (121,000 in this case) from other prices (612,000 and 823,000.) Only days with the cheapest price have “GuestSeat” availability.

GuestSeat availability is the space that American Airlines miles can access. AA miles cannot access OpenSeat availability.
Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.14.00 PM

On the results, you’ll see how much space is available on each flight and which aircraft operates each flight.

Here you can see that on November 5, there are two seats available to American Airlines miles on the A380 flight.Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.15.43 PM

I also ran the search from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, and award space was basically the exact same. There is no space in December at the moment. There is great space in November for 1 or 2 people, and again the last day with award availability this year is November 21.
Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 10.19.44 PM

The Sydney to Abu Dhabi flight is also a nighttime departure. It leaves at 9:50 PM and lands the next day at 5:30 AM. It is nearly an hour longer at 14 hours, 40 minutes.

I’m not sure which I’d prefer to take. Since take off time is almost the same, I assume I’d get about the same amount of sleep on each flight, probably a few hours after take off. I’d lean toward the westbound flight because it is 50 minutes longer.

To book any Etihad award space, note the date, cabin, and flight number and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

You Don’t Live in Abu Dhabi or Sydney

Hopefully I don’t need to inspire you to THINK BIG with your trip ideas. Miles allow you to make an Abu Dhabi to Sydney flight part of a round-the-world trip booked with a combination of miles. For only 60,000 miles in First Class, this would be a luxurious middle leg that you would definitely enjoy.

Australia and New Zealand have more than you can see in a lifetime, so I wouldn’t hesitate to return no matter how many times I’d been, and Abu Dhabi can be an interesting destination or connection point to somewhere else in the Middle East that you prefer to see.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time by June 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

Etihad First Suite on 787

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I booked myself a First Class award ticket from Cairo, Egypt to Washington DC with 15 hours on the brand new Etihad 787-9 Dreamliner for 90,000 American Airlines miles and a few dollars in taxes. Take a look at the suite:

The Trip

I had already booked myself from the United States to Dubai to Bangkok on two flights in Emirates First Class on its A380. Read that Anatomy of an Award.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.24.04 AM

And from Bangkok to Luxor, Egypt in Business Class on a Qatar A380. Read that Anatomy of an Award. After a week in Thailand, I’ll head to Egpyt for a week.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.24.29 AM

I plan to spend a few days in Luxor and a few days in Cairo. Here is the trick I used to save 47% on my flight from Luxor to Cairo.

To get back from Cairo to Washington DC, I wanted to use American Airlines miles to fly Etihad Airlines. Etihad serves its Abu Dhabi to Washington DC route with a brand new 787-9 Dreamliner.

Award Search

To search for Etihad Awards, create a free Etihad Airways account, and go to the award search page.

My first search was from Cairo to Washington DC in First Class.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.05.36 PM Results look like this.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.06.05 PM

I’ve highlighted the GuestSeat column because that is the award space that American Airlines phone agents can access. They cannot access OpenSeat award space.

My first search showed no GuestSeat award space from Cairo to Washington DC in First Class. The problem is that Cairo to Abu Dhabi doesn’t have First Class, just economy and Business, and Etihad’s search screen won’t mix cabins.

It was time to search segment-by-segment. I started with the longer segment and searched Abu Dhabi to Washington in First Class. Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.08.36 PM
There was award space on my top-choice date. Note the calendar above the search result.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.08.17 PM

The calendar is useful because you can change dates without re-running the search. You can pretty easily tell which dates which will have award space on the calendar by the number of miles listed. OpenSeat prices are usually like 10 times the price of GuestSeat awards in Etihad miles, so on the calendar above, all the days that say “Miles 114650″ have OpenSeat award space and all the “Miles 949486″ or “942226” days don’t.

Of course, we are not going to pay the number of miles listed. Since I used American Airlines miles, I follow American Airlines routing rules and award chart. This is just a handy trick for figuring out quickly which days will have GuestSeat award availability.

I noted the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space I found from Abu Dhabi to Washington DC and moved on to Cairo to Abu Dhabi in Business Class.
Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.09.50 PM
There is award space on this route basically every day. There is a flight that connects in Abu Dhabi with only a two hour layover. I noted its date, cabin, and flight number.Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.10.04 PM

If You Don’t Live in Washington DC

I was done with my award search because I want to go to the Washington DC area. If you want to go somewhere not served directly by Etihad, you’d have another step. You’d want to go to aa.com and find award space from where Etihad flies to your home airport. Then you could move on to the last step, booking the award.

Award Booking

I called American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

I fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the two flights I had found with Etihad GuestSeat availability.

She quickly put together my two flights.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 1.10.28 PM

As I mentioned in “Anatomy of an Award: Qatar A380 Business Class for 30k American Airlines Miles,” I booked my awards from Bangkok to Egypt and Egypt to Washington on one record locator to save $35 on the phone booking fee. (Usually you are only charged one fee per person, no matter how many awards you book at a time.)

The flights from Egypt to the United States cost 90,000 American miles. To the Middle East (including Egypt) and Indian Subcontinent, American charges:

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

The total taxes for both awards were only $72, so let’s attribute $36 to this award.

American only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia award flights, so there were no other taxes, fees, or fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time before 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase on this card will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.

Bottom Line

American Airlines miles are ideal between the United States and the Middle East because American has several partners that fly the routes with excellent products like Etihad and Qatar.

I booked myself Etihad First Class on its brand new 787-9 for 90,000 miles one way plus low government taxes, no fuel surcharges, and a modest phone fee. I saved myself $35 in phone fees by booking this award at the same time as my Qatar Business Class award on the same trip.

The American Airlines personal and business cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after $3,000 spending in the first three months.

Etihad First Suite on 787
Etihad First Suite on 787

Searching for GuestSeat space on etihad.com and calling American Airlines to book the flight were a snap.

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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

 

 

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Etihad and Qantas both fly their stunning A380s with ultra-luxurious First Classes out of London. You can get on both for only 40,000 American Airlines miles one way, and you can do it while avoiding the big London departure tax.

Etihad First Class on its newest A380 has a couch that seats several people and a separate bed and costs only 40,000 American Airlines miles between London and Abu Dhabi.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

Etihad’s fully enclosed suites are the most spacious in the sky.

Award space is widely available on the A380 between London and Abu Dhabi and from there to the rest of the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and Maldives for zero extra miles.

If you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, which comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, you will even get an automatic 10% rebate on your award, so the final cost is 36,000 miles.

Qantas First Class costs only 40,000 (36,000) American Airlines miles between London and Dubai.

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM

…or a table for two.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.33.16 PM

Qantas First Class is widely available between London and Dubai, Dubai and Sydney, and London and Sydney for low mileage prices.

The problem is that if you fly either of these beauties on an award beginning in London, you’ll pay $273+ in taxes.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.07.15 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.07.21 AMThe UK charges an arm and a leg to departing passengers (but not to arriving or connecting passengers), and extra if you fly in a premium cabin.

Solution 1: Arrive in London

You can fly these products from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to London and avoid the departure tax in London.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.30.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.30.57 AM

 

But what if you’re going east?

Solution 2: Connect in London

I’m looking at flying something like London to Abu Dhabi in Etiahd First Class on the A380 and Abu Dhabi to Mumbai in Etihad First Class on the 787.

But I don’t want to pay almost $300 in taxes.

If I just start the award anywhere else in Europe and connect in London, I can save a bundle. For instance, starting in Dublin and flying to London drops the taxes $273 to $62. Flying the first leg on British Airways does add in a $40 fuel surcharge, but I’d still come out $170+ ahead.

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.06.14 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.06.30 AM

And I could start in other countries and look to fly other partners than British Airways like airberlin or Finnair to lower taxes further and eliminate fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

We also know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time before 2015.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting all three cards now and meeting their spending requirements means you will have at least 156,000 American Airlines miles by June.
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Pay your award taxes and fees with the Arrival Plus then redeem Arrival miles to remove the charge.

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Your miles are as valuable as you are creative. For instance, you can combine two luxurious A380 First Classes onto one American Airlines award.

British Airways flies an A380 daily between Los Angeles and London. Qantas flies an A380 daily from London to Dubai (it continues to Sydney.)

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 8.25.13 PM
from gcmap.com

Although American Airlines has strict rules on transiting one region to get to another, it is ALLOWED to transit Europe on your way to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region.

Combined the award costs 90,000 American Airlines miles one way.

The drawback is really high taxes and fees, but even here I see a silver lining.

The Products

First Class on the Qantas A380 taunted me with its near emptiness when I flew from Melbourne to Los Angeles in Business Class last year.

Qantas A380 Seat

I saw the British Airways First Class Suites on the A380 up close last year on a trip from Frankfurt to London as British Airways used the short hops to get the crew familiar with the plane.

British Airways A380 First Class Suite

Just Los Angeles to London

Los Angeles to London one way has $480 in taxes and fees, including $452 in fuel surcharges. (American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights.) That totally stinks, but it is tempting for a 10.5 hour flight in First Class on an A380 for only 62,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.38 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.50 PM

Just Los Angeles to Dubai

Departing London in a premium cabin has massive taxes. London to Dubai has $288 in taxes. That’s why if you only want to go one way for 40,000 American Airlines miles in an awesome First Class between the Middle East and Europe, I recommend flying west into London to avoid those departure taxes.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.24.56 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.25.01 PM

The Silver Lining

Combine these two flights onto one awards, and you save big on miles and taxes. Instead of 62,500 + 40,000 miles (both of which are a steal), the one way First Class award is 90,000 miles.

Instead of $480 + $288 ($768) in taxes and fees, you pay $530 total. The big savings is because the less-than-24-hour layover in London means you are not considered to originate in the UK, which triggers the nasty taxes we saw from London to Dubai.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.25.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 2.25.13 PM

That’s 17.5 hours in luxury for 90,000 miles and $530. Delta miles can’t even be used for International First Class. United would charge at least 140,000 miles for the same award. When you look at it that way, it starts to get tempting.

Other Options

Scrap the British Airways First Class and save $452. You could fly American Airlines First Class instead, but the product isn’t as nice and award space is harder to find.

From London, you can fly Etihad First Class on its A380 to Abu Dhabi (and beyond) or Qatar Business Class on its A380 to Doha and beyond. I haven’t seen Qatar release First Class award space on the route.

You can continue to anywhere in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives for no extra miles if the airline that connects you from the United States to Europe publishes a fare from your starting city to your final destination. That’s a big “if.” (See Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards for more info on this rule and how to figure out if you comply.)

You can start anywhere in North America and connect to Los Angeles on American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights, subject to the same “published fare rule.”

I’m Talking Myself Into This Award

I need to get from the United States to Europe in April. I might fly an award like this and spend a few days somewhere in the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region before returning to Europe. I could sample three A380 First Class products on such a trip–two as outlined in this post and Etihad First Class on the A380 on the return, stay tuned tomorrow–see a region I’ve never seen, and have a few interesting reviews for this blog.

Ninety thousand American Airlines miles is a lot, and $530 is more than I’ve ever laid out for an award, but it’s so tempting.

Getting the Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Getting both cards now and meeting both spending requirements means you will have at least 106,000 American Airlines miles in early 2015.

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American Airlines’ non-oneworld partner, Etihad, has fantastic award space to the Middle East, India, and the Maldives. Etihad also features one of the world’s nicest First Class suites and world-class flat beds in business class.

(Since Etihad is not a oneworld airlines, and it is not a US Airways partner, US Airways miles cannot be used to book Etihad flights.)

Etihad award space is not bookable on aa.com, so you always have to call American Airlines to book the space. Unfortunately since late May 2014, American Airlines phone agents couldn’t see or book Etihad award space on any routes.

This problem has been resolved. American Airlines agents can now see and book all the award space that Etihad releases to partners.

In general, that’s quite a lot of space since American Airlines is the only American partner of Etihad and Etihad’s space isn’t bookable online, which protects it from non-expert award searchers.

  • How do you search for Etihad award space?
  • Is Etihad reliable about releasing premium cabin award seats?
  • Once you find Etihad seats, how do you book them?

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Etihad is an incredible partner of American Airlines. Etihad is not part of American’s oneworld alliance, nor is it a partner of US Airways, but you can use American Airlines miles to fly Etihad in style to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and beyond.

We explained how to search and book Etihad award space with American Airlines miles in “Anatomy of an Award: Booking Etihad Business Class Using American Miles.”

Etihad First Class
Etihad First Class

Etihad’s First Class is a fully enclosed suite. Etihad Business Class is a fully flat bed. And Etihad flies to several North American cities, with particularly great First Class award space to/from Washington-Dulles:

While I salivate about riding in Etihad First Class for 90,000 miles each way between the United States and the Middle East, Maldives, or Indian Subcontinent, there’s a bit of a hiccup.

American Airlines agents cannot book Etihad flights for the moment.

  • Why can’t American Airlines agents book Etihad flights?
  • What is your workaround?

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Etihad has announced that its new A380s, which will begin flying this year, will have a three-room Residence for up to two passengers. This will be the nicest cabin on any commercial airline by quite a bit.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 2.51.09 AM

In addition, the A380 will have nine First Class Apartments, which are about 75% larger than their current First Class Suites.

  • Where will the Etihad A380s fly?
  • What does the First Class Residence look like?
  • What do the First Class Apartments look like?
  • How can you get into the Residence and the Apartments with frequent flyer miles?

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Last month I booked myself an awesome award to the Maldives using AAdvantage miles and flying Etihad Airways Business Class. Etihad Business Class is one of the nicest in the world and award space is widespread and predictable between the US and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, and the Maldives.

Reaching the Middle East using AAdvantage miles is in general very easy with Qatar as a new oneworld member and Etihad as an American Airlines partner.

Routing from gcmap.com
Routing from gcmap.com

Though this is an extremely basic itinerary, there are several things everyone should be mindful of before tackling an Etihad award including how to search for Etihad award space and mastering the Five Cardinal Rules of American Airlines Awards.

How do you search for Etihad award space? Is Etihad reliable about releasing premium cabin award seats? Once you find Etihad seats, how do you book them? Which American Airlines rules trip up seemingly valid Etihad itineraries?

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Update: Link to Etihad Press Release about Route

According to USA Today and Will Horton of Centre for Aviation, Etihad Airways will begin service to Los Angeles from its hub in Abu Dhabi beginning on June 1, 2014. This is fantastic news for those with AAdvantage balances, especially those on the West Coast!

From Etihad’s own website. Etihad’s Diamond First Class is a fully enclosed suite.

The introduction of Etihad’s long nonstop from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi will be a great jumping off point to the Middle East for West Coast flyers. It strengthens the value of an AAdvantage mile and helps avoid (or at least mitigate) some of American’s more annoying award routing rules!

How do I book an Etihad award with AAdvantage miles? What is the award space picture? What kinds of taxes and fees can be expected on an Etihad award? Why is this so great for West Coast flyers? What destinations does this open up? 

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