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.”
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.
- The personal American Airlines credit card is offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
- The business American Airlines credit card is offering another 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the results, you’ll see how much space is available on each flight and which aircraft operates each flight.
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.
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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