A380

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Malaysia Airlines has an incredible First Class product on its A380, on par with the best in the world. I flew Malaysia First Class from Paris to Kuala Lumpur in 2013 and loved the service, luxury touches, and satay cart.

You can fly the same product between London and Kuala Lumpur for 70,000 American Airlines miles with great award availability.  For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement. That’s enough miles for one way to between Southeast Asia and Europe in Malaysia First Class.

Unfortunately Malaysia Airlines is in terrible financial shape after losing two planes last year, so it is completely revamping its company and dumping some A380s. It has cut the A380 from its Paris <-> Kuala Lumpur route, but the plane remains on twice daily services between London and Kuala Lumpur.

Product

I love Malaysia Airlines First Class. It is reminiscent of Cathay Pacific First Class to me. A super wide throne that makes for a very comfortable bed.

The only quibble I ever have with flat beds on airplanes is when they aren’t very wide, making me feel a little claustrophobic. There are no such issues in Malaysia First Class. The 26.1″ wide, 7’3″ long bed was plenty big.

The Malaysia A380 has eight First Class seats arranged 1-2-1.

Dom Perignon and caviar are served onboard.

The service on my flight blew me away, especially all the small touches like multiple flight attendants introducing themselves and thanking me for flying Malaysia Airlines to the flight attendants kneeling down to seat level when interacting.

Award Price and Where You Can Fly

The only route with Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380 is London <-> Kuala Lumpur. You can connect anywhere in Europe and anywhere in Asia 2 (Southeast Asia plus China) for the same 70,000 American Airlines miles one way.

There are no fuel surcharges on the flight; you just pay government taxes. Departing London, those taxes are about $300 one way, so if you want to start in Europe, you’ll save a lot of money by starting NOT in London and just connecting there on a British Airways or other oneworld flight.

I’d recommend starting in Kuala Lumpur to save hundreds of dollars on taxes and get an extra hour (13.5 hours) in flight.

Award Space

Award space is excellent in First Class for one passenger and in Business Class for one passenger per flight. I searched this week and the first weeks of November, January, March, May, and July for First Class award space to see how it varies by season and time.

On every Malaysia Airlines flight, I found either zero or one First Class award seat, never a second. If you have a companion, either book two Business Class seats, one First and one Business, or one First and hope for a second to open up later.

London to Kuala Lumpur
  • This week: 2/7 days have First Class space
  • November: 6/7 days  (one day had one First Class seat on each flight)
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March: 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 7/7 days (all 14 flights had 1 First Class award seat)
Kuala Lumpur to London
  • This week: 0/7 days
  • November 5/7 days
  • January: 3/7 days
  • March 7/7 days
  • May: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)
  • July: 0/7 days (but all 14 flights had 1 Business Class award seat)

The main patterns I discern are that:

  • First Class award space is generally excellent for one passenger but more so within 2-7 months of departure as both directions had zero First Class award space in the first week of May.
  • During periods of zero First Class award space, there were plenty of flights with Business Class award space
  • Award space is a bit better from London to Kuala Lumpur in First Class than vice versa.

Searching and Booking

Search on ba.com. Here’s how. Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find. You can double check the A380 operates the route by clicking the flight number.

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I prefer the redeye MH1 timing going east. Heading west, I’d probably take the MH4 flight times.

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You can book any Malaysia Airlines award space you find on ba.com with American Airlines miles. To book, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Give the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found. Confirm that the agent is NOT charging you a $40 phone fee, since the award cannot be booked online with American Airlines miles.

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

Bottom Line

Flying Malaysia Airlines First Class was one of the best flights of my life. You can fly it for only 70,000 American Airlines miles one way, and award space is excellent in both directions.

Search on ba.com, and book by calling American Airlines.

Use the flight as part of a round-the-world trip. Nowadays, RTW awards are poor values, so you need to construct them out of a series of cheap, one way awards like this one.

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Qatar’s A380 First Class looks fantastic. It is not the best Middle Eastern product and looks a half step behind Emirates First Class and Etihad First Class on their A380s, but overall the Qatar A380 is definitely a plane I would love to fly in First Class, especially for 40,000 or 45,000 miles.

The spacious seat/beds are not fully enclosed, but are luxurious.

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You and a companion can dine at one table.

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The bathrooms are large, but do not contain showers like Etihad’s and Emirates’.

The star of the Qatar A380 is the bar behind Business Class. Yes, Emirates has one also, but this one looks larger, nicer, and better designed.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 6.01.32 PM

Here’s a video shot in Qatar A380 First Class:

  • What routes does the Qatar A380 fly?
  • What are the award prices?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • How can you get the miles for a roundtrip in Qatar A380 First Class from one card?

Routes

Qatar flies its A380 between London, Paris, and Bangkok and Doha.

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All three routes are also serviced by planes other than the A380, so look for these flight numbers, which are operated by A380s:

  • London <-> Doha: QR1, QR2, QR3, QR4
  • Paris <-> Doha: QR39, QR40, and most of QR41 and QR42 until September 16, 2015 when QR41 and QR42 are no longer operated by the A380
  • Bangkok <-> Doha: QR830, QR831, QR833, QR836

Award Price

From anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent to Europe in First Class is 40,000 American Airlines miles one way. To SE Asia plus China (Asia 2) is 45,000 American Airlines miles one way.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 6.09.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 6.10.00 PM

Award Space

You can search award space for Qatar flights on ba.com. (Here’s how.) Any Qatar award space on ba.com can be booked with American Airlines miles by calling American Airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 5.55.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-08-03 at 5.55.59 PM

Click the flight number to get a pop up that confirms the operating aircraft.

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Here’s a look at award space this week on the three routes in both directions. The most last minute award space appears from Paris to Doha. (Images from Award Nexus searching ba.com.)
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You don’t want to go to Doha in August though. Here’s what award space looks like in February. You can see there is award space in both directions on the Paris and Bangkok routes, but no London award space in either direction.Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.35.52 PM

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. Meeting the minimum spending requirement would give you more than enough miles for a roundtrip in Qatar First Class between Europe and the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.

Booking the Award

Note the date, cabin, and flight number on ba.com. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agent that information.

You will pay 40,000 or 45,000 miles one way plus taxes. There are no fuel surcharges on the award, and no phone fee.

Pay the taxes with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Bottom Line

There is award space on the super-fancy Qatar A380 in First Class on its routes from London, Paris, and Bangkok to Doha. Awards start at 40,000 miles one way.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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

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Etihad is a partner of American Airlines, and you can book First Class between the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent and North America for 90,000 American Airlines miles one way. For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement, almost enough for the trip I booked.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 5.27.43 PM

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

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Award Searching

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.16.56 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.17.15 PM

Last I searched for award space from New York to Los Angeles in First Class. As I explained yesterday in my post about booking domestic awards with American Airlines miles, award space is wide open in First Class from New York to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

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

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

Award Booking

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

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

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

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

Getting the Miles

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That means you’ll have 82,500 American Airlines miles after meeting the spending requirement, almost enough for the trip I booked.

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The card comes with Admirals Club membership (free access for you plus two guests OR your spouse and all kids), a free checked bag on American Airlines/US Airways flights, and a $100 credit toward Global Entry. It has a $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

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

You can get 82,500 American Airlines miles by opening the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® and spending $7,500 in the first three months.

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

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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Space is infrequent on the A380 frequency this Spring. The second date with space is May 12.
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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

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Emirates First Class is now bookable with Alaska Airlines miles again! A search today for May:

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Click on “Nonstop” or “1 stop” to see flight details for each flight. The aircraft is listed on the pop up. Emirates Flight 204 is served by an A380, which means showers are onboard.Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 3.35.03 PMIn case you missed the saga, for a while, Emirates First Class was only bookable on alaskaair.com for flights through March 28, 2015. If you wanted to book Emirates First Class for dates beyond March 28, you had to call Alaska and ask the agent to use the ‘old system’ to book your award. Then Alaska Airlines told their phone agents not to use the ‘old system,’ so we couldn’t book Emirates First Class at all. Alaska told me they were looking for a way to bring the First Class space back online, and now they have.

Guide to Booking Emirates First Class with Alaska Airlines Miles

  • Why Alaska Miles
  • Why Emirates First Class a Big Deal (The Product, Including an Onboard Shower)
  • How Many Miles You Need (Award Chart)
  • How to Search & Book
  • Maximizing the Award (Stopovers in Dubai & Booking Three Emirates A380 Segments on Single Award)

Why Alaska Miles

Alaska Airlines has a number of incredible partners despite not being a member of any of the three airline alliances. Alaska miles are perfect for Emirates awards because:

  • Alaska doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Emirates awards
  • Alaska’s chart for Emirates awards is fair, though not exactly cheap
  • Alaska allows stopovers on one way awards, so you can see Dubai for a few days then continue your trip

Why Emirates First Class Is a Big Deal

Being able to book Emirates First Class with Alaska miles is a BIG DEAL because Emirates First Class on the A380 is one of the nicest products in the sky, and until recently, its A380 was the only commercial airline that offered First Class passengers the opportunity to shower onboard. (Etihad A380 First Class also has a shower now.)

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I flew Emirates First Class on a 3.5 hour hop from Auckland to Sydney and was blown away. Here is the first part of that trip report, and my video inside the shower spa.

How Many Miles You Need

Alaska charges 90,000 miles one way in First Class to Dubai and 100,000 miles one way to Africa, Asia, or Europe via Dubai.

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Unfortunately you cannot use Alaska miles for all Emirates routes. Your award needs to start or end in North America and cannot go to Australia.

Alaska does not collect fuel surcharges on Emirates awards. You just pay low government taxes + $12.50 per one way partner award.

How to Search & Book

You can search alaskaair.com for Emirates awards.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 4.00.12 PMThe award search is completely intuitive and offers the chance to look at month-by-month calendars. Days that say 90k definitely have Emirates First Class space between New York and Dubai. Days that say 80k may.

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There are two related drawbacks of the alaskaair.com search.

  1. You cannot search routes that don’t touch North America–for instance Dubai to Seoul.
  2. On a multi-city search, it can be cumbersome to figure out two days that both have award space because instead of letting you search segment one first and then segment two, it makes you search both at once.

These problems are solved by searching Emirates award space on Expert Flyer, a paid service, that I explained how to search here.

The fare bucket to search is Z for First Class. This is where it gets a little bit weird.

  • If Z = 1, Alaska may have access to 1 award seat in Emirates First Class.
  • If Z = 2, Alaska may have access to 2 award seats in Emirates First Class.
  • If Z = 2, Alaska definitely has access to at least 1 award seat in Emirates First Class.

If I need to search for segments that don’t include North America, I go to Expert Flyer and search dates with Z = 2.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.23.23 AM
The search screen on Expert Flyer

In these search results, you can see that the Emirates flight from Houston to Dubai on April 19 has Z = 2, but on April 20 only has Z = 1. That means Alaska definitely has at least one award seat on the Emirates flight for April 19.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.23.54 AM

Once you’ve found your award space on alaskaair.com and Expert Flyer, book on alaskaair.com to avoid a phone fee.

Maximizing Your Alaska Award in Emirates First Class

Stopovers

One stopover is allowed on one way Alaska awards for as long as you’d like, subject to the fact that you can only book up to 11 months in advance. Here is an example with a 32 hour stopover. Make it a week or a month if you’d like.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.00.56 PM

The easiest stopover point by far will be Dubai, but a stopover in Seattle, Bangkok, and a few other cities is possible.

Getting the Most Time in the Emirates A380

Your Alaska Airlines award on Emirates has to start or end in the United States and pass through Dubai.

The longest flight from the United States to Dubai is from Los Angeles at 15hr50min. Here are the other destinations, though Orlando, Boston, and Seattle are served by 777s.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emirates_destinations
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emirates_destinations

After a few days in Dubai, you can continue on some long flights up to 10 hours. Unfortunately you cannot use Alaska miles to fly Emirates to Australia or New Zealand, so you are limited to connections to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Here are all the places Emirates flies from Dubai.

Here are some sample legal routes.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.34.33 AM
Source: gcmap.com

A continuation to Southeast Asia like Bangkok is shorter than I was expecting. It’s actually shorter than backtracking to London.

The farthest flight shown is to Tokyo, but it is operated by shower-less 777s. Johannesburg also is flown by 777s.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.34.11 AM
Source: gcmap.com

I think the farthest flight from Dubai to Asia, Africa, or Europe served by an A380 is to Seoul with the second farthest to Hong Kong. Correct me in the comments if I’m wrong.

Maximizing Your Segments in Emirates First Class

Each segment of Emirates First Class comes with its own pleasures, including lounge access and five minutes worth of water in the shower.

You can get three segments on a single award if you fly to Hong Kong via Dubai and Bangkok. The Bangkok-to-Hong Kong segment is less than three hours, but you can enjoy a shower on it as well. Here’s an award with 25 hours in Emirates First Class on an A380, three showers, and a three-day stopover in Dubai for 100,000 Alaska miles + $38.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.49.35 AMHere’s the same award, but the stopover has been moved to Bangkok.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.44.19 AM

Other Example Itineraries

Here are all the Emirates A380 routes.

I priced out awards to Africa, Asia, and Europe on Alaska’s website and confirmed by clicking the words “1 stop” or “2 stops” which aircraft is operating each flight.

Los Angeles to Dubai to Hong Kong (23hr45min in A380 First)

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.50.14 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-30 at 7.50.21 AM

Los Angeles to Dubai to London (23hr20min in A380 First)

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.04.36 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.04.29 AM

Los Angeles to Dubai to Cape Town (15hr50min in A380 First and 9hr50min in 777-300ER First)

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.54.56 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.55.03 AM

Getting Alaska Airlines Miles

There are four credit cards that earn Alaska Airlines miles. The Alaska Airlines cards earn the miles directly, and the Starwood cards earn Starpoints which transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

The Alaska Airlines personal card offers 25,000 bonus miles on account opening (not even first purchase) and the business card is good for another 25,000 miles after first purchase. Both have a $75 annual that is NOT waived. I’m gotten both bonuses multiple times without having to close my old Alaska cards.

The Starwood cards currently offer 25,000 bonus Starpoints each after spending $5,000 in the first six months.

Recap

Emirates First Class is now bookable again with Alaska miles on alaskaair.com. Book your one way award to Europe, Asia, or Africa with a stopover in Dubai for 100,000 miles one way + taxes + $12.50.

If you want to maximize segments, you can route through Dubai and Bangkok to Hong Kong. If you want to maximize flight time on an A380, you can fly from Los Angeles to Dubai to Seoul. Or you can maximize the destination.

Alaska has no cancellation fee or change fee more than 60 days before departure and a manageable cancellation fee of $125 after that.

Book your ticket with your Arrival Plus and you can then remove the taxes and fees from your statement by redeeming Arrival miles.

Are you going to book Emirates First Class now?

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa. There are several Club Carlson properties in Dubai for a two-night stay.

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Update 2/18/15: I cancelled my award reservation in Emirates First Class using Alaska miles. I was invited to a wedding that changed my plans. I tried to change my reservation to different dates.

I called up and asked for the change. The agent said the date I wanted had no First Class award space even though Z = 3. I asked her to look in the old system, and she said a supervisor had told her not to.

I called twice more, running my little social-engineering trick of “I just got cut off trying to make a change. The agent had found the space in the old system.” Both agents said they couldn’t use the old system. In the end, I canceled my award because it was 61 days before departure, and free changes and cancellations only last until 60 days before departure.

I reached out to Alaska Airlines asking for a statement on what’s going on because this is what they told One Mile at a Time in January:

First thank you for bringing this to our attention. When you first contacted me, we thought that perhaps your search return was limited because of the original query. However, in digging deeper into this issue, we learned that we were wrong and quickly launched an investigation with our vendors to identify and try to resolve what we believe is a system glitch. We have a strong partnership with Emirates and our mutual customers have been enjoying award travel on both airlines fora number of years. I assure you that Mileage Plan™ members have been able to book First Class awards on Emirates without issue and we are working to restore that functionality. We apologize for any inconvenience this is causing our customers and assure you and your readers that we are working with Emirates to resolve the technical glitch and hope to have it fixed soon.

I will update if I hear back from them. My take is that maybe it is Emirates fault that its First Class award space isn’t showing up on Alaska’s main system, but it is definitely Alaska’s fault that we can’t book the space if they are telling their agents not to use the old system, which displays the award space perfectly well.

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One Mile at a Time broke the news that Emirates First Class award space does not appear on alaskaair.com for any flights beyond March 28, 2015. Business Class and economy class award space does appear until the end of the bookable schedule (mid-December.)

He speculated that the Alaska/Emirates partnership might be ending or at least the chance to book Emirates First Class beyond March 28, 2015 might never again exist. My interpretation is similar: I suspect Alaska permanently wants to block Emirates First Class award redemptions for travel beyond March 28. (Any flights already booked for travel beyond March 28 are safe.)

But just now I was able to book myself an award in Emirates First Class for April. Following my steps, you should be able to book yourself Emirates First Class through mid-December, the end of the schedule.

Being able to book Emirates First Class with Alaska miles is a BIG DEAL because Emirates First Class on the A380 is one of the nicest products in the sky, and until recently, its A380 was the only commercial airline that offered First Class passengers the opportunity to shower onboard.

I flew Emirates First Class on a 3.5 hour hop from Auckland to Sydney and was blown away. Here is the first part of that trip report, and my video inside the shower spa.

Why Alaska Miles?

I desperately want to get back into Emirates First Class because Auckland to Sydney was the best flight of my life. The best way to fly Emirates First Class is with Alaska Airlines miles. Alaska charges 90,000 miles one way to Dubai and 100,000 to Africa or Asia.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.27.34 AM

Unfortunately you cannot use Alaska miles for all Emirates routes. Your award needs to start or end in North America and cannot go to Australia.

Alaska does not collect fuel surcharges on Emirates awards. You just pay low taxes + $12.50 per one way partner award + a $15 phone fee.

The Problem

Someone is blocking Emirates First Class award space from appearing on alaskaair.com for flights after March 28. It’s probably Alaska, but it might be Emirates.

You can search Emirates First Class award space on Expert Flyer, a paid service, that I explained how to search here.

The fare bucket to search is Z. This is where it gets a little bit weird.

  • If Z = 1, Alaska may have access to 1 award seat in Emirates First Class.
  • If Z = 2, Alaska may have access to 2 award seats in Emirates First Class.
  • If Z = 2, Alaska definitely has access to at least 1 award seat in Emirates First Class.

So I looked for dates with Z = 2.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.23.23 AM
The search screen on Expert Flyer

 

In these search results, you can see that the Emirates flight from Houston to Dubai on April 19 has Z = 2, but on April 20 only has Z = 1. That means Alaska definitely has at least one award seat on the Emirates flight for April 19.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.23.54 AM

But that seat does not appear online. Online the April 19 flight only has economy and Business space.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.44.38 AM

The Solution

This is why this hobby is amazing. As commentors despaired in the One Mile at a Time comment thread, commentor Carlos provided the solution.

After a lot of [hang up call again], I was able to book a F award flying on april. After getting the same answer that there was no F available (even though in EF Z=2), the magic sentence was to ask if the search could be made on the old system and voilà, space was found.

The “old system” is the magic phrase.

Commentors Chris and Tom quickly chimed in that it worked for them, and it worked for me just now!

My Experience

I picked out flights from Houston to Dubai and Dubai to Bangkok with a day and a half in Dubai. You can get free stopovers on Alaska one way awards on Emirates flights.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.24.34 AM

This is going to be 15 hours in the A380 First Class and then six more hours a day and a half later.

For both flights, I found Z = 2 space.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.21.15 AM

I called Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 and politely told the agent I wanted to fly First Class from Houston to Dubai and then Dubai to Bangkok in First Class.

She searched and came back excited, but it turned out there was space on the flights I had in mind in Business Class but not First Class.

It is important to note that apparently the agents have no idea that the website and their system only show Emirates First Class award space until March 28.

I tried Carlos’ trick.

“Hmm…I really want to fly First Class. I’ve heard that if you check your old system, there might be space available.”

She hemmed and hawed and eventually said she couldn’t do it. I thanked her and hung up after the six minute call. For the second call I had a different strategy.

The successful eight-minute call started out like this:

[in a friendly voice]

“Hi, I want to fly Emirates First Class from Houston to Bangkok. I was just on the line with another agent, and she had found the space and given me the flight info when my phone was disconnected. She said she found the space in the old system. Can I give you the flight info?”

When I said “old system,” this agent actually interjected, “That’s the right way.”

She took the flight info that I had found on Expert Flyer and disappeared for a few minutes, coming back to tell me that she had found the award space in First Class and it would cost 100,000 miles. Success!

I booked the flight on the spot. She gave me an Alaska and an Emirates confirmation number. Twenty minutes later, my confirmation email appeared from Alaska. I went to the Emirates website to make sure they can see my reservation, and they can! I am all set for travel.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.01.31 PM

Bottom Line

Hat tip to One Mile at a Time for uncovering the possible end of the Alaska/Emirates partnership at least as far as First Class awards. Hat tip to Carlos for uncovering the trick to book Emirates First Class on flights beyond March 28.

When calling Alaska to book the award, the magic words are “old system,” and I recommend starting the call with a white lie about having just been disconnected after an agent found space through the old system. That may arouse less suspicion and make the agent feel comfortable that her colleague thinks it’s OK to use the old system.

Now there are a couple possibilities:

  1. This could just be a glitch, and Alaska may resume showing Emirates First Class space for flights March 29 and later. In that case, this post is nearly useless.
  2. This blocking could be intentional and could get worse by an outright prohibition on booking Emirates First Class that becomes widely known among Alaska phone agents. In that case, use the trick in this post ASAP if you’re hoping to fly Emirates First Class on an A380.

Alaska has no cancellation fee more than 60 days before departure and a manageable cancellation fee of $125 after that, so somewhat speculative bookings may be prudent if you fear that possibility 2 is more likely.

Book your ticket with your Arrival Plus and you can then remove the taxes and fees from your statement by redeeming Arrival miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.25.27 PM

Are you going to book Emirates First Class now?

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class between the United States and Australia. Qantas flies directly from Los Angeles to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane plus from Dallas to Sydney. (Qantas also operates a tag flight from Los Angeles to New York that can only be booked as part of a trip to/from Australia.)

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.25.48 AM
Qantas A380 First Class Open Suite

The flights to Sydney and Melbourne are on A380s.

Beyond the nice product and the convenient schedule to and within Australia, the main reason I wish Qantas released a ton of Business and First Class award space is that Qantas award space can be booked cheaply with American Airlines miles and can be searched on aa.com. American charges:

  • 37,500 American Airlines miles each way in economy
  • 62,500 American Airlines miles each way in Business
  • 72,500 American Airlines miles each way in First

That’s barely more than American charges to go to Europe even though Australia is about twice as far from the United States. Plus American Airlines miles are super easy to get at the moment.

Getting the Miles

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.

Unfortunately as much as I wish for plentiful Qantas premium awards, the reality is very different.

Award Space Picture

Qantas releases its award space 355 days out. At that point, the space is bookable with Qantas miles and British Airways Avios. Unfortunately, the cost with these types of miles is outrageous.

British Airways charges:

  • 50,000 Avios each way in economy
  • 100,000 Avios each way in Business
  • 150,000 Avios each way in First

Plus taxes plus $390 in fuel surcharges.

Since First Class is more than double the price with Avios compared to AAdvantage miles, obviously you’d want to wait until 330 days out when American Airlines awards become bookable. Unfortunately a lot of the space that is released at 355 days out is gone by 330 days out, never to be replaced.

For instance, this amazing First Class award seat on December 29 from Los Angeles to Melbourne, with possibly connections to Sydney to arrive the morning of the fireworks, will almost certainly not be around in three more weeks to book with American Airlines miles.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.33.03 AM

But some space does creep through to American Airlines miles. Specifically here is the space I found 10 hours ago. Note that almost all of it is 320+ days out.

Los Angeles to Sydney

1 Business Class Seat and 0 First Class Seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.42 AM

Sydney to Los Angeles

1 Business Class seats and 0 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.03.49 AM

Los Angeles to Melbourne

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.27 AM

Melbourne to Los Angeles

2 Business Class seats and 1 First Class seats

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.35 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.04.41 AM

Dallas to Sydney

0 Business and First Class seats in both directions

Los Angeles to Brisbane

Operated by a 747 without First Class, not an A380

The most Business Class space, maybe 4 days in each direction

Update

All those calendars are 10 hours old. The only change I’ve noticed in the interim is that the First Class seat from Los Angeles to Melbourne disappeared, but on the same day a first class seat from Los Angeles to Sydney appeared.Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.21.59 AM

Bottom Lines

  • If you want to fly in a premium cabin to Australia, collect Delta miles to fly Virgin Australia (80,000 miles each way in Business Class.) Full post on Virgin Australia award availability.
  • If you want to fly Qantas Business or First Class to Australia with American Airlines miles, try to book around 330 days out, and be prepared for not much space.
  • If you want to fly Qantas First Class on the A380, try to book it between London and Dubai (40,000 AA miles one way), or London and Sydney (80,000 AA miles one way). Both of these options have a lot more award space than Qantas’ American flights.

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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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First Class award space is widely available in Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380, one of the world’s nicest products., and easily bookable with American Airlines miles.

Last year I loved everything about my flight from Paris to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia Airlines First Class on the A380. Everything from the most comfortable and largest bed on which I’ve slept in the sky…

to the all you can eat satay cart…

to the attentive service that includes kneeling down to seat level for interactions.

FULL TRIP REPORT: PARIS TO KUALA LUMPUR IN MALAYSIA AIRLINES FIRST CLASS ON AN A380

Malaysia Airlines is a oneworld member airline, so its award flights are bookable with American Airlines miles. Malaysia’s current A380 flights are between:

  • Kuala Lumpur and Paris
  • Kuala Lumpur and London

(Consider avoiding the London to Kuala Lumpur flight because of the massive tax on departing the UK in a premium cabin.)

American Airlines charges 70,000 miles one way in First Class between Europe and Southeast Asia and 52,500 miles one way in Business Class, a reasonable price for 13 hours in such luxury.

Searching Award Space on Malaysia Airlines

To search award space on Malaysia Airlines, head to ba.com. (How to search on ba.com.)

Any Malaysia Airlines award space on ba.com is bookable by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880. Just note the date, flight number, and cabin to make it easier on the agent.

I searched for award space in both directions on both routes, and I found a lot of dates with 1 seat in First Class and 2 in Business Class.

Kuala Lumpur to London

Over a variety of dates, I consistently saw 2 Business Class and 1 First Class award seat on the daytime flight and 1 Business Class seat on the redeye.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.33 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.00.49 PM

To verify that a flight is operated by the A380, click the flight number. The aircraft type is listed in a pop up.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.03 PM

London to Kuala Lumpur

I consistently saw 2 Business Class and 1 First Class seat on the noon departure and 1 Business Class seat on the evening departure.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.33 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.16 PM

Kuala Lumpur to Paris

For the daily flight to Paris, I often saw 1 Business Class and 1 First Class seat.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.33 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.04.46 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.04.58 PM

Paris to Kuala Lumpur

From Paris to Kuala Lumpur, I saw the same 1 Business Class and 1 First Class seat.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.01.33 PMScreen Shot 2014-12-22 at 11.05.18 PM

How to Fit This Flight into Big Trip

Most of my readers live in the United States, but I flag these flights between Europe and Asia because there’s no reason you can’t take a quick (or slow) trip around the world.

Or fit Malaysia Airlines First Class into your life in any other creative way you can dream up. With miles, it’s really not hard to take almost any trip.

Do You Have to Fly to Kuala Lumpur, Paris, or London?

No. The 52,500 miles in Business Class and 70,000 miles in First Class are the same no matter where in Europe and Southeast Asia you start or end.

You can fly to and from anywhere in those regions that oneworld partners like Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, airberlin, British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair fly for the same price.

Getting the Miles

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 30,000 bonus miles passes 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. Check out my full review.

 

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® is a business card that offers 30,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months.

You can get both cards. After meeting their minimum spending requirements, that’s 62,000 American Airlines miles.

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Qatar Airways has begun flying its A380s from Doha to London and will begin service to Paris and Bangkok soon.

There are a lot of luxury options between the Middle East and Europe, so I want to focus on the route between Doha and Bangkok that begins December 1.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 3.40.15 PM
from gcmap.com

Award space is wide open on the Qatar A380 between Doha and Bangkok for two people in Business Class. Best of all, the award costs only 30,000 American Airlines miles one way!

Business Class passengers have fully their own fully flat beds and access to an onboard lounge that looks like it’s the nicest in the sky.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 3.52.00 PM
Onboard bar for First and Business Class passengers
  • How is Qatar First Class on the A380?
  • How is Qatar Business Class on the A380?
  • What is the award space picture on the plane?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How can you make Doha to Bangkok part of a larger trip?

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Emirates is releasing two First Class seats on its A380 flights from San Francisco and Houston to Dubai on a ton of days in Winter 2015.

My flight in Emirates First Class was my favorite ever because of the over-the-top service and amenities, like two onboard shower spas.

At the MileValue dinner, when I shared these five tips, a reader (wish I could remember a name for credit here) shared the tip that Emirates First Class award space on its A380s was wide open from San Francisco and Houston.

You can search Emirates award space at alaskaair.com and book it with Alaska Airlines miles with no fuel surcharges. You can get Alaska miles by opening the Alaska Airlines credit cards or by transferring SPG Starpoints to Alaska Airlines miles.

  • How good is award space on the Emirates A380s?
  • What if you don’t live in San Francisco or Houston?
  • How many Alaska Airlines miles do you need?
  • What about free stopovers on the award?

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You can take up to three showers in the First Class Shower Spa onboard Emirates A380s on a single award that costs only 100,00 Alaska Airlines miles. Emirates Airlines First Class is the standard for luxury as the only airline with two showers onboard in which the 16 First Class passengers can freshen up.

In January 2013, I flew Emirates First Class from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia–one of three tag flights between New Zealand and Australia.

I enjoyed the chauffeur service, lounge, onboard bar and meal service, suite, and the shower.

I have wanted to get back into Emirates First Class on a longer flight since then, so I started collecting Alaska Airlines miles, which are the means by which Americans can take a 7-mile-high shower.

Since opening three Alaska Airlines personal cards and two business cards, I have 140,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

Alaska charges only 90,000 miles one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East or India and only 100,000 miles one way to Africa, East Asia, or Europe. It’s quite simple to book over 24 hours worth of Emirates First Class flights on a single one way award, and I’ve even found a routing that gets you three Emirates A380 First Class flights on a single award.

  • How can you get Alaska Airlines miles?
  • Where can you search Emirates award space?
  • How can you maximize an Emirates First Class award with Alaska miles?
  • What routing features three Emirates A380 flights?
  • What are the stopover rules for Alaska awards?

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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.

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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?

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I nabbed a scarce First Class award from Australia to Los Angeles on Qantas during peak travel season and added a first class segment on American’s new Airbus A321T from Los Angeles to New York-JFK, both in fully flat beds.

I’m incredibly excited to try out another First Class product on the Airbus A380, especially after my great experience on a Thai flight from Paris to Bangkok.

Qantas A380

Relative to other Anatomy of Award posts, this one was simple to construct and even easier to book online. However, Qantas premium cabin award space isn’t widely available. You have to find the rare space and plan your hotel reservations around it, not the other way around. That’s one of the eight tenets of Highly Effective Award Bookers, after all.

How do you nab this tough to find award space? Can you add a stopover on a one way AAdvantage award? How am I getting to Australia?

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