16,000 Points to Europe, 40,000 in Business Class and No Fuel Surcharges

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

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

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

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

How to Book American Airlines Flights with Etihad Miles

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.19.05 AM

Choose a flight that has MileSAAver award space.

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.58.58 AM

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

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

When to transfer?

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

Fuel Surcharges?

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.55.43 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.55.28 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 2.22.17 PM

Does Etihad collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights?

No!

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

Best Values on Etihad Chart for AA Flights

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

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

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

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

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

I find great value in the off peak awards:

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

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

Bottom Line

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

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

  • Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open


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

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Would you transfer miles now even with no impending travel or if we aren’t going to book before next year to take advantage of the bonus? Will the Ethiad chart stay the same when AA devalues next year?

    • No, I would not transfer without an immediate use in mind. I do not know what will happen to Etihad’s charts in the future. I expect the Etihad/AA chart to get worse at some point soon, whether that is exactly March 22, 2016 like the AA/AA chart is anyone’s guess.

  2. Questions: What about transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad Guest Miles? Is that a viable option. We have like almost a million just saved up and would love to use them.

    • AMEX and Chase points do NOT transfer to Etihad. ThankYou Points normally transfer 1:1, but there is a current 25% bonus. SPG points always transfer 1:1 with the standard 20k points = 25k miles bonus, but there is no reason to transfer SPG to Etihad to book AA flight. You’d be as well off just transferring the SPG points to AA miles.

    • It says yes to stopovers, but I don’t know the rules. If you can book one way awards, you can automatically book double open jaws. Do you see why?

      From http://www.etihadguest.com/en/spend-miles/airline-partners/american-airlines/

      Reward tickets are valid for a maximum period of one year from the original date of issue.
      Seats are subject to availability.
      One way tickets are permitted.
      A reward ticket for a child will be issued at the same value as for an adult.
      Infant tickets will be issued at 10% of the adult mileage value.
      The Business Class redemption rates will be twice the value of the economy redemption rates.
      Applicable taxes and surcharges will have to be paid at the time of ticket issuance.
      Award tickets are not valid on codeshare flights.
      One date change is permitted free of charge, any subsequent changes are as per Etihad Guest terms and conditions.
      On cancellation / Refund – as per Etihad Guest terms and conditions.
      Stopovers are permitted. American Airlines will not provide hotel accommodation for the transit period.
      Name changes are not permitted.
      Off Peak dates are as follows:

      Between North America and Europe – October 15 – May 15
      Between North America and Asia Zone 1 – October 1 – April 30
      Between North America and South America Zone 2 – March 1 – May 31 and August 16 – November 30
      Between North America and Hawaii – January 12 – March 8, August 22, and December 15

  3. Scott;

    Do you know if this works the other way across the Atlantic. EG … I am in Ireland, so DUB-JFK or DUB- further afield in Nth America?

    Many thanks

    Michael

  4. you should at least be forthright that AA now sucks beyond anything delta could even begin to dream up in terms of intl availability on their own metal. you can find countless examples of 90% empty bus cabins with no saver avail (never was, btw) and many far from full main cabins with no saver avail. AA would rather fly a plane with crew only than make saver awards avail on most intl flights with the exception of winter europe. wanna go freeze your ass off in Korea— not on a saver award, you won’t!

    i’m ExP AA and 1K UA. i was going to keep flying AA until the earn becomes revenue based. now… i see no point- flying intl is so difficult. and their OW partners are so fed up with this reality (being used to shuttle AA’s FF across the oceans, that they are blocking. if i were CX i’d do the same. /rant

    • AA award space is definitely bad. But there I have shown Europe/Summer Business and First Class award space in just the last few weeks. And there is plenty of economy award space to Europe in May and October that is 16k ThankYou Points each way during this promo.

  5. Scott:

    I believe one critical thing not mentioned in your article. I actually called and tried to book flight, but ended up just using AA miles because of this issue.

    Etihad can NOT book American Eagle. In addition, there search tool does not look for AA only flights to route you.

    Real life example. Chicago to Paris was connection through Philadelphia on AA website for 20,000 off peak. Etihad told me nothing bookable when I called. Fed info, American Eagle issue. I then searched and found flight from Chicago to Miami and the MIami to Paris that were AA both segments that they could book, but I had to feed to them. Their system pulls like AA site, but they say can’t book, nothing if American Eagle. You have to do homework for them.

  6. Scott,

    We have currently have award tickets home from VEN-SFO on UA for 30k each mid Jan. Does it make sense to take advantage of this and get the UA points back or would it be too complicated and expensive with cancellation fees? Do you have any thoughts with the Ethiad promo?

  7. I just got six biz tickets from SFO-PTY-MAO using Asiana points. Thanks again, Scott.

    I’m now trying to book the tickets back for six persons. My plan is to use AA to book four, then Etihad to book 2. I saw the seats available on AA.com with the route GIG-MIA-DFW-SFO, then called Etihad to book. The first agent told me there was not a single seat available, the second told me she saw seats from GIG-MIA, but not the rest. I kept calling and finally figured out that the domestic seats won’t become available this early (9 months ahead). The last agent asked me to try when it’s 6 month in.

    Do you think I should wait for another 3 months? I just worry about the availability of the international leg then. One option I have is to just book GIG-MIA, then buy the tickets from MIA-SFO by myself. The last agent also told me the change policy is that I can change the time for free once, but I’m not allowed to change the destinations. Is that true? Can I change the destinations by paying a change fee?

    Thanks,
    Jason

    • That’s all pretty shocking to me. I’d call back in a few days and try to book the whole thing again. If that failed, I would probably book the four AA awards and hold off on the other two for a while.

      • It actually reminded me my tickets booking for the trip to Japan in the coming summer. I could find all international award seats 9 month ahead. But the domestic flights within Japan and China were not available until some time later (about 6 months).

        You’re right. I’ll go ahead and get those four tickets with AA miles first. Thanks.

        Jason

  8. Why is the North America section blank on the award chart? Are those redemptions not allowed, even for non-American Eagle flights?

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