How to book Etihad First Class using American Airlines AA miles

One of the sweet spots in the American Airlines frequent flyer program, AAdvantage, is travelling from Europe to Middle East / Indian Subcontinent in First Class which requires only 40.000 AA miles. Putting those miles to great use, is using them for travel on Etihad Airways onboard the A380 where a First Class seat is actually called “First Apartment” and features a 24″ tv, minibar and a sofa/ottoman that turns into a comfortable 205cm bed. Each First Class passengers can also enjoy showering at +36.000 feet. 

Etihad A380 First Apartment bed

Etihad A380 First Apartment bed

Keep in mind that after 22nd March 2016 the program will ‘enhance’ and you will need 62.500 AA miles for the same trip which is a 56.25% increase! However, you do not need to travel prior to that date! So you could easily book your flights for Christmas 2016…

How to book Etihad First Class Apartment using American Airlines miles?

Search for Etihad First Class award seat

Although you are using American Airlines AA miles, you will need to look for Etihad award seats on the Etihad.com website. You do not need to log in to your Etihad Guest account to search for award seats. Hover the mouse to “Plan and book”, click “Book flights with miles”.

Etihad.com

Etihad.com

Enter the desired route and date(s), select “First” and click “Search flights”

And then you have the available options… When using AA miles for Etihad flights, you need to look for “GuestSeat”, these are the award seats that are available for redemptions by partners. Disregard the number of miles required, this is how many miles you would be needing if you were redeeming Etihad Guest Miles, Etihad’s frequent flyer program. Because you are using American Airlines miles, AAdvantage rules & award chart apply, thus only 40.000 AA miles for this flight.

use miles

Search for British Airways, Iberia, …

Because currently Etihad only operates the A380 on the Abu Dhabi to London route, you will need to position yourself to London. You can do so by looking for seats on flights operated by Oneworld members & partner airlines such as British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, …

You can look for British Airways & Finnair award seats on AA.com or British Airways & other partners on BA.com. You will need to log in to your British Airways frequent flyer account to search for the award seat.

Note that (e.g.) Alitalia is a partner airline for Etihad, but not for American Airlines AAdvantage program for which the rules apply to this award, so you cannot use them.

Region definitions & examples

Defined by the American Airlines Award Chart, countries included in the Middle East & Indian Subcontinent region are Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maldives, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

Europe is considered, well.. Europe, including Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, …

Brussels to London to Abu Dhabi to Maldives

Brussels to London to Abu Dhabi to Maldives

Getting from Europe all the way down to the Maldives as illustrated in the example above is 5.526 distance miles and only requires 40.000 AA miles because MLE airport is considered to be in the Indian Subcontintent.

Note that Sri Lanka is defined as Asia Region 2 which would mean 70.000 AA miles while the distance from Brussels to Colombo, Sri Lanka is 5.699 distance miles, only 173 distance miles more!

If you really want to maxize your experience on Etihad’s A380, you could wait until June 2016 when they will serve Mumbai with the A380 as well, London to Abu Dhabi to Mumbai in First Class requiring only 40.000 AAmiles. Again, disregard 121.392 miles mentioned on the printscreen, this is when using Etihad Guest miles.

Keep in mind that you can only fly 3 segments on one-way award with AA miles, so Madrid to London to Abu Dhabi to Bangalore is perfectly ok.

LHRBOM

Booking the award ticket

Because you cannot search & book Etihad award tickets online on AA.com, you will need to call the AAdvantage desk.

Within the U.S. or Canada 800-882-8880

Belgium 070-300-300 / 0.15 EUR/minute from landlines

The Netherlands 0900-040-1666 / 0.12 EUR/minute from landlines

United Kingdom 0844-369-9899, 0207-660-2300 / .05GBP/minute, plus your phone company’s access charge

Check American Airlines’ website for other countries.

I usually tend to call the US number, because office hours are limited in Europe. A booking fee applies to awards booked over the phone, however this is waived if the award cannot be booked online on AA.com. (so ask to waive the fee if it has been added).

If you would like some assistance with the award, you can also contact me to help you with the award ticket.

Etihad’s The Residence

Etihad’s A380 has 9 First Class Apartments and only 1 ‘The Residence’ which features a private bathroom, including shower, and bedroom. You cannot use American Airlines AAmiles for this. However if you have over 2.300.000 Etihad Guest miles you can! 2.3 million is not a typo. Or you can pay 32.000 USD like The Points Guy did.

Etihad 787 First Class Suites

Should Etihad First Class award seats on the A380 not be available for your dates, you could have a look at the Zurich to Abu Dhabi route which is currently operated by 787-9 and also has an excellent First Class seat, although unfortunately no shower onboard.

Earlier this year I flew Brussels to London in British Airways Business class, London to Abu Dhabi in First Class on Etihad’s A380 and First Class from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai on Etihad’s 787-9, all for only 40.000 AA miles. You can read my review of Etihad’s 787-9 in First Class here.

seat 2A

American Airlines AA miles

If you already have sufficient AA miles I can strongly recommend using them for travel in Etihad First Apartments, it’s an experience. If you do not have the required number of miles, or none at all, American Airlines often has “Buy/gift” promotions where you are able to purchase the miles for <1.000 EUR. Compared to the retail price, that’s over 70% discount for an experience of a lifetime.

pay

Until January 4th you can buy American Airlines AAdvantage miles and earn up to 75.000 bonus miles!

First Class Apartment 4A

First Class Apartment 4A

Any questions?

Feel free to read my full review of Etihad A380 First Class from London to Abu Dhabi, which I’ve flown twice already, or if you have any questions leave them in the comments…

40 Comments

  • Dennis

    Hi Sven,

    So, for 40K AAdvanced miles i can fly from Abu Dhabi to LHR in first , and then on the same ticket first class ( or business?) from LHR to BRU?

    If this is correct, can i fly from LHR to any airport in the euro region (instead of BRU)?

    • Sven Luckermans

      Yes you can do Abu Dhabi to London in First and then continue to BRU (in business class on British Airways, no First available) on the same ticket for 40k. Etihad has to publish a ‘fare’ between start and destination, so that’s many airports in Euro region, but not all.

      • Dennis

        I see, thanks!
        There’s actually a lot of award space from LHR – BOM.

        I found a etihad fare from BRU to AUH to BOM. So, i only need to find a business class flight on oneworld from BRU to LHR. And then tell the booking agent from AA i want to book, for example, flight BA xxx, and EY xxx, for 40k AA miles?

        If i book the itinerary from above, do i still need to pay those enormous UK airport fees? (since i’m departing from Belgium.)

        • Sven Luckermans

          British Airways flights from Brussels to London Heathrow are easy to find, check BA.com (or even AA.com). Yes, the agent will walk you through.

          I flew BRU-LHR-BOM in May, similar flights, paid only 117,50 USD taxes.

          • Jack

            can we book BRU-LHR-BOM with more than 24 hrs stopover at AUH? if so, would it be eligible to book chauffeur at AUB?

          • Sven Luckermans

            Hi Jack, I think you mean BRU-LHR-AUH-BOM? You can book this itinerary, which I did last year, but you cannot have a stopover (>24h) in Abu Dhabi. AAdvantage does not allow stopovers

  • christophe

    Thx for this tip Sven, i booked two first class tickets to abu dhabi with your method. Great article!

  • Kim Menten

    Hi Sven, how does that work with your checked in suitcase is that not a problem? Because you change from airline.. (From british to etihad..)

    • Sven Luckermans

      Hi Kim, no problem at all, bags are delivered to your destination, no need to pick them up. (see: “interline ticketing”)

  • Nick Anderson

    I just tried calling AA and the Etihad flight shows Guest Business available on my date of travel from LHR-AUH A380 but the agent said she saw only coach availability. Hang up and call again? Did something change in award rules for 2016?

    • Sven Luckermans

      No changes for these types of awards.. I would Hang Up Call Again. Which call center did you use?

  • Dimitri

    Hello Sven,
    Very informative article. Since AA is devaluating their miles and it will cost more miles after March to do LHR-ABU-MLE, I was wondering if I could book the award ticket for some date in the future (June) and then change the dates on the award ticket when I have definite dates for no fee.

    Thanks
    Dimitri

    • Sven Luckermans

      Hi Dimitri,
      Changes to date & time are ok, you won’t need more miles (origin & destination must stay the same), but “If you change your outbound award travel date to within 21 days of the original booking date, a $75 award processing fee will apply, provided the new date is valid for the original award type claimed”

      • Dimitri

        Ok good to know. One more question….I am looking to book that flight and there are no first class GuestSeat tickets available. I noticed that the AUH-MLE flight has the aircraft listed as 32A. Im guessing thats a 320 family aircraft which wouldn’t have first class. Is this why I cannot find an award ticket? And if that is the case, will AA allow me to book this flight as First/Business so I can travel First class from LHR-AUH (award available) and Business from AUH-MLE (award available)? The date I am looking is for is for 4 July 2016

        • Sven Luckermans

          yes, you would need to search for Guest Business seat for the AUH MLE segment! And it’s no problem to book First class between LHR and AUH & continue in business to MLE. You will need 40k though. 4/7/16 has 1 business seat available

          • Dimitri Papadopoulos

            I called AA three separate times when GuestSeat First was available etihads website from LHR-AUH and all three times they say it is not available. Am I missing something?

          • Sven Luckermans

            Try calling a different call center, which did you call?

        • Dimitri

          I called the US call center. Which do you recommend?

          • Sven Luckermans

            I call EU (via Belgium n°)

  • […] Etihad Airways is an American Airlines AAdvantage partner which means that you can earn miles on their flights but also use (=redeem) miles for flights in Etihad Airways First Class. Here’s a complete guide on how to book Etihad First Class using AA miles. […]

  • Giovanni

    Hi Sven,

    I read your article and want to know if AA miles can be used to book First Class from Abu Dhabi to New York? According to the Etihad website there are seats available, but the American agent said she couldn’t find anything. Also, can I book a leg before the Abu Dhabi to JFK leg? For example Singapore to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to JFK? Thanks for your help.

    • Sven Luckermans

      Hi Giovanni, yes you can use AA miles for First Class between AUH and New York! Perhaps calling an EU number (& thus call center) might do the trick!

      For your SIN AUH JFK, although Etihad does publish a fare for that route, AAdvantage won’t let you route from the US to Asia via Middle East on 1 award ticket

  • Charles

    How about using AAmiles for London LHR to Singapore, is it possible?

    • Sven Luckermans

      On British Airways? Yes, that’s possible

  • applejax

    Hi everyone! Love this blog post!! Very exciting stuff 🙂 Help me plan please…. I want to get in on this deal, So just to be clear I can get a LHR – BOM Say November-ish with a stop in Abu Dhabi for 40k as long as I book before March 22? Also if I want to stop over for say 2 weeks and end in BOM can I do this? I’m very excited!! Thanks for your help 🙂

    • Sven Luckermans

      You could do LHR AUH BOM, but your stopover in AUH needs to be less than 24h, else it will price as two awards.

  • applejax

    Also can I do LHR-Abu Dhabi- Maldives All legs in a first class Suite with a booked stopover in Abu Dhabi?

    • Sven Luckermans

      There currently isn’t a first class cabin between AUH and MLE so you could fly First Class to Abu Dhabi and continue in Business class to Maldives for 40k AA

  • applejax

    I didn’t get a chance to call AA yet but I did see that their website already reflects the new 62500 price…. Can you still get it for 40k if you book by March 22. Also if you book a round trip can you book it departing Dec 2016 and returning a few months later like lets say April 2017 for the 40 k each way? Thanks for the quick responses 🙂

  • applejax

    I called AA today, Unfortunately they told me there was no AA award availability, the AA rep was quite rude as well… no wonder people are looking for any reason to use AA miles on anything BUT AA lol…. Too bad seemed like a good deal but no availability 🙁 Anyone else have any luck this week booking an award on a A380 Suite?

  • Robert

    Thanks for your expertise. I will be coming from the states to grab an A-380 seat. LHR-BOM. For best value, should I fly into LHR from some other area on the same ticket to cut down on fees? I think I read departing LHR incurs large fuel charges/fees. Thoughts?

    • Sven Luckermans

      the UK air passenger tax applies to flights originating in the UK, so wouldn’t be a bad idea to start somewhere else 😉

  • robert

    would I be able to book BRU-LHR, LHR-BOM, BOM-AUH for aa 62.5k award miles? I understand the LHR-BOM travels through AUH but I am trying to maximize a trip in an apartment and I ultimately need to be in abu dahbi. Just wondering if this would be bookable or if this is breaking some rule.

    • Sven Luckermans

      Hi Robert, you couldn’t do LHR-BOM on Etihad, so it would have to be: BRU LHR AUH BOM.
      But you cannot backtrack, so adding AUH at the end would not be possible. Your solution would be: BRU LHR, LHR AUH

  • Robert

    Sven: I DID IT!!! It did a call to Australian Ticketing for them to find the inventory…BUT I booked CPH-LHR, LHR-AUH (A380 First!). It is still stated as in process I called and they said it will take additional time to show as ticketed. Fees were quoted as AU 156.50 so I do think going out of CPH helped. I wanted to thank you for your guidance as I would have gotten stuck when USA said there were no seats. NOW…I get into LHR 2pm and don’t leave for AUH till 9:15am next day. Can I get a free chauffeur pick up…and is there a free hotel room (possibly) for my overnight? I have sniffed around the net but I can figure it out. I am VERY excited and can’t wait to select my seat so I can know it is a done deal. Thanks again.

    • Sven Luckermans

      Hi, that’s great!!! You’ll love it. Unfortunately, you won’t be eligble for a chauffeur at LHR on your stopover.. but you get one at AUH 🙂

  • Stephanie Pearl

    After reading this post and all the comments I am confused as to how I can actually move forward with booking a flight. I checked availability on Etihad website and it looks like they have availability for my trip (Delhi to Munich), but when I call American they say nothing is available. What’s the deal with this? It seems that others have also ran into the same issue. Any suggestions??

  • Ankur

    Sven,

    First of all, thank you for this amazing tip. I just tried to see whether I can book Etihad award ticket using AA miles, following procedure you described above. However, for guest membership, Etihad web site wants me to enter Etihad guest membership number. I stopped at this point as I don’t have Etihad guest number but I was trying to use AA miles. Could you please throw some light on this. Thanks again.

    • Sven

      hi there, after you enter the search, it will ask about info, but just click “proceed without logging in”

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