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Update: We’ve heard reports that some readers are unable to book these awards through AA’s US call center. However, you should have luck by calling American’s Australian reservations line at +61 02-9101-1948, instead. Hopefully AA gets this bug fixed soon!
There’s no question that Etihad’s A380 first-class Apartment is the best overall product you can redeem miles to fly, but award availability has been very hit or miss on the airline’s new flagship flight from JFK. (Read TPG’s review of The Residence on Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight from New York.) Fortunately, the opposite is currently true — for many dates through 2016, you can book three first-class A380 award seats from Abu Dhabi to JFK (the JFK departure is much more difficult to find, however).
One-way award seats can be booked for just 90,000 AA miles (note that AA is increasing that redemption if you book on or after March 22, but you can book travel throughout 2016 at the lower rate now).
To find availability, search on Etihad’s site and keep an eye out for “Guest First.” (See this post for detailed instructions on how to book using AA miles.) For example, here are three first-class award seats on the A380 in April.
Of course, you’ll need to get to Abu Dhabi before you can fly back to JFK. There are a few dates with availability in The Apartment, but I was only able to find award seats on flights departing within the next few days. Instead, you can fly another product to the UAE, such as first class on Emirates’ A380 (which is also very nice), then return home on Etihad.
Since Etihad availability tends to disappear as quickly as it pops up, I recommend finding dates that you may want to travel, then calling AA to put the award seats on hold while you firm up your plans. This incredible availability may only last for a few days, or even less time than that.
H/T: View from the Wing