Deal Alert: Fantastic Etihad Biz and First Award Space Between the US and Abu Dhabi

Jul 12, 2019

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Here’s your chance to fly one of the best first-class products in the sky — the Etihad Apartments. Aside from having your own mini “apartment,” when flying this luxurious product, you’ll be treated to champagne, access to Etihad’s amazing lounge in Abu Dhabi and even a shower 30,000 feet in the sky (when flying the Airbus A380).

Being such a coveted product, it typically isn’t very easy to come across award availability, let alone on some of the airline’s longest routes, between the US and Abu Dhabi (AUH). But that isn’t the case today. Etihad is currently offering a plethora of first class award space on flights between major US cities and Abu Dhabi. Even better, you can book these awards using American Airlines miles and you can do so online.

We first saw availability on Etihad’s Abu Dhabi to New York (JFK) route reported on Spencer Howard’s Straight to the Points newsletter and published on God Save The Points. The newsletter is a good resource if you’re looking for alerts when multiple premium cabin award seats become available.

However, upon digging a little deeper, TPG has discovered that availability is a lot more widespread than it may have first appeared. For instance, there’s practically wide open award space on Etihad’s Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles (LAX) route. Just note that it’s operated by a B777 with Etihad’s first class suite product, as opposed to The Apartment.

There’s also a ton of award space on the Abu Dhabi to Washington Dulles (IAD) route operated by the 787-9 Dreamliner with Etihad’s first class suite product.

Alternatively, you can book business class on many of these routes. Most routes have at least two award seats available in first class and four in business.

Etihad’s business class products on the A380 and B787 have both received high marks from the TPG team.

(Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)
Etihad’s business class on the Boeing 787-9. (Photo by Javier Rodriguez / The Points Guy)

The one bummer about this deal is that the availability is only for flights to the US, and not the other way around. So, to get to Abu Dhabi in first class, you’ll need to fly American Airlines or British Airways with a connection in a city like London (LHR) or Paris (CDG). Just note that British Airways tacks on high fuel surcharges. Additionally, you won’t want to make the mistake of booking a mixed-cabin award.

The one exception to this is Etihad’s Chicago (ORD) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) flights. We’re seeing plenty of business class award availability on this route.

If you’re fine with flying — dare I say — coach, there’s plenty nonstop economy availability on Etihad. This is just another example of how it’s much easier to book great awards, or crazy cheap first class flights, when originating overseas.

To book head over to AA.com, plug in Abu Dhabi (AUH) as your origin or destination airport and use the calendar search function to easily find your preferred flight dates. Award availability is most prevalent from February through May 2020. Fuel surcharges and taxes on the Abu Dhabi to US routes are quite reasonable at about $69 when originating in Abu Dhabi.  You’ll want to use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve to pay for the taxes so that you’re covered by the the cards’ excellent travel protections.

If you don’t have any American miles you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American at a 3:1 ratio (with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred). You can also book this flight with Etihad Guest miles, starting from 136,460 miles between JFK and AUH, although taxes and fees will be around $250.  You can transfer Amex, Capital One and Citi points to the Etihad Guest program.

Additionally, just the sign-up bonus along on one of these American Airlines credit cards could get you almost enough miles for an Etihad business class flight:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($450 annual fee)
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on gas station, restaurant and on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee)
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®: 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening.Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on telecommunications, cable/satellite providers, car rental merchants, gas station and on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee, waived for the first year)
  • Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile elsewhere.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.

Featured image by JT Genter / The Points Guy.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
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