Etihad Award Flights Bookable Online With American Airlines Miles — Business Class Space for 4

May 3, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

American Airlines has been on a roll lately when it comes to adding partners that you can book with your AAdvantage miles online. At times AAddvantage was presumably “testing” things and accidentally made too many partners bookable online, but many additions have been intentional — such as with Qatar Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, SriLankan Airlines, Cape Air, S7 Airlines and more.

As of last night, Etihad awards have become bookable online using American Airline miles, as was reported by Jon NYC and View From the Wing! Until now, you not only had to pick up the phone to book these awards, but the miles and points go-to tip was to actually call an American Airlines call center in Australia if you wanted a better chance of success in making the booking, which isn’t something that the casual award traveler may want to do. When you add in the fact that American recently loosened up its routing rules to allow additional connections through Abu Dhabi (AUH), this makes for some terrific award opportunities.

Etihad is pretty high up there when it comes to using your miles to fly in style. Your AAdvantage miles aren’t going to get you in the $32,000 Etihad Residence Suite that TPG himself flew in back in 2015, but that still leaves some very nice options on the table. While it’s no longer brand-new, an Etihad first class apartment looks to be miles ahead of what most of the US carriers offer. Cue all the jokes about flying in a de-luxe apartment in the sky.

Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)
Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Then there’s Etihad’s business class, which is also nothing to shake a stick at.

Etihad Business Class on the A380 (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

And, of course, economy will get you where you are going, just without the lie-flat effect.

Etihad Economy Class on the A380 (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

From the US, Etihad currently operates flights from Los Angeles (LAX), New York-JFK, Washington-Dulles (IAD), and Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Abu Dhabi. Etihad also offers flights from Toronto (YYZ), if you want to fly from Canada. However, the aircraft types and onboard products vary by route, from slightly older 777-300ERs flying to Chicago and LAX to a newer 787 serving Washington-Dulles. And then there’s the crown jewel of Etihad’s fleet — its A380s, featuring those nine spacious first class apartments which you can currently find flying to JFK.

Here’s how many AAdvantage miles it will cost you to book various awards on Etihad:

  • US to the Middle East in economy for 40,000 miles one-way
  • US to the Middle East in business class for 70,000 miles one-way
  • US to the Middle East in a first class apartment for 115,000 miles
  • Europe to the Middle East in a first class apartment for 62,500 miles one-way
  • Australia to the Middle East in a first class apartment for 100,000 miles

In practice, this means you could fly in business class on Etihad from the US all the way to the Maldives on one award for 70,000 AAdvantage miles with just a few clicks on your computer screen.

Not only that, but I’m seeing award availability for four in business class, which is pretty exciting and rare when it comes to flying in business class to that part of the world. (Here’s how to add a lap infant to an Etihad award booked via American.) While our tests found that award availability on departing the US matches what Etihad Guest is showing as saver level awards, termed Guest Business or Guest First… pulled these same two seats from IAD to AUH on May 13. pulled these same two seats from IAD to AUH on May 13.

…we are seeing reports of dates that are inconsistent out of AUH.

Award Availability

Of course, allowing online award bookings is only an enhancement when there are actually awards available to book, and fortunately that is the case here. While economy award inventory is wide open on all US routes, premium class availability is a bit tougher. Here’s a quick overview of business and first class availability from the four US gateways:

New York-JFK

Overall verdict: Very limited

At the time of writing, I’m only seeing two first class awards from JFK to Abu Dhabi for the entire open calendar (May 14 and 26). Business class is slightly better but still limited to last-minute awards (May 5-8, 12-14 and 16).


Overall verdict: Not great

Availability from IAD is better than JFK but but still limited. However, there are a few days in May and early June with two first class seats available.


Overall verdict: Very good (but no first class cabin)

If you’re looking to utilize this new online award booking option, ORD is likely your best bet for business class availability. Many dates through July 25 have two business class seats open, and then it opens up again January 20. This is where you can find four award seats on many dates into February and March:

Los Angeles

Overall verdict: Very limited

Etihad’s service from LAX only operates 4x weekly through the end of October (then 3x), and premium class award availability is very limited. Only a few dates in May have business and first class seats.

BONUS: London-Heathrow

Overall verdict: Terrific

If you’re based in the UK or have plans to be there, this could be the best way to experience Etihad’s first class apartment, as all three daily flights are operated by the A380, and the majority of dates have two first class awards available. At 62,500 miles, this could be a fantastic way to enjoy the luxury of an apartment in the sky for a limited outlay of miles.

Additional Considerations

When it comes to taxes and fees on Etihad, it varies, but are generally less than $100. Note that American lets you hold most award tickets for free, including partner awards, for up to five days. There’s no guarantee this availability lasts, so putting something on hold if you are considering it is not a bad idea.

If you are one of the few lucky ones that still has the 10% mileage rebate from your co-branded American Airlines credit card, up to 10,000 miles each year, then your deal is even sweeter. If you are short on AAdvantage miles, you can purchase them right now for 1.92 cents each, which would mean spending $1,344 on miles if you were starting from zero and wanted that example 70k business class award to the Maldives (which is surely much cheaper than buying the seat with cash). If you prefer to earn your miles with credit cards, here are the best American Airlines credit cards.

One tip to spot the flights operated by Etihad more quickly is to select the “nonstop” flight option on the American Airlines AAdvantage calendar view screen on the routes where Etihad operates nonstop (as shown below).

This is assuming you still have access to the old calendar view search screen — as not all routes are viewable with that legacy search display. However, we’ve found that you can actually “force” to show the old view by starting your search at this page.

There are some reports online that the Australia American Airlines call center still has access to more Etihad awards than on the AAdvantage website, though our tests haven’t sleuthed out those examples quite yet.

Bottom Line

Etihad isn’t a member of the Oneworld alliance, and its partnership with American has been in question for a while. However this is a very positive development for most travelers who want to use their miles to fly in style. With the moves toward dynamic award pricing by United and Delta, it’s refreshing for American to open up an easy way to get big value from its miles. Just move quickly, as easily bookable Etihad business and first class awards may disappear as quickly as chum in shark waters.

Featured image of Etihad First Class Apartments by JT Genter / The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • 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 up to 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.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are 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 posts and/or questions are answered.