You Can Fly Etihad First for 50,000 Miles on This Route, and Availability Is Great

May 29, 2019

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There’s first class, and then there’s the Etihad Apartments. In this truly luxurious product, not only do first-class passengers get to lounge mid-flight in their mini “apartment” but they’ll also be treated to champagne, access to Etihad’s amazing lounge in Abu Dhabi and even a shower 30,000 feet in the sky.

As noted by Thrifty Traveler, there’s a nice little sweet spot in American Airlines’ award chart, where the program only charges 40,000 miles for business class and 50,000 miles for first class one-way between the Middle East and Asia Region 1 and Asia Region 2.

Etihad operates an Airbus A380 between its hub in Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Seoul, Korea (ICN). Abu Dhabi is in the Middle East and Seoul is within Asia 1.

That means that you’ll only have to shell out 50,000 American miles for a 10-hour flight in one of the best products in the sky. For comparison, it costs 110,000 American miles to fly first class from the US to the Middle East.

What’s more important, and what Thrifty Traveler has spotted, is that there’s great award availability on this route. Here’s November 2019 from Abu Dhabi to Seoul:

And here’s business class during the same time:

Want to fly with a friend or your partner? Here’s award availability at the end of February and March for two seats!

Etihad has a great business class product on the A380 too, so if you don’t have enough miles for first, or want to bring along a partner, this is a prime opportunity to do just that. Fuel surcharges and taxes on the route, which are quite reasonable about $30 when originating in Abu Dhabi.

While it’s unfortunate that you must originate in Seoul or Abu Dhabi, both are great cities to visit, and it’s still a fantastic use of miles to spend some quality time in one of the world’s most luxurious first-class products. 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, plug in Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Seoul-Incheon (ICN) as your origin or destination airports and use the calendar search function to easily find your preferred flight dates. Award availability is most prevalent from November 2019 through April 2020.

If you don’t have any American miles you can transfer Marriott Rewards to the airline program at a 3:1 ratio (with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred). Additionally, just the sign-up bonus along on one of these American Airlines credit cards could get you enough miles for an Etihad first 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 60,000 miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on gas station, restaurant and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee).
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®: Earn 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 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.

(Photos by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

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