Booking Etihad First Class Apartments with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles: Step by Step
The Etihad First Class Apartments remain one of the most luxurious ways one can fly.
And, while there’s been a rumor of the partnership ending any day now since February, they can currently be booked using American Airlines AAdvantage miles. The number of miles you will spend varies by route, but for US based flyers, you’re looking at 115,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles which would cover a one way flight in the Apartments from the US to the Middle East and the Indian Subcontinent. You can connect beyond there, but you’d need to book a separate award. The exception would be to Africa. And since AA allows mixed cabin redemptions, your connection to Africa can be in Business class and you’d still pay just the 115,000 miles. A connecting flight from a US gateway is also included – but you’d need to find elusive AA saver space for that to work.
From the US, only JFK flies the First Class Apartments. Always double check your flight equipment before booking! It should be an A380.
A variety of credit cards earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles, making one aspirational trip wholly achievable. One Citi card bonus and one Barclay card bonus alone would get you a one way flight in the Apartment.
But here’s the thing. Although the AA.com website *shows* Etihad awards, it won’t often (ever?) let you book these awards. It will tell you the flight is no longer available, but that’s not (usually) true.
Searching Etihad Award Availability
Since Etihad isn’t part of Oneworld, the trick of searching ba.com won’t work. There are two ways you can search and know, for sure, what is available:
1) Use ExpertFlyer. It’s not free ($9.99 a month or $99 a year) but I use it more than enough to get value. It will show you Etihad availability. However, you must search segment by segment. So, if you wanted to fly JFK-AUH-MLE (New York to Male, via Abu Dhabi), you would search first from JFK-AUH and then AUH-MLE. Only JFK-AUH will have Apartments. If you find a seat in First on the JFK-AUH segment, and then Business or Economy on the AUH-MLE segment, you can book the whole thing as one award with AA.
2) If you don’t have an Expert Flyer account, create an Etihad Guest account and search the award, also just one segment at a time in the class you want. You will need to find “Guest First” availability, as Guest refers to the ability for partner airlines to book that seat. As above, find the segments you want and then you have a plan.
Booking Etihad Apartments with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
You’d think my next statement would be to call AA. You’d only be half right. For some reason, and this has been the case for years, US agents cannot see the space in most cases.
You’ll want to fire up your Skype or similar cheap international calling mechanism and phone over to AA in Australia at 02-9101-1948. The agents there are stellar and competent and if you have successfully found the availability, they can piece it together for you. Make sure they place the Apartments segment first and then, if applicable, a connecting segment after. Sometimes, even they won’t see the whole thing at once.
They can put it on hold for you to ticket with AA agents stateside later or you can have them ticket it.
Either way, be sure to make clear that you won’t be charged any phone booking fees since you could not book online. They will waive them, though when I booked with Australia’s call center last year, they charged me anyway by accident (it was refunded) whereas the US center felt a bit easier on that front when I ticketed this week.
Have you Booked the Etihad Apartment with American Airlines AAdvantage Miles?
You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards.
New to all of this? The MilesTalk “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.