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Is the Etihad and American Airlines Partnership Ending?
Both OMAAT and View from the Wing posted this morning about Etihad having been removed from the AAdvantage Partners page, leading to speculation that the end of the partnership is near. Spoiler alert: They put Etihad back on that page now.
Then TPG wrote that we shouldn’t worry and it’s not going away. Problem is that article is based on comment from AA that it was a technical issue and not any sort of assurance it’s not going away…. soon.
Last year, it looked like the Etihad/AAdvantage partnership was about to end any day and that Etihad might cozy up with United and/or Star Alliance.
Now, on the heels of American Airlines and Qatar reinvigorating their partnership, given this past rumor, and given that an airline just doesn’t remove a partner from a partner listing page for no reason it seems once again safe to assume that if you have an award in mind, you should book it – provided, of course, that you still have an AAdvantage account. Keep in mind that you’ll probably need to investigate availability using the Etihad Guest website or Expert Flyer and then call a South Pacific call center to book.
So what if the Etihad and American Airlines partnership ends? Use other miles, right?
Many of you are thinking that if the partnership ends, it’s no big deal. After all, you can transfer Amex, Citi, and Capital One miles into Etihad Guest’s program.
That would be short-sighted, because the Etihad redemptions using Etihad Guest miles are significantly more expensive that with AA.
Let’s say you wanted to go from Abu Dhabi to New York in the Etihad First Class Apartment. It would be 115,000 AAdvantage miles plus around $100 give or take on taxes and fees. Using Etihad Guest miles, you’d pay 136,460 miles plus about $275.
On the face, that’s not a big deal. The rub lies in the routing rules of Etihad Guest. If you want to connect from *anywhere* that doesn’t have a First Class, you cannot book it as one award using Etihad Guest miles. Using AAdvantage’s generous routing rules, you could book a connection in Business (or Economy). Not so with Etihad. If there’s no First you’re booking two awards. Want to tack on Male to Abu Dhabi in Business? That will be 63,000 additional miles + USD $301.40.
Now that same First award that AA charges 115,000 miles and ~$100 for is going to run you approximately 200,000 Etihad Guest miles plus about $600.
Another one of the great AAdvantage routing rules lets you fly Etihad to South Africa as one award. On Etihad Guest? Two awards. JFK-AUH and AUH-JNB/CPT. Business class to SA from AUH will add about 66,000 miles and ~$160 in Business Class. I couldn’t find a First spot open to check that.
Surely there are other options for booking the Etihad First Class Apartment!
Not really! You can use Korean SkyPASS miles – and a reasonable 105,000 in First )(no connections, though). However, with Korean no longer a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner, nothing but Bonvoy will transfer there, making it an option for very few people.
If you want to try the Etihad First Class Apartment, have AAdvantage miles, and see availability you can use – book it now. Right now.
What will you do if Etihad and AA breakup?
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