Etihad Airways opened for business in July 2003. Etihad operates as the third largest airline in the Middle East and the second largest airline in the United Arab Emirates, behind the Dubai based airline, Emirates. Since its founding, Etihad has developed a reputation for taking luxury travel to new outrageous levels.
On international flights flown on A380 aircraft, Etihad offers four classes of service: economy, business, First Apartments, and the Residence. The Residence level class has just 2 open seats on each A380 flight. The Residence is essentially a flying apartment that includes a living room, separate bedroom, and a shower (roughly 125 sq ft). Flights in the Residence can cost in excess of $20,000 and are only bookable with Etihad miles, but at levels that aren’t realistic to actually earn (only 2.8 million Etihad miles to book the Residence on the date shown below).
The next level below Residence class is the First Apartments. There are 9 First Apartments available on each A380 flight (roughly 39 sq ft). Each First Apartment is essentially like flying in a small living room. Each apartment suite includes a wide leather armchair, a 24 inch flat screen TV, and a separate 6 foot fully flat bed.
First Apartment passengers have access to inflight internationally trained chefs and a seven course tasting menu. Passengers in the First Apartments also have access to an on-board shower and a shared lobby.
How to Book with Points?
Although not as expensive as the Residence, flights in the First Apartments can cost in excess of $10,000 for a one-way flight. However, you can book a flight in the First Apartments using American Airlines miles. I was recently able to book a ticket on Etihad’s First Apartments from Abu Dhabi to Sydney Australia for 100,000 American Airlines miles and $43.75 in taxes.
Right now Etihad offers this product on the following routes:
New York – Abu Dhabi (115,000 American Airline miles)
Sydney – Abu Dhabi (100,000 American Airline miles)
London – Abu Dhabi (62,500 American Airline miles)
Mumbai – Abu Dhabi (40,000 American Airline miles)
The cost in American Airline miles is for a one-way ticket. A roundtrip ticket would require 2x the listed miles. Booking the flight with American Airline miles requires fewer miles than booking the same flight with Etihad miles (As you’ll see below, in this example, you would need 475,380 Etihad miles to book the same flight that costs just 100,000 American Airline miles).
How to Book Online
Because these tickets can be purchased with American Airline miles at such favorable rates, availability can sometimes be hard to find. I’ve included the steps below for how to find availability on Etihad’s web site and book the flight using American Airline miles.
Start on Etihad’s web site and click book a flight with miles. Choose the flight your looking for from the above options, choose the date you want to start with and choose first class. Click to proceed and then click to search flights and click to proceed without logging in.
You are looking in the “Guest First” column. This represents open tickets that can be purchased with partner airline miles (American Airlines is considered a Partner Airline of Etihad). The “First Freedom” column represents award tickets that can only be purchased with Etihad miles which are nearly 5x more expensive than American Airline miles. Also you want to focus on the flight with the A380 aircraft.
The first choice of friday June 24th does not have any available “Guest First” award tickets that are available. However, notice there are 6 open seats under the “Guest First” column. This indicates that at some point some of those available seats could be released as a “Guest First” seat if they are not sold. Instead, use the calendar above to check other dates to see if “Guest First” has any open seats.
On Sunday, June 26th, there is an open ticket. The open “Guest First” ticket lists 128,896 miles required to redeem it. This represents the amount of Etihad miles needed to redeem the ticket. American Airlines has a set redemption rate of 100,000 miles, but you need to write down the flight information and call American Airlines in order to book the ticket.
Need to Call Customer Service for Final Booking
First try the US number for American Airlines (800-882-8880). When I tried the US number to book the ticket, the customer service agents could not see the availability on their system. However, if you call American Airlines customer service in Australia (+61-2-91011948) they were able to see the award ticket availability. At some point this glitch should be corrected, but airlines are notorious for having strange system glitches.