April 19, 2018

Booking Etihad First Class Apartments with Points

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).

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Layout

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.

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First Apartment Lounge
First Apartment Lounge

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.

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
American Airlines Partner award chart from the Middle East. Etihad First Apartments would be in the “First” category and vary based on the regional destination.

A380 Routes

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.

Etihad online booking

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.

Etihad online booking availability screen

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.

Etihad online booking availability screen

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.

About First Class Travel Guide 128 Articles
Travel enthusiast that spent years flying in the back of planes and staying at cheaper hotels in order to save a little money. After learning how to leverage airline and hotel loyalty programs, I've developed an interest in luxury travel and write about my experiences with it.

2 Comments on Booking Etihad First Class Apartments with Points

  1. Hey there! I just stumbled upon your site. I love it! Question: Are these American Airlines redemption rates for the Etihad first class apartments up to date? I know AA slashed their rates not that long ago. I just want to make sure. Thanks!

    • Thanks! You might be thinking of the American award chart de-valuation. I couldn’t remember off hand whether I booked that trip before or after the de-vaulation. After I checked, I booked it after the American award chart changes which happened in March 2016. If you booked that award before March 2016 it would have only cost 60,000 American miles. After the award chart change, it was increased to 100,000 each way. The best deal of that group is still Europe to the Middle East for 62,500 American miles in first class on Etihad.

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