A few days ago I wrote a piece about booking Etihad First Apartments with [soon to be devalued] AA miles.
I noted that there was no A380 Apartment availability on the U.S.- Abu Dhabi flights till the end of the schedule (and yes, I did check!). However, per VFTW, Etihad has opened up availability from Abu Dhabi to New York, often for 2-3 seats in the cabin. As of today, 12.29.15, November 12 is the last day you can find availability for a Saver award.
Remember to search on the Etihad website first, then call American to redeem.
This “goodness” comes at the price, though. Everything I wrote about a few days ago is gone.
New York-Abu Dhabi
All premium seats are gone! Not only there are absolutely no A380 Apartments available, but they’ve also blocked all first and business class seats on Jet. Not a single seat has been spared!
Abu Dhabi-Sydney-Abu Dhabi
All A380 Apartments are gone on the Sydney route. I hope, that my painstakingly meticulous write-up on the Apartment available award seats has helped some of you, folks, book a killer vacation. You know what would be cool? A little attaboy in the comments section. It would make it worthwhile for me to work my ass off on a topic that might die in just a few days.
One door shuts, another opens wide open. Etihad starts flying A380 between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne on June 1, and next fall availability seems to be excellent in both directions for now. If you don’t mind getting between Sydney and Melbourne on your own (BA Avios perhaps?), you can still fly in the Etihad First Apartment on this route.
If you’d rather stick to Sydney, first class seat availability on Jet is still around (very good in July, and it’s still an excellent deal at 60,000 AA miles for the 14-hour flight. You can still return from Australia in class.
If you are not interested in Australia, you can fly to India instead. Of course, this is only a 3-4 hour flight, but your AAdvantage 90,000-mile award already covers the Middle East and India, so no extra miles are required!
Starting May 1, Etihad will fly A380 between Abu Dhabi and Mumbai, and the Apartment availability on this route is excellent in both directions. Multiple seats are available most of the time.
A one way flight between Abu Dhabi and India will cost you 35,000 AAdvantage miles, and between Australia and India via Abu Dhabi–60,000 miles (remember that as far as AA is concerned, Middle East and India belong to the same region).
For the next two days, you can transfer your Citi ThankYou points to Etihad with a 25% bonus. The Citi ThankYou is not the only program eligible for this promotion, but it’s the only one that might make sense, IMHO.
Why might it make sense, you wonder? For three reasons.
- It’s easier to get your reward with the Etihad Guest miles than AAdvantage miles (see below).
- You might save a few miles.
- AA miles are more valuable than Citi ThankYou points right now (which I’m not sure will be the case after March 22).
You will pay the following for the Apartment in AAdvantage miles (one way)
- Abu Dhabi-Mumbai: 35,000 miles
- Abu Dhabi-Australia: 60,000 miles
- Abu Dhabi-New York: 90,000 miles
And this is what you pay in Etihad miles (with the 25% bonus)
- Abu Dhabi-Mumbai: 23,000 miles
- Abu Dhabi-Australia: 100,000 miles
- Abu Dhabi-New York: 90,000 miles
So, the only clear winner here is the short Abu Dhabi-Mumbai flight. However, back in July, Etihad added new carrier scamcharges after removing the old fuel scamcharges.
All fuel surcharges that have traditionally been levied on some GuestSeats into Abu Dhabi have been removed; however, a new carrier charge* has been introduced for all GuestSeat bookings.This will be calculated based on the number of sectors and class of travel – US$ 50 per sector when travelling in Economy Class, US$ 100 per sector in Business Class and US$ 150 per sector in First Class.
It seems easy, but it’s not. If you take a look at the screenshot above, you will see that on some routes scamcharges have indeed been levied, while others have not. For example, it’s clear that the flight from Mumbai carries the $150 scamcharge in addition to taxes, while the flight from Melbourne does not. I don’t know what it means; maybe someone with a better understanding of the Etihad Guest program can help me out.
Regardless, the scamcharge is not that huge to be an issue if it makes the difference between being able to book this awesome award and getting stuck with an AA representative who can’t find the reward that should be available because it has been blocked by the CEO of the year.
On the other hand, you can also try the Aussie trick.
If you can’t find an AA representative who would be able to see the Etihad saver award on their end, call this Australian AA number to book: +61 02-9101-1948 (HT: Quinnjamin).
Questions? Comments? Type away!