The Etihad First Apartment doesn’t come cheap, but I’ve become much more willing to spend waste my miles on the first class travel since the AA devaluation news.
I used to argue a lot against it. All that Earn’n’Burn philosophy was kind of foreign to me. I was sitting on my high horse, telling people not to go crazy, and I even decided to quit First Class once and for all after I’d have my experience on Singapore. And that would be it, no more First Class for Andy.
Then the AA’s axe dropped, and it was (well, will be) bloody. I’m prepared to bet all the miles in my coffers that both Delta and United are cooking new, even more draconian devastations as we speak.
I’ve seen the light. Burn them all. Things will not get better. The airline executives don’t want to see their members flying in first and business class for free, and they will keep pushing until there is no shove left. As to coach, we’ll always have enough for coach, which means, there is no reason to hoard. Coach is a mass product. They won’t kill the coach; it’s like cutting their own nose to spite the face, as the saying goes.
So what does this mini-rant have to do with Etihad?
A380 Etihad First Apartment
Etihad currently operates four A380s, on the routes to London, New York, and Sydney. From what I’ve read, the Etihad First Apartment is the best, yet still affordable first class product in the sky, and you can fly it one way between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi for 90,000 AA miles. The problem is not that it’s a lot of miles, but that there is no availability from or to the U.S. for the next year. Every time I search, I find exactly from zero to one A380 seat within the next 12 months.
The London-Abu Dhabi route has better availability, but for a 7-hour flight why bother?
Instead, fly to or from Australia. Or make it a roundtrip.
The flight between Abu Dhabi and Sydney is 14:10 minutes, just 40 minutes shorter than between Abu Dhabi and New York. Redemption levels, on the other hand, are designed to take advantage of the demand, although they have put a fix to that after March 22. The flight between Abu Dhabi and Sydney in the First Apartment only costs 60,000 miles one way, 33% cheaper than a comparable length flight between the UAE and the U.S.
EY AUH-SYD Availability
Availability for the next 2 months is not great, but decent. If you are flexible, you will find up to two A380 seats in both directions. If not, you will fly one way on a 777, which has an excellent closed suite first class as well, although it is, of course, not as decadent as the Apartment.
If you fly solo, you’ll have a better chance to find your seat. Here are my findings. I’ve done all the heavy lifting for you, folks.
First Class Availability on A380 for 1
- Jan: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 30
- Feb: 3, 4
- Jan: 12, 16, 17, 20, 25, 27, 28, 30
- Feb: None
First Class Availability on 777
- Jan: 5, 12, 13, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28
- Feb: 1-5, 7, 25, 27, 28
- Jan: 1, 6, 10, 11, 13, 24, 29,
- Feb: 3, 8, 10, 22, 29
First Class Availability for 2 (combined with 777)
- Jan: 31(Dec), 2, 5, 7 (A380), 12, 17, 21, 24, 26, 28, 30 (A380)
- Feb: 1 (A380), 2, 3 (A380), 4 (A380), 5 (A380), 7, 27, 28
- Jan: 13, 15, 17, 25, 25 (A380), 27 (A380), 28 (A380), 29
- Feb: 3, 8, 10, 22, 29
Flying one way between the U.S. and Australia
If you don’t mind flying on 777 one way, you will find decent first class availability from Abu Dhabi to New York, but not the other way around.
But there is always business class, and from what I’ve been reading, it’s truly comfortable. Availability from JFK is good for January, and almost zilch in February, at least for now. A business class seat will cost you 67,500 AA miles.
Coach? I wouldn’t fly 15 hours in coach as long as I have a choice.
But you don’t have to use the round trip between Abu Dhabi and Sydney in the first place. There are infinite possibilities.
Alaska miles (free stopover, even on a one-way flight)
- Qantas: 55,000 in business, 70 in first
- Cathay Pacific: 60,000 in business, 80 in first
- Fiji: 55,000 in business
- Emirates (from/to Dubai): 72,500 in business, 90,000 in first
AA miles: 62,500 in business, 72,500 in first on Qantas or/and American
Delta miles: 80,000 in business, mostly on Delta and Virgin Australia
United miles: 70,000-80,000 in business and 80,000-130,000 in first on multiple airlines
You will need some positioning flights. The best availability to/from the UAE is on Emirates. If you go all first, you’ll have to spend uber-whopping 330,000 miles American and Alaska miles combined. But you will visit two destinations and experience two top-notched first class products, as well. A year ago I would’ve called it insane. Today? I don’t know, maybe slightly unorthodox. 🙂
If this it too rich for your blood (and I don’t blame you if it is), here is the most economical run I can think of. Note, I do believe that you need at least a business class seat for these distances. The class of service on positioning domestic flights for the U.S. or Australia wouldn’t matter to me that much. Remember that you can add it to your AA reservation if there is availability, and if not, Avios are still your friend. 🙂 I wouldn’t sweat a short coach flight or two.
- U.S. to Dubai on Emirates: 72,000 miles in business.
- Abu Dhabi to Sydney on Etihad: 60,000 miles in first.
- Sydney to the U.S. on Fiji or Qantas: 55,000 in business (finding Qantas availability in business or first is unlikely, though)
You can also try to redeem Cathay Pacific for 60,000 miles if you don’t find an award seat on Fiji. That’ll bring the tally to under 200,000 miles per trip, and you’ll get to try Etihad Apartment, visit three destinations, and fly everywhere in comfort. I hate to say that, but it sounds almost reasonable to me.
Don’t agree? In less than 3 months you will. It’s only a matter of time. 🙁
And remember that Emirates offers a free coach (bus) service between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, 4 times daily. Also, if you’ve never flown in an Emirates suite, seriously, go for it. It’s just 18,000 miles more.
I can’t go, unfortunately. I promised a few people to stay put until my April trip to Brazil (LOL). But if you think you’re due some serious go-time, this would be pretty epic!
Happy Christmas, everyone!
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