The Etihad A380 First Apartment is amazing, as in amazingly spacious and beautiful. Many travelers believe it’s currently the best first class suite in the world.
That is not counting Etihad First Residence, which is unattainable for award travel anyway.
The Etihad A380 First Apartment is so spacious you can drop and give 20 … to the chef who’s just served you a 5-star meal. Might be not such a bad idea all things considered.
Etihad A380 First Apartment Availability
Currently, the only U.S. route Etihad flies on A380 is between New York (JFK) and Abu Dhabi. While there are two daily JFK-AUH flights, only one is on A380, the other one is served by 777.
Don’t get me wrong — according to numerous reviews, the Etihad first class cabin on 777 is fantastic in terms of both hard product and service. It’s just that First Apartment seems to be beyond fantastic. It seems to be out of this world!
Lucky states that “nowadays award availability in Etihad’s First Class Apartment is quite good”
I don’t see it this way. Unless you’re looking at non-U.S. routes, getting the outbound flight in the Etihad A380 First Apartment is pretty much impossible until the end of the schedule. Availability for inbound flights is much better (which is why I booked the Etihad First Class Apartment for my return from the Philippines in October). But “quite good” is overstatement.
Here is the current situation.
You can book an Etihad First Class award from JFK to AUH within roughly three months, but only on 777. After that period, all premium-class availability is blocked till the end of the schedule. I’m not saying you will never find some accidental availability here and there, but this has been a consistent trend lately.
You can book a first class award from AUH to JFK throughout the year, but in my studies (LOL), it will mostly be on 777. You will begin seeing consistent Etihad First Class Apartment availability 8-9 months out.
Well, the good thing is this is all about to change.
Etihad Dumps 777 in Favor of the Second A380
According to Frequent Business Traveler (and everyone else, but this is where I saw it first) Etihad will replace the 777 with the second A380 starting June 1, 2017, and the Etihad award booking site has already reflected the change. So basically, whatever availability you see after June 1 will be on A380.
Etihad A380 First Apartment on an Award Ticket
The easiest way to book is on American Airlines. You will pay 115,000 miles one way (yes, devaluations suck!) and some taxes but no fuel surcharges.
Of course, there are other ways, one of which I had highlighted here.
ANA charges you 195,000 miles for a first class roundtrip flight on Etihad. That beats AA levels by 35,000 miles.
Moreover, it charges the same 195,000 miles for Africa, including South Africa, which makes it one of the most valuable awards you can get! Although, Etihad doesn’t have a first class cabin between Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg, so you will have to “suffer” in business for 8 hours. I’d manage. 🙂
But there is a “but.” isn’t there always?
ANA doesn’t allow one way flights, and it doesn’t allow mixing non-Star Alliance partners. So, the flight must be roundtrip, and it must be entirely on Etihad.
That currently presents a logistical problem because in order to get the Etihad A380 First Apartment award seat on the way home and take advantage of ANA pricing, you would inevitably have to fly from JFK to Abu Dhabi (or Africa) in coach. True, ANA allows you to mix classes, so you would only pay 120,000 miles rather than 195,000, but it’s a very-very-very-very long flight!
However, with the introduction of the second A380 (if the current trend continues), you would have a very good chance to book a roundrtrip flight to South Africa in first apartment within the next three-four months (with a free stopover in UAE if you wish). Of course, it’s all speculations at this point, but some improvements are already evident. You can book the AUH-JFK Etihad A380 First Apartment every day for the first half of June, and in most cases awards are available for two people. As the time marches on, availability will change of course, because for as long as I remember, Etihad always blocks a couple of weeks before the end of the schedule.
The last but not the least.
Etihad charges roughly as much as AA for their awards (see the screenshots above), but for the next two days there is still a 25% mileage transfer bonus for converting Citi ThankYou points into Etihad Guest miles. Some hotel programs are also eligible, but their base conversion rates are grotesque.
So, if you’ve been thinking where to park your Citi ThankYou points, this is not a bad option. Etihad does charge YQ, but it’s not too bad. A one way ticket for the First Apartment would cost you 88,167 Citi TU points and $179 for the JFK–AUH flight and 88,275 miles and $225. That’s fuel and taxes combined. Getting a roundtrip first class ticket to the Middle East or Africa for less than 176,500 miles (Thanks Raj) and $404 is not too shabby, methinks.
The 25% transfer offer ends on July 31, 2016.
You can book an AA award 331 days out.
You can book an ANA award 355 days out.
You can book an EY award 330 days out.