Etihad First Class is up there. It really is. Innovative space, (literal) white glove service and an attention to detail seldom imagined- let alone received, keeps travelers in awe with virtually each Etihad First Class flight. There’s a very under valued way to use your points to experience Etihad First Class, landing a minimum of 10 hours in the lap of luxury. Let’s get started…
That’s right. You can start in the Middle East, India or North Asia (think Japan, Korea) to take advantage of this excellent points redemption. American Airlines still partners with Etihad and still releases availability using points for flights outside of the U.S. This means that anyone looking to create a 2 in 1 trip, or tag on an extra adventure to their India, Middle Eastern or Asian adventures can lock in this brilliant use of American Airlines partners- in this case Etihad. There’s room for some routing brilliance here, which we’ll get into, in a bit.
American Airline Points Are Easy To Earn Or Buy
50,000 Points for long haul award winning first class is pretty fantastic. American Airlines points are extremely easy to earn, via their numerous credit cards, flying on any OneWorld Airline, or for those with no access to frequent flying or credit cards- there’s still the opportunity to buy the points. 50,000 points would run roughly $1300, which is a lot of money- but a fraction of the retail cost for a first class ticket on Etihad, making for a fun “workaround” for some who want to experience the best.
American Airlines has finicky rules about backtracking, and about using your points to go to a region other than the one you intend- but Etihad has more wiggle room than other airlines. Many people have been able to ticket reservations on the 777 from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi, and then on the new 787 First Class Suite from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo. This would give you 13+ hours in first class, with the ability to try out two versions of the first class suite- though sadly no “First Class Apartment”. You’d need to go to Europe for 62,500 miles to do that– but you’d have less flight time. Either way, you’re going to receive the first class, personal chef treatment. Pretty cool. So yes, since American Airlines charges 50,000 points from India or the Middle East to North Asia, you can essentially tag this extra flight between India and Abu Dhabi at no extra cost.
Abu Dhabi is not just a place to transit. It’s home to many of the world’s best art museums, dream worthy sandy beaches and top culinary delights. Of course you could also go on a desert safari and see the stars at night like never before. This itinerary could be an amazing way to turn a trip to the Middle East or Asia into an around the world trip. How cool would it be to start in Tokyo, spend up to 24 hours in Abu Dhabi catching some sun rays, pop over to Mumbai and soak up the experience of India- all for just 50,000 points. Get on it.
Whoops, we almost forgot. Apologies. To do this you’ll need to track down “guest seat” space with Etihad. To do this, you may need to create a free frequent flyer account on Etihad.com, with Etihad, even though you’ll be using American AAdvantage. Once logged in, you’ll look for “guest seat” availability for each flight you’d like to take in first class. IGNORE the prices quoted for these seats on the Etihad website. Their program charges far different (worse) rates. Instead, you’ll call American AAdvantage, feed them the flight #’s, ask them to look up the space- and they should be able to get you booked quickly. If your local call center with American is having trouble seeing the availability, try calling a different American Airlines call center, somewhere else around the world. For 10+ hours of first class, it’s TOTALLY worth the effort…