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How to book Etihad flights with American AAdvantage miles

by on Mon July 11, 2016 • 11 Comments


Based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways is not a member of any alliances, but it has 26 airline mileage partners. You can book Etihad flights with a number of frequent flyer programs, including ANA, Korean, and American Airlines to name just a few.

Here is what you need to know about finding award space and booking your flight with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Routes from the U.S.

Etihad flies between Abu Dhabi and 6 cities in the US: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York – Kennedy, San Francisco, and Washington – Dulles. From Abu Dhabi, Etihad can connect you to almost 90 other destinations around the world.


via GCMap

Where to Search for Space

The Etihad website is an easy and quick way to look for an award with no login required. It shows one date at a time, but you can quickly see whether or not the saver award is available for the next 7 days.


When you see some ridiculous number as in our example above, it means there is no Saver Award availability (red box), while more reasonable amount of miles indicates that the award space is available (green box).

Routing Rules when Booking with American AAdvantage Miles

When you are using American AAdvantage miles to book Etihad, you have to take into account its strict routing rules. With a few exceptions that have been made specifically for Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific, you can’t fly to your destination via a third region, and you must use the most direct routing. You can view our full guide to using American Airlines miles, but here is a brief summary of what you can do.

  • You can fly nonstop from the US to Abu Dhabi or other destinations in the Middle East via Abu Dhabi.
  • You can fly nonstop between Abu Dhabi and other Etihad destinations.
  • You can fly between the U.S. and India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and other Indian Subcontinent countries via Abu Dhabi because, as far as AA is concerned, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent act as the same zone, even though they display as two different award zones.
  • All other routings will require separate awards. For example, flying between the U.S. and Australia on Etihad in coach will cost 82,500 miles: 40,000 between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi and 42,500 miles between Abu Dhabi and Australia.

All awards that are booked with American Airlines miles on Etihad will be priced according to American Airlines’ Partner Award Chart. Here are one-way prices at a glance between Abu Dhabi and the rest of the world.


A one-way award from the U.S. to the Middle East or India will cost 40,000 miles in Economy Class or 70,000 miles in Business Class and 115,000 miles in First. Interestingly, a flight between Abu Dhabi and Australia that takes about the same time as the flight between Abu Dhabi and New York costs more in Economy and Business Class (42,500 and 80,000 miles respectively), but only 100,000 miles in first.

What’s interesting about the product

Etihad offers great service in all classes including Economy, but clearly, what sets this airline apart is its opulent First Class cabin in A380.

Etihad has an incredible First Class suite called First Apartment. There is also an ultra-luxurious, 3-room suite called First Residence that comes with a personal butler, but it’s unattainable on miles anyway. The Apartment, on the other hand, can be booked quite easily. Etihad flies A380 between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Sydney, Melbourne, and Mumbai.


via GCMap

The Etihad First Class cabin features 9 enclosed apartments with an extra-wide chair, separate bed, 24-inch TV, huge vanity, and a personal chef that will customize any meal to your preference. The Apartments share a shower, which, although smaller than the one on Emirates, gives you the same 5 minutes of hot water bliss.


Key Opportunities

If you want to fly the First Class Apartment, here are the routes to consider, from worst to best in chances of scoring a seat for a decent price.

From Worst to Best

  1. JFK–AUH. In general, Etihad blocks all A380 First Class availability from New York to Abu Dhabi.
  2. AUH–SYD–AUH: Ditto.
  3. AUH–JFK: Good availability if you can book 9-11 months in advance.
  4. AUH–MEL–AUH: Excellent availability
  5. AUH–BOM–AUH: Excellent availability.

The best way to stretch the value would be flying from Mumbai via Abu Dhabi all the way to Melbourne in First Apartment for 100,000 miles, followed by a flight from Mumbai to New York for 115,000 miles. Every other combination would mean paying two separate awards.

How to Book

You’ll need to call AAdvantage on 1-800-882-8880, and the agent will waive the fee because Etihad awards can’t be booked online. Sometimes, U.S. based agents can’t see the Etihad award even though it’s there. If encounter this problem with a U.S. based agent, you can call this Australian AA number: +61 02-9101-1948. Use Skype or your favorite internet calling app to avoid the long distance charges.


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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

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Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes - transfer to United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, and more

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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11 thoughts on How to book Etihad flights with American AAdvantage miles

  1. Andrew

    can anyone give me a few pointers,
    I have amex, velocity and Qantas points, and am trying to earn enough card points for Melbourne to Europe long haul First class apartments on etihad

    I notice that points + taxes using velocity and etihad miles are roughly the same give or take,
    however most say AA miles are generally cheaper and less taxes, howver I cannot seem to find Etihad flights on any of the AA websites, given that its 2:1 AA miles for most of hte other programs including Amex,

    how much tax am I expecting to pay and how many poitns, I cant even seem to find a points/tax calculator

    any help please?


      @Andrew – Etihad flights don’t show on the AA site. You need to call AA directly to request them on 800 882 8880.

  2. MarcoPolo

    Another question:
    Me and my SO have separate AA accounts and would like to book tickets together but we don’t have enough miles for doing that. If I call and give mine and my SO’s AAdv number will the agent be able to book two separate tickets on the same flight from two separate AAdv account numbers?

  3. Shea

    I booked a flight through American Airlines, Chicago to AUH. American Airlines is saying that I can not use my miles to upgrade to business class since it’s and Etihad flight. What should I do?

  4. Sachidananda Shetty Giliyaru

    I have already booked Etihad flight from JFK to BLR and return. How do I add the AAdvantage number to that booking


      @Sachidananda – Just give Etihad a call on 888 – 8 ETIHAD and they’ll add it to your reservation.


      @Abhinav – You’re fine – this article focuses on travel that starts in the U.S.. While India is labeled separately from the Middle East AA considers India and the Middle East the same region for that award so it will price as one India/Middle East – Europe award.

  5. MaryE

    ICN to AUH BC Pearl Class is a great award ticket in MArch. In 2011 30,000 AA miles. I don’t know what it is now, but it was that BC flight that made me search how to ramp up the attainment of more miles.


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