Currently, the easiest way to book Etihad award flights is using American Airlines AAdvantage miles or ANA Mileage Club miles. However, there may be some additional options coming soon. As per Eithad CEO James Hogan’s interview with Today in the Sky, he had this to say about not being part of one of the three global alliances and future potential partners:
“Being unaligned, means we’re working with Star, oneworld and SkyTeam airlines,” Hogan said. And, he promised even more partners within the next month or so. “We’ve got a few good ones coming in the next few weeks,” he said. “We’ve got three coming in the next few weeks. A couple of them will take the world by surprise. They’re both major alliance members.”
Your guess is as good as mine, but another major redemption reciprocity partner for Etihad would be great news given their generous first and business class award space as well as there outstanding service. Unfortunately, it generally takes the better part of a year before any new agreements result in redemption opportunities. In the meantime, here’s a reminder on the current AA & ANA options:
American – Awards to the UAE fall under American’s Indian Subcontinent / Middle East category and cost 90k for economy, 135k for business, and 180k for first roundtrip. For those of you who booked one of the Hilton Maldives properties prior to the Hilton devaluation, the Maldives falls under the same category and won’t cost you any additional points. However, remember that due to AA’s rules, Etihad must sell a published fare between the city pairs that you intend to travel between. What this means is that a JFK-MLE award will work as Etihad sells fares between these two cities. However, a BOS-MLE award will price as two separate awards, as Etihad does not publish a fare between Boston and the Maldives.
ANA – ANA utilizes a distance based award chart which works to your advantage when simply flying from New York or Toronto to Abu Dhabi, but will cost you a few additional miles if you intend to connect to the Maldives or fly on Etihad’s other North American flights from Chicago, DC, or Toronto.
With the New York (JFK) and Toronto (YYZ) flights, you’ll just squeeze in at under 14,000 miles and will be able to book the roundtrip award at 60k for economy, 90k for business, and 140k for first. However, adding in a Maldives leg or flying in from Chicago or DC (just misses it at 7088 each way) will bring you to the next award level and will cost 65k for economy, 105k for business, and 160k for first. You can check distances using the Great Circle Mapper here.
Remember, you can earn ANA points via transfers from American Express Membership Rewards (around a 3 day delay) or via SPG transfers. Unfortunately, ANA now imposes fuel surcharges on all partners besides US Airways.
In other Etihad news, they are introducing a fee based Meet and Greet service at AUH for those passengers who are not flying in business or first class:
Our experienced staff will meet you at the arrival gate lounge or bus disembarkation point and accompany you every step of the way through the arrival process. They will take you through fast-track immigration, organise baggage assistance and guide you through the airport to the exit. So now your arrival can be as comfortable as your flight. Etihad Meet and Greet is offered in Gold and Silver packages and can be booked online up to 48 hours before your flight’s departure.
Gold Package ($65):Personal welcome on arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport (one member of staff for every guest). Assistance throughout the arrival process, including immigration fast track and baggage collection. Complimentary porter service to transport baggage at airport
Silver Package ($38):Personal welcome on arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport (one member of staff for every 1-5 guests). Assistance throughout the arrival process, including immigration fast track and baggage collection.