Etihad has announced that they plan to increase capacity on their JFK-AUH flight by replacing the current A340-500 aircraft on the route with a B777-300ER. The B777-300ER will have a total of 328 seats with eight in Diamond First, 40 in Pearl Business, and 280 in Coral Economy class. The current A340-500 has 240 seats, 12 in first, 28 in business, and 200 in economy.
New York was our first point of entry into America and we have seen it continue to grow year-on-year, strengthened by our relationship with American Airlines. Beyond our direct daily services to New York, Chicago and recently-launched Washington, D.C., our partnership with American Airlines allows us to codeshare and connect our guests to more than 65 cities across the U.S.
The swap will bring wifi service to the route with a cost of $11.95 per hour or $21.95 for 24 hours, though wifi is complimentary in Diamond First.
Etihad has very generous first and business class award space as well as outstanding service. I recently was able to secure two tickets in first for a trip to the Maldives in December (part of the plan to burn my HHonors points before the devaluation) using my AA miles. Here’s a refresher on the current AA & ANA redemption options for Etihad:
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 also 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 and they are extremely high for Etihad First and Business. AA is surely the better option.
Planning a stopover in the UAE? See this recent story from the AP - Bikini ban: Emirate sets fines for skimpy swimwear – Fines imposed for bikinis and skimpy swimwear at some UAE beaches