One of the best – or at least the most fun – ways to spend American Airlines AAdvantage miles is for travel on the Etihad Apartment, arguably the world’s best first class experience. Using miles to book these seats isn’t exactly straightforward, but it’s not impossible either.
DISCLAIMER: Flying The Apartment will make it very challenging to ever fly lowly business class again.
This guide will walk you through the process of using American miles to book the Apartment.
- Build Up Extra Points and Miles Balances to Fly Etihad
- Find Award Seats on Etihad
- Using Credit Card Points to book the Etihad Apartment
- Using American AAdvantage Miles to fly Etihad’s Apartment
What is important to remember is that you won’t be able to find Etihad awards on the aa.com website, ever. Read our tutorial on how to find Etihad airways award seats to determine whether or not the airline has room for.
AA Routing Rules Determine How Many Miles You’ll Need
Etihad operates a great route network service over 116 cities from its hub in Abu Dhabi. You can connect onward to destinations as popular as Bangkok and Bali, and as distant as Khatmandu and Nairobi.
But American complicates the process of redeeming awards on many of these connections, and you can sometimes end up having to book double AAdvantage awards to make certain connections that fall outside the airline’s rule about third region travel.
The first class Apartment is only installed on Etihad’s 10 Airbus A380 jets, which serve major trunk routes, including New York to Abu Dhabi.
Here’s a complete list of routes flown by Etihad A380’s outfitted with first class Apartment:
If you don’t live in one of these cities, American award booking rules allow you to fly from another airport within the same country to one of these hubs. You’ll need to find a ‘positioning flight’ on American or a Oneworld partner from your origin to the point of departure. For instance, if you’re trying to travel from Perth to the Maldives, you can fly Qantas to Sydney to connect to Abu Dhabi on Etihad and pay no additional miles.
How Many Miles You’ll Need: Combining Awards
Assuming you’re traveling from the Americas, American’s routing rules allow you to travel to or from any country in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent (as American defines those regions), via Abu Dhabi, on one award.
American charges 115,000 Miles now to book first class awards from the U.S. to the Middle East and India. If you fly beyond that region though, to Southeast Asia, for example, you’ll need to price out a second award.
An AAdvantage award from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok costs 50,000 in first class, so a total award from New York to Bangkok, through Abu Dhabi on the apartment, would be 165,000 miles, if you fly first class the whole way.
However, if you want to travel from the Americas to or from Asia, Africa, or the South Pacific, you’ll be forced to book a second, separate connecting award, as American counts Abu Dhabi as a third region. In some cases booking two awards with American can still be less expensive than booking one award Etihad Guest directly.
If you don’t have enough miles, there are a number of way to quickly stock up, which I’ll go over later.
Easy Trick To Book Etihad Flights: Call Australia
To book Etihad awards found online, you will need to contact American directly. Just finding an open seat online can be just the first step in a lengthy journey to get your Apartment booked. American’s US call center representatives sometimes can’t see Etihad first class availability. I’ve had success contacting the AAdvantage call center in Australia.
To avoid international phone charges, I use Skype or Google Voice to call the center, at +61-2-9101-1948. Your goal is to get an agent based in Fiji, who typically can pull the same saver or “guest” level first class availability that appears on the Etihad Guest website.. I recommend calling during business hours in Fiji.
Tell the agent your flight details and be patient. If an agent can’t find it, hang up and try again. If you’re having no luck with the Australia call center, try Singapore (+65-6349-8444) or New Zealand (+64-9-308-4014). Patience is key, I recently spent 40 minutes playing call center roulette calling before I found an agent who could find and ticket the award seat I wanted. If you don’t have time to engage in such marathon phone banking, consider enlisting the help of an awards booking assistant through Points Pros or Juicy Miles.
Once an agent finds the seats, don’t hang up until you have a confirmed passenger record number (‘PNR’) Try to keep the agent on the line while you find your confirmation.
In lieu of waiting for your confirmation email to appear, log on to AA.com and use the “Find Your Trip” page to confirm the itinerary appears and is scheduled as you intend. After hanging up, you should get a confirmed e-ticket from American within 24 hours. If your confirmed ticket doesn’t appear in your inbox, contact American immediately, as there is a risk that the reservation will be cancelled automatically.
I almost lost my most recent reservation because Chase flagged my credit card transaction in Australia as suspicious. The credit card hangup prevented the airline from issuing the ticket.
Once you have a ticket, it’s time to pick your preferred Apartment in the sky. Contact American to ask for the Partner PNR. You can save time by sending American a Twitter DM and providing your confirmation code and asking for the Etihad equivalent. To actually select your seats, visit the Etihad website on your mobile device or use the app. The desktop website can’t assign seats for tickets booked through American Airlines. Go figure.
Don’t have enough American miles to book? By opening two credit cards and meeting the spending threshold to earn the sign-up bonus, you will have more than enough American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly the Etihad First Class Apartment.
Stocking Up on AAdvantage Miles
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is offering 50,000 bonus miles after $2,500 in spend in the first 3 months of account opening and, for a limited time, the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard is offering 70,000 bonus miles after $4,000 in spend in the first 4 months of account opening. Both cards waive the fee in the first year.