Back in March 2016, American increased many of their award redemption prices, including travel on Etihad. One-way first class awards from the US to the Middle East increased from 90K to 115K miles. I wanted to take AAdvantage of the old rate to fly the Etihad First Apartment on the A380, but at the time I didn’t have a set destination or date…especially since I’m more of a last minute traveler. I was down to the final night before the increase and there wasn’t great availability. However, the date didn’t really matter (nor the aircraft), I just needed to get a First Class booking completed as American had indicated that any changes to dates (as long as destinations remained the same), would be priced at the old level until the ticket expired. Luckily, late that night a 777 First Class seat from JFK opened up for the following day. I booked and ticketed the flight…and then immediately canceled about two hours later (we did the same for countless Juicy Miles clients). I didn’t ask to redeposit the miles as I wanted the ticket to remain active. Well, that ticket has been on my mind for some time and I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to redeem it before the one year mark.
A few of my former colleagues starting planning a trip to Nepal a few months back. I’ve wanted to visit forever and so I’ve been monitoring the Etihad flights. Abu Dhabi to Kathmandu was no problem, but First Class Apartment A380 availability has been very limited all month. I did notice that on sporadic nights around 1:30am EST, Etihad seemed to be releasing a seat for the flight later that day. I booked a backup itinerary just in case (the flight only had one First Class seat available for sale), but BOOM, like magic the seat appeared on Etihad’s website at exactly 1:30am EST. I didn’t even bother calling the US AAdvantage desk (though they’ve had much better luck seeing some Etihad First availability lately), instead I used Skype to call Australia. To my surprise, they could not see the seat. I tried calling back a few times, but still no luck. When we’ve had problems booking Juicy Miles clients with the Australia desk in the past, the New Zealand desk was always able to assist. It worked this time as well! The agent saw the availability right away, got a waiver to ticket at old rate of 90K, and even allowed me to add-on the leg to Kathmandu since they said the ticket had to be re-issued anyway due to a new Etihad security requirement!
Gotta love the rush of scoring an amazing First Class seat about 12 hours before the flight departs! I’m currently at the Etihad lounge at JFK waiting for the flight to board and very excited to be traveling to Nepal in extreme style. I’ve been tracking this seat for the last few days…it was $20,047.50 two days ago and $22,009.10 at midnight last night before I scooped it up. Not bad for 90K AAdvantage miles!
Better yet, Etihad participates in the TSA Precheck program!
Next post from Abu Dhabi on the way to Nepal…
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