Etihad awards can now be booked online with American AAdvantage miles (or can they?)

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Etihad is one of several Gulf-based airlines that’s often lusted after by the points and miles team. The Etihad First Apartment remains one of the best commerical products in the world and is still Greg the Frequent Miler’s favorite premium cabin experience. Historically, though, it’s been tricky to book, as you had to find the appropriate fare class on Etihad (or later Aeroplan) and then manually call in to an American phone rep and hope that they could find the same. Earlier this week, Etihad awards finally became searchable and bookable on American Airlines’ website, theoretically making it much easier to secure those famous premium-cabin seats.

That said, the rollout this week has been choppy, and there seems to be a disconnect between Etihad and AA when it comes to seats in premium cabins.

My seat in Etihad business class
Etihad Business Class

Trying to book Etihad premium cabins on AA.com

When Etihad awards first became bookable online via American, we were excited to check it out. However, when Greg compared Etihad availability on AA vs Aeroplan, he found several routes with premium class availabiity on Aeroplan that weren’t available on AA. In fact, initially, it seemed that only Etihad economy was available on AA.

Over the next several days, there were many folks (and blogs) that talked about wide open Etihad First Class/Business availability on AA, with some days having four seats available in the first class cabin between North America and Abu Dhabi. While this sort of award availability can sometimes be found on Etihad First, it certainly isn’t common, especially for the date ranges that people were seeing. The problem was, although those seats did show on aa.com, when folks went to actually book them, the purchase errored out. I did see a couple of dp’s where people were able to actually finalize a booking, but so far it’s been far more common to see bookings go to an error screen, even on multiple days.

Today, looking at AA,  I was able to find many dates, especially in March, where there was plenty of non-stop availability between Abu Dhabi and both the US and Europe in Etihad Business and First, like this example from Dulles Airport in Washington, DC:

a screenshot of a flight schedule
The search screen shows availability in both first and business class.

I was a little suspicious of this availability, however, because it wasn’t showing in Aeroplan or on Etihad Guest’s own website. When I clicked through the first class option, I got to the preliminary check-out screen:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

However, when I clicked on “continue” to move to checkout, I got the the following error screen:

a screenshot of a computer

I got the same screen for the business class availability that was showing on the same date as well. It also went to the same error screen for every other date that I found available on this route. In fact, I got the same error screen on every single non-stop flight that I found availability on between North America and Abu Dhabi. None of the days that I searched were showing availability on either Aeroplan or Etihad Guest.

The same thing happened in Europe, when I was looking at flights from Dublin and Manchester. Again, I found several dates with more than one seat available in business, like this flight between Manchester and Abu Dhabi:

a screenshot of a flight schedule

However, after trying to continue past the initial summary, I continued to get the same error on every flight:

a screenshot of a computer

Quick Thoughts

Being able to book Etihad awards online with AAdvantage miles is undoubtedly a terrific development. However, it seems clear that they’ve got a few kinks to work out and, currently, American is showing a ton of phantom premium cabin availability, while economy availability seems more or less accurate.

I’m sure that this will get ironed out eventually but, in the mean time, it pays to be more than a bit skeptical of the Etihad premium seats we’re seeing on aa.com.

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Bill n DC

I experienced the Choose different flight especially trying for the A380 First.
But I did get AUH IAD in First, i like the DreamLiner! 110,000 AA miles. Air Canada showed it for 130,000 And Etihad wanted 220,000. Or 75,000 in QSuites?

P.L

Impressible 525k miles balance! 😉

Lukas

Acquired at 0.004 cents in December 2022 😉

Spiel

what’re you talking about?

tjp74

google “SImplymiles Conservation International donation AA”
I myself ended up with 720k AA miles for donating $3000 to good cause.

Last edited 11 months ago by tjp74
tjp74

oh and it was December 2021 not 2022.

vino

and it was 0.004 dollars (not cents)