Using your American Airlines AAdvantage miles to redeem Etihad Airways first class is without a doubt one of the best redemptions out there (along with first class from Australia to Asia on Malaysia Airlines A350, British Airways or Cathay for 50-60k).
However, American Airlines always had third region rules which would prevent you from booking Europe to Australia in one single award (with exceptions). This meant you couldn’t fly from Europe to Australia via the Middle East, which then meant you had to book Etihad as 2 separate awards (more expensive).
A few weeks ago JonNYC shared some very interesting new American Airlines partner award routing rules for Etihad Airways on Twitter allowing you to connect in a third region (Abu Dhabi for example) on your way to or from Europe to Australia (amongst other routes – for a full routing rules breakdown check out Gary’s post on the subject ).
While a flight from Sydney to Paris would previously cost you 162,500 AAdvantage miles in first class (due to the fact it had to be booked in 2 separate awards), the new routing rules meant you could book the same flight for only 115,000 AA miles; incredible value!
Booking Etihad Airways award seats with your AAdvantage points used to be a little bit harder, you needed to research award space via Etihad Guest and then call up American Airlines (and hope they could see the same seats). As of yesterday, American Airlines is allowing redemptions for Etihad in all classes via their website.
While I don’t think this is great news (it makes it easier for the average user to book Etihad First class… which is an endangered species) in combination with the new routing rules it does make for some very lucrative awards and considering American Airlines will sooner or later change the rules again, now is a great time to book!
The “tricky” part
If you’re somewhat into points, you’re probably familiar with the old AAdvantage search engine (which was great). However, in an attempt to make it more “user-friendly” the thing is kinda broken.
Luckily you can still access the old search engine via the Advanced- multi-city search function.
Why is this important?
For starters, when you search Sydney- Paris as a one way or return journey via the new search menu, you will see every possible result…except Etihad.
While most people would dismiss this and think no flights are available, the more advanced user would, of course, start tinkering with the “Advanced/Multi-city search” function .
Using the advanced menu will bring back the old fashioned search tool which is much better although not as visually appealing.
Here it’s essential to select the one-way or return option since using the multi-city tool will force the system to show you 2 separate awards (at a total of 162,500).
However, by using the old search function and selecting one-way or return you are able to see the Etihad Airways results at 115,000 + $138.10 in taxes.
If you have some spare AAdvantage miles in your account, I would make a speculative booking. Availability for the whole year is outstanding, and the great thing about AAdvantage mileage bookings is that you can change the date of departure free of charge.
Of course you can buy AAdvantage miles so check out my full guide on this here.