Until December 31, 2015, you can book American Airlines flights to Europe, Brazil, Argentina, or Chile for 16,000 ThankYou Points or Japan for 20,000 ThankYou Points each way with no fuel surcharges.

Etihad Guest’s generous chart for American Airlines flights plus the current transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles combine for an unbeatable offer.

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

I previously wrote about the Etihad Guest 25% transfer bonus from Citi Thankyou points through December 31, 2015. In that post, I explained that booking First and Business Class Etihad awards with Etihad miles is not a good deal. However there are 25 other airlines you can book with Etihad miles, American Airlines being one of them.

How to Book American Airlines Flights with Etihad Miles

To book American Airlines flights with Etihad miles, first you have to search aa.com for MileSAAver award space on American Airlines flights. Then you have to call Etihad to book.

  • You cannot search etihad.com for award space because it only displays Etihad flights.
  • You cannot book American Airlines flights that only have AAnytime award space with Etihad miles. Partners can only access each others’ Saver space.
  • You cannot book flights operated by other airlines that you find on aa.com. Etihad partners with American, not American plus all its partners. If this confuses you, see There is No Transitive Property of Miles.

Because of the last point, you will improve your search results by excluding American Airlines partners from your aa.com search results. To do that, select “American Airlines and American Eagle” only on the advanced search page.

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Choose a flight that has MileSAAver award space.

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Note the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you find on aa.com.

To book that flight with Etihad miles, call Etihad at 888-8-ETIHAD. Tell the agent you want to book an American Airlines flight and feed her the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space you found on aa.com.

When to transfer?

I transferred ThankYou Points to Etihad miles in July to book an Air Serbia flight. It took seven days for my Etihad miles to appear. I’d perform my award search, make the transfer, then book when the miles arrived. There is a chance that award space disappears in the interim, but there is no way around that risk.

Fuel Surcharges?

I went through the process of booking an American Airlines flight with Etihad miles to test whether there are fuel surcharges on the booking.

When using American Airlines miles, there are no fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights.

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However when buying a cash flight, American Airlines fares often have fuel surcharges, like that flight above from New York to Paris, which has a $258 fuel surcharge one way.

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Those fuel surcharges will usually be collected by foreign loyalty programs that collect fuel surcharges. For instance, using British Airways Avios to book that same flight would involve paying the $258 fuel surcharge.

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Does Etihad collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights?

No!

I called Etihad to price out the same exact flight, and she quoted a price of 20,000 Etihad miles (16,000 ThankYou Points) and $30. That roughly lines up with the $27.80 in taxes on the cash flight and shows that Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines flights.

Best Values on Etihad Chart for AA Flights

Etihad miles are region based, and as you can see, the Etihad chart is almost exactly the same as American Airlines’ own chart for American Airlines flights including for off peak awards.

Exhibit A:  Award chart for using Etihad miles on American Airlines flights

Exhibit B:  Award chart for using American Airlines miles on American Airlines flights

Here is Etihad’s chart for one way awards on American Airlines flights:

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EO = Off Peak Economy, EP = Economy, B/F = Business, P = First

I find great value in the off peak awards:

  • 16,000 ThankYou Points to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile for much of the year
  • 16,000 ThankYou Points to Europe from October 15 to May 15 each year

There is also value in booking flat bed Business Class on American Airlines flights for 40,000 ThankYou Points year round to Europe, Japan, and Southern South America.

Bottom Line

Etihad has a very cheap award chart for booking American Airlines flights, basically identical to American Airlines’ current chart for its own flights. Etihad does not collect fuel surcharges on American Airlines award flights and has access to all MileSAAver award space on aa.com.

Through December 31, 2015, 1,000 ThankYou Points transfer to 1,250 Etihad miles. ThankYou Points are easy to get.

  • Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

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