You can now book Etihad First Class Suites departing the United States for Abu Dhabi in advance. This is exciting news because previously, you could only book this award at the last minute, within a few days or week of departure. The return direction from Abu Dhabi to the United States has had more space historically, and remains uncomplicated if you want to book Etihad First Class Suites.

For those of you that don’t know, Etihad has two types of First Class: the First Class Apartment on the Airbus A380, and the First Class Suite (on their Boeing 777) which isn’t quite as large as the Apartment but is still a top of the line premium product. The only way to fly Etihad’s First Class Apartments from the United States is flying through New York (JFK). Both products are incredible.

I flew in an Etihad First Class Apartment on an A380 from Abu Dhabi to London last January and it was fantastic– 15 hours of pure luxury. I highly recommend it if you can swing it.

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The Etihad First Class award space pattern has changed so that all in all, there is more First Class Space available farther in advance. Unfortunately though, the New York to Abu Dhabi route no longer releases award space for First Class Apartments last minute like it used to pretty consistently.

Where Can I Fly Etihad First Class?

Etihad flies from six American cities to Abu Dhabi. From there you can connect to elsewhere in the Middle East or India. Read more about American Airlines award routing rules if you’re going to redeem American Airlines miles flying Etihad.

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You can also take the Etihad Chauffeur service anywhere in the UAE if flying into Abu Dhabi in Business or First Class.

What Miles Should I Use to Get There?

Etihad awards are bookable with ThankYou Points,  Membership Rewards, or SPG points as they both transfer to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 rate. They are also bookable with American Airlines miles. Unfortunately Etihad miles offer poor value on Etihad flights. Each award costs more Etihad miles than it would cost with American Airlines miles, so it’s best if you have the option to redeem American Airlines miles versus transferring any of your points.

Award Space

Award space on Etihad is searchable on etihad.com. Here’s how to search etihad.com.

Let’s start with the bad news first. It is now harder to nail down an Etihad First Class Apartment on the New York to Abu Dhabi route, in either direction. I actually didn’t even see one seat available during my searches. To distinguish between the Etihad First Class Apartment and Etihad Suite when searching, make sure the aircraft of the flight with availability is an A380:Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 12.11.20 AM

It used to be expected that a couple First Class Apartments would consistently open up within a few days of departure, but it does not look like that is the case anymore.

Now, on to the better news! There is more space in Etihad First Class Suites from the United States to Abu Dhabi on advance dates. Below is the current picture of award space for the cities in the United States with the most award space in Etihad First Class Suites to Abu Dhabi.

The prices in all the screenshots below are in Etihad miles for two people, not American Airlines miles for two people. One way between the United States and the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent costs 115,000 American Airlines miles for one traveler.

San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

San Francisco probably has the most award space out of any route. Dates that say “279,556” have award space in First Class. All calendars are for two people.

Over the next week.
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Three months out.
Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.25.55 PMSix months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.30.20 PMNine months out.Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.41.41 PM

As far out as the availability stays open.

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New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi

This route has a lot of options six weeks within departure, but not much past then. Dates that say “235,112” have award space in First Class. Calendars are for two people.

Over the next week…Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 10.56.46 PMThe end of July…Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.13.40 PMAnd beginning of August….Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.15.17 PM

Dallas to Abu Dhabi

I checked five weeks of award availability spread out across the year. Each week had the same space for two people: on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday flights, through May 10, 2017.

Washington D.C. (IAD) to Abu Dhabi

I also checked five weeks of award availability spread out across the year, but Washington D.C. doesn’t have quite as much space booking as far out as next year. However it does have a lot of space available through September for two people (at least two thirds of the days).

Even if you don’t live in one of these cities with good First Class award space, you can add a leg from your hometown to one of them. This will cost you zero extra miles as long as the domestic award space is at the MileSAAver level, the cabin is the same or a lower tier than the transoceanic flight, and Etihad “publishes a fare” from your home airport to your destination, a concept explained in this post about American Airlines award routing rules.

Award space is always more available for Etihad First Class Suites when the award doesn’t originate in the United States. London to Abu Dhabi costs 62,500 American Airlines miles, and Abu Dhabi to Sydney costs 100,000 American Airlines miles, for example. You could include either of those as part of a larger trip easily as both routes have open award space.

How to Book

If you choose to book with American Airlines miles, you’ll need note the date, cabin, and flight number and call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. If you choose to book with Etihad miles then you can do it right on etihad.com.

How to Get the Miles

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Bottom Line

Unfortunately it looks like there isn’t much award space flying Etihad’s First Class Apartment on the A380 between the United States and Abu Dhabi. The seats that used to be released on a last minute basis between New York and Abu Dhabi are not being released anymore. However, there is a ton of award space available flying Etihad’s First Class Suites to Abu Dhabi from the United States, even for dates farther in advance, which wasn’t the norm in the past. That is certainly welcome news.

Hat tip View from the Wing

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