First Class on the Etihad A380 is one of the nicest suites in the world, and I am looking forward to flying it next month. You get a couch, bed, seat, and shower at 35,000 feet in a suite so spacious that there are only two per row on the widebody A380.

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For many months, there was no First Class award space on Etihad’s New York to Abu Dhabi route in either direction, but a few weeks ago Etihad began releasing First Class award space within a few days of departure. This is the only American route on which Etihad flies an A380.

The reappearance of award space is a big deal because you can book Etihad First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives for only 90,000 American Airlines miles each way with no fuel surcharges. (The prices goes up to 115,000 miles after March’s devAAluation.)

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Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. That’s enough to fly Etihad A380 First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives.

  • How can you book the Etihad A380 last minute award space?
  • How much award space is there?
  • What is the back up plan?

Trying to book last minute award space always presents practical difficulties. Here is how I would book this space.

How to Book the Space

  1. Find GuestSeat award space on etihad.com within three days of departure.
  2. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book. There will be a $75 close in booking fee, but no phone fee.

There have been some reports lately of the American Airlines call center not seeing all the space Etihad has put into the GuestSeat bucket, so call the American Airlines Australian call center at +61 02-9101-1948. It only costs 2 cents per minute through your gmail account.

How Much Award Space is There?

I have been monitoring for the last several days. The pattern has been that there is A380 First Class award space in each direction within three days of departure.

Not all flights have First Class award space within three days of departure, but no flights have First Class award space more than three days before departure.

When there is award space, it is often just one seat, though there were five First Class award seats available four days ago from Abu Dhabi to JFK on the day of departure.

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Right now there is one First Class award seat from JFK to Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow.

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Back Up Plan

It is inherently risky to count on last minute space because if it isn’t available when you want it, you are just a few days away from departure with no flight.

If I were going to try to book this last minute Etihad A380 First Class space, here’s how I would plan to minimize risk.

  1. I’d only plan to do this one way. For instance, I’d book a one way return from India to the United States months in advance, and I would just try to use Etihad last minute space for the outbound.
  2. I would have 90,000 American Airlines miles and 80,000 United miles ready.
  3. I would start looking to book Etihad First Class award space three days before my preferred departure, and I would try to book the last minute Etihad award space until the day of my preferred departure. Having a few possible departure dates doubles or triples your chances for success.
  4. If space never opened up, I would book Etihad Business, Etihad economy, or use United miles to book economy or Business Class.

How Good is Etihad economy and Business Class space at the last minute?

Etihad economy and Business Class space is very good, so if you can’t book your dream First Class, you can definitely still take the trip.

American Airlines charges 45,000 miles each way in economy and 67,500 miles each way in Business Class to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent region.

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Business is still a flat bed, though nowhere near the luxury of First Class.

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Plan B.5: United Miles

United and its partners should have very good last minute space to the region also. It will cost 42,500 miles each way in economy and 80,000 miles in Business Class.
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Bottom Line

If you want to book Etihad A380 First Class to or from the United States, it is within your grasp. Amass American Airlines miles, United miles, and book the other parts of your trip in advance.

Three days before departure, start looking for award space all the way up until the day of departure. If none appears, book plentiful Etihad Business and economy award space, or use United miles to book a partner award.

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

Get both cards and meet the $6,000 total spending requirement to have over 106,000 American Airlines miles. That’s enough to fly Etihad A380 First Class between the United States and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Egypt, or the Maldives.

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