What’s so special about Etihad’s route from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi? It’s the only American route of the fanciest commercial cabin in the world, with the westbound flight clocking in at just under 15 hours.

Source: gcmap.com
Source: gcmap.com

The First Class suite with a couch/bed and seat costs 90,000 American Airlines miles between the United States and the Middle East/India if Etihad releases award space. Even if you don’t live in New York, you can connect there in American Airlines First Class for zero extra miles on the award (assuming you are following the rules in this post.)

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Plus the Etihad A380 has a shower for First Class passengers and onboard lounge/bar.

Pretty soon I’ll head to Europe for four months, and I would love to fly the Etihad A380 between London and Abu Dhabi while I’m there. (I ran down that award space in this post.)

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The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings, so the award would only cost 81,000 miles net.

Or you can get the business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Or you can get both cards and get 106,000 American Airlines miles after meeting their spending requirements.

But there’s a problem…

Award Space

Right now, Etihad flights are bookable through late March 2016. The New York to Abi Dhabi route starts December 1, 2015, so there are about four months of bookable flights in each direction and zero award space in First Class.

There are a lot of days with GuestSeat availability in First Class on the daily flight operated by a 777, but none on the A380.

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Seriously, almost every day has award space in First Class you can book with American Airlines miles–all the days below that say “Miles 111000”–but none of that space is on the A380.Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 11.23.08 AM

In the past few months, occasionally award space has opened up in First Class on the A380. That’s always quickly disappeared or been booked.

Hopefully going forward award space opens up in First Class on the A380 between Abu Dhabi and JFK in at least one direction.

Here’s award space on the other two Etihad A380 routes for comparison, both of which have award space for 1-2 people on many days:

Booking Etihad Awards with AA Miles

First read: How to Search Etihad Award Space

American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Etihad award flights. You just find the award space, call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to book it, and pay the government taxes on the flights. (There is no longer a fee to book American Airlines awards that can’t be booked online, like Etihad flights, by phone.)

Tips for Award Searches

Ignore the miles price listed on etihad.com. You will pay 90,000 American Airlines miles instead.

American Airlines only has access to award space in the “GuestSeat” column. You’ll notice this space prices out for about 111,000 Etihad miles. Knowing what Etihad charges is convenient because it allows you to scan the dates at the top of your award search to see which dates have GuestSeat award space. (Again, you won’t pay 111,000 miles, but knowing what Etihad charges makes award searching quicker.)

Bottom Line

Starting December 1, 2015, one daily frequency of Etihad’s New York to Abu Dhabi service will feature an A380. If you want to fly the product for 90,000 miles one way (or 81,000 if you get the 10% rebate given to people with a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®), we’re still waiting for sustained First Class award space to be released.

Award space is better on the longer flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and London to Abu Dhabi.

I’ll continue monitoring award space on this route in First Class to improve my understanding of the award space patterns on this route.

Further Reading

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