American AAdvantage Improves Etihad Award Routing Rules

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage
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Redeeming American miles for travel on Etihad between some regions just got easier.

American’s award routing rules

Every frequent flyer program has different rules when it comes to what routings you can fly on an award reservation. American’s award routing rules are especially complicated, and take into account a variety of factors:

  • You can’t transit a third region when traveling between two regions, unless there’s a specific exception in place
  • The primary airline you’re flying on your award needs to publish a fare between your origin and destination
  • You can’t exceed the maximum permitted mileage (MPM) between a city pair by more than 25%; at the same time, you have to intend to take the most direct routing

AAdvantage has improved Etihad routing rules

When it comes to routing rules, historically American has had special exceptions for awards on Qatar Airways. Specifically, it has been possible to transit Doha between select other regions when that previously wasn’t possible, and when it’s still not possible on other partners.

As of a few days ago American has extended this exception to Etihad Airways, as noted by JonNYC. What does this mean in practice? I’m working on 100% confirming the eligible regions for which this exception applies, but my understanding is that you can now redeem American miles for travel on Etihad on a single award between the following regions:

  • Between North America and Africa via Abu Dhabi
  • Between Europe and Africa via Abu Dhabi
  • Between Europe and Asia via Abu Dhabi
  • Between Europe and Australia via Abu Dhabi
  • Between Africa and Asia via Abu Dhabi
  • Between Africa and Australia via Abu Dhabi

To give a concrete example, previously if you wanted to fly from London to Abu Dhabi to Sydney in first class, you’d need to book two separate awards through AAdvantage, costing you 162,500 miles (62,500 miles for the first segment and 100,000 miles for the second segment), while now you can book it as a single award, costing you 115,000 miles.

Earn more American miles

Like I said, these were all exceptions that already existed for travel on Qatar Airways, but now also apply for travel on Etihad. However, unlike for Qatar award bookings, you need to call American to book award tickets on Etihad. Beyond that, you might need to call American’s Australia call center in order to find the award availability you’re looking for, since a lot of the space is blocked for US agents.

Redeem miles for Etihad’s A380 first class

What about American and Etihad cutting ties?

In late February I wrote about the rumor that American and Etihad may soon be cutting ties, as Etihad instead launches a partnership with United and potentially joins the Star Alliance.

Some people suggested that would happen within days, but that was never my understanding, and that’s not something I can speak to. As before, it’s my understanding that this is something that’s on the horizon, though I can’t say whether we’re talking weeks or months. Similarly, there’s always a chance that plans change.

I wouldn’t read too much into that regarding these routing rules. I think the routing rules are changing because it just makes sense for them to in general, and this was also part of some other minor routing rule changes.

The one other change is that you can now only route from the US to India via Europe or the Middle East, but not via both (so you can fly from New York to Doha to Delhi, but can no longer fly from New York to London to Doha to Delhi on a single award).

Redeem miles for Etihad’s 787 business class

Will anyone benefit from these liberalized Etihad routing rules?

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  1. @ Ben — Sweet. Nice to see everything is headed the way of DL and UA (yet). Maybe AA will be different (ha!)…

  2. This is a GREAT news!

    I have been eyeing an one way Etihad apartment from London to Singapore. With this new rule, I will be spending less AA miles!

    Previously, I was just gonna fly London – Abu Dhabi – Male to maximize the routing.

  3. Long overdue. Looking forward to having another option between Europe and Australia without prohibitive fuel surcharges.

  4. This is great news. As Gene said, it may be a sign that American won’t be flushing their loyalty program down the drain like UA and DL. Perhaps I’ll hold off on burning my AAdvantage miles (though of course will never use them to actually fly with American, only on partners).

  5. @Lucky

    Thanks. BTW I am noticing no Business Class Awards (checked multiple dates) on QR metal from MIA to DOH to BOM even 331 days out.
    Anything going on here that I may be missing re: QR and OneWorld?

  6. @Ben where did you even here about this Etihad / AA thing? I thought you had spevifically said to redeem AA miles for Etihad flights as soon as possible. Not a peep since tgat 2/23 posting….

  7. @ mahjong — They are indeed at the moment pretty stingy with award space to & from the US. You’re not missing anything, unfortunately. I wouldn’t read too much into this, they’ve long been inconsistent with releasing award space.

  8. @ Jared — If I could name the source I would have done so in the previous post. 😉 It was a couple of well placed sources, and we’ll see. I’ve said to book sooner rather than later. TPG that day said to book that day because they claimed the partnership would end the next day. I never suggested there was such urgency.

  9. Excellent and well timed news. Thanks, Lucky!

    I was planning to book DUB-AUH-MEL-CHC as two awards anyway for a simplified routing (and no QR space). Just called to book and all came through as one award without issue.

  10. I guess it’s better than nothing. But wake me up when I can go to Australia via Asia or Asia via Europe.

  11. This would be helpful to me if AA and EY could figure out how to ticket lap children instead of sending people on a run around. Pretty frustrating state of affairs.

  12. This is great news as it gives AA miles another carrier to fly into Africa with.

    Now lets just hope AA doesn’t copy United and Delta with dynamic award pricing and no award charts

  13. Lucky: any changes to their ridiculous policies of 24 hour stops max? I like to break my journey and have probably spent over a million miles because I have to pay extra just to stop in AUH for a few days. Unlike Aeroplan, which lets you stop without paying more, with AAdvantage miles on EY, you can only stay 24 hours per stop.

  14. Wow are you sure that Europe to Africa can now transit AUH on one award? Last year we tried to book a QR award Europe-DOH-SEZ but AA told us it was two awards.

  15. I wanted to book SEZ-AUH-IAD C class one month ago for 75K. Called up and they said it would be 125K because of award routing rules. Dang. Decided to book AUH-IAD for 70K and eat the cost of the Y ticket from SEZ -AUH.

    I sent e-mail to customer service complaining about this. They sent me a form back, too bad for me. But maybe they do listen and maybe my complaint helped? (you’re welcome!)

    Anyway, thanks to the posting ,I called back and tonight and got the original routing I wanted for 75K. Had to further eat the AA award $150 cancellation fee (requested a waiver, nope) for my AUH-IAD leg and another $100 fee to cancel the Y SEZ-AUH paid leg. Sigh. But I’m happy to get the original routing I wanted for 75K.

  16. Do you know if they allow Australia- AUH – USA as an Etihad route? You can book it on Etihad and see both flights have inventory on Expert Flyer, but American Airlines phone reps (US and Australia call centers) say they can only see inventory on one of the two flights

  17. I booked 2 first class tickets US to Africa (via ABU) via awards. Had to do it in 2 separate awards under the old rules, and had to do it as 2 separate PNRs since we didn’t have 1 account with enough miles for that (would have been doable under this new rule). Can I now get a refund of the points I used? I realize I may need to pay a fee ($150 per ticket), but will they even allow me to do this if there are not currently award seats available to book? I don’t want to just cancel mine and then *hope* they reappear as available. Any chance they’ll waive one/both of the cancelation fees if we are Platinum Pro?

  18. If I booked an award ticket from India –> Abu Dhabi –> LAX –> DFW it turns up being a single award which is good. But there is no clarity on the luggage rules. Can you guide me to where I can find information on that? Can i check in 2 bags with 23 KGS all the way to DFW or will I have to pay more for LAX –> DFW

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