Is The American & Etihad Partnership Ending? (Updated)

Filed Under: American, Etihad

This morning I wrote about how it looked to me like the partnership between American Airlines and Etihad Airways may finally be ending, even though there hasn’t been an official announcement yet.

I reached out to American for comment, and have updated the story below to share their statement (see the section about “What American Airlines says”).

Etihad removed from American’s partners page

In the past day or so, Etihad Airways awards have been removed from the American Airlines website. I assumed that was a glitch, as this kind of stuff happens every so often.

But then I checked out American Airlines’ partner airlines page, and noticed that Etihad Airways was missing.

Below is what the page used to look like — clearly Etihad Airways was there.

If you search you can still find the Etihad partner page on aa.com, and there’s no mention of the partnership ending.

However, the fact that Etihad was removed from the partners list is highly unlikely to be a coincidence — maybe it was done prematurely, but specific partners don’t just typically randomly disappear from a list without reason.

Why I suspected this partnership might be ending

Just a couple of weeks ago, American Airlines and Qatar Airways announced a new strategic partnership. With this, the two airlines will be codesharing once again on more routes, and it’s expected that this partnership will be closer than it was in the past.

Both airlines belong to oneworld, but beyond that, the airlines haven’t worked especially closely together recently.

With these two airlines getting closer, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the American and Etihad partnership end:

  • American and Etihad aren’t reinstating their codeshare agreement, which was cut in 2017
  • American may launch flights to Doha, suggesting cooperation may indeed be much closer
  • I could see Qatar Airways pressuring American to cut ties with Etihad Airways, both so they’re both more invested in the partnership, and given the general contention between Qatar and the UAE
  • I wouldn’t be surprised to see Qatar Airways once again looking at investing in American Airlines, after American rejected their move a couple of years ago

American & Etihad have already scaled back their partnership

What are the real implications of this partnership ending?

Etihad Airways isn’t in oneworld, and the two airlines don’t even codeshare. At this point there are two practical implications for this partnership:

  • You can earn AAdvantage redeemable miles on Etihad flights, though you can’t even earn elite miles
  • You can redeem AAdvantage miles on Etihad flights

The only major loss of this partnership ending would be that you could no longer redeem AAdvantage miles on Etihad Airways, and that would be quite a blow. While Qatar Airways is great, having access to two different Gulf carriers gives you lots more flexibility.

I love redeeming American miles on Etihad

There were also rumors of an Etihad and United partnership

In early 2019 I wrote about rumors of Etihad and United forming a partnership, and possibly even Etihad joining Star Alliance. While it may have seemed outlandish at the time, I think in light of the above this is very possible.

If American forms a closer partnership with Qatar, and if they drop Etihad, then I could see United partnering with Etihad, since they don’t really otherwise have a partner in the region.

After all “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Could that rumored United and Etihad partnership become a reality?

What American Airlines says

I reached out to American Airlines for comment regarding this, and was told the following:

Nothing has changed with our Frequent Flier partnership with Etihad – we still offer reciprocal earn and burn on each otherā€™s metal. The removal of the partner page was inadvertent and we are working to get it back up quickly.

I believe what they say, that nothing has changed… yet.

The statement could really be interpreted either way in terms of future intent — American isn’t saying “at this time” (which is how you definitely know something is changing soon), and American also isn’t saying “we’re committed to our partnership with Etihad” (which is how you know it’s probably not changing).

However, in these situations it’s almost always the case that something was just updated prematurely, rather than it being a complete error. Personally my money is on this partnership’s days being numbered, but I also could be wrong.

Bottom line

Etihad Airways has been removed from the list of American Airlines’ partners. When the closer relationship between American and Qatar was announced, I wondered if it might not come at the cost of the Etihad partnership.

As of now Etihad still has a partner page on aa.com, but I can’t imagine the removal from the general partner page is a coincidence.

American claims that their partnership is still going on, though that’s not to say that it won’t change in the future. Personally I still think it’s likely that this partnership will be cut soon.

Assuming American and Etihad do cut ties, it will be very interesting to see what kind of partnerships Etihad pursues next, and if that United and Star Alliance rumor might finally come true.

It’s a crazy world we live in — who knows, maybe next up is Delta buying a stake in Emirates. At this point I wouldn’t put it past them. šŸ˜‰

What do you make of this American & Etihad situation, and of American’s statement?

Comments
  1. The sweet spots of EY F Aadvantage redemptions has been one of the redeeming perks of the program.

  2. I still see EY flights on aa.com – e.g. Mar 19 LHR-AUH is a combo of BA and EY), or Mar 11 AUH-SYD is combo EY & MH

  3. Was busy planning a trip to visit ex-pat family in Saudi Arabia, guess I’d better pick up the planning to book Etihad flights!

  4. This is a huge loss for people with AA miles. Especially for this to happen with no warning. Qatar is awesome, of course, but Etihad often had much better availability in J.

  5. Booked an AA reward on Etihad from ABU to CDG in Business a few weeks ago, and was hoping to find First Class availability eventually and use some AA miles to get in there, so disappointed if this is true! I guess I can’t be all that upset if I’m still in a Business Class seat on Etihad

  6. Interesting that aa.com no longer mirrors etihad.com guest availability; it did just last week. OTOH, I still see lots of availability for LHR-AUH in J.

  7. Damn, this stinks. I am really going to miss transferring AMEX points to Etihad Guest for AA award redemptions under the old award chart. Goodbye 30k economy/50k business to Europe.

  8. @G This! This was basically the only way to transfer from AMEX and redeem on AA’s metal for direct flights from the US to LHR for business and without paying the insane fees. Now we’re basically stuck with sucky BA’s “business” (and their insulting fees) or Iberia and high fees, not to mention, as you said, the low award redemption. Ughā€¦

  9. Etihad and Expertflyer show 8 J seats on an award I’m trying to book but AA can’t hold or ticket it. Tried Australia number and everything…not sure if related. Even shows available online at AA!

  10. We have booked several Europe to India J seats on EY over the years, connecting in AUH. Today, I do not see any availability on EY from AUH to any city in India. Only availability is on UL via CMB. “Temporary glitch” or has the partnership ended already?!

  11. Truth or not if all excuses fail, blame it on COVID-19.

    Due to corona virus our partnership has ended.
    Due to corona virus our award cost has increased.
    Due to corona virus our seat availability is limited.
    Due to corona virus we won’t be serving Champagne.
    Due to corona virus our Flagship Dining is closed.
    Due to corona virus our First Class seats are broken and we cannot upgrade you.
    Due to corona virus Doug Parker can break any promises.

  12. Lucky- I posted this in your other recent Etihad post, but hadn’t heard back yet, when you get a moment, can you respond? Thank you.

    What happened to your full Apartment review from April 2019? You had a post in Apr-19 previewing how it had been holding up, but promised a full review. In fact I canā€™t find a trip report at all (the hotels and other airlines as part of that trip).

    Curious how the JFK lounge is as Iā€™m flying roundtrip in the apts this fall from JFK to AUH.

    Additionally, do you know if Iā€™ll be able to access the AUH 1st class lounge if Iā€™m connecting on Sri Lanka flight (itā€™s a codeshare w/ Etihad though) in business (highest class on the connecting flight to CMB)? Since it was a EY flight in biz (and there was no first class) Iā€™d be allowed in right so not sure if this applies to codeshare flights?

  13. The really crappy thing is that Qatar availability via AA is non-existent during their blackout months of like Feb-April or May every year. Now, maybe if Qatar gets rid of that or increases availability, then this wouldn’t be so bad.

    Although if United partners with Etihad that might be “something”.
    Of course, our flights to/from MLE might need to be rescheduled to next year due to Coronavirus, so there goes our Etihad options more than likely.

    Oh well, gives further weighting to the “earn/churn and burn”.

  14. WOW! This makes a lot of sense now. Just this week AA in error changed our orignal award seats JNB to ORD via AUH to a new routing AUH-LHR-LAX-SFO, which AA admitted it was their mistake. However when they appealed to Etihad to reinstate our original itinerary. Long story short, Etihad did book us back on the JNB to AUH portion but declined the ORD flights. I literally called AA within 90 minutes of receiving the email notification of the change and they could not get us re-booked. On a side note, AA made us use another 75,000 points (in additional to the 150,000 we already used) to make a new booking to get us home. I cannot believe that AA did not make good on a new booking. They did waive the change fees (which is the least they could do). UGH

  15. @ Eskimo: Actually it is getting a little boring – We already got it you hate AA – but I would expect that you realize when you are overdoing it. In either case, at least AA has partnership with at least one carrier (and undoubtedly the best one) – DL and UA have none. And at least they haven’t filled their website with anti-EK/EY/QR videos like DL has.

    If you think about it, there is no need to have a close relationship with two Gulf carriers. There are historical reasons why it still exists, and in the current scenario, it doesn’t make any sense at all – Why should they lose their FFs flying to India to EY as well? I think this decision would make a a lot of sense, if it happens…

    That being said, I did use my AA miles for an EY trip US-India on EY economy. Flights were on time, the food tasted great; but I am sad to say that their product and service has deteriorated significantly. Plus that bistro meal goes nowhere – but far better than the bistro meal I had on LATAM!

  16. To me, it’s curious – Turkish Airlines is in Star Alliance, and they’re also lumped together with the ME3 in terms of strategy, geography, etc. It seems to me that United would be able to have similar (though not exact) benefits by partnering more closely with Turkish. That would require less effort to set up than forging a new partnership with Etihad…

    Having said that, I believe Lufthansa and Turkish aren’t particularly fond of each other, which might be what’s stopping United and Turkish from partnering more closely together.

  17. @JDL – According to TPG it’s a technical glitch and seats are bookable if you call AA, so you might keep trying. Long term I’m with Lucky, though – deleting Etihad from the partner airline list sure doesn’t sound like a technical glitch but more like someone jumped the gun on the latest upcoming gutting of Aadvantage.

  18. Booked Etihad Apartments award SYD-AUH-CDG and return for October/Nov. While there is a big enough window for inevitable schedule variations, I hope it basically sticks!
    This is a major reason I continue to buy AAdvantage miles, so would be very unhappy to see this sweet spot end.
    Qatar are great to fly in J or F, but their awards (esp. to and from Australian cities) are mean, and take forever to be put up on any booking portal, making forward planning a nightmare.

  19. Thank god I recently using AA miles to get from Cairo to AUH to LHR in F. Checked off that Etihad apartment bucket list! #avgeek

  20. I would love to see Delta and EK forge a partnership as it would be one of the biggest partnerships ever! Truth be told I am not sure if this will work out.
    For one Emirates has enough network coverage on its own to generate sufficient feed to to fill its US services unlike Qatar and Etihad. Delta also has a very strong JV and can access Africa through (Air France, KLM) and South Asia (Virgin in addition to AF and KLM).
    Both EK and Delta are profitable and financially strong carriers in their own right unlike QR who as much as they hate to admit it, need American to make its US services viable particularly after the blockade. As for EY, a United partnership would be a much needed lifeline for them.
    The other issue is temperament- both EK and Delta love being in the driving seat of any partnership. Delta has always influenced the network strategies of all its airline partners and EK has done the same- eg Qantas. I donā€™t see either of them playing second fiddle most of all to each other.
    If it was to happen by some miracle for sure this would be one of the most formidable partnerships in the world.

  21. I called AA’s Australia call center today to book Eithad’s First Apartment for any date between now and January 2021. While Eithad’s website shows tons of GuestFirst availability, the AA agent could only see coach. Lame.

  22. Just wanna give some data point as I literally just booked EY with AA miles 2 hours ago. Saw J avail from MLE-AUH then F avail from AUH-JFK on EY guest and expertflyer. I called Australia AA to book (I flew EY F before and always did this). Unfortunately the agent in AU couldnt see avail. I called NZ call center and samethinf happened, agent coulnt find space. I ended up call AA in Singapore and the agent found the space! Put the award on hold MLE-AUH-JFK in J and F respectively 115k AA miles and $107 sin dollars. Itā€™s still work for now, you just gotta try different call center i guess!

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