Etihad Ate My A380!

Filed Under: Etihad

I’m a big fan of “chasing” new airplanes and routes, and do everything I can to get on as many interesting inaugural flights as possible. I did the inauguralĀ flights of the Etihad A380, Qatar A380, Qatar A350, etc.

Etihad A380 inaugural flight certificate

Etihad’s second A380 route was supposed to be Abu Dhabi to Sydney, which will be launching in a few weeks. I had booked a seat on one of the first flights, and was excited to finally try the Etihad First Apartment on a route which is actually long enough to enjoy the experience.

Etihad first class A380

Yesterday I was about to plan my positioning flights for the itinerary, so I pulled up the reservation I had made on this route a while back. Only I discovered that my flight has been downgraded from an Airbus A380 to a Boeing 777-300ER. Grrrr!


Looking at the schedule, it seems like several Etihad Sydney and London frequencies around late May and early June have been downgraded. My guess is that Etihad is late taking delivery of their third A380, and as a result they’re having to substitute in other planes for the route.

Since I live in hotels full time, people are often surprised to hear just how last minute I plan. Often I’m planning day-to-day. And part of the reason it ends up being that way is because I do what I can to get on as many “first” flights as possible, only to have my plans changed completely due to equipment changes, etc.

Would I have positioned myself to Abu Dhabi and from Sydney to try the Etihad A380? Absolutely. Will I position myself to Abu Dhabi and from Sydney just to fly Etihad’s 777 first class again? No way.

Etihad first class 777-300ER

While I realize these kinds of changes can happen to any airline, they seem to disproportionately happen to the big Middle Eastern carriers, whether it’s the speed at which they open an airport, open a lounge, or take delivery of a plane.

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Is anyone else scheduled to fly the Etihad A380 in the coming weeks and have an equipment change?

  1. Ben, thanks for posting this. I also am on a couple A380s from LHR – AUH and then AUH to Syd.

    Luckily my AUH – Syd is still showing an A380, however my LHR – AUH is now a 777….. obviously i meticulously booked these routes. Do we have any recourse here?

  2. Yah my June 8th LHR-AUH is now a 77W, and my June 9th AUH-SYD is still an A380.

    Now I’m quite worried lol, do you think they will change the A380 Ben or is this mostly likely now set in stone for the most part?

  3. That’s a bummer!

    Are other airlines (i.e. non middle east airlines) more accurate on their “first flights” dates? What I mean is do they usually respect the dates first announced?

  4. I had SYD-AUH-BOM to try both Etihad A380 F and Etihad 787 F but the AUH-BOM leg got downgraded to 777. :/ … so I know the feeling. šŸ˜‰
    Luckily you can change the dates with no fees!

  5. @Joey can we really change the date? Im on an AA award… looks like the day before they have the A380 on my LHR-AUH route.

    Thoughts? any requirements for the change?

  6. I’ll have to agree with John – it’s been a while since we last read your trip report Ben šŸ™‚

  7. I think this is less a symptom of the ME carriers than it is a result of trying to fly close to the scheduled introduction of a new aircraft type. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but you know you are going to take a risk when you do that.

  8. I’m booked in November and still showing an A380. Question – when I booked through AA, I specifically requested the Residence.. but he said First class and didn’t know anything about the Residence. Is there specific booking code you need? Or should I be all set?

  9. @Westin — if there is award availability the day before, you can change for no charge (since the routing stays the same). If there aren’t award seats open the day before for the A380 flight, you might be out of luck. it’s an AA ticket and they can’t open up Etihad space.

  10. @Nick the “Residence” is the special cabin with the separate bedroom and is not available using AA miles. The regular first class seat is known as the “apartment”. I would not expect an AA agent to know the marketing name that a partner airline uses for its product. If you are in first class on an Etihad A380, you are in an “apartment”.

  11. @Ryan

    Not a new aircraft type, just getting more A380’s and opening a new route to SYD with it.

    The Residence is not first, but a different class of it own and no saver level tickets available.

    It’s possible to book by miles, but I think was something like 2.5 million miles in Eithad own program; not sure if AA even has booking access.

  12. Thanks for that info, guys. The Apartment looks pretty darn nice so I’ll “settle” for it with my AA miles from Sydney to AUH šŸ™‚

  13. Got myself booked on the ‘soon to be’ Second A380 out LHR and wonderfully enough it has been downgraded to an A340-600. Hopefully a very long chat with EY staff might get me a change….

  14. @Lucky
    Gave me a bit of a scare there lucky. Thought EY started pulling back AUH-JFK 380s.. Thanks for that btw, booked for the end of Jan, with sufficient “delay time” in case of any late deliveries.

  15. @Harry let me know if you have any luck. I’m trying their social media customer service and seeing if they can grant an exception and get me on a flight a day earlier

  16. @ Nick — As stated above, if you’re booked in the “O” first class that’s the First Apartment. You can’t redeem American miles for The Residence.

  17. @ AD — Nope, not contacts. I just try to book myself on inaugural flights (either using cash or miles) as soon as they’re announced.

  18. @lucky any tips on seeing if Etihad will move me?

    Also will you be in Sydney? Staying at the PH and would love to meet up if you were there as well

  19. @ Westin — You can indeed change dates for free, assuming there’s the same type of award availability.

  20. @ Marc — For the most part they usually do, in my experience. That being said, in this case Etihad is still keeping their “inaugural” A380 date between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, but instead are just thinning out the schedule after that.

  21. @lucky no dice I don’t think. It’s an AA award and while there is Etihad award availability, there is no partner award availability the day before…. Is it worth asking if they would open some up or make an exception?

  22. @ Westin — I wouldn’t count on it being set in stone yet, but I’d say your odds of keeping the A380 are pretty good.

  23. @Lucky

    I guess not a bad idea would be those want newer products to OZ would to book via BNE since that is virtually guaranteed a “newer” product and not depend on the A380 SYD lottery which seems to be going on this summer. Do you think as we get to the Fall/Winter schedule that things will get more consistent?

  24. Lucky, Shouldn’t you be writing trip reports instead of planning new flights? šŸ˜‰

  25. Inaugural flights are always a bit iffy in my experience. It is not at all unusual for dates to change, sometimes quite significantly.

  26. @ Daniel — You’re talking about the 787? I’m not sure that product is actually better than what’s offered on the 777/A340. While it’s newer, the cabin isn’t as wide, so I don’t think it’s as spacious.

  27. @Westin – I called up Etihad’s customer center, and whilst they understood my ‘aviation enthusiast’ needs, I’ll have to pay a $100 rebooking charge. I was gonna upgrade from Y to J using miles; so I am just happy I caught the mistake before it was too late.

  28. Hi,
    I had booked the 2nd a380 out of AUH to LHR for a May 4 flight 2 months ago, but to my dismay, I only found out they switched to a 77W a week before. There was no announcement from Etihad. According to the EY source, the airbus for flight EY 19 was used for training purposes and positioned Al Ain May 4-16. I tried to explain to Etihad and American Airlines and asked to be placed on the 1st flight from AUH, however, AA advantage customer service stated I can only switch if there was still a guest booking on that earlier flight. Unfortunately, there was no open seats for guest booking and I was forced to fly the 77W after all the effort to position my flight from MNL to AUH (American Airlines Manila required in person booking when originating from MNL).

    Although first class service and hard product on 77W was exceptional, it was hard to justify booking positioning flights to AUH, then LHR back to home in NYC when I my original expectations were to be on the A380 first class apartments. I guess I would have to wait until I get enough AA points again to go on the A380 route from the NYC to AUH in December.

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