Many OMAAT readers are probably familiar with the great value of redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad, but fewer are probably aware of the great value of redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American. While it can be a headache and is definitely more of a niche redemption, there’s still value to be had.
Basics of redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American
Why should you even care about redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American? Well, there are a few key benefits:
- American doesn’t partner with any major transferable points currencies, while Etihad Guest partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou
- For situations where American has its lowest level award pricing, premium cabin awards can cost significantly less through Etihad Guest than through American AAdvantage
- The catch is that you have to book these awards by phone with Etihad Guest, which can be a bit of a pain (from the US, Etihad Guest can be reached at 877-690-0767)
Let’s go over some of the logistics.
Etihad Guest redemption rates on American
You can find the Etihad Guest award chart for travel on American Airlines here. Note that all pricing is not only one-way, but also per segment, meaning that if you’re traveling multiple segments in each direction, you’d pay for each of them individually.
Just to highlight a couple of the best redemption values, below is the award chart for travel on American originating in North America.
Below is the award chart for travel on American within the United States.
There are a few things to keep in mind when redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American:
- You have to book at least 24 hours in advance of your intended departure, so you can’t use this to lock-in a very last minute award, as that’s often when American releases award availability
- There shouldn’t be fuel surcharges, but the taxes and fees may be a bit higher than if booking through American; it shouldn’t be too substantial, but don’t expect them to exactly match what American charges
- The availability Etihad has access to should match the saver space which American is showing its own members, though sometimes there are discrepancies
- You have to book these awards by phone, and Etihad’s call center can be a bit frustrating to deal with
- You can change your itinerary for a fee of 100 AED (~$27), or you can redeposit an award up to 24 hours in advance for a fee equal to 10% of the miles redeemed
- Etihad Guest miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, though any activity can reset that expiration
Etihad Guest redemption sweet spots on American
What are the best values if you’re looking to redeem Etihad Guest miles on American? I think a few awards in particular stand out. Also keep in mind that we sometimes see transfer bonuses from transferable points currencies to Etihad Guest, which can stretch your points even further. In particular:
- You can book American’s A321T first class between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco for 32,500 miles
- You can book American’s 777 first class from the United States to South America for 62,500 miles
- You can book American’s 777 first class from the United States to Europe for 62,500 miles
How favorably does this award pricing compare for first class? For travel between New York and Los Angeles, American AAdvantage would charge 43,500-50,000 miles.
For travel between New York and London, American AAdvantage would charge 85,000 miles
For travel between New York and Sao Paulo, American AAdvantage would charge 85,000 miles
Those are some pretty significant savings…
How to determine American award availability
What tends to confuse people the most about these redemptions is figuring out which flights should actually be bookable through Etihad Guest. Nowadays American prices many of its awards as “Web Special” awards, and these are exclusively bookable through American AAdvantage, and not through partners. How do you figure out if an award is a Web Special award or not?
Well, in order for an American flight to be bookable through a partner program:
- There needs to be “Z” class availability for first class
- There needs to be “U” class availability for business class
- There needs to be “T” class availability for economy class
Since Etihad’s website doesn’t let you search American award space, there are a couple of ways you could go about this. For one, you could search through another carrier’s website. For example, British Airways’ website shows American award availability, so if you see the space through British Airways, it should also be bookable through Etihad.
For example, below is a New York to Los Angeles first class award on American through British Airways’ website, which shows you that there’s availability. It’s a pretty great deal through Etihad Guest, since you’d pay 32,500 miles, rather than 51,500 Avios.
You can also check through American’s website, by specifically looking for the fare codes I listed above. For example, pulling up a New York to Los Angeles award, I clicked on the “Details” tab. When you look at the first class column, you’ll see that the award books into the “Z” class code, which means it should also be bookable through partners.
Meanwhile I pulled up another itinerary that initially seemed to have good first class pricing, but you’ll see that this one lists the first class fare as being in the “F” fare class, and shows it being a Web Special, which wouldn’t be bookable through a partner program.
While I’d definitely consider this to be a niche redemption, being able to redeem Etihad Guest miles for travel on American can be a great value, especially in premium cabins. Not only is the pricing often better, but it gives you the advantage of being able to book with transferable points currencies.
Now, keep in mind that American isn’t great about releasing award availability in first class at the saver level, which is why I think this is of limited use. However, for those situations where there is space, especially close to departure, this is an unbeatable deal for flying across the country or across the Atlantic.
Just be prepared for the hassle of having to book by phone. It’s not the end of the world, though it does require some patience.
If you’ve redeemed Etihad Guest miles on American, what was your experience like?