Update: Etihad’s A380s are currently out of service and due to be retired as a result of low demand from the pandemic. You can read about Etihad’s latest fleet plans here.
On Saturday I took Etihad Airways’ inaugural A380 flight between Abu Dhabi and London. While Etihad is only the 12th airline to take delivery of the A380, they’ve innovated in ways that we haven’t really seen from other carriers.
Etihad A380 First Apartment & The Residence cabin
The highlight of their new A380s are The Residence and First Apartments. The Residence features a three room suite and butler service, and is unattainable for most of us. I doubt miles will ever easily be redeemable for it, and at $20,000-40,000 for a one-way ticket, it’s not something I think most of us will be springing for anytime soon.
Etihad The Residence bedroom
But as far as I’m concerned the First Apartment was the real show stopper, and where we saw the most innovation. Etihad has really taken first class to a whole new level by creating a suite that’s so big that you can actually walk around in it when the door is closed. It’s simply unbelievable.
Etihad First Apartment A380
While I’ve mentioned it before, what I think is worth emphasizing is that you can already redeem miles for Etihad’s First Apartment between Abu Dhabi and London. Here’s how:
Redeem American Airlines miles on Etihad
Etihad and American have a partnership, which means you can redeem American Airlines miles for travel on Etihad. American doesn’t levy fuel surcharges on Etihad award tickets, so the cash co-pay component would just be for taxes.
Etihad A380 First Apartment award availability between Abu Dhabi and London is fairly readily available through the end of the schedule. Many flights even have two first class award seats.
You can search award availability on Etihad’s website, and if there’s “GuestSeat” space then you can also book it with American miles. Here’s a primer on searching Etihad award space.
Best of all, redeeming American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad between Europe and the Middle East is a heck of a deal, at just 62,500 AAdvantage miles one-way in first class. That allows connections within Europe or the Middle East as well, if you’d like.
Etihad A380 airshow between Abu Dhabi and London
If you’d like to redeem American miles for travel between the US and Middle East in first class (which allows you to route via Europe), that will set you back 115,500 miles one-way.
Personally I’m a fan of booking that Europe to Middle East award separately, since I tend to think it’s a better value and you can have a stopover in Europe that way.
For what it’s worth, Etihad’s second A380 route will be between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, and I’ve yet to find saver A380 first class award space on it.
Etihad First Apartment bed A380
How to get American AAdvantage miles
Even if you don’t have an existing balance of AAdvantage miles, it’s quite easy to build up a balance from scratch. Here are a few of the best ways:
Transfer from Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
While the Citi cards often have lucrative welcome bonuses, the best cards for every day spending are hands-down the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.
Marriott Bonvoy are one of the main flexible-points currencies, and one of the few variations of miles or points that I consistently value around 2 cents each.
That’s because in addition to all the awesome ways to use Marriott Bonvoy points, you also receive a 5,000 point bonus when transferring points to their airline partners, provided you’re transferring in 60,000 point increments.
It’s also worth noting this is a standard benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy program, not of the credit cards specifically.
Buy AAdvantage miles
American often offers a bonus on purchasing miles. This can be a great way to top off your account, or even purchase the full number of miles needed for an award.
One of the awesome things about our hobby is that there’s almost no airline product in the sky for which you can’t redeem miles. I’ve redeemed miles for some of the most amazing onboard experiences, from an onboard shower on Emirates, to a double bed on Singapore Airlines, to a Porsche tarmac transfer on Lufthansa, to an hour-long full body massage courtesy of Thai Airways, etc.
When airlines introduce new products they often try to keep them exclusive by limiting award availability, so it’s great to see that Etihad Airways has opened up availability pretty quickly.
Have you redeemed miles for Etihad’s First Apartment yet?