How to Fly Like Royalty: Etihad A380 First Class

First Class on Etihad’s A380 is the most luxurious way someone can fly commercially. These seats are so big that Etihad decided to call them “Apartments.” We recently had the opportunity to fly like this and it was one of the best flights of our lives. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of my review.

Now it’s time to get you into your own “Apartment” in the sky!

How to Find Award Space

Step 1: Know the Routes

Etihad flies their A380 plane from Abu Dhabi to New York, London, Mumbai, Sydney and Melbourne. These are the routes that you will need to be searching for award space on.

Etihad A380 Routes

Step 2: Search for GuestSeats

You need to head to Etihad’s site. Enter a “From” and “To” destination for one of the routes that Etihad flies the A380. Once that is done, make sure you select the “First” checkbox before clicking “Search flights.”

You will be prompted to login, but you can just click the “proceed without logging in” button and everything will still work just fine. The next page is where we can see if there is award space. The space we are looking for is in the GuestSeat column.

What this screenshot tells us that on January 11th, the flight at 9:00 from London to Abu Dhabi has 2 award seats available, the flight at 14:05 has no award seats available, and the flight at 20:00 has 2 award seats available.

In this example, Etihad is flying all 3 of their flights to London with the A380. However, on other routes, only one of your options may be an A380. For example, if you were trying to fly from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, you would have the option to fly on a 777 or a A380. You need to make sure you are looking at one of the flights operated by an A380.

How to Book the Award Space

At this point, you are able to search for dates and routes to find open award space on the A380. Once you have found the award space you would like to book, write down the date, time, and flight number for that flight. With that information in hand, you have three ways you can book the award space (there are others, but they are really bad so I don’t talk about them).

Option 1: Use Etihad Miles

The first option is to simply use Etihad miles for the booking. It is free to create an Etihad Guest account. Once created, you can transfer Citi ThankYou points, Amex Membership Rewards points, or SPG points into your account to accumulate the needed miles. Etihad does not have a fixed award chart and prices its awards in line with cash prices for the flights. It will cost you about 118,000 to fly from New York to Abu Dhabi, 92,000 miles to fly from London to Abu Dhabi, and 129,000 miles to fly from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. I will not go into exact details because you know now how to search for space on Etihad’s website, and when you do, you can easily find the costs for each route.

Overall, these awards are pretty expensive, but on the bright side, both Citi and Amex have offered transfer bonuses when transferring points to Etihad in the past. I don’t know if it will happen again, but I have a feeling we will continue to see fairly regular bonuses when transferring points to Etihad. The other nice thing is that these awards can be booked completely online without the need to call anyone.

Option 2: Use American Airlines Miles

To use this option, you will need to call American’s award reservation number (800-433-7300) and tell them you would like to book a partner award on their partner airline Etihad Airways. For some reason, people tend to have better luck booking these awards with the Australian call center (+61-2-91011948). You then need to give the agent the flight for which you found the award space. The agent will look up the space and, most of the time, be able to book the same space that you found online.

It used to be an absolute killer deal to book these flights with American Airlines miles. Unfortunately, those days are long gone. The prices have increased, but these awards remain worthy of every mile you spend. If you do not have one already, you will first need to create an American Airlines account. The only flexible points currency that can transfer to American Airlines are SPG points. If you need more miles, you can transfer in points from SPG to your American Airlines account. Here are what these flights will cost one-way using American Airlines miles:

New York – Abu Dhabi: 115,000 miles one-way

London – Abu Dhabi: 62,500 miles one-way

Mumbai – Abu Dhabi: 40,000 miles one-way

Sydney – Abu Dhabi: 100,000 miles one-way

Melbourne – Abu Dhabi: 100,000 miles one-way

If you want to get some extra time in an apartment, you could tack on the A380 flight from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai at no extra cost (if there is also award availability for that segment). For example, New York to Abu Dhabi costs 115,000 miles, but New York to Abu Dhabi to Mumbai would also cost 115,000 miles.

Option 3: Use ANA Miles

To use this option, you will need to call ANA’s award reservation number (1-800-235-9262) and tell them you would like to book a partner award on their partner airline Etihad Airways. Then you need to give the agent the flight for which you found the award space. The agent will look up the space and, most of the time, be able to book the same space that you found online.

In some instances it seems to be a pretty good deal to book these awards using ANA miles. The downside to using ANA miles is that you must book a roundtrip ticket. The other disadvantage is that you are only allowed to book a ticket for yourself and your family members. ANA gives a nice chart for who you can book tickets for.

ANA Family Restrictions

You will first need to create an ANA account. That can take a while. They will send you a PIN via snail mail from Japan after you sign up. Your account won’t be fully active until you get this PIN. Never lose this PIN! I lost mine and needed to wait for a new PIN to be sent via snail mail from Japan. You can transfer both Amex Membership Rewards points and SPG points into your ANA account to get the miles you need. This is what these flights will cost round-trip using ANA miles:

New York – Abu Dhabi: 195,000 miles round-trip

London – Abu Dhabi: 120,000 miles round-trip

Mumbai – Abu Dhabi: 150,000 miles round-trip

Sydney – Abu Dhabi: 210,000 miles round-trip

Melbourne – Abu Dhabi: 210,000 miles round-trip

The New York and London routes are cheaper using ANA miles. In all other instances, it would be better to use American Airlines miles (unless you have hoards of Amex Membership Rewards points).

Conclusion

This is meant to be a very basic guide. For the most part, I only talked about the costs for the specific routes on which Etihad flies the A380. I suspect most people reading this do not live in the 6 cities that Etihad flies the A380 to and would need to get to one of those cities first. I also suspect that some people would rather fly through Abu Dhabi and not have that as their final destination. These things are both usually possible to do and may or may not alter the cost of the award. It would be too much to dig in to right now; I just want to make sure you know that you can do more than just fly one these very specific routes when booking your award ticket.

I also did not dip into the taxes/fees that these awards will cost in addition to the miles. If you’re booking with Etihad miles, I would expect them to be fairly high. I would expect them to be fairly low when booking with American miles. I have no idea what to expect with ANA miles as I have never gone through the process.

There you have it! Get going and start looking for ways to book yourself in an apartment! You won’t regret it.

Brit settling nicely into seat 2H

Is there anything I can do to improve this guide? I want to make this guide as simple as possible.

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