This is credit to One Mile at a Time who points out that Etihad is opening 6 or more first class seats on most of its US flights for next summer.
Etihad offers first class from New York JFK, San Francisco, Washington Dulles, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
- American charges 90,000 miles each way for first class awards between the US and ‘Middle East/Indian Subcontinent’. This means 90,000 miles covers US – Abu Dhabi, it includes connections in North America to the international gateway city, and it includes connections beyond Abu Dhabi to elsewhere in the Middle East as well as India and surrounding region (including the Maldives and Sri Lanka). American allows you to put awards on hold for 5 days, and you can transfer Starwood points to American generally within the timeframe necessary to issue tickets.
- Citibank points transfer directly to Etihad.
Availability is much better from the US to Abu Dhabi than it is back to the U.S. So if you cannot find Etihad award space coming back, consider splitting up your group (including flying American’s partner Qatar, or Alaska miles on Emirates) or flying via Europe.
It’s amazing that six first class seats would be available on flights with only eight seats, and on flights like Los Angeles – Abu Dhabi which is still the third longest flight in the world.
It’s one of the better hard products, offering excellent catering (extensive dine on demand menu and an onboard chef), and it’s very available. And with American miles, and even Etihad’s own points, it’s reasonably priced.
They even offer a car service to (business and) first class passengers, available on departure and in your arrival city, but not offered in Abu Dhabi if you’re merely connecting there and have a long layover.
Etihad’s new Airbus A380 flies London – Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi – Sydney and will be entering service New York JFK – Abu Dhabi come late November. I have several segments booked on that service (“First Apartment”).
search Etihad’s website for Guest First space. That’s the ‘low level’ space, and American AAdvantage generally has access to that space.
Once you find the space on the Etihad website, call American Airlines to book that space (you cannot search the space at AA.com, and you cannot book it there, fortunately American will waive the telephone booking fee).