One Program Will Still Let You Use American’s Old Award Pricing, or Book Business Class Roundtrip to Europe for Under 40,000 Miles

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American Express is running a 30% bonus on transfers to Etihad Guest through June 15. This is more valuable than you may realize. Etihad’s points aren’t just useful for booking premium cabin award tickets on Etihad itself.


Etihad First Class Apartment

Points from your Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express are even more leveraged than usual.

In addition to American Express points transferring to Etihad, you can also transfer Citi ThankYou Rewards from their premium cards like the Citi Prestige Card as well. (Here are 15 Things I Love About the Citi Prestige Card.)

There are some unique features of Etihad Guest.

  • Etihad offers award holds. Not every agent will offer them, but many agents will, for up to a week. You may have to hang up and call back or try another call center to get it.

  • Etihad has some strong value partner awards. American Airlines awards cost the same number of points that AAdvantage used to charge their own members before the March 22 devaluation, for instance.

The rules for each partner vary, including whether or not there are fuel surcharges collected on redemptions.

Tocqueville pointed me to this Reddit thread on using Etihad Guest points for Brussels Airlines flights.

The redemption chart for travel on Brussels Airlines is really quite amazing. All prices are roundtrip, they do not offer one-way redemptions on Brussels Airlines.

Etihad only charges 10% of an award’s miles for a lap infant on Brussels Airlines. Many airlines, especially US airlines, charge 10% of the paid fare for a lap infant on an international award ticket. An award for a trip that would have cost $9,000 would yield an infant fare of $900 plus tax!

Short-haul roundtrips are absurdly cheap:

Even their longest flights, for instance here are a few Africa roundtrips, are very cheap.

Brussels – Kigali, Rwanda is less than 40,000 miles roundtrip in business class, and that’s just shy of 4000 miles of flying in each direction.

Brussels – New York JFK is an exceptional value:

  • 21,972 miles roundtrip in economy
  • 36,620 miles roundtrip in business class

You can search for Brussels Airlines award space using a Star Alliance frequent flyer program website like Aeroplan.com and then call Etihad Guest to book. You may need to hang up and call back a couple of times to get an Etihad Guest agent well versed in partner award bookings (the Reddit thread talks about ringing up the call center in Manchester, UK for this which is 44 0345 6081225). And note that you can only book award flights that are on their redemption chart. Washington Dulles – Brussels isn’t on the chart, so you cannot book it.

You think that’s good? How about booking American Airlines awards at the ‘old’ pre-devaluation pricing using your American Express or Citibank points? The Etihad Guest redemption chart for travel on American Airlines is fantastic.

Here’s one-way pricing between North America and other regions:

  • First class between the US and Europe is still 62,500 miles each way. If you find a first class seats to London and back that’ll save you 45,000 miles on a roundtrip.

  • First class between the US and ‘Asia 1’ is still 62,500 miles each way. If you find a first class seats to Tokyo and back that’ll save you 35,000 miles on a roundtrip.

  • First class between the US and ‘Asia 2’ is still 67,500 miles each way. If you find a first class seats to Hong Kong and back that’ll save you 85,000 miles on a roundtrip.

  • First class between the US and Australia is still 72,500 miles each way. If you find a first class seats to Sydney and back that’ll save you 75,000 miles on a roundtrip.

Off-peak economy travel dates are also still super-generous.

Etihad of course has a wide variety of airline partners, each with its own chart, and some charts are more lucrative than others.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for this useful post. I looked all over Etihad’s website for the airline award charts but could not locate. Where did you find them?

  2. Hi, Yes you provided links for AA and BN but I was curious about some of their other partners.

  3. I may be confusing it with another airline, but is there a restriction that requires award bookings to take place no more than 14 days in advance?

  4. booking brussels airlines with etihad is almost impossible as they only seeing 4 seats once a month
    i tried to call ausralia CS and manchester CS uk CS AND GOT THE SAME RESULTS

  5. Booking Brussels with Etihad is near impossible. The first challenge is getting a competent agent, and if you can get one of those, good luck trying to ticket with Etihad. Read FlyerTalk.

  6. I kind of wish you hadn’t focused on Etihad’s AA chart (I’ve been telling people about it quietly) because it’s obviously a lazy mistake on their part. They simply “forgot” to upgrade their chart when AA changed its own chart earlier this year. The attention you’re giving it is almost certain to increase the speed at which Etihad now fixes this error. So make those bookings quickly,, and hope that if you’re transferring points they don’t get stuck before the revisions are made (fortunately AMEX transfers are immediate). On a positive note, some less-attentive readers will now get great award trips that they would not have known about it had this mistake been kept quieter.

  7. Gary, would you please lay off outing the more obscure miles hacks? Please?

    It’s a shame you still don’t think you have enough money, even though you’ve hit the proverbial lottery with credit card commissions (of course paired with your acumen and hard work) that have grown your bank account beyond most people’s dreams. You’re successful, well-liked, respected, and now have a huge bankroll and celebrity in certain circles.

    Is the marginal increase in your wealth worth ticking off everybody but newbies, and screwing the pooch for the other travel hackers who devote lots of time and energy staying on top of things? I’m okay not hitting the lottery like you, and I don’t begrudge your success. But I’m more than a little bit ticked off that you (yes, and others) keep stepping on my toes just because you want to make a marginal buck.

    Just stop. Please.

  8. But Gary, how do you find award space on their partners?
    When searcjing from SYDNEY on the etihad site it only shows etihad flights.
    So how do I see their partners?

  9. Gary, have you actually ever had to deal with Etihad call center? I hope you’re not posting this for any personal gain, because Etihad has the worst mileage program in the game in terms of redeeming the miles. Sure they can advertise 20,000 miles to xxxx but if you can’t redeem them but if call center is too incompetent then it is no good. please don’t advertise such a company to novice travelers. Thank you

  10. I’ve regularly redeemed for people with Etihad, and as I mention in the post their call center agents can be hugely variable and you will often have to hang up and call back to get what you want. This isn’t a simple and easy program to deal with, but there’s huge value if you’re willing to be persistent.

  11. the best value programs are often the hardest to deal with. For example, Korean Air or Asiana — they are a nightmare to book awards with (with Korean it once took me 1-2 weeks, with 10 phone calls, faxes etc to actually complete the process of an award on Alitalia – speaking of which, Alitalia, also a nightmare) but you get much more value per point.
    Lifemiles is another example of a very useful program that is unbelievably frustrating to make work.
    Want it simple? Then use UA — decent availability on partners, easy to book, good agents — but it’ll cost you a lot more points.
    I’m sure this Brussels thing doesn’t allow you to include connecting flights to other European destinations, right? And so you’ll end up in Brussels, which many people may not want in light of the recent events there.

  12. There goes another one…. Thank you Gary!!

    I hope you got your credit card referrals fix and cash for ruining another deal which you have lazily harvested from FT

    As noted above I find it dishonours of you the way you are recently using these posts to push your credit card sign up links without giving the full honest picture.

  13. Folks that want to keep this deals for themselves, well, tough. I didn’t get this from Flyertalk, we use them all the time in award booking, and you’ll see (from a link in this post) reddit discussions. Not secret. And the American chart isn’t just something someone ‘forgot’ it derives from an existing contract between the two airlines that will at some point get updated but that’s not from exposure it’s about timing of agreements that are in place between the airlines.

    So you want people to take advantage of things while they exist, especially when you know they’re going to get updated anyway when the contract turns over. But some people only feel good about themselves when others can’t benefit even when it takes nothing away from them. Sad!

  14. Looks like Etihad is going to find the mileage mistake and correct it. I’m sure they are grateful that you pointed it out to them.

  15. Etihad is a rubbish program. Cannot find any F seats from JFK / IAD / DFW to AUH for 1 year! Taxes for partners are hit-and-miss. Call centres are hopeless.

    Etihad is playing some game by holding back seats.

    And god help you if anything goes wrong and you need to contact their “customer” (non) service.

  16. @gary
    Slightly off topic but hoping you can help.

    Booked first last year from Sydney to Dublin on etihad using aadvantage . Now have an infant

    Tried to book for 10% ticket price via aadvantage but they told me they no longer do infants for etihad. Etihad website quoting me 20% of price so about $3000.

    Any advice?

    Thanks Dave

  17. @Dave infant tickets are going to be attached to your ticket, so need to call the airline that issued the ticket. When is travel? Call back

  18. Hi Gary
    Thanks for the quick reply. American issued the adward ticket for flight on Etihad. Travel in in Sept.

    Called and hung up twice as both agents said with bookings for Etihad I have to book directly – even though award travel is via american

    Thoughts?

    PS massive thanks – slighly desperate new father

  19. @Gary Leff — “And the American chart isn’t just something someone ‘forgot’ it derives from an existing contract between the two airlines that will at some point get updated but that’s not from exposure it’s about timing of agreements that are in place between the airlines.”

    Really? What is the source of your knowledge of this “contract”? I guess I could imagine AA and Etihad having an agreement to offer reciprocal mileage awards, but why would Etihad be bound to offer AA’s old award chart when AA raises its mileage levels? Why would AA want Etihad to do this, and charge less for AA award redemptions? It’s almost impossible to imagine.

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