Free Miles to Book American Awards at the ‘Old’ Prices and Transatlantic Business for 37,000 Miles Roundtrip

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Etihad is one of the top airlines in the world for passenger experience. They offer a great connecting point in Abu Dhabi for travel to India and the surrounding region. I’ve used them to travel there as well as to the Maldives and also back from Sri Lanka.

You can redeem American AAdvantage miles for travel on Etihad or you can redeem Etihad miles directly. American Express, Starwood, and Citibank points all transfer to Etihad.

Etihad has the world’s best first class on their Airbus A380 — the First Apartment. Their ‘regular’ first class is a fully enclosed suite, and arguably one of the world’s 5 best first class products though unquestionably top 10.

But they also have a strong frequent flyer program of their own, and they are a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.

  • Transfer points from the Citi Prestige Card, which earns 3 points per dollar on air and hotel, into Etihad.

  • Transfer points from the fastest-earning Membership Rewards cards.

And right now they’re offering 500 miles. It’s advertised on the front page of the Etihad Guest website, and the signup link embeds promo code EYGCARDS.

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.

Partner Redemptions are Really Unique

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. Try the call center in Manchester, UK for this at 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.

And 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.

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.

Comments

  1. Hahahahahaha, oh Gary you kill me… hahahahahahaha

    You’re assuming there’s premium AA saver space ever available…

    Hahahahahaha

  2. Gary,
    You forget the cost of taxes added on EY awards
    e.g.
    JFK-SIN will set you back 300$ on an EY award
    130k EY miles
    115k AA miles
    You do get a limo, so that may save 100$ overall.

    For rare awards, that can be booked on AA metal ONLY, EY charges fewer miles without extra fees.
    ‘Nuff said

  3. I hate when bloggers lead people on with this etihad redemption. Etihad call center is an absolute nightmare to deal with.

  4. Me too. Why leading people wrong? Just to get people to read the blog? I wish I had alternatives somewhere else besides boarding area.

  5. @Sean I wrote about the Etihad call center in the post and recommended which one I’ve found to be best for booking partner awards, something I’ve done plenty of.

  6. Bloggers’ are supposed to spoon fed me with specific info that I needed, and handhold me through booking process, just so to redeem their wrongdoings, like copying each other’s posts, click baits, card affiliates, travel extravaganza, you name it. And the worst, the many “tricks” that are learned in trenches, they don’t share that.

    They need to disclose that they make $ from the posts, but i don’t care they invested time & effort so I can do the same & travel the same.

  7. Have just started considering a trip to India this fall and can’t stomach the thought of ORD-DEL in economy. And I have 62Kish of citi prestige points and about 600K in AA miles. This seems like a good way to get the tickets — any other suggestions?

  8. Gary I enjoy reading your blog but this is not the first time you’ve gone on about the Brussels Airlines ‘sweet spot’ redemption BRU to JFK via Etihad Guest. As @Tom said, it is almost impossible to redeem. I think you need to be more upfront with your readers about it…

  9. To the fellow who said this is “free” travel, please note: This is not FREE. We, as the cardholder, are paying for it by obtaining credit cards, many with fees and/or interest charges, making purchases on said cards and spending our time/effort to read these boards and learn the strategies to make the most of points/miles earned. I appreciate the time the bloggers spend trying to educate us, I do also understand that they are in business to make a living and must do so in order to sustain their business models. I think they do a tremendous job and since their efforts keep the articles free to us and earn them income, I see it as a win/win but none of this is free, we all have something invested in the outcome.

  10. After joining: “As a special gesture, to welcome you to Etihad Guest, I am pleased to offer you 500 bonus Etihad Guest Miles, which will be credited to your account when you complete your first earn activity such as flying with Etihad Airways.”

    But Gary wrote: “And right now they’re offering 500 miles just for signing up, no account activity required.”

    Well, Gary is wrong again. No surprise.

  11. Etihad website is really horrible and primitive. It causes huge problems. These guys need to hire a decent programming team who knows what they are doing.

  12. I saw this post headline and clicked through just to laugh at the angry comments.

    Who cares if some of these are white whale awards? They’re still possible. Good to know every possibility!

  13. Professional award bookers such as bookyouraward.com won’t even take any of the steps in this post, citing the uncertainty of time taken for citi points to post to Etihad, need to have true availability confirmed with Etihad directly, and basically the effort involved in making these unicorn options happen. That said, these unicorns do exist so definitely worth pursuing if one goes in given uncertainty, patience, 100% flexibility and the reality that these may never materialize. Upto the buyer, maybe bloggers can make this clear in posts.

    Be thankful that Gary educates the public at least for free.

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