I have been checking quite faithfully for a while to see when Etihad would finally put the A380 on the Abu Dhabi – New York route and news came yesterday that it will begin flying that route December 1.
Edit: Award seats that can be booked with AA miles have been released but in a limited number!
Etihad To Start New York Service With Their A380
That is big news for US travelers that wish to travel from New York in the best cabin possible with miles. For 90,000 American Airline miles, it will be possible to secure the First Class Apartment for the 14 hour journey to the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent. This will certainly top Singapore’s A380 offering out of New York (to Frankfurt), though it does not mean that Singapore is not worth flying. It just means that a new, better equipped A380 will be in town (and can connect from other cities throughout the US as well).
At this time, while it the flights are showing available to book with Etihad miles, it is not possible to book these flights with AA miles. This is not a big deal as it took a short while for Etihad to open the Guest First allotment (which is what must be available to book via AA miles) on both their London route and Sydney route. It should open up soon for partner bookings, would be my guess.
The A380 flight will be one of two scheduled flights each day between Abu Dhabi and JFK. The departure time from Abu Dhabi is 2:55AM arriving in JFK at 8:40AM, a flight time of 14 hours and 45 minutes. The JFK to Abu Dhabi flight will depart at 3PM and arrive in Abu Dhabi 12:30AM, a flight time of 12 hours and 30 minutes. The other flight of the day will be a 777 aircraft.
So, for a roundtrip flight aboard the beautiful Etihad A380, it will cost you 180,000 miles – not a small amount by any stretch but certainly one of the better uses of your miles compared with what other American mileage programs will give you. While the Apartment Class is not bookable with AA miles yet, you can certainly pay attention as many of us will be sure to let you know when it is available so you can start checking your dates!
Try The First Apartment For 14 Hours For Only 60,000 Miles
In the meantime, you can get quite a lot of time aboard the A380 if you take it from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, a trip that only costs 60,000 AA miles for first class travel. It is about 14 hours each way, so roughly the same as Abu Dhabi to JFK for 30,000 fewer miles! I have already booked one of those segments (Abu Dhabi to Sydney) so am looking forward to really experiencing the flight for longer than the short 7ish hours on the London flight. If you want to try it out on a long-haul, consider the Sydney route, which is bookable now and has some very good availability.
Booking Etihad’s A380 Apartment With Miles
When the time comes for availability to open, here is what you need to do. To find award space, head over to the Etihad rewards page – here – and enter Abu Dhabi to JFK (or reverse). Then choose First.
Next, you need to look for Guest First space. That is what will be bookable with partner miles. When you do find a date that works for you (which at this point is not available), call American Airlines to book it (800-882-8880). Since last month, AA no longer charges a fee for award bookings that cannot be made online so make sure the fee does not get added to your reservation (they tried to add it to mine).
It is great news that this incredible airplane with the excellent Apartment Class is coming to the US. But, I would assume availability will go very fast as they release it. If you have travel in mind for the Middle East/Indian Subcontinent, now is the time to start planning so that when the availability shows up, you can grab it.
Remember, even if you do not have status, you can make award bookings on Etihad for certain dates now (on their 777) and then change it for free as long as date changes are made prior to 21 days of departure. That should help you to nail something down just in case you do not get the dates you want. I am sure the 777 will not be a complete first class disappointment! 🙂