So I need to book a one way flight from Manchester to Dubai, what’s my best option?
Or, how I flew Etihad Business Class for a 94% discount.
*edit – since March 2016, American Airlines AAdvantage have devalued their award chart so this flight now costs 42,500 not 30,000 it did at time of writing.
Emirates would normally be my preferred choice, but their Skywards program only allows one-way award flights (where Skywards Miles can be redeemed for flights or upgrades) at Flex level, not Saver. As Flex Miles redemptions cost approximately 74% Miles than Saver, this is clearly not a sensible option.
So, who next? Etihad of course – especially as Business Class flights provide chauffeur service from Dubai (usually a nice Audi A6) to Abu Dhabi Airport and to Manchester Airport (usually a nice Mercedes E Class) included in the fare.
Another reason for choosing Etihad is they fly their new Boeing A330 Business Class product on the early AUH to MAN flight, which I’ve flown before and is lovely.
On checking the Etihad website, they are looking for £2413.84 (Pounds Sterling) – approx $3441 or 12,639 AED – but who wants to pay money when they can avoid it?
Enter Etihad Guest – the airline loyalty program of Etihad – and checking that, it shows it will cost 71,026 Etihad Guest Miles + £224.84 ($320.51 or 1,177 AED). But, who wants to pay that many miles when they can avoid it?
Enter American Airlines AAdvantage – as their miles are much better value than Etihad. I know I can get Business Class MAN – AUH for 30,000 and I also flew their First Class Apartment for only 40,000 AAdvantage miles last year.
How to book Etihad Business Class award travel with American Airlines
Unfortunately, neither the American Airlines AAdvantage or Etihad Guest websites allow you to book award travel on Etihad with AAdvantage miles, instead you need to call the American Airlines contact centre.
I’d recommend using the UK Contact Centre on +44 20 7660 2300 even if overseas, as the competence is higher and the staff seem more friendlier and pleasant. The UAE numbers are perfectly adequate, but I find I get a quicker service – especially if checking availability or comparision of other options for award travel redemptions – ringing the UK. The increased call costs are worth it, trust me.
One tip for calling Contact Centres to book award travel – the more vague your query is, the more time you will spend on the phone. If you can check availability beforehand, it is better to direct the call agent on which specific flight (carrier, time etc. you are looking for).
In this case, I know there are seats available that AAdvantage Miles can be used for – the column ‘GuestSeat’ means Etihad allows it’s partner airlines like American Airlines to sell/redeem seats.
I spoke with the lovely Louise from Fiji – it’s always a top tip to be nice, charming and friendly with your agent – and she offered me the same flights for 30,000 AAdvantage Miles and only £154.80 ($220 USD or 811 AED).
I’ve used this trick previouslyin November 2015 when I booked a flight that was going on Kayak for $3,875 for 30,000 AAdvantage Miles and £14.30 ($21) and $75.
All that is left is to finalise the booking, then look forward to putting my feet up, having a beer with my steak and watching James Bond movies.
Tips for redeeming Miles on etihad business class award flights for even less
There’s several ways to keep costs down when redeeming Miles for award flights, such as:-
- Fly from somewhere that has minimal taxes, e.g. flying from Abu Dhabi only cost £14.30 because ex-UK flights bring higher taxes and charges (e.g. Air Passenger Duty)
- Book well in advance – I was charged $75 on the November Business Class Etihad flight only because I booked at short notice, as AA charges $75 for less than 21 days notice on some routes.
How do I get in on the party? I want to start earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles!
First of all, as the saying goes – nothing in life is truly free – BUT there are many ways to earn Miles and Points relatively simply.
Future articles will show the best ways to rapidly accumulate AAdvantage Miles, so keep reading the blog or subscribe to the Eat Drink Stay Dubai RSS feed for updates.
However, if you are really in a rush to learn, or even better, have someone to give you a personal consultation to achieve your travel goals, why not consider our Coaching and Consulting offer?
Have you redeemed any Miles or Points for luxury flights? What were your experiences? Please let us know by adding your comments below.
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