The Concise Guide to Booking Etihad First and Business Class Awards With American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines and Etihad have a partnership that allows for AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad. In my limited experience, those wanting premium cabin awards will find a lot more availability on Etihad than on American’s OneWorld partner Qatar, and both have similar route networks. Oh, and Etihad has that Apartment thing on certain planes for first class.

The issue I learned in booking for a friend is that for some months American Airlines US agents have been unable to see any Etihad first or business award availability. Various theories for this have surfaced.

Sources such as View from the Wing tipped me off to the current workaround, though each left out the detail (step #3) that caused me grief until I got it right.

Here’s the concise version:

AA AU Contact Number

  1. Check Etihad website for award availability. Must be GuestSeat, not OpenSeat.
  2. Call AA Australia at +61-02-9101-1948, open 24 hours a day. The phone will likely be answered quickly by a professional agent in a call center. There will not be kids screaming and dogs barking in the background, and the agent will not be sighing loudly into a microphone tuned too loud.
  3. The AA Australia agent will quickly find the space. (Update: several readers have reported no issues with US credit cards, while others including me have had problems, so go ahead to try to issue and if there are problems, call US AA to fix it.) Here’s the important part: do not try to issue the ticket. Instead, have them put it on a courtesy 5-day hold. The hold will be good until midnight Fiji time 5 days hence. Fiji time is a lot ahead of US time. Also, get the Etihad confirmation number for later use in seat selection and check-in.
  4. Call AA US to have the ticket issued in USD. For some reason, trying to issue the ticket in AUD with a non-Australian credit card causes errors for AA and since they put tickets in an issuing queue rather than ticket them immediately, you will be at a loss to figure out what is happening without more calling.
  5. When the ticket is issued, verify all is correct.
  6. Enjoy your trip.

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  • VB

    I have been issuing with the AU desk with no problems. It can take 3-5 days, but it has always ticketed.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @VB – are you using a US credit card? I and others have had all kinds of issues with US cards ticketing in AUD.

  • Charlie

    Good post! It probably is hit and miss as I have had them issue my tickets at the Australian desk while using my US credit card. One time I did need to call them back to check on it and it went through within an hour after that but they were able to process it fine.

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  • PedroNY

    Great post! Thank you for teaching this trick. Enjoy Maldives.

    Cheers,

    PedroNY

  • Greg

    Brilliant:

    “There will not be kids screaming and dogs barking in the background, and the agent will not be sighing loudly into a microphone tuned too loud.”

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Greg – I hoped someone would notice that! I have experimented as AA Platinum the past year, the inconsistency of the agent is amazing, my favorite are the ones who pick up not realizing the mic is live and letting out a big sigh or groan before a lackluster, “can I help you?”

  • Papa Smurf

    For what it’s worth I didn’t have issues with ticketing through AU and using US CC.

  • chinmaya prakash

    I have been able to book this from the regular US customer service as recent as last week

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @chinmaya prakash – which class of service?

  • chinmaya prakash

    @Rapid Travel Chai- this was for 2 first class flights on Etihad using American miles

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @chinmaya prakash – fascinating, there is hope for a fix.

  • Shannon

    this post is useful! Welcome back, Mr. RTP!