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Booking AA Award travel on Etihad / EY (master thread July 2017 onwards)

Booking AA Award travel on Etihad / EY (master thread July 2017 onwards)

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Old May 13, 19, 12:58 am   -   Wikipost
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Booking Award Seats on EY / Etihad Airways Using AA / AAdvantage Miles

Also see: Earning AA Miles EQM / EQD / EQS on EY / Etihad (master thread)

This thread is about how to book Etihad / EY award seats using AA AAdvantage miles, and sharing success stories. This wiki is new, so anyone with 90/90 who wishes to add helpful information is, of course, urged to do so.
  • You can now search or book awards for travel on EY (Etihad) on www.aa.com.
  • You can search award availability on EY's website. Look only for seats on flights operated by Etihad Airways that are labeled as "GuestSeats". You can also search on ExpertFlyer
    • Note: You may see more availability if you search on EY's website using itineraries that do not originate in the US. In other words, to potentially see more availability on a USA-XYZ segment, search for XYZ-USA-XYZ. Expertflyer does not report this additional availability (if any), and US-based agents probably will not be able to see or book it (but see further below for Fiji).
    • To expand on this point a bit, it seems that even if you only want to fly USA-AUH (or to other foreign destinations, since they route through AUH), due to an EY website quirk you need to search AUH-USA-AUH in order to find available USA-AUH routes.
  • You no longer have to call AA to book them. You may need to request the AA agent to look up the inventory one segment at a time in order to find the inventory in their system. OR:
  • It is often or even typically the case that for first and business class awards US agents cannot see the award space that you see on Etihad's site. Your best bet, then, is to call AA Australia (+61 2-9101-1948 ) then press 3 - or the New Zealand number (+64 09-308-4014) (actually South African contractor Mindpearl in Fiji) or Singapore (+65 6349-8444) as an alternative - what you need is the specific call center which is actually in Suva, Fiji (I believe it's our old South African agency friend Mindpearl) or, according to recent reports, in Trinidad (since there have been some reports that the Fiji center has closed). You can put the EY segments on hold so you can flesh out the award afterward and/or pay the fees in USD through the US call center, or simply buy it through non-US call center if you think you won't be making subsequent routing changes (such as adding AA connecting flights within the USA) that would incur fees. (NOTE: calls may get picked up by the local Brisbane office, or rerouted to Trinidad or the USA. As noted, there are reports that the Fiji call center has closed, but people have still been able to book some of the time, particularly if they reach the Trinidad center since that seems to be the call center that yields the greatest success in late 2017 and 2018 - with the big caveat that there are at least as many failures as successes in calling there, including repeatedly. To increase the chances of success, you may have to call several times, since for some reason a given customer service representative at a given time won't see availability even if it shows at the EY site, but another CSR at the same center may be able to do so even a few minutes later. It's conceivable that this difference is due to some CSRs knowing how to search for award availability better than others do, but that's simply a matter of speculation at this point.)
  • Booking connections via AUH / Abu Dabhi using one award is now allowed.
  • Get both AA and EY reservation codes/numbers: Upon booking with AA, make sure to get the EY reservation number as well as that of AA from the AA CSR, as without the EY number it will be difficult or impossible to deal with EY, such as for checking or managing your reservation online. And of course, if there is another airline involved in the reservation as well (such as BA), get its reservation number.
  • A handy EY route map is here: http://flights.etihad.com/routemap.
  • The applicable AAdvantage miles award chart is the oneworld and partner airlines award chart.
  • Award routing rules are in the wikipost of this thread.
  • If you find EY inventory from your continent but not your city of choice, as usual you can include any other AAdvantage award airlines in order to complete the itinerary. E.g. LHR-xAUH-DEL-xAUH-CDG on EY connecting to CDG-LHR on BA.
  • WARNING: While this trick is great for new bookings (especially if you have patience to get lucky for call to be routed to Fiji office), modifying booking on partner airlines is always risky especially when an overseas center is involved, Your original seats are immediately released and while new reservation is supposedly confirmed, it may actually not the case until ticket desk actually issues ticket after approval of the partner liaison. Weekend/Holidays/Time-Difference can delay issuance of ticket and if something goes wrong, there is always risk of being SOL. (Mistakes by agents are rare but not unheard of).
  • SEAT ASSIGNMENTS: You cannot choose seats until after ticketing. Even then, the regular web site will not allow seat assignments to be made for AAdvantage award bookings. The mobile site (which can be reached with either a mobile or a desktop browser) may work in some cases. Calling EY to make seat assignments always works, as long as you can give them the EY record locator, and as long as AA has issued the ticket (which can take a few days, you will get e-mail). Call 1-877-690-0767, press 1 for English, then 2 for First/Business, then 2 for existing bookings, then they will tell you the call is ending - but it's not: they have added "press 1 to speak to an agent", so finally, press 1 to continue the call. After this, you should have someone on the line quickly to help you. They will ask you a series of questions such as "What class are you traveling in?" and "Where are you going?" Alternatively, you can choose your seats on the Etihad website and app by using the EY record locator to find your award itinerary.
  • Availability: EY award availability using AA miles can be fairly good, including in business and first class - IF you get past the big, aforementioned challenge of actually booking award seats that the EY site shows as available but that AA agents have trouble finding. But it ebbs and flows quite a bit in at least two respects (in addition to the general rule that the further in advance you seek availability, the better, as well as reports that availability is easier to find from one to three weeks before a flight): 1) availability showing at the EY site and 2) even if availability shows at the EY site, the ability of non-US call centers (especially the "least bad" ones for finding availability, which might have been Fiji and might now be Trinidad) to find that availability. So if the EY site is not showing availability for a given day or week, and if you have flexibility, check other dates. And if availability seems to be particularly constrained across many dates, particularly if you are searching many months in advance, check again periodically to see if this has changed (or arrange an alert via ExpertFlyer, if it provides such a service for EY flights).
  • "Baby-sit" your tickets: Though this advice could apply to many award bookings, EY's systems can be glitchy and the airline apparently is going through some financial challenges. So it makes sense to check online or via phone occasionally with EY to make sure everything remains in order, particularly if there have been even minor changes in things like your flight times. And if there seem to be problems, including with checking in online or other procedures, the EY forum here at FT can be a source of useful advice about whether or not those problems are worth worrying about.
  • Itinerary: You can use https://www.virtuallythere.com/new/login.html to enter your EY record locator and last name to 1)display your complete itinerary 2)save a pdf 3)add to outlook/ical 4)view ticket # and different times the ticket has been reissued
  • AA lounge access: If you book a premium cabin itinerary on EY with domestic connections on AA, you will not be able to access the Admiral's Club during your domestic layovers because EY is not a member of OW.

Please see the archived threads for previous experiences: NOTE: From AUH to the USA you will receive full USCBP Pre-Clearance in Abu Dhabi and will arrive in the USA as a domestic flight. However, AA and at least some other airlines (AS) will still demand International to Domestic MCT be met for ticketing purposes.[/left]
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Old Mar 18, 18, 12:23 pm
  #256  
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Thanks for this very useful post, CC. I'm more than a bit surprised that you were able to get business class tix through US-based agents, though I recall at least one previous post in this thread reporting a similar experience. Regardless, more power to you in bagging them and then being able to switch to F.

OT, but I'm curious about what miles/points you used for the EK tix.

Given how far off your trip is, make sure to occasionally check your reservations to ensure that some AA or EY snafu hasn't messed them up.

Originally Posted by Carl Christensen View Post
Success:

Have finished booking, ticketed, and seat assignments for 2 MLE-AUH-JFK in First (O class) end of January 2019.

Thank you to all on this board for the wealth of info, tips shared, phone numbers recommended etc.

I will share a few bulleted items of thoughts and experience:
  • Snag business seats (Booking code I) first as they will be released before 1st class (booking code O). This was successfully done by US based American agents
  • After watching things daily for a month, the pattern appears to be 331 for business, 318 for first.
  • If all you want are business, even if you take the only 2 being shown, usually within days more will be released.
  • For first availability, DO NOT rely on complete trip search. i.e., MLE-AUH-JFK if they span more than one day. Our flights from MLE on 1/30 connects to AUH-JFK on 1/31. A seach on expertflyer for MLE-JFK on EK booking code O would show 2 seats for both legs, the same search on etihadguest showed 2 seats available. However, if you searched segment by segement, only the MLE-AUH had seats, while the AUH-MLE segment was not yet released.
  • It is possible to have a mixed class of service itinerary with etihad. US based agents told me it wasn't possible, but was successfully constructed by Trinidad agents and ticketed. This was done 12 hours prior to release of seats on AUH-JFK. We paid the extra miles to go from (I) to (O) and then had a ticket in (O) MLE-AUH and (I) AUH-JFK
  • Midnight CST (had to stay up late yawning to see the repeatable behavior) I hit refresh on expertflyer and 2 seats in (O) were now there. A call to US agents resulted "I'm sorry we can't see anything" ... if this was simply because it was 12:01 and the system needed more time, or more like as per usual US agents are unable ... regardless no success with them
  • Using google voice, called the trinidad number (country code 868 821-6000) at $0.14 per minute and navigate options of 1 for engligh, then I think option 2 for award questions, then option 1 for award redemptions - within one minute a representative was on the line. I said "I'm currently in business class and want to be moved to first class for a flight segment - I have my record locator number if I may give it to you please" Sure "xxxxxxxxxx, and I'm looking at Etihad flight 103 AUH-JFK, I see 2 seat in booking class O now available".
  • A minute or two of anxiety while she inaudibly mutters to her self and then "I now have you in first class." She indicated that booking to a higher class of service waives award mile redeposit fees, (each call they redeposited then rewithdrew the miles), she indicated that I had already paid the 110,000 miles (1st class Indian subcontinent to AUH was 40k, 70k business onward) and that it was now 115,000 (1st class Indian subcontinent all the way to continental US)
  • Went to bed and see within 1.5 hours emails came through showing ticketing
  • Used iphone to go to mobile website to select adjoining 1st class apartments on AUH-JFK for my wife and I.
Given my small sample size/data set I recommend: US based agents can do business class fine (starting fresh without any existing record). For 1st class, just calling Trinidad. 2 calls and each time immediately they were able to see and select 1st class for us.

A possible warning: If you have a CC that gives you a rebated of miles (Aviator red card for instance), when I changed this booking the miles were redeposited, the rebate refunded, and then the miles were taken again. I am unsure if have since canceled your card if you would no longer get that rebate.

This completes our trip: 2 First class suites with Emirates on their A380 SFO-DXB-MLE, 15 nights Conrad Maldives, 2 First class/Apartments Etihad MLE-AUH-JFK. Will have to report back next year when we take it.

Thanks again to the collective wisdom and reports from everyone.
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Old Mar 18, 18, 2:02 pm
  #257  
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Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
Thanks for this very useful post, CC. I'm more than a bit surprised that you were able to get business class tix through US-based agents, though I recall at least one previous post in this thread reporting a similar experience. Regardless, more power to you in bagging them and then being able to switch to F.

OT, but I'm curious about what miles/points you used for the EK tix.

Given how far off your trip is, make sure to occasionally check your reservations to ensure that some AA or EY snafu hasn't messed them up.
We used 300k Alaska miles for 2 one way tickets on EK - here is my post
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Old Mar 18, 18, 2:23 pm
  #258  
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Ah, thanks for yet more useful info.
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Old Mar 19, 18, 8:13 am
  #259  
 
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Managed to get availability CMB-AUH-JFK//LGA-ORD by calling the Australian number. While I was able to be confirmed in F on the AUH-JFK leg, I am confirmed in Y on the CMB-AUH and LGA-ORD legs when I can see there is availability. Now that I have this booked with the folks from OZ, is it okay to call the US call center to clean up the other two legs or am I stuck with it as it is? I don't want to blow the confirmed seat AUH-JFK. Thoughts?
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Old Mar 19, 18, 8:46 am
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Originally Posted by ORDPLATAA View Post
Managed to get availability CMB-AUH-JFK//LGA-ORD by calling the Australian number. While I was able to be confirmed in F on the AUH-JFK leg, I am confirmed in Y on the CMB-AUH and LGA-ORD legs when I can see there is availability. Now that I have this booked with the folks from OZ, is it okay to call the US call center to clean up the other two legs or am I stuck with it as it is? I don't want to blow the confirmed seat AUH-JFK. Thoughts?
You should be fine calling the US line now. I held CMB-AUH-JFK by calling the Australian number and then a couple of days later called up the US line to add LGA-DCA and ticket it. No problems doing so for me.
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Old Mar 19, 18, 11:37 am
  #261  
 
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Hello all.

I was able to successfully book a ticket via Singapore call center. Now I got the receipt showing I was hit by the servicing fee:Telephone Ticketing ServiceSGD60.00
Is it feasible to call them back and get it refunded? Too bad that that I didn't pay attention to it..
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Old Mar 20, 18, 11:41 am
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Managed to get the LGA-ORD leg changed and in Business (First) on the day I wanted. AA still unable to see Business Class on the CMB-AUH leg. Gave my credit card to have this ticketed but shows "On Request". Is this something to worry about with EY since I was able to get F on the AUH-JFK leg?
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Old Mar 20, 18, 2:15 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDPLATAA View Post
Managed to get the LGA-ORD leg changed and in Business (First) on the day I wanted. AA still unable to see Business Class on the CMB-AUH leg. Gave my credit card to have this ticketed but shows "On Request". Is this something to worry about with EY since I was able to get F on the AUH-JFK leg?
That's normal. It may take a day or two before it becomes ticketed with partner awards.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 3:56 pm
  #264  
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Is BKK-AUH-JFK or BKK-AUH-LAX legal routings for award tickets?

What is the cost of J and F for these routes in AA Miles?
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Old Mar 20, 18, 3:58 pm
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Originally Posted by 355F1 View Post
Is BKK-AUH-JFK or BKK-AUH-LAX legal routings for award tickets?

What is the cost of J and F for these routes in AA Miles?
I believe that will be two awards - (1) is Asia 2 to Middle East and the 2nd is Middle East to US. Travel to Asia 2 needs to be via the Pacific.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 4:01 pm
  #266  
 
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Originally Posted by mtkeller View Post
That's normal. It may take a day or two before it becomes ticketed with partner awards.
Thanks. Called today and the US based EXP AAgent was able to get me into Business on the CMB-AUH leg. She said that it was in the ticketing queue and that it would get run through the AA/EY Liaison before ticketing. I am able to pull up the booking at the Etihad site but can't do anything with seats yet.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDPLATAA View Post
I believe that will be two awards - (1) is Asia 2 to Middle East and the 2nd is Middle East to US. Travel to Asia 2 needs to be via the Pacific.

Yep....just found that out.

They want 155k miles for First Class...

Now I have to figure out if its worth it for The Apartment! lol

AA tells me they have availability on the date I want to travel
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Old Mar 24, 18, 7:35 am
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Booked and ticketed CMB-AUH-JFK//LGA-ORD for 115,000 miles. Flying in J CMB-AUH, F AUH-JFK and F (okay J) LGA-ORD. Had to book this through the Oz reservation line (about $5 to Skype them). AAgent for some reason was able to find the AUH-JFK space in F but not the CMB or LGA legs. Once booked, called the US line and they were able to fix it. Small ticketing delay as my LGA-ORD leg didn't meet the 240 minute MCT (it was only 220 minutes). Figured I will try to standby once I get to LGA - or just hang out in the Centurion Lounge.

Funny thing - when I originally called the US line, they could see F on the 77W but not the A380.
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Old Mar 24, 18, 1:15 pm
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14mins start to finish to place MLE-AUH-JFK on hold - amazing via the Australian line (seems like it routed to Trinidad). I might have to start calling them all of the time - that was the most pleasant AA booking experience I've ever had. Use Google Voice for the first time and worked flawlessly.
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Old Mar 24, 18, 3:49 pm
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Just called the AA North America line to book GYD-AUH-JFK in J and F. They can see AUH-JFK availability in F but claim that GYD-AUH is not a possible award route (they cannot even see availability). Has anyone ever gotten a statement like that? Etihad shows J availability on the GYD-AUH segment, which just launched this month.
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