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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 Sep 17, 19, 5:18 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 Dec 26, 17, 2:07 pm
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Last edited by Edgerfly; Dec 26, 17 at 4:09 pm
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Old Jan 1, 18, 10:33 am
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I just booked 2 for LHR-AUH-SYD in first class for June 2018. Saw the availability on Etihad's site and the US call center had no issues seeing it.
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Old Jan 1, 18, 11:09 am
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Anyone reached Fiji lately, and are they better?

Originally Posted by acinchus View Post
Seeing something similar. Each time I have had to book EY flights (1-2 times each year) the etihad.com guest level availability equals visibility for AA agents (on Australia/NZ call centers that now get routed to Carribean call centers) to book. But now I have a data point that disapproved it .... etihad.com showing AUH to LAX in business on 2/11/2018 with 6 seats available at guest level awards. But the agents in the carribean not able to see it.

Its going to be a bummer if we cannot rely on etihad.com or even paid services like expertflyer to reliably search availability and have to rely on the crapshoot of which AA center we talk to and all factors that influence availability visibility on their end.

BTW, what is the recent observations on the 30 day window? Are more business and first seats being made available within 30 days of travel to AA and also within that window do the US based call centers see the same?
I'm running into the same issue, where after 9 calls mostly going to Trinidad, no one can see LAX-AUH-CAI availability. How do you know Fiji agents aren't able to see it?

One poster booked JFK-AUH on 11/24, so I asked the agent if she could see that one. - Yes, EY101 was available.

So has anyone reached Fiji lately? If Trinidad is the best at seeing availability, do we just give up if they can't find anything?
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Old Jan 1, 18, 11:24 am
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OT w/r/t award availability, but a warning to those of you flying EY out of LAX in Y class - holy smokes. I got to TBIT and was in line for checkin at 1:15 PM for a 4 PM departure, didn't make it to the counter to physically check-in until after 3 PM. Insane. There were no more than 2-3 agents at a time to check passengers in, for what was a completely full flight. I have never ever ever waited that long to check-in before, even on multiple prior trips to India in Y class. Security ended up taking minimal time at TBIT so made the flight with time to spare, but still. In fact EY delayed the departure by 30 minutes as there were so many passengers still checking in late.
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Old Jan 1, 18, 11:58 am
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Continued from 2 posts above

Etihad's site shows availability in J, LAX-AUH-CAI, but Trinidad agents cannot see it. One experienced Trinidad agent split up his search and was able to hold 2 seats - 11/10 LAX-AUH in J, followed by AUH-CAI in Y. He saw AUH-CAI was available in J, but could not book it. (This is one DP that AA Trinidad sees more space than AA US but less than EY.)

Funny thing - Etihad's site does not show LAX-AUH availability alone, only together LAX-AUH-CAI. So I wonder if I should still try for the elusive Fiji office, which purportedly sees everything EY sees?

Last edited by eethan; Jan 1, 18 at 1:24 pm
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Old Jan 1, 18, 1:13 pm
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Originally Posted by anabolism View Post
Thanks very much for the concise, detailed report . I appreciate that you noted the class and the flight date and the results of calling US and Trinidad!

246 is the country code, not the area code (so it's +246-428-4170).
Still perplexed, as +246 as the IDD country code gives British Indian Ocean / Diego Garcia. Fiji is +679.Trinidad and Tobago remains part of the NANP and is +1 868.

​​​​​​​.
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Old Jan 1, 18, 2:47 pm
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Which Number to Call

Originally Posted by eethan View Post
I'm running into the same issue, where after 9 calls mostly going to Trinidad, no one can see LAX-AUH-CAI availability. How do you know Fiji agents aren't able to see it?

One poster booked JFK-AUH on 11/24, so I asked the agent if she could see that one. - Yes, EY101 was available.

So has anyone reached Fiji lately? If Trinidad is the best at seeing availability, do we just give up if they can't find anything?
I don't know if you are referring to me, but I did book first class round trip from JFK-AUH-MLE in late November. I've been following this forum for a few months and it seems like the only consistent thing is that there is not much consistency when it comes to agents finding availability. I was only able to find Apartment availability (March 2018) by searching round-trip AUH-JFK-AUH and then separately for AUH-MLE-AUH on Etihad's website. Yes, it was very time consuming and I had several pages printed with calendars out where I could write down the days and times of available flights so I could piece together all segments of the trips among the days with availability. You have to be really flexible to book these tickets in first or business class. No seats ever showed available when searching one way or round trip JFK-AUH or JFK-AUH-MLE.

I did not have any luck booking with US based AA agents or calling the Australia number. Neither could see the available seats. The New Zealand number is where I had success. However, I never did ask where the agent was located (Fiji, Trinidad, etc?). I do specifically remember telling the agent that I was so happy that she could see the seats and that other call centers could not. She said something about that call center being able to see more availability than others, for what that is worth. I'm really kicking myself for not asking where she was located. I can tell you that both times I called it was around midnight to 1AM CST, so wherever I routed to is what worked. Reading some other posts it sounds like there is even some discrepancy within certain call centers as to which agents can see what.

My advice is to not give up and call at some different times and see what happens. It would be helpful if you would post some data points for what you find out and who you talked to.
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Old Jan 1, 18, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by jasonz9238 View Post
I just booked 2 for LHR-AUH-SYD in first class for June 2018. Saw the availability on Etihad's site and the US call center had no issues seeing it.
Glad to read it, thank you for the report .

Originally Posted by eethan View Post
I'm running into the same issue, where after 9 calls mostly going to Trinidad, no one can see LAX-AUH-CAI availability.
If you have an ExpertFlyer account, what does it show? Also, you might an agent if they can see the segments separately.

Originally Posted by ukinny2000 View Post
Still perplexed, as +246 as the IDD country code gives British Indian Ocean / Diego Garcia. Fiji is +679.Trinidad and Tobago remains part of the NANP and is +1 868.​​​
My apologies, I misread the country code.
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Old Jan 3, 18, 4:28 pm
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Fiji is closed

Called Australia office close to 20 times now and a Brisbane rep confirmed Fiji is closed.

I had secured LAX-AUH in J and AUH-CAI in Y. EY site had showed J availability on both legs. Multiple AAgents could see CAI segment in J but couldn't book it. (My favorite agent in Brisbane is now helping to monitor and see if she can switch my mom to J. Hopefully this won't risk losing the important LAX leg.)

I kept calling in since EY site shows LAX-AUH-CAI available on 11-8 only if you marry the segments. However, no AAgents can see it. (In fact, the agent who successfully held my 11-10 ticket did so by searching segment by segment.) My suspicion is that AA cannot see the "enhanced" availability EY's site reflects for married segments.
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Old Jan 3, 18, 7:24 pm
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New Zealand?

Did you ever try the New Zealand number to see if you would have any luck or where that routed you to?
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Old Jan 3, 18, 7:59 pm
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I think something happened for a short-while (~week) back in November when many of us were able to lock down lots of EY awards via In'tl call centers. Now it seems like whatever happened has ended.
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Old Jan 3, 18, 8:46 pm
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Originally Posted by CodeAdam10 View Post
I think something happened for a short-while (~week) back in November when many of us were able to lock down lots of EY awards via In'tl call centers. Now it seems like whatever happened has ended.
That is unfortunate. If that window existed, that is when I locked my travel down. I was watching and waiting for a couple of months before that when people were also having problems booking these awards. I moved quickly when I saw other's success. I truly hope that these AA award redemptions don't permanently end anytime soon, but it is difficult to be encouraged by the lack of availability and Etihad's cost cutting measures. I think we all know that this is a sweet spot for redemption...
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:15 am
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guys - in the past, i had good luck booking award seats as soon the dates were relesed using AA miles - 330 days prior but now I'm getting very little availability on etihad in J on the JFK-BOM route for Nov 2018. Has etihad changed its patterns to release award seats
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:05 pm
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There are several categories of "Guest" seats on EY:

a) Exists but only for married segments or directional segments (AUH-JFK-AUH is available but JFK-AUH is not or LHR-AUH-BOM is available but LHR-AUH is not)

b) Guest seats which are bookable by US/UK AA agents

c) Guest seats which are bookable by only certain oversees call centers (difficult to pin point which ones because calls get forwarded to very different country than one you dialed and more confusingly if it is contracted overflow call center, agent is required to lie about their location)

d) New such categories can come and go without any consistency

Since AA miles are usually earned free and EY is unusually efficient use of those not-so-hard earned miles, one usually puts up with ever changing idiosyncrasies involved. Staying on top of this thread on regular basis (not just when needing to actually book tickets) minimizes frustrations and controls expectations.

As with most airlines but especially so with AA and EY, availability is much better with just few days before the travel dates (provided flight is not almost sold out)
I have many times changed my flights with only few hours before departure only to find gate agent looking for volunteers. Go figure.
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Old Jan 4, 18, 8:18 pm
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Originally Posted by anabolism View Post
Glad to read it, thank you for the report .

If you have an ExpertFlyer account, what does it show? Also, you might an agent if they can see the segments separately.

My apologies, I misread the country code.
Foreign AA office called, country where actually phone got routed and what agent claims s/he is located at - can be three different things.
Hence the confusion on this thread.

Every now and then we see a post "Hey, I booked using US center". That may or may not be US call center, all one is sure about is that the person dialed US number. More importantly, it could be the category of Guest seats which are bookable by normal AA call center.

Calling foreign (non-US, non-UK) call center increases chances of getting seats not seen by US call center. But that's all it is: Increased probability. There is no guarantee of anything.

BTW, in general (nothing is certain for this thread), non-US, non-LHR, non-AUssie origins have better chances of AA call center seeing seats seen on EY website.
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