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Etihad Guest Now Allows Award Bookings on American up to 24 Hours Before Departure

Here's a big update for those of us who have used Etihad Guest miles for award bookings on American Airlines-operated flights. Etihad has a reasonable (some might even say generous) partner award chart for American Airlines-operated flights, especially for American's premium transcon routes between JFK and LAX/SFO. Business seats are 25,000 Etihad miles, and First are only 32,500. (Though I have had some Etihad agents quote me only 25,000 miles for First!)

Previously, to book award bookings on American Airlines-operated flights (and, I believe, on most other partners' flights) using Etihad Guest miles, you were required to book at least 14 days in advance of departure.

According to a helpful Etihad phone agent, you now only need 24 hours. Earlier today, I called Etihad (thankfully getting their Manchester-based call center) to look for premium award space on an American Airlines 3-cabin LAX to JFK transcon in August. Not surprisingly, there was nothing available on the Sunday on which I needed to travel. I commiserated with the phone agent that American's own award inventory on these flights is virtually nonexistent, and often opens up (if it does at all) only within days of departure. (While Etihad's award space on American Airlines-operated flights does not match up precisely with American's own award inventory, I have noticed some loose parallels in the past.) So then I bemoaned the fact that I needed 14 days' advance notice to book using Etihad miles.

"I'm not so sure that's the case anymore," she said. "I think the rules have changed."

Indeed, after a short wait while the very helpful agent checked the rules, she confirmed. 

So to test it, I asked if she could find premium award availability on any flight from JFK to LAX on a 3-cabin transcon this Saturday, June 17. Lo and behold, she found one first class seat on the 8am flight (AA1)!

I did not proceed any further through the booking process, so I have yet to confirm whether I can actually make this work from start to finish. But the fact that she was able to locate availability is, in my view, huge news. 

If anyone is able to make this work, please let us know in the comments!

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