Weird Issues When Booking Etihad Business Class

Weird Issues When Booking Etihad Business Class (UPDATE)

UPDATE 7/25/23: Looks like AA fixed the bug on their end and Etihad availability is showing correctly online now and is bookable! Just a reminder to keep checking and be persistent!

Etihad availability briefly disappeared on AA online searches but has returned and is bookable
Etihad availability showing on AA again

Why Am I Searching For Etihad Business Class Availability?


I’m planning on doing a crazy around the world journey that includes a segment on Etihad’s new business class on their Airbus A350-1000 from Chicago (ORD) to Doha (DOH) via Abu Dhabi (AUH). This product is regarded as one of the best business classes available today and is very affordable at only 70,000 American Airlines miles! This is a great deal but there were some interesting quirks I encountered when trying to book the Etihad (EY) segments so I want to cover those in this article.

Etihad's new business class on their A350-1000
Etihad’s A350-1000 Business Class

Finding Etihad Business Class Availability


Etihad’s business class consists of 4 different fare levels with GuestSeat being their cheapest option. We care about GuestSeat availability not only because it’s the cheapest but because GuestSeat space is the award space that is bookable by partner airlines.

Etihad partners only get access to Etihad availability if there is GuestSeat availability
Etihad GuestSeat Availability

In this example, we see that on March 6, 2024, there is GuestSeat availability so that means that these seats should be bookable through partners like American Airlines and Air Canada. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that straightforward as we’ll soon see down below.

American Airline’s Website Isn’t Consistent At Showing Etihad Availability


Normally American Airlines is the best way to find Etihad availability since AA offers a calendar view. However, for some reason EY availability, regardless of cabin class, does not show up online on AA. We can see this with the example above since searching that date on AA does not show any Etihad availability.

American Airlines online search has a bug where no Etihad availability is showing
No Etihad Availability Showing On AA

The interesting thing is that there is literally 0 Etihad availability returned. Normally economy would still show up as an option but here we don’t even see that. This immediately makes me think that this is some kind of bug in AA’s online search. To make things even stranger, I found out last week that if we go to June 14, which at the time was the furthest day out that we can book, we actually see that there is Etihad availability in both economy and business.

Etihad availability shows up on American Airline's website if you go to the very last day in the calendar
End of the calendar on AA shows EY availability

If we go to June 13, which is literally the day right before this, we once again see no availability.

American Airline's website shows no Etihad availability the day before the last day in the calendar
No Etihad availability the day before the last day in the calendar

Things only got stranger since then because only 4 days later, AA now shows 0 Etihad business class availability anywhere. Even the last day of the calendar only shows economy availability which is weird, since it was just 4 days ago that business class availability was still showing.

Another weird thing on American's website is that only economy availability is showing for Etihad
Only Economy Availability Showing on Last Day Of Calendar

This lack of Etihad availability except on the last day of the calendar is also seen for other routes as well. I spot checked a few routes and they ALL exhibit the same behavior… I think it’s safe to say that any Etihad operated route will only show availability on AA on the last day of AA’s calendar.

American Airlines has a weird bug where Etihad availability is only showing on the last day of the calendar
EY Availability Only Showing on the Last Day of the Calendar

Strange quirks like this are what make me believe that this is some kind of bug on American’s website and not an actual lack of availability.

I tried to circumvent these weird issues on the website by calling American Airlines in hopes that their agents would be able to see the award space. But unfortunately, none of the 6 agents I talked to were able to see Etihad availability anywhere except on June 18th, which was the last day of the calendar. I even tried calling AA’s Australia call center to see if they could find anything but they also had no luck in pulling up the availability Etihad was showing.

American Airlines Doesn’t Handle Mixing Qatar and Etihad on the Same Itinerary Well


Since my final destination was Doha, which is the hub of Qatar Airways, there were a lot of Qatar operated flights from Abu Dhabi to Doha showing up in the search results. This opened up the opportunity to create an itinerary consisting of 1 segment flown on Etihad and another segment flown on Qatar. It seemed simple enough to just find 2 segments that didn’t overlap and book them together. Easy peasy right?…

Wrong. For whatever reason, Qatar operated flights from Abu Dhabi to Doha just didn’t show up as a valid second segment online. I could see direct flights on Qatar from Chicago to Doha, flights on Etihad transiting through Abu Dhabi, and even some flights combining Qatar and British Airways to transit through London. But I couldn’t find a single itinerary that combined Etihad and Qatar.

To make things even more complicated, Qatar is unique in that its regional flights within the Middle East only offer economy class or first class. This created some problems in booking since I would have to do a mixed cabin itinerary with Etihad business and Qatar economy/first. The interesting thing is that if I used the multi city search tool, I could get it to show an itinerary of Etihad business class flying from Chicago to Abu Dhabi then Qatar first class flying from Abu Dhabi to Doha. However, searching it this way would price the whole trip as 2 separate awards, meaning it would cost 100k AA miles instead of the expected 70k miles!

I called AA multiple times to see if they could book Etihad business class and Qatar first class on a single itinerary at 70k but they could not. Interestingly enough, they were able to book Etihad business and Qatar economy as one award at 70k miles or Etihad economy and Qatar economy as one award at 40k miles. Both of these itineraries were not available online so it was cool to see that phoning in was able to get these combinations of flights to show up.

Alternatives Ways To Book Etihad Award Seats


Etihad doesn’t have many partner airlines so there aren’t very many ways to book their award seats through a partner program. The best way to book Etihad is still with AA miles but the close second is actually using Air Canada Aeroplan. However, similar to the problem AA’s website has, Aeroplan’s website also does not show business class availability even though it should exist.

Not all of Etihad's GuestSeat availability will show up on Aeroplan
Aeroplan does not always show Etihad availability

We see this when inputting the same dates as the example above. There theoretically should be business class availability but all we see is economy availability. However, unlike AA, the big downside with Aeroplan is that calling Aeroplan won’t help you book these seats. It’s been documented by others that for whatever reason, Air Canada agents are not able to pull up the Etihad availability like the American Airlines agents can.

Conclusion


Etihad is touted as having one of the best business class products in the world, but it’s pretty tricky to actually book them. I’m really hoping that this bug on American’s website gets resolved quickly and that we can start seeing bookable Etihad availability consistently again. Hopefully, through my experience and findings, you are able to work through these booking quirks and snag some great seats! Let me know if you’ve had any problems booking Etihad or if you’ve managed to book them recently!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *