How to Use AAdvantage Miles to Book Qatar / Etihad Business & First Class Flights 2019
Today, we look at How to use American airlines AAdvantage Miles to book Partner airline flights like Qatar / Etihad Business & First Class using the minimal amount of points & taxes. In this article we research in detail the process of booking Premium class routes using AAdvantage miles, Tips & Tricks and the Pitfalls of the AA Search availability tool.
Book Qatar & Etihad Business / First Class using AAdvantage Points
Firstly, if you’ve found this page and not started collecting American airlines AAdvantage miles yet, we have written another post on how to collect large amounts of AAdvantage Miles fast by clicking here – Collect AA Miles
American airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer miles scheme is open to anyone to join, even if you never fly AA.
American airlines is part of the largest alliance in the world called the OneWorld alliance which includes airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines & SriLankan Airlines.
Being part of such a large alliance certainly has its benefits, especially when it comes to collecting & spending loyalty miles on other alliance airlines.
Today we will centre our attention on redeeming AA miles on Qatar & Etihad airlines. If your not already aware, Qatar & Etihad have some of the best Business or First Class products out there.
Qatar have recently launched the amazing Q-Suite Business product below.
Or the outstanding Etihad First Class apartment below…
Both these amazing products sell for anything between £4000 – £8000 return. However, these same seats can be booked in the business class product for as little as 85k AA points return depending on your departure & destination points or 125k in First Class return per person.
Below, we have attached the AAdvantage miles redemption chart.
We have just booked Qatar in Business Class from London to the Maldives for 42.5k AA miles each, one way. The cash ticket price for this one way fare was £6228.04 for a total of 85k AA miles plus £452.00 in taxes.
The taxes are higher flying from the U.K due to the APD charges but are compensated by considerably lower taxes on a return journey.
Unfortunately the Qatar A350 flight with Q-Suites installed from London was not available on our chosen dates so we booked Business Class on the A380 instead, seat pictures below.
Did we forget to mention the bar area with the “help yourself to £100 a bottle of Champagne”….
Just a little bit better than British airways Club World…
We managed to accumulate 85k AA miles through the Amex SPG Credit Card bonuses for the both of us and other routes as covered in our previous article.
How to Book Qatar / Etihad using AAdvantage Points
Once you have signed into your AAdvantage account, simply use the search flights facility on the home page making sure you check the Redeem Miles box.
You will then be served on the following page the option to select which flight class you require, Economy / Business or First Class.
This page also displays the amount of AAdvantage Miles required in each class of seat.
As you can see above, one way from London to Doha is 42.5k AA miles per person in Business Class, this is the same amount of miles to fly on two legs from London to the Maldives stopping to change planes in Doha.
Now you click on Continue to be served on the following page a list of results of flights on your chosen date and class of cabin as below.
We used this process and successfully booked our flight from London Heathrow to Male airport in the Maldives in Business Class on the A380 / A330.
When you book your flights on partner airlines using your AAdvantage account, you do receive an email confirmation of your booking but it’s not guaranteed at that point.
AA reserve your booking issuing what they call a “Certificate” but have to wait for the partner airline to confirm the booking. This process can take up to 24 hours to be confirmed by the partner airline, your AA account will display your booking as “On request” at this stage.
When your flights have been confirmed by the partner airline, the status in your account automatically changes to “Ticketed” and you will receive an updated email confirmation.
Only when you see that your flights are Ticketed is when your flights are booked and confirmed.
After 24 hours our booking was still not “Ticketed” and still stating “On Request” in our account and no confirmation booking email received. If you find yourself in this situation you need to do call AA Customer Services.
In reality anything that goes wrong in connection with your booking can make it not process correctly to Ticketed. In our case, something went wrong with our payment for the taxes by credit card even though no restrictions were placed on our card and all the correct details were entered at the payment screen.
These errors are not common and another IT issue for customers to deal with. In theory this could ultimately result in your flight not being booked. If you have any concerns just simply pick up the phone Customer Services like we did, the payment was taken again over the phone and within 10 minutes our flights were Ticketed and confirmed.
Now for our Return Journey (The Pitfalls of AA Redemptions)
With over 20 x results displayed in front of us for our requested Return Flights from the Maldives Male airport to London Heathrow, we thought this was going to be a Breeze with so many flight results.
What we didn’t know at the time of searching availability using the AA site were that the results displayed, isn’t all it seems…
It appears there maybe an IT issue connected to the displayed results, this is what has been named as the AA award availability “Phantom Listings“. Phantom listings on the AA site are flights displayed as available, when in fact they are not.
Even if you wait until 12.00am on the earliest available date, 330 days out from your preferred dates of flying, seat awards may still not be available as we discovered. When we clicked on the displayed results, each one came back as not available.
Now we were getting a bit nervous, will we be able to get a return flight?
How to find availability on AA using other airline search facilities
There are various ways of checking the real availability of flights using American airlines AAdvantage miles.
British airways Executive Club
These include using the British airways Executive Club account and searching availability through that account instead. The British airways results displayed for your chosen dates are actually available and can be booked.
If you come across availability on the BA account site but not showing as available through your AAdvantage account, you will need to call the AA reservations line quoting the Qatar flight numbers and times. AA Customer Services will be able to book your flights over the phone for you.
Qantas Site Search Facility
Using exactly the same process as the British airways executive club account search, you can use the Qantas site to search availability as both airlines are in the OneWorld alliance and serve up the same availability.
You will need to be members of both accounts before you can search availability, both airline accounts are free to join.
Unfortunately, even after using the AAdvantage site search, British airways executive club and the Qantas site search facilities, our return flights required were not available on Qatar airlines unless we choose a flight consisting of 30 x hours with a day stop over in Doha.
How did we book our return flights using AAdvantage miles?
This is when other airlines within one alliance like Oneworld can save the day.
Our initial plan included using Qatar for our return flights as it was easy to just click a few buttons in our AAdvantage account and all our flights would be booked.
This wasn’t to be, so now onto “Plan B”…
We searched for our flights again but this time using a generic flight search tool like Google flights. Making a mental note of other alliance partner airlines, we discovered that Etihad also flew from MLE to LHR up to three times per day.
Plugging in our flight requirements into the Etihad Guest site, we were looking for availability using Etihad points. You need to navigate to the main Etihad site but look for the link to Etihad Guest. You do not need to be logged in to view availability of Etihad flights.
We were looking for availability on our chosen dates under “Guest Business“. Guest Business is the terminology for Business award flights availability using Etihad points. Availability was wide open on our preferred date with the first flight of the day being 5 hours less in flight duration.
Unfortunately, you cannot book Etihad award flights within your AAdvantage online account so you need to call the American airlines Reservation line to book using Etihad award availability flights.
I have read many comments online that you need to call the Reservations lines outside of your country to book AA award flights on Etihad airlines. We found just calling the U.K American airlines reservation line, details found here – to absolutely work fine, our agent knew how to book all partner airline flights.
You need to have all the flight details, dates & times and the Etihad flight numbers to hand when calling the reservations line. After about 5 minutes, our return flights on Etihad were all booked.
One point to note if you book Etihad flights over the phone with AA, ensure you receive the Etihad Reservation reference from the booking agent. You will need this reservation reference to locate your bookings in the Etihad site enabling you to select your seats.
Just another slight issue we faced..
When we logged into the Etihad site and entered our reservation number, we were only able to select seats for the person who booked the fare. After numerous attempts to select my wife’s seats I decided to call the Etihad Customer services line, they quickly reserved our seats on all flights so we were seated together on both legs.
The result was booked flights on the Etihad A388 / A380 in Business Class which would have cost £5492 all for 85k AA miles plus £113.80 in taxes.
Total cash price for all flights for 2 x persons – £11,702.04
Our Verdict / Recommendations
Update: You can now book Etihad Business & First flights through the AAdvantage website instead of needing to call up an AA agent to book.
Apart from the few issues we experienced along the way, the final result was a series of amazing business class flights on some of the best airlines in the world.
The total price for our outgoing and incoming flights would have cost us in cash £11,720.04 which in reality cost us only 170k AAdvantage Miles + £565.80 in taxes.
All this for 170k AAdvantage miles which can easily be achieved by taking out two SPG Amex Credit cards and utilising other routes to collect AA miles we have highlighted in our previous article.
If you fancy Business / First class flights on some of the world’s most luxurious flights using minimal amount of points and small amount of taxes, simply follow our step by step guide in this article.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment and we will always reply.