If you ever needed proof that this hobby was worth pursuing ….!

If you ever try to discuss miles and points with your friends, you may find their eyes glaze over, or they grumble that ‘it’s all too complicated’ or something similar ….

Next time the subject comes up, send them a link to this post.

The pictures below are from Etihad‘s First Class service, as operated on the London to Abu Dhabi route:

Etihad 1

Etihad 2

Etihad 3

Etihad 4

And here is the impressive bit:

You can fly this (one way) to Abu Dhabi, for free*, simply by getting the free American Airlines credit card with the current 35,000 miles bonus that I wrote about on Saturday.

Etihad even let you use their free chauffeur service on redemption flights which will pick you up and take you to Heathrow (max 150 mile journey) and take you wherever you want from Abu Dhabi (even to Dubai).  The Etihad website says that this is available for ‘Etihad Guest redemptions’ but it appears to be OK for redemptions via American Airlines as well.

Not bad for getting a free credit card!  In fact, it is the most generous sign-up deal I have ever seen for a free airline card.  And if an Etihad First Class trip doesn’t persuade people that miles and points is a great hobby, then there really is no hope for them!

(* Taxes and surcharges WILL, unfortunately, apply!)

(PS.  You will need to come back to London, of course.  But if you have no other miles, some airlines do sell cheap one-way economy fares to the UK from Dubai or Abu Dhabi for roughly £235.  It won’t be as pleasant as Etihad First Class, though …..)

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  1. Wouldn’t it be a little gratuitous to call the flight “free” for the totally uninformed?. Looking at ITA Matrix, taxes and fees comes to £175 excluding fuel surcharges which aren’t payable using AA miles, plus another £5 for telephone service charge if they don’t waive it.

    In my experience people just hear this sort of number and get put off, no matter how much you convince them of first class travel!

    • Hence the little comment at the bottom of the page!

      As you’re over there, you may have a better idea than me of whether you can escape the departure tax by flying Etihad from the Netherlands instead.

      • Most definitely ex-EU would be better. The main rules are:
        1) No stopovers, only transfers <24hrs
        2) No transfers in a 3rd region with exceptions
        3) You're allowed MPM+25%
        4) The cross-region carrier must publish a fare between a start and end airports.

        So AMS-LHR-CDG-BRU-AUH, as long as there's no stopover, would be a valid routing as it satisfies all four points above.

        • To be honest I was thinking of AMS to Abu Dhabi direct, if possible! With a cheapo single to Amsterdam to avoid Air Passenger Duty. Looks like it can done from Brussels as well.

  2. 21h21j says:

    Where most people get put off the miles and points game is from statements like these: “You can fly this (one way) to Abu Dhabi, for free*” When free is actually after spending £5000 on a credit card and then having to pay £336 in taxes. When you can pay for a round trip to AUH in economy for £375 it doesn’t look like such a great deal to most people.

    Since the demise of the Airmiles scheme Simon Calder has been vocal in telling consumers that free flights are anything but that. BA’s fuel surcharges and APD are two major hurdles in people getting value from miles and points.

    • 21h21j says:

      £336 is incorrect as it includes the YQ which AA do not charge.
      From ITA:
      United Kingdom Air Passengers Duty (GB) £134.00
      United Kingdom Passenger Service Charge (UB) £39.75
      (YQ) £161.50

  3. Phillip says:

    There is a reason why there are so many types of credit cards out there – not all are suited to each person’s lifestyle. If someone’s everyday spend will not make up the £5000 needed to trigger the AA bonus, then the card is probably not the best fit for that individual. You wouldn’t really be going out there randomly spending the £5000 just to get the bonus miles.

    A lot of people enjoy and are creative with the miles and points “game”. Booking flights for friends and family etc etc – it all adds up. Others don’t have the time or patience to do it. Part of it is an art! At the end of the day, if you are earning miles and points on what you would normally spend your money on, then taxes aside, the fares for these flights are free.

    I agree that you can get cheap return fares to AUH – but if I have earned those bonus miles at no extra cost, for the same price I have the option of that, or treating myself to a first class ticket there, and either another cheap redemption back (given that the taxes are far less from AUH), or a cheap one way fare in economy! I know what I would choose, but it doesn’t mean that’s what everyone else would choose.

  4. If your not too bothered about luxury travel then try looking at http://www.flypgs.com for traveling economy STN-DXB for as little as £230 rtn. Yes it’s nice to travel first or business but collecting points/miles needs acuracy and knowledge to be able to maximize.

  5. Martyn lamb says:

    Im a beginner in this hobby since january 2013, but i know 1 thing that is enough for me, if i keep using my cards for normal day life then each year I will have enough points to fly business class return to the west coast of america for the cost of less than an economy ticket. that will do me just fine. and with a bit creative planning will always make sure we qualify for a companion voucher. something very nice to look forward to every year.

  6. Boddingtons says:

    Best bet is of course to fly this journey AUH-LHR and thus avoiding exUK taxes etc. That way it’ll cost you perhaps £20 in taxes/fees when booked through AAdvantage, including the £5 UK call centre booking fee.

    • Good point. You may even get better food flying outbound as airlines generally get better quality stuff from their home base.

  7. Rasper says:

    Do I need aa miles to book ethiad or can avios be used?

  8. KilburnFlyer says:

    From the AA Credit card posting: “Because AA includes Russia in their definition of Europe, a return BA flight to Moscow in flat-bed Club World would be just 40,000 AA miles.”

    Would it be possible to book LHR-DME return in Club World using 40,000 AA miles, then once booking is on BA website upgrade the outbound to First using 10,000 BA avios?

    • No. If you want to fly First, you are better off booking First one-way with 30,000 AA miles (I think) and coming back using Avios.

  9. rasper says:

    Sorry if this seems a lazy question but I don’t know how to find out:

    Would the points costs for the ethiad redemptions shown above be any higher for departures from Dublin? And would taxes be significantly different?

  10. Ive just booked this one way – Abu Dhabi to London (to avoid the uk departure taxes etc) it costs me 40,000 AAdvantage miles + 14.20 GBP + 5.00 GBP telephone booking fee

    booked London to Dubai, using 17,500 United Mileage Plus miles + 169.0 USD

  11. PS – gained all of my AA miles from flying, not cc’s

  12. Rasper says:

    Now here’s another question…how do I use AA miles for an ethiad flight? I was playing on the AA website but could never find any availability?

  13. @Rasper Best bet is to call American Airlines directly. I was told if you go to etihads website, and search award travel that youd be able to then call AA and book it, however i found it a bit complicated, so just called and let them help me. The first date i wanted only a 2am flight was available, so they offered me Qantas first from Dubai, but decided to leave the next day on Etihad.