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Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly to Europe in American Airlines Flagship First class for 62,500 miles

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 8/14/2022 Becky Pokora
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the most current information.

If 62,500 miles for an American Airlines Flagship First ticket to Europe sounds like a blast from the past, you’re not wrong.

That was the cost of a saver award in 2016 before AAdvantage devalued its award chart. Today, that same flight will often cost at least 85,000 AAdvantage miles — but you can still lock in the lower price if you have Etihad Guest miles.

Years ago, Etihad matched American’s prices while developing its partner award chart. When AAdvantage raised its prices, Etihad left its American award chart as is. That means you can still book flights at the original price.

Let’s take a closer look at this redemption in this week’s edition of Sweet Spot Sunday to see if it may align with how and where you want to fly.

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In This Post

Why it’s special

True first-class cabins to Europe are a rarity these days as airlines revamp their offerings to peak at the business-class level. That said, American Airlines still offers a Flagship First product on select international routes operated on a Boeing 777-300ER.

To Europe, you’ll typically find these aircraft flying between Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW), Miami International Airport (MIA), New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and London Heathrow International Airport (LHR). You’ll also find this product on some flights to Asia, the Middle East and South America.

Seats swivel toward the window, a unique feature of AA Flagship First. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Seats swivel toward the window, a unique feature of AA Flagship First. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

There are only eight lie-flat first-class suites on each flight, making this a truly exclusive experience.

In addition to more personalized service, chef-inspired dining and extra space onboard, Flagship First also features access to American’s Flagship lounges in the U.S., Flagship Dining and an arrivals lounge at London Heathrow.

Not only is this a comfortable way to fly between the U.S. and Europe, but it’s also priced similarly to business-class awards offered by other airlines. This is a true sweet spot in award redemptions for anyone looking for a premium experience.

Related: How to fly American Airlines Flagship First class

How to book

The downside to these favorably priced awards is that they require a little extra effort on your part to book. It might feel annoying at the time, but it most certainly is worth the effort when you settle into a first-class seat.

Step 1: Search for available award space

You can’t search for award space operated by American Airlines on the Etihad website but there are plenty of other options to look for Oneworld award availability.

One of the easiest ways to do this is searching on the American Airlines booking engine. Just head to American’s website, enter your route and be sure to check the “Redeem miles” box.

(Screenshot from aa.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from aa.com)

From the search results page, click the “Calendar” button. You can filter out nonstop first-class flights using the options at the top of the window. Now, click through the available flights. Keep an eye out for flights that cost 85,000 American miles and charge $5.60 in taxes and fees, as these are American awards with saver award space. Flights with higher taxes and fees are likely operated by British Airways.

(Screenshot from aa.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from aa.com)

Select the date with award space. Then, find the flight in your search results and note the flight number. You’ll need this when you call Etihad Guest to book your award ticket.

(Screenshot from aa.com) © The Points Guy (Screenshot from aa.com)

If you need to include positioning flights within the USA or Europe (for example, if Miami-London isn’t your full, intended travel route), you’ll need to find saver American space in business or first class for those segments as well. Etihad does not allow mixed-cabin itineraries in a single award.


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Step 2: Transfer points to Etihad Guest, as needed

Most frequent flyers won’t have a collection of Etihad miles ready to go, but that’s no cause for concern.

These miles are easily acquired. You can transfer miles to Etihad from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards or Citi ThankYou (more information on those transfers is included below).

Since most credit card transfers to Etihad Guest are instant, there’s no need to initiate the transfer until after you’ve confirmed there’s a flight available on a date that works for you.

Step 3: Call Etihad to book

Unfortunately, you cannot book any AA-operated flights on Etihad’s website. Instead, call to complete your booking.

In my experience, Etihad agents are very friendly but not all are especially expedient with booking partner awards. Call when you know you have some time set aside and be patient.

You can reach the U.S. call center toll-free at 877-690-0767, or call other centers if you prefer.

Like all phone award bookings, you’ll work with the agent to confirm your travel dates, the specific flight number you want, passenger names and other information and will need a credit card to cover the taxes and fees.

Remember, if returning from London to the United States, you’re required to pay U.K. air passenger duty, which is currently 180 pounds (about $240) when flying in premium cabins.

AA Flagship First flights travel to or through London. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy AA Flagship First flights travel to or through London. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

The agent will provide a confirmation code, which you should keep handy in case your confirmation email isn’t sent quickly.

Related: Ultimate guide to searching award availability for the major airlines

How to earn points for this award

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy) © Provided by The Points Guy (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Etihad Guest may seem like an obscure program, but it’s a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One Rewards. In other words, you may already have access to easy Etihad miles without even knowing it.

You can also transfer miles from Marriott Bonvoy to Etihad at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus awarded for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. Transfers from Marriott to Etihad typically take about three days, so transferring credit card miles may be a smarter play if you expect award availability to change quickly, such as if you’re flying last-minute or need several seats altogether.

There are currently several cards with a welcome bonus large enough to cover the entire cost of a redemption between the U.S. and Europe in Flagship First, such as these offers:

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 80,000 ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

Related: How (and why) you should earn transferable points

Bottom line

American Airlines currently doesn’t offer its Flagship First product all of its routes to Europe, but if you’re flying to London Heathrow (or don’t mind connecting there), you can sometimes book the award through Etihad Guest for only 62,500 miles one-way.

Considering you’ll enjoy premium lounges, lie-flat seats and upgraded service in the airport and while on board, that’s an excellent price for the experience.

Featured photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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