Rumor: Etihad will End Partnership with American Airlines

First Class Seats

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Over the weekend, rumors were swirling about the potential of Etihad Airways ending their partnership with American Airlines, their biggest US-based partner. One Mile at a Time reports that this is being discussed from several credible sources though nothing is official as of yet.

This is significant as you would no longer be able to use your American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book first and business class seats on arguably one of the best airlines in the world. 

If you have a pile of American Airlines miles and are interested in flying in the airline’s first class apartment (lead photo), which we’ve named one of the 5 most luxurious first class seats, don’t wait on this. You will need to book ASAP as there is no telling when this partnership might end.

Thrifty Tip: See our guide on how to book Etihad Apartment using American Airlines miles.


Etihad end partnership American Airlines

Etihad Airbus A380


Etihad Expected to Partner with United

In the world of points and miles, when one door closes, often times another will open. On top of Etihad ending its partnership with American Airlines, the airline is expected to announce a new partnership with United Airlines. United is the main US carrier in the Star Alliance (who currently doesn’t have a Middle East carrier).

If you have a ton of United MileagePlus miles, you may have an exciting new way to use them soon. Additionally, Etihad flies to Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Washington Dulles (IAD). Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington Dulles are all United hubs, so one could argue that their route network is better suited for a partnership with United as opposed to American.

Many are also suggesting that Etihad could join the Star Alliance. Joining an airline alliance is not cheap and with Etihad’s current cost-cutting initiatives, this seems a bit less likely than just a partnership with United. Stay tuned.


The Impact of American Losing Etihad

AAdvantage is one of the top programs out there for mileage redemptions. We often say that the best way to use American AAdvantage miles is not for flights on American Airlines, but rather for redemptions on some of their incredible partner airlines like Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and Japan Airlines to name a few.

While their partnership with Qatar Airways would still provide good connectivity to the Middle East through their Doha hub, losing Etihad hurts as the airline is always a good source for AA award availability to the region. Especially if you are connecting out of Europe.


Bottom Line

As mentioned, this is just a rumor right now and only time will tell if this comes to fruition. If you have American Airlines miles burning a hole in your pocket and you want to fly Etihad, I wouldn’t wait to book. There is no telling when this partnership might end. And if it does, it will be a big win for United’s MileagePlus program.


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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