I thought it would be a good time to revisit the Award Success series that we use to feature good value flights that we have booked using miles and points from various programs.
It didn’t come to my mind that I would need to rely on Air Canada to pull up Etihad award availability before calling American Airlines to make the booking!
Air Canada has recently introduced quite a few airline partners, and, to be honest, I haven’t paid too much time playing around their website to see how convenient it is.
ExpertFlyer that I often use to check award availability on various airlines cannot show Etihad’s. So I thought it would be a good time to see what Air Canada offers and if American sees and if AA can book it.
American Airlines suggests that you should book partner awards online, forgetting to mention that you cannot book six airline partners there but need to call the reservations. Unfortunately, the list of airlines that cannot be booked online is well hidden.
Air Canada shows many options from Paris to Male. Many of these are not available with any other program because you can mix and match all their partner airlines, such as Turkish Airlines and Etihad, and Swiss and Etihad.
There have been recent horror stories about hours-long wait times calling US-based airlines. I have a lifetime Platinum with American, maps to Oneworld Sapphire, but was gifted Executive Platinum (must have been in 2019) due to AA’s partnership with Hyatt that was extended by a year due to Covid-19.
I called the EXP line, the number was recognized by the system, and I had to yell agent/agent/agent a few times before connecting with an agent.
The person was able to see the flights available, and the booking was completed in a total of 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The award requried 42,500 AAdvantage miles and $144,40.
It took 15 hours for American Airlines to issue the electronic ticket. In the meantime, I used the Etihad PNR, AA now lists other airline PNRs online, to choose the seats on these two flights.
I’ll try to see if I can change the flights to a day later, as I don’t need to be in the Maldives until the 15th of October, although I don’t mind spending a day in Male, and the Jen Hotel, part of Shangri-La, is quite comfortable.
You can book 19 of AA’s 25 airline partners online but need to pick up the phone and call for the rest. So you would think if Air Canada can bring the Etihad awards available for online bookings, American could do the same? Also, why is American Airlines unable to show electronic ticket numbers online? Instead, you have to rely on emails that they send.
I am not a huge fan of returning to Europe on my Singapore Airlines ticket from Thailand merely to start a new trip to a country close to where I am coming from. There is not, however, much connectivity from Thailand to the Maldives at the moment, and I would need to throw away the return of the SQ ticket or try to postpone it to 2022.
Aeroplan has quite an impressive lineup of airline partners and would be a good program to buy miles and later redeem them for awards even for airlines that are not part of the Star Alliance, such as Etihad and Gulf Air. I had a small number of miles with the program in the 2010s, but they ended up expiring unused. So perhaps I should have another look, although the reports of their customer service are abysmal.