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What is the best First Class cabin in the skies today?
I think there’s a very strong case that it’s Etihad‘s incredible ‘First Apartments’ on their Airbus A380s. It combines chauffeur service to/from the airport, spacious ‘suites’, double beds (sort of), showers in the sky, and a private chef! As an all-round package I think it’s unbeatable.
Take a look at our recent Review to see what I’m talking about.
So, it’s fantastic, but it normally costs ~ £3,000.00+ for a one-way between London/Abu Dhabi.
That’s a lot of money for a sub-7 hour flight, even for a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience!
Fortunately, with a couple of tricks you can try it out for ~ £800.00. That’s obviously still expensive, but if you are used to paying Business Class prices, or are celebrating a special occasion, it’s not too bad.
I shared earlier in the week how you can currently purchase a huge variety of different airline loyalty programme Miles for ~1.25p each (£12.50 per 1,000), via a fantastic SPG Starpoints sale (until 3rd June).
You can read the post above for the details, but the upshot is that SPG are selling Starpoints at a 35% discount, and you can transfer Starpoints into most types of airline Miles at an effective rate of 1 Starpoint = 1.25 Miles.
American Airlines AAdvantage is an SPG transfer partner, and they charge 62,500 AAdvantage Miles one-way in First Class between Europe and the Middle East.
Etihad only currently flies their A380s (which feature the ‘First Apartments’) to London, Sydney, New York and Mumbai, with Melbourne due to start next month. Therefore, we’re looking primarily at flights between London and Abu Dhabi here (although, because AAdvantage uses a region based award chart, you could actually connect from anywhere in Europe to anywhere in the Middle East for zero extra Miles).
62,500 Miles bought for 1.25p each = £781.25
Taxes should work out at an additional £190.00 from London because of Air Passenger Duty, but if you’re only going one way in First anyway, I would recommend making it the Abu Dhabi to London leg instead.
Not only are taxes from Abu Dhabi a much more reasonable £15.00, but you would also get to try out Etihad’s new flagship First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi, which should be opening any day now.
Approximately £800.00 in total to try the best First Class in the world isn’t a bad deal at all!
For getting to Abu Dhabi, I can personally recommend Air Berlin from Berlin for 12,500 Avios in Economy or 37,500 Avios in Business Class (includes chauffeur transfers). Taxes/surcharges are minimal using Avios on Air Berlin, and you can get to Berlin easily and cheaply on low cost carriers or for 4,000-4,500 Avios + £17.50.
Hang on a minute, didn’t you say I’d get to experience it TWICE?
I certainly did!
AAdvantage uses a region based award chart, which means it costs the same number of Miles to fly to/from anywhere in Europe to/from anywhere in the Middle East OR India/Central Asia.
Etihad started an A380 service between Abu Dhabi and Mumbai this month, which means that you can actually get two flights in a First Apartment for the same number of Miles, if you want to go to/from Mumbai.
There would be another £15.00-25.00 of airport taxes to pay, I imagine.
Abu Dhabi isn’t much of a honeymoon spot (in my view), but AAdvantage’s region based award chart also opens up some other great options for zero additional Miles.
For example, you could fly in a First Apartment between London and Abu Dhabi and then connect to/from the Maldives (part of the India/Central Asia region). The flight between Abu Dhabi and Male would be in Business Class because Etihad don’t offer a First Class cabin on that route, but I suspect you’d manage to slum it!