UPDATE: This deal no longer exists. Etihad now charges 88,000 miles round-trip in business class
In the points/miles world, if you are flexible with your travel dates, and are persistent, you can snag some AMAZING deals for flights or hotels. Maybe the best ever example of a ‘sweet spot’ is using Etihad miles to fly New York City to Brussels on Brussels Airlines.
It costs only 21,972 Etihad miles to fly economy round trip, and 36,620 Etihad miles to fly business class round trip. These are NOT one way prices!
Below is the award chart showing the required miles for a round trip flight on Brussels Airlines using Etihad miles. Notice how it specifically states that one way awards are not permitted, so by definition this is a round trip price.
Do I have your attention now? Let’s take a look at how to search for award space on what may be the single best ‘sweet spot’ in the entire travel rewards world:
Searching for Award Space
When I check October 9th, these are the flights that are available. Again, you need to select flights operated by Brussels Airlines that have Saver Award space.
You need to make note of the flight information, such as flight numbers, times, dates, cabin, etc. You will need to provide phone agents this information. Personally I like to take screenshots of flights that I am wanting to book, as it saves time and eliminates the possibility of writing down the wrong information.
Booking Your Flight
Milevalue provides some great tips on improving your success with this booking. This sweet spot is only available for the NYC to Brussels route. The Washington D.C. to Brussels route is currently not bookable in this sweet spot.
Since we will be using Etihad miles, we will need to book through Etihad. It can get a little confusing since we’ve brought up three different airlines in this article. Always remember that you will book through the airline of the currency that you’re using. Once you have your flight information handy, follow these steps.
- Call Etihad’s UK office at +44 0345 6081225
- Let the agent know that you want to book your Brussels Airlines flight with Etihad miles.
- Give the agent the flight number, date, time and cabin for each segment.
- Be patient, stay calm and be nice
- If the agent is not very helpful, thank them for their time, hang up and try again.
I cannot emphasize enough how one’s approach and tone throughout the phone call greatly influences how much an agent is willing to help you with your award flights. Be confident in your tone when speaking to the agent. After all, you’ve already done the groundwork for them. It should make the phone call go much smoother and gives the strong impression that you know what you’re talking about. Also remember, that getting angry at an agent, and “giving them a piece of your mind” does not help one bit.
You may be wondering why I mentioned to call the UK office, since there is a number to the US office. Many seasoned travelers have stated that the UK office is easier to work with and more knowledgeable. Those who have been able to book award flights on Brussels Airlines with Etihad miles at these super low rates have had better success booking through the UK office.
Another tip is AFTER you give the agent the flight information and BEFORE he/she places you on hold to search for award space, politely ask they put a “longsell query into their system”. If they don’t understand what that means, politely ask them to search for it “manually” or “directly”. Scott at Milevalue has had success with this approach.
Getting Etihad Miles
Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner with Citi’s Thank You Points and with American Express Membership Rewards Points. I would favor transferring Membership Rewards Points since those transfers are instant to Etihad. Thank You Points take roughly 7 days to transfer to Etihad and you run the risk of losing that award space while you wait.
What if I Don’t Live in NYC?
If you don’t live close to New York, you could take advantage of some cheap positioning flights to get you to New York. There are a few options to help you get to New York very inexpensively.
- Southwest flies to EWR and LGA. You could search their sales for a good rate with cash or points. If you have the companion pass, this could make it much less expensive if 2 people are going to NYC.
- Use Avios to get to NYC. There are several airports close enough to New York to where Avios is a great option. 7,500 Avios one way to New York is a great deal!
- Sales and mistake fares. There is always the possibility of snagging a good deal. However trying to pair up award availability on Brussels Airlines with a mistake fare to NYC would be difficult to do.
This sweet spot to Europe is an insane deal. You do have to put in a little more effort, but it is definitely worth it to get such a great award flight. 21,972 Etihad miles in Economy for a round trip flight to Europe is less than what many airlines charge for a one way flight to Europe. For a few more miles, you could enjoy a lie flat seat in business class for 36,620 Etihad miles round trip.
Please provide any feedback and suggestions on your experience with booking this flight.
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