image showcasing the bed on etihad residence
Frequent Flyer Programs

How to book Etihad First Class using miles and points from India?

Learn how to book Etihad Airways’ luxurious first class cabins using points. This article covers the different options available on various aircraft, how to book using Etihad Guest or Aeroplan miles, and how to accumulate points in India.

Etihad Airways is the second-largest airline in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi. It was founded in 2003 and operates flights to over 80 destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas.

Etihad operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft and has won several awards for its premium cabin products and inflight services, including the World’s Leading Airline award at the World Travel Awards for several years. The airline while not a part of any major international alliance, has codeshare agreements and partnerships with many other airlines.

Etihad is also known for its luxurious first-class cabins, especially on their A380s. They come in 2 variants – The Apartment – a luxury fully enclosed first-class cabin and The Residence – a private three-room suite on board the Airbus A380. While The Apartments and The Residence and both sold as first-class products, the Residence is a notch above the Apartments.

image showcasing the bed on etihad residence
The Bed onboard The Residence (source: Bloomberg)

Etihad First Class Cabins

Aircraft Type & CabinsA380B787A350A320
First Class
The Apartments
The Residence
First Class aboard the Etihad Boeing 787

Etihad’s B787 features 8 first-class seats, 28 business-class seats, and 199 economy-class seats, for a total of 235 seats.

image showcasing etihad's first class seats on their 787
First Class Cabin on Etihad 787 (source: sam chui)

One can expect spacious private suites each featuring a sliding door, a personal wardrobe, a flatbed with a comfortable mattress, and a large entertainment screen. Personalized service, fine dining benefits, and a range of premium skincare items, eye masks & ear plugs in the amenity kit can be expected making it a truly first-class experience.

First Class aboard the Airbus A380 – The Apartment

Etihad’s Airbus A380 aircraft features a four-class configuration that includes The Residence, First Class Apartments, Business Class, and Economy Class.

In the First Class Apartments section, Etihad’s A380 features a total of 9 private suites with sliding doors and fully-flat beds, giving passengers the privacy and comfort they need to relax during the flight.

image showcasing the apartments onboard the etihad a380
The Apartments aboard the Etihad A380 (source: upgraded points)

Each First Class Apartment is a private suite with sliding doors that provide complete privacy. The suite features a comfortable leather seat, a personal minibar, a vanity mirror, and a fully-flat bed with a comfortable mattress.

Apart from the services already mentioned in the B787’s first class, you can also expect an onboard shower facility.

Overall, Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments provide a truly luxurious and comfortable travel experience, with personalized service and attention to detail that helps make the journey as enjoyable and relaxing as possible.

First Class aboard the Airbus a380 – The residence

There’s only 1 Residence per flight on the A380, which is designed for passengers who want the ultimate travel experience.

image showcasing the living room on the etihad residence
The Living Room aboard The Residence (source: sam chui)

The Residence is a private cabin that spans an entire section of the A380’s upper deck, with a living room, separate bedroom, and ensuite bathroom (with private shower).

Apart from the already mentioned services of The Apartment, passengers in The Residence are assigned a personal butler who provides personalized service and attends to their every need throughout the flight. However, post-pandemic it would seem that the soft product is going to change with Etihad no longer planning to offer an onboard butler.

The Residence on Etihad’s A380 provides an unparalleled level of luxury and comfort for passengers who want the ultimate travel experience.

Etihad A380s making a comeback!

Etihad retired its best-in-class A380s in March 2020 due to the pandemic taking over the world. Pre pandemic, it used to operate 235 outbound flights out of its base – Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to London (LHR), New York (JFK), Paris (CDG), Sydney (SYD), and Seoul (ICN).

In 2021 Etihad’s CEO said it’s “possible the aircraft will fly again once more under the Etihad brand but only if certain market conditions are met.”

To the aviation geeks’ delight, looks like those conditions have been met: The A380s are returning as early as July 2023!

Currently, only 4 of the earlier 10 A380s are set to fly, solely to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) with 14 direct services to & from in July 2023. It is set to go back to its original 93 direct services in a month by the end of the current year on the Abu Dhabi (AUH) – London (LHR) route.

How to book Etihad First Class using miles and points

Etihad’s First Class offers a premium travel experience that can make the journey as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. It is a true blend of comfort and luxury at 30,000 feet.

But, how does one book Etihad first class using miles and points?

Booking Etihad First Class Using Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad Airways offers a loyalty program called Etihad Guest that allows members to earn and redeem points for flights, upgrades, and other rewards.

Etihad uses a distance-based award chart, which means that the miles required for an award seat are determined by the distance flow, amongst other factors. The award chart below explains the miles required to book Etihad, first class, using the Etihad Guest program:

image of etihad award chart
Etihad Award Chart

However, premium redemption fares will be applied based on demand and availability. As a result, it is unlikely that you will ever see these mileage requirements in action.

Below is the requirement for booking a First Class cabin using Etihad Points for the Abu Dhabi (AUH) – London Heathrow (LHR) route:

image showing the award booking on Etihad
Booking Etihad F using Etihad Guest Miles on AUH – LHR

You need about 140K miles to book a First Class GuestSeat (reserved for Etihad Guest Members) on this route.

Unfortunately, the mileage requirement to fly Etihad Business Class has significantly increased due to the recent brutal devaluation of Etihad’s frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest. In my opinion, it is not one of the better options available. However, it remains the easiest and most straightforward option.

How to Earn Etihad Guest Miles in India

The silver lining is that there are plenty of opportunities to earn and transfer Etihad miles in India. First and foremost, SBI offers two Etihad Co-Branded credit cards that can earn Etihad Guest Miles on spending, and they also come with a 5000 welcome bonus for the premier card. These cards have a very impressive sweet spot due to the companion voucher that they provide upon hitting the spending milestones in a year.

In addition to these cards, Etihad is also a transfer partner for the following cards:

Bank/CardTransfer Ratio
Citi Premier Miles2:1
Citi Prestige1:4
Axis Atlas1:2
Axis Magnus, Reserve, Burgundy Private5:4
Axis Select & Privilege10:1
Axis (other cards)20:1
HDFC (DCB & Infinia)2:1
American Express2:1

The transfer timelines to Etihad Guest from the transfer partners is as follows:

Transfer PartnerTransfer Time
Axis EdgeRewards & EdgeMilesInstant
Citi5-7 Days
American ExpressInstant

It is clear that earning Etihad points might not fetch the best value for redemptions unless you utilize the companion voucher to lower your miles requirement by 50%.

Booking Etihad First Class from India using Air Canada Aeroplan Points

While Etihad is not a member of any major airline alliance, it is a partner to Star Alliance member airline Air Canada. As such, it is possible to book Etihad award seats using Air Canada Aeroplan. This can often result in spectacular savings compared to booking via the Etihad Guest program.

Aeroplan uses a combination of zone and distance-based award charts.

image showing the different Aeroplan Zones
Aeroplan Travel Zones

The number of miles required to fly with Etihad using Aeroplan in the Atlantic Zone can be seen below.

To book First Class on the AUH-LHR route, you would need 90K points.

As you can see, the requirement to fly between BOM (Mumbai) – London Heathrow (LHR) along with the rest of Europe is only about 90,000 Aeroplan miles, which is a significant saving over the requirement through Etihad Guest. However, award seats are limited, so it is recommended that you confirm their availability before transferring points to Aeroplan.

One of the great benefits of Aeroplan is that for just 5000 miles, you can add a stopover. So you could fly something like Mumbai (BOM) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – anywhere in Europe with a stopover in AUH for an additional 5000 Aeroplan miles.

Redeeming Aeroplan miles to book Etihad flights is usually hassle-free, as you can complete the entire transaction through Aeroplan’s website. However, at the time of writing this post, Aeroplan has limited the option to view or search for any award flights in or out of India to anywhere except North America. This means that if you are trying to book an Etihad award flight from BOM – LHR via AUH or LHR – BOM via AUH, it will not show up on the Aeroplan website. However, if you only search for AUH-LHR or the reverse, it will appear.

It is currently unknown if or when Air Canada plans to fix this issue. As of now, the only option is to call Air Canada and complete the booking over the phone. However, the process can be challenging. The wait times are excruciatingly long, and even if you reach an agent, you will be charged an additional $30 CAD in fees for booking over the phone.

How to earn Aeroplan Points in India

Thanks to Aeroplan’s recent partnership with Axis Bank and HDFC Bank in India now, earning and transferring Aeroplan miles is fairly simple and straightforward. You can transfer your HDFC and Axis points to Air Cana Aeroplan in the following ratio.

Bank/CardTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Axis Atlas1:2Instant
Axis Magnus, Reserve, Burgundy Private5:4Instant
Axis Select & Privilege10:1Instant
Axis (other cards)20:1Instant
HDFC (DCB & Infinia)2:1Instant

How to search for Etihad First Class Award Space

Etihad does not have a predictable schedule for releasing award availability, so it is best to start searching as early as possible. The best way to search for Etihad award space is through Etihad’s own website, even if you plan to book through a partner. Not all Etihad award seats are available to partners, so make sure to look for “GuestSeats” specifically.

To search for award seats, visit, enter the route you are looking for under the “book” option, select your desired cabin class, and toggle the “Book with miles” option. In the search results, look for award seats that say “GuestSeats.” These offer the maximum value when booking with points and are the only ones available to partners.


Etihad Airways offers a truly luxurious first-class experience that can be booked with points. In this article, we have covered the different options available on various aircraft, such as the B787, A350, and A380. We have also explained how to book using Etihad Guest or Aeroplan, and how to accumulate points in India. With the return of Etihad’s A380s in July 2023, now is the perfect time to plan your next first-class journey with Etihad Airways.

Happy Travels!

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