Just Booked: A Brussels Airlines Biz Class Award Flight With Etihad Miles

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Holy crap, it worked – I’m going to Belgium!

I'm coming for ya, Brussels!

I’m coming for ya, Brussels!

I found a ton of Business Class award seats between NYC and Brussels on Brussels Airlines in May and June 2017 (with a few dates in April and July available, too).

On Saturday, I transferred 37,000 Citi ThankYou points to Etihad Guest in hopes the space would remain. I checked this morning – no miles. But when I checked a few hours later, they were there!

I fired up United.com to hunt for dates:

Nearly every day in May and June 2017 has availability

Nearly every day in May and June 2017 still has availability

Tips: Tick “Show only nonstop flight availability” to isolate Brussels award space. And use “NYC” as the search if you want to see flights from both EWR and JFK.

Once I found the dates I wanted, I called Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767 with a pair of crossed fingers.

About the booking process

The agent I spoke with had no trouble running the search. I did not tell him the flight numbers, just the destinations and dates. Because I wanted him to tell me the flight numbers to make sure we were looking at the same ones.

He confirmed the flights and dates and started booking the award. He was very thorough and must’ve asked me a dozen times to confirm the flight times, numbers, name spelling, etc. No problem there – he was accurate to a “T.”

He confirmed the price would be 36,620 Etihad Guest miles to book the round-trip Business Class seats.

Then he sent me the flight details and asked me to confirm them again via email. I’ve never had an agent do that before.

He asked me to check the spelling of my name, flight dates, times, etc. Because, he said, the name could NOT be changed after it was booked. And he wanted to book it correctly the first time.

I confirmed again all was correct.

He put me on hold to pull up the taxes. When he came back, he said taxes on this ticket would be $92.56. Fine. That matched what I expected to pay. I gave him my card number.

He asked me to log out of my Etihad Guest account while he booked the award (no idea why). Then he put me on hold again to process it.

From Tulsa? OK!

From Tulsa? OK!

When he came back, he said it was all booked. And that the miles would be taken out in about an hour.

All booked to Brussels next May!

All booked to Brussels next May!

Then he told me I could select my seat directly with Brussels. And went over the baggage allowance. And, he told me to make sure I had the card I used to pay the taxes with me on the day of travel (again, no idea why – I don’t think Brussels Airlines checks that).

He went over the cancellation policy, the rebooking fee if I need to change the dates, and made sure to tell me at least 5 times to make changes 14 days or more in advance.

I was on the phone with the most thorough airline agent I’ve ever spoken with for 35 minutes. Not the shortest call ever, not the longest either.

As soon as I hung up, I made sure I had an actual ticket number with Brussels. It was there. And the rest of the itinerary loaded up perfectly.

The agent knew how to book the award, was familiar with the award charts, quoted the taxes accurately, and found the exact space I saw on United.com.

Here is an exact breakdown of the taxes from the receipt:

$2 for fare?

$2 for fare?

You’ll notice a $2 different in the total and what I was charged. It seems the fare costs $2 – but the charge wasn’t passed along.

Amazing value

United wants 140,000 United miles for the exact same flights.

No way, man

No way, man

I paid 36,620 Etihad Guest miles and ~$93 instead. Then I found the retail cost of the flights.


$3,150 – actually a good price for Business Class to Europe

So $3,150 minus the ~$93 I paid in taxes means 36,620 Etihad Guest miles covered a cost of $3,057. So I got a value of 8 cents per mile – not bad!

More importantly, I’m able to fly round-trip to Europe in Business Class for a little under 37,000 miles round-trip – that’s a stunning deal.

All about that lie-flat

Brussels is about that lie-flat (Image is from Bart.la)

Plus, Brussels recently installed new lie-flat Business Class seats on their planes – so I’ll be flying over the pond in style. Good thing because it’s an overnight flight.

You wanna try?

If you want to get in on this spate of award space, I recommend sending some miles to Etihad ASAP. They say it can take up to 14 business days for the transfer to complete, but in my case, it took less than 3 (transferred on Saturday, got them early Wednesday).

You can transfer 1:1 to Etihad Guest from both Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou. So if you have 37,000 points in either account, you can fly to Europe round-trip in Business Class. That’s a small price to pay for a trip to Europe next spring or summer – awards in economy usually cost more than that.

I probably won’t stay in Brussels the entire trip. Instead, I might stay a couple of days, then hop on the train to Amsterdam or Prague, where I can burn some SPG points on a nice hotel stay.

I have 7 days in Europe, so maybe I could try to squeeze in all 3 cities – a couple of days here and there.

Or maybe I’ll get to Brussels and take a hopper flight somewhere else. I’m not worried at this point with ~11 months to figure it out.

Bottom line

Dates are still wide open for next May and June, so if you’re feeling up to it and don’t mind planning that far in advance, I’d say go for it. It feels good to have a trip planned, even if it is a very long wait.

(Other dates may be available before then – and it’s working checking if you’re interested.)

I can’t stress enough how great of a deal it is to fly round-trip to Europe in a nice Business Class seat for only 37,000 Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points and ~$93.

Aside from the 35 minutes spent on the phone, and the 3 business days waiting for the transfer from Citi ThankYou to Etihad Guest to complete, booking this award was simple and straightforward. Much like booking any other award: I gave the agent the cities and dates, miles were deducted, taxes paid, and it was booked.

Overall, this was a great experience. Despite any reservations I had, I wouldn’t hesitate to book another award flight with Etihad miles. Which is good, because in addition to amazing award prices on Brussels Airlines, you can still book American Airlines flights at their pre-devAAluation prices.

Have you had an experience booking a partner award flight with Etihad Guest miles? How did it compare? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. how do you know how much Etihad miles are needed to fly? did you call them in advance for this routing? if i want to travel from NYC to anywhere else using your method and using an airline etihad is partners with, how do i find out how much miles should i transfer to etihad guest?

  2. Harlan, AMAZING!! This must be one of the best point redemptions in the game now. Question, 1:1 Amex transfer, is it the normal transfer rate or it’s a promotion ? Do I need to hurry to transfer or I can do it anytime ?

  3. Harlan do you have to fly from a hub like NYC? I am currently booked for next Nay in American from ATL- CDG. Can I route from ATL or I need to get to NYC to take the flight? Thanks.

      • Harlan I called Etihad first to see if they see the flights. They dont see availability which shows available in United. And tas the major problem with Etihad to find agents who can spot the space. Thanks for gr8 writeup thou. Cheers!!

        • In my case, they were able to see the dates I found on United.com. Make sure you are NOT logged in – perhaps use a new browser window.

          Stay persistent and hoping for the best for you!

          • I called and they also said they don’t see that availability. Should I specifically ask them to check United.com? I guess I don’t know what to say to them to prompt them to find it. Any suggestions?

          • If you’re looking at July, they might not have opened space yet. In that case, I’d say give it a few days.

            Apart from trying with a different agent, you can sometimes ask them to manually override or “long sell” the space.

            With United, make sure you are NOT logged in as that can skew your search results. It might take a few calls but hopefully you can get it booked! Keep us posted and good luck! 🙂

          • OK – update. After 3 more calls, i was able to sort of book it this morning. He took my info and said they had to request it from Brussels Airlines and they would call me back in a day or 2. Does that sound like I’m pretty much good to go?

          • Nevermind – they called back 10 minutes later and I got it all booked. Amazing deal – I feel like I just won the lottery. Thanks for the info and guidance.

          • Yay, that’s awesome! Congrats!

            Thanks for the update and sharing your positive experience. 🙂

            Yeah, it’s an amazing deal. I really hope this one sticks around for a while.

            Thanks again for adding your story!

  4. I’m new to all this. What I am seeing is 70k miles one way on United. Do you disregard that because Etihad is willing to use only 37k roudtrip?

    • Exactly. Each airline follows its own redemption table – even for flights on other airlines. In this case, you pay far fewer miles for flights on Brussels Airlines with Etihad miles instead of United.

        • Hard to say. If they change anything, hopefully they’ll give plenty of warning. But it’s never guaranteed.

          I do think you have plenty of time to make the transfer and book the award though.

  5. More amazing values in that redemption table: flights from Brussels to most European cities are dirt cheap. For instance London for 1236 in economy. And that’s round trip BRU-LHR-BRU. So adding a connection in BRU adds trivial cost.

  6. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

    Transferred Amex points (took about an hour for the transfer to complete) Just booked 2 tickets on May 23 with a return on June 14. Wow saved 200,000 points less than United.

    Can’t thank you enough


  7. Thanks so much for the heads up. Miles have posted and I’m trying to book a June departure with a July return. The agents are seeing the June space without a problem but nothing in July, even though UA shows the seats. Hoping and praying they show up when I call back in a few days!

    • Hoping for the best! It could be that Etihad hasn’t opened their award space that far out. You could always try to ask for a “long sell” or ask them to price it manually… that helps sometimes too.

      Keep us posted, fingers crossed for you!

  8. Harlan,
    Can’t thank you enough for this post. Got 2 seats in May-June for 73240 miles. Jus called the number u meantioned. Connected to a fab agent in Abu Dhabi. Process is same as you lined up. Cheers!!

    • Awesome! So glad you got it booked. And that it was easy for you. I think the phone agents are getting better because I’ve heard lots of peeps report positive experiences since this post went up. Thank you for sharing – and enjoy your Business Class trip to Europe! 🙂

      • Yes agent was very helpful n knowledgeable. They still dont see all the availability wats on United site but there was enough open dates to book. He also said change fee is around $25 and cancellation is 10% of points with no charges. I didnt double check his information.
        Now I have to pay cancellation fee on Alaska flights i booked(I am happy abt it) Also thanks to Frequentmiler to share your post in his end of the the week post so i was able to get this reservation. Cant wait for Brussels new flight to Mumbai next yr and try that too. Cheers!!

  9. I probably should have booked this earlier since it sounds like everyone above took a lot of that open award space : ). While I was seeing Business Saver on United, Etihad was not seeing the same availability…which is curious. Despite that, they did find availability that I jumped on!

    Thanks for the great find!

  10. Does it matter if the availability on United.com is for business saver or business standard? What would be the point requirement otherwise?

  11. Do I have to look for award flights only operated by Brussels Airlines? I am so new at this but I have enough miles with Etihad and they start expiring in november. That would be a shame :-s

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