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I just so happened to be casually looking for JFK-BRU Business Class award space on Brussels Airlines because that’s what Saturday mornings are for, right?
I was able to find a Business Class award seat on the JFK or EWR to BRU route nearly every day in May and June 2017 (with a few dates in March and April, too).
The reason I’ve had my eye on this award is because Citi ThankYou points transfer 1:1 to Etihad Guest miles. And Etihad has a very generous award chart on this particular route.
A round-trip ticket in Business Class costs just 36,620 Etihad Guest miles. Of course, you have to transfer in increments of 1,000, so realistically this will cost 37,000 Citi ThankYou points. Which is a steal.
United would charge 70K miles each way, or 140,000 miles, round-trip. So you’ll save a huge number of points by booking through Etihad instead.
How to find the space
You find the space by searching on united.com.
Enter “NYC” into the search field to return flights from both EWR and JFK. And then tick “Show only nonstop flight availability” – that isolates the Brussels space nicely.
I do not know if the EWR-BRU route is available at the same price as the JFK-BRU route. They’re both considered “New York” so I don’t see why not. But YMMV.
MileValue also has a nice primer – with plenty of caution added – about how to find and book this space.
Apparently, seats are hard to book with Etihad agents. And there’s a lot of phantom space that appears.
Nonetheless, peeps have had luck booking a seat. You might need some persistence. To save 100K+ miles on a round-trip Business Class seat to Europe is worth it. And here’s a FlyerTalk thread with some experiences.
I’m going all-in
I don’t know how long this space will last. And it can take up to 2 weeks for Citi ThankYou points to transfer to Etihad. In practice, it usually takes about 5 to 6 business days.
I want to take this risk because I have tons of Citi ThankYou points and they are dead easy for me to rack up. So taking a 37K risk isn’t so bad.
I haven’t seen this much award space on these routes in the past, so hopefully some dates will still be available when the transfer completes. I’ll keep you posted if I’m successful.
In the meantime, if you’re feeling froggy, this could be a potentially good opportunity to snag a cheap ticket to Europe. Keep in mind taxes on this route are about ~$94.
Don’t stop at Brussels
If this all works, you can easily use British Airways Avios points, budget airlines, and trains to cobble together an even bigger trip.
Brussels has a fantastic location near London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Prague. I’d love to take the train to Amsterdam. And I’ve been dying to visit Prague.
Richard Kerr also shared some insights about booking via Etihad for an ANA award.
It seems possible. Again, with some persistence.
I’m not looking forward to the booking process with Etihad. Or waiting for the Citi ThankYou points to transfer. But if this works out, it could be pretty fun.
I’d love to say I snagged a seat on this route – and there are lots of them available in Spring/Summer 2017. Hopefully they’ll still be around when the miles appear. And I can book it without too much hassle.
I’m ready to be flexible with my dates. And you should be too, because there are reports that Etihad doesn’t “see” the same award space that United sees. But there seem to be plenty of seats available, so I’m taking the risk.
So it begins – I’ll be updating about my experience. Fingers crossed.
Please share if you’ve had an experience booking this award. Or booking a partner flight with Etihad!
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