Written by K. Amjad
12th December 2019
The Abu Dhabi Arbitrage
Etihad, the national carrier for United Arab Emirates (U.A.E), is well known for its fantastic premium class. It is also known for its many cash and revenue problems, which have driven prices down. In this article I will discuss how to take advantage of this pricing, especially, if you ever want to fly Business class with Etihad for dirt cheap (Skip to Part B).
I know plenty of people, in United States and Canada, who travel to the Middle East every Christmas. These people face the same problem every year, expensive tickets which are as high as four times the average price. I also know people in the Middle East who head back to Canada and United States to spend time with their family. At the time of writing this article, the cheapest ticket over Christmas from Toronto to U.A.E is 2,440 CAD. That is a lot of money, considering you can fly round trip for half the price in February. But who gets time off in February anyway?
Etihad and Emirates, both carriers for United Arab Emirates have relief routes which are priced super low. For example, Baku, Azerbaijan to Abu Dhabi, U.A.E and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E to New York is priced super cheap at 483 CAD.
Round trip from North America to United Arab Emirates
The cheapest ticket (advertised on Google Flights) over Christmas is 2441 CAD which isn't that appealing to me, and many others who travel frequently to Middle East.
Instead try this:
1. Fly from Toronto to Baku, Azerbaijan for 1,028 CAD.
2A. Fly from Baku To Abu Dhabi
2B. Fly from Abu Dhabi to New York/Chicago/Washington for 483 CAD
3. Fly from New York/Chicago/Washington to Toronto/Buffalo for 235 CAD
This ticket totals 1,787 CAD which is still 600 dollars cheaper than the cheapest option advertised on any flight search engine. The price is because of the Etihad Azerbaijan - Chicago sector. This itinerary also leaves later than the alternative above; the etihad flight out from Abu Dhabi is on 1st Jan 2020 which means you can enjoy the Dubai light show/fireworks on new years eve.
Business class on Etihad for dirt cheap
The cheapest flight (in the next 6 months) from Abu Dhabi to New York round trip on Etihad business class is 5,958 CAD.
Instead try this:
1) Fly in economy from Abu Dhabi/Sharjah/Dubai to Baku, Azerbaijan for 232 CAD
2A) Fly in Business Class from GYD to Abu Dhabi
2B) Fly in Business Class from Abu Dhabi to New York
2C) Fly in Business Class from New York to Abu Dhabi
2D) Fly in Business Class from Abu Dhabi to Baku for 3,680 CAD (You Don't Need To Fly This)
This ticket totals 3,912 CAD which is still 2000 dollars cheaper than the Abu Dhabi to New York Etihad business class round trip. If you fly this way, you will probably get Etihad Status as well as plenty of points that you could use for another Etihad flight!
The reason why this is called the Abu Dhabi Arbitrage and not the Baku Arbitrage is because you can try different starting cities besides Baku as long as there is a stopover in Abu Dhabi. You may find better deals than the ones in the article!