American and United have both launched $2,100 all-in roundtrip business class fares between select markets in the US (like Miami) and Shanghai/Beijing.
This seems to be a legitimate fare sale/war, and not a mistake. That being said, I suspect it won’t stick around for long, so if you’re interested I’d get in on this fast. As you can see on ExpertFlyer, the base fare is $1,500 roundtrip, plus taxes and fuel surcharges. The fare is good for travel between April 4 and May 15, 2012, though there’s a seven day advance purchase requirement, as well as a three day minimum stay and 30 day maximum stay.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a roundtrip business class fare to China this low. This is actually what I would consider an amazing business class fare between the east coast of the US and western Europe, but I’ve never seen this to Asia.
Keep in mind that United has fully flat beds in business class on most of their China routes, while American has angled flat seats. I actually flew American to Shanghai in January, so you can see a review of their business class product here.
But here’s what makes the American deal so awesome — American lets you upgrade all revenue fares to the next class of service, meaning that even though this is a discounted business class ticket, you can upgrade it to first class using a systemwide upgrade (which Executive Platinum members get eight of per year). While American doesn’t have the best first class product in the world, I’d say it’s pretty unbeatable for $2,100.
United, on the other hand, doesn’t let you upgrade discounted business class tickets with systemwide upgrades, though does let you use miles and a co-pay. That would cost 30,000 miles plus $600 per direction, which probably isn’t worth it to most.
So on one hand I feel crazy for even considering this. But here’s the thing — I can easily squeeze 20,000 actual “butt-in-seat” miles out of the itinerary. As an Executive Platinum member I’d earn a 100% mileage bonus, putting me up to 40,000 earned redeemable miles. Beyond that I’d be earning a 25% mileage bonus for being booked in paid business class, bringing me up to 45,000 redeemable miles.
That in and of itself doesn’t justify a business class ticket. But the thing that might is the fact that American’s 2012 Elite Rewards are based on elite qualifying points and not elite qualifying miles. While virtually all other airlines just use elite qualifying miles to calculate status (which is a combination of elite qualifying miles and elite qualifying points), American calculates elite qualifying points separately. With American you earn one elite qualifying mile for every mile you fly, and anywhere between 0.5 and 1.5 elite qualifying points depending on how high your fare is.
This itinerary would earn me 30,000+ elite qualifying points. Based on forecasting my travel for the year, that would be the difference between achieving the 125,000 point level in the Elite Rewards program. Reaching that threshold would earn me an additional 70,000 AAdvantage miles, meaning I’d essentially earn 115,000 redeemable miles for taking this trip.
That means I’d be earning miles through this trip at a rate of 1.8 cents per redeemable mile, which is very close to what I value them at. And that doesn’t even factor in that this would be a trip in first class to China, especially since I’ve been wanting to visit the Park Hyatt Ningbo for a long time now. Besides, I already have a Chinese visa.
Anyone else planning on taking advantage of this offer? Would you take advantage of it if you were in my shoes?