In light of the massive impending United devaluation I wrote a post about the best ways to redeem United MileagePlus miles prior to the devaluation. With this devaluation it is premium cabins on partner airlines that are going up most in price, so those are probably the types of itineraries most are interested in booking prior to February 1, 2014.
In that post I shared some of the first class products most readily available on miles, and several of you asked for a follow up post about the most readily available Star Alliance business class products, so I figured I’d write a follow up posts with ideas on that.
So below I’ll share some of the most readily available Star Alliance business class products that are actually fairly aspirational and that you’d want to fly. Exact availability will of course vary depending on when you’re looking at traveling, but for those willing to plan in advance, here are some good options:
Air China Business Class Award Space
Air China’s new business class product is available on all their 777-300ER aircraft, and based on my recent flight from Paris to Beijing in it, is actually a really nice product.
In the US they fly the 777-300ER to Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, and award space is especially good out of Houston and Los Angeles. The Houston service isn’t daily, though has business class award space on virtually every flight, while the Los Angeles service is twice daily, and again there’s space on almost every flight.
ANA Business Class Award Space
ANA business class award space is also readily available if planning in advance. ANA’s US 787 destinations include San Jose and Seattle, and both routes have spectacular business class award availability.
ANA’s other US gateways include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington.
- The Chicago service recently became twice daily, so award availability in business class is excellent on that route.
- Meanwhile the New York service is twice daily as well, and award space is especially good on the later flight.
- Just remember that the flights operated by the “77W” feature the new business class cabin, while flights operated by the “777” feature the old business class cabin. The later Chicago to Tokyo flight is operated by the “777,” so you’ll want to avoid that if possible.
- The Washington to Tokyo flight is also often operated by the “777,” so you’ll want to avoid that as well.
Asiana Business Class Award Space
Asiana’s new business class product (which deserves an award for the coolest name in the world — Quadra Smartium) is available on their aircraft designated as “77Ls” and “77Ws,” which fly from Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles and San Francisco. If booking in advance award space on these routes is phenomenal. Asiana has great service, a fantastic hard product, and excellent catering.
Brussels Airlines Business Class Award Space
Brussels Airlines is a good option for transatlantic flights, and they offer a “staggered” business class configuration, whereby each row has a different configuration.
Brussels Airlines’ US destinations include New York and Washington. Award space isn’t especially good out of Washington, but is generally decent out of New York.
EVA Air Business Class Award Space
I’d say that the single Star Alliance airline with the most business class award space is EVA Air. They release an unreal amount of business class award space, and even have one of the best business class seats in the world, which is in a herringbone configuration. I’ve flown EVA Air longhaul to the US twice now, once from Taipei to San Francisco and another time from Taipei to Los Angeles, and enjoyed both flights immensely.
When booking EVA Air be sure to aim for a 777-300ER, as these planes feature their Royal Laurel Class, which is their reverse herringbone business class product. Their North American gateways on the 777-300ER include Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto. You’ll generally want to avoid Seattle and Vancouver, as these routes are operated by 747s with their old business class product.
LOT Business Class Award Space
Okay, full disclosure — my flight on LOT back in January left a LOT to be desired. But it was also operated by one of their ancient 767s. LOT now flies 787s with a new fully flat business class product on their North America bound flights to Chicago, New York, and Toronto.
LOT’s business class award space is fairly good out of all of their North America gateways, though the thing to keep in mind is that LOT award space doesn’t show up on united.com, so you’ll want to use the ANA tool to search for space on them. This is probably part of the reason award space on them is fairly good, since most people don’t know the space is there.
Turkish Business Class Award Space
Turkish isn’t as great about releasing award space as they used to be, though with some effort it’s not too tough to snag space on them. They have many North America gateways, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Washington, and soon Boston and Montreal.
Generally business class award space is readily available on the Houston route, though a bit tougher to come by on the other flights. Most of their flights to the US are operated by aircraft with the new business class product.
If you’re looking to redeem United miles (or for that matter US Airways miles, especially for travel to North Asia) it’s not too late. While the premium for first class over business class is often only modest, the key advantage of booking business class is the sheer number of partner airlines with award space.