Great News: American Business Class Awards To Europe Readily Available

Back in the day, American was among the most generous airlines when it came to releasing saver level premium cabin award space on their own flights, both domestically and internationally. At times it was almost bizarre how much award space they had.

American has gotten much stingier with award space

Unfortunately that has slowly changed over time, to the point that they don’t regularly release premium cabin longhaul international award space anymore. I wrote about this back in October 2013, and it has gotten even worse since then.

AAwards

In many cases they won’t make saver level award space available even day of departure with a completely empty cabin.

It’s particularly bad to Europe, where I almost never see any award space on American metal. That’s especially frustrating given that the main alternative for oneworld transatlantic travel is British Airways, and they impose hefty fuel surcharges on award tickets.

American once again releasing saver first & business awards to Europe!

Anyway, it looks like something has changed in the past few days, because American is once again releasing saver level first & business class transatlantic award seats.

American-Awards

As a general rule of thumb:

  • There are a few dates with first & business class award space over summer
  • There’s tons of award space starting in the fall (around September)
  • Generally there are at least two award seats per flight
  • There’s space in business class on all aircraft type, though no 777-300ER first class awards

For example, every single date in October has saver level business class award space nonstop between New York and Paris:

JFKCDG1

JFKCDG2

Over half of dates in October have saver level business class award space nonstop between New York and Milan:

JFKMXP1

JFKMXP2

Keep in mind both of those routes are primarily operated by 767-300s, which are slowly being reconfigured with American’s new business class product (just make sure the seatmap shows as being in a 1-2-1 configuration).

American-767-Seatmap

American-767-Business-Class-1
American’s 767-300 business class

Even the nonstop flight between Los Angeles and London has business class award space most dates in the fall, and that flight is operated by a 777-300ER with the new business class seat:

LAXLHR1

LAXLHR2

American-Business-Class
American’s 777-300ER business class

There’s also tons of first class award availability, though only on the 777-200, and not on the 777-300ER (keep in mind the 777-200s are slowly having first class eliminated in favor of a new, fully flat business class).

American-777-First-Class
American’s 777-200 first class

Here’s what availability looks like between Dallas and London:

DFWLHR1

DFWLHR2

Cost of American awards to Europe

As a reminder, for one way travel between the US and Europe American charges 50,000 AAdvantage miles for business class or 62,500 AAdvantage miles for first class. And there are no fuel surcharges. Is it the most aspirational redemption in the world? No, but it is nice to see American release some saver level award space on their own metal to Europe.

Here’s to hoping this reasonable amount of award space is a permanent change.

Bottom line

As I’ve always said, the lack of premium cabin award space on American was never much of an issue for me, given that I far prefer redeeming my miles on Cathay Pacific, Etihad, etc. That being said, there’s no denying that this is great news.

Add it to the amount of transatlantic business class award space that US Airways has been releasing to Europe lately, and no one has an excuse for not being able to redeem AAdvantage miles to Europe this year without fuel surcharges!

(Tip of the hat to Max)

Comments

  1. You’re killing it this week Lucky! Now I’ve got two different itineraries to Europe this summer, one on BA with pre-devaluation rates, a Chase companion pass and fuel surcharges. The other with AA miles and no fuel surcharges. I just have to decide which to keep. Dates are slightly better on BA. What do you guys think?
    __
    200k AA miles + $233 in taxes
    96k BA miles + $2100 in taxes + Chase companion pass

  2. Ben,

    If I use points to upgrade a coach ticket, does this come out of the same bucket as if buying entirely with points?

  3. @ John — “C” and “U” inventory does often overlap, though not always. As a general rule of thumb yes, but you’ll want to call to be sure.

  4. @ Tom — Toughie! So with BA option you’re “saving” 104K miles but spending an extra ~$1,900. I’d say American miles are a bit more valuable than Avios as well.

    To be honest this is really close to being breakeven. Would the American award be in flat bed products? If so, I might go with that to save the cash, personally. If it’s the angled seats, I’d definitely stick to BA.

  5. Tom, I think you’ve been reading blogs like this one too much if you’re seriously considering dropping $2000 in place of 100k (soon to be devaluated) AA miles.

  6. I’ve been waiting to get a flight on AA to burn some miles, so this is perfect timing. Just booked CDG JFK in November in J.

    Thanks Ben.

  7. Yep, everything is flat beds both ways. 767, 77W on AA and 747 on BA. I view it as a tie as well, but I’ll probably keep the BA since the dates are slightly better. I’ll keep checking AA though to see if my date opens up.

  8. Actually AA J space was all the time available – I believe it was a technical glitch in the system. I’m saying this because for the past month I was monitoring transatlantic award J space and I noticed a trend:

    I couldn’t get anything for direct Europe-USA flights. They were all zeroed out. But if I were to search for a destination anywhere in North America but the US, such as LHR-LAX-YVR instead of LHR-LAX I’d be able to snag the 77W in J. No problems with that. Similarly, ZRH-JFK would never show availability but ZRH-SJU or ZRH-YYZ via JFK would show availability on the ZRH-JFK sector. Or LHR-ORD-YYZ/LHR-DFW-MEX if I wanted to go to ORD/DFW.

  9. I only see 1 seat on ORD-LHR, whereas JFK-LHR seems to have the bulk of the J seats. Any other East Coast cities offer LHR service on AA/US metal?

    Also not really seeing anything for CLT-FCO/MAD, or am I just checking the wrong dates?

  10. @ Tom — Yeah in that case I’d definitely lean towards American if the dates were equally convenient, but only you can determine how much you value your specific dates. Keeping an eye on space is a good strategy. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the heads up! Doing a birthday trip to LHR/PRG in September, and while AA is no prize, it is really nice to avoid YQ on a party of 3.

  12. It’s funny how excited we get. This level of availability used to be normal for AA, especially for EXPs with access to the extra space.

  13. Do these taxes and fees from JFK to CDG on business class look right?

    AIR PASSENGER SOLIDARITY TAX $51.10 USD
    FRANCE
    PASSENGER SERVICE CHARGE $33.10 USD
    FRANCE
    AVIATION CIVILE / AIRPORT TAX $23.50 USD
    FRANCE
    US APHIS USER FEE $5.00 USD
    UNITED STATES
    US FEDERAL INSPECTION FEE $7.00 USD
    UNITED STATES
    US SECURITY FEE $5.60 USD
    UNITED STATES
    US CUSTOMS USER FEE $5.50 USD
    UNITED STATES

    Total Adult taxes and carrier-imposed fees
    $130.80 USD Per person

  14. @Benjamin Perley
    It’s a different world out there, with an improving economy and consolidation among the airlines, this is the new normal, at least until the next recession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *