New American Los Angeles To Sydney Flight Now Bookable

In early June, American announced that they’ll be launching nonstop daily flights between Los Angeles and Sydney as of December 17, 2015. This new flight will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which is American’s flagship aircraft, featuring First Class, Business Class, Main Cabin Extra, and Main Cabin.

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American-Economy

This new route signifies an expansion of American’s transpacific joint venture with Qantas. As part of this expanded joint venture, Qantas will also be commencing Boeing 747-400 flights between San Francisco and Sydney — this is a route which they discontinued a few years ago.

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The thing to keep in mind is that because this is a joint venture, pricing will be the same between American and Qantas on their routes between the US and Australia. Of course inventory can differ (which can impact prices), but the actual published fares between the airlines will match.

The new American flight between Los Angeles and Sydney is bookable on aa.com as of today.

American-SYD

The flight will operate with the following schedule:

AA73 Los Angeles to Sydney departing 9:50PM arriving 7:55AM (+2 days)
AA72 Sydney to Los Angeles departing 12:00PM arriving 6:50AM

The big question, not surprisingly, is whether American’s new flight has any award and upgrade space. Australia is one of the toughest places to get to on miles, and Qantas is especially stingy when it comes to releasing award space.

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I predicted the American flight wouldn’t have much award/upgrade space, and it looks like I wasn’t too far off. In looking at inventory, as of now American has:

  • No confirmable upgrade space from economy to business class
  • Virtually unlimited upgrade space from business to first class (every day seems to be “A7,” which means there are at least seven first class upgrade seats per flight, out of a total of eight seats)
  • No saver level space in business or first class on any date

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As of now there are just a few days with economy saver level space, and then for first & business class you just have higher cost awards.

Over the first few weeks of service, economy awards start at 120,000 miles one-way:

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Business class awards start at 215,000 miles one-way:

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And first class awards start at 240,000 miles one-way:

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This could change over time, and if you waitlist an upgrade you probably have good odds of clearing. Keep in mind that American prioritizes upgrades by status and then by time of booking, so if you book now as an Executive Platinum member, you’ll almost certainly be at the very top of the upgrade list.

Given that American and Qantas have a joint venture, under which circumstances would I consider flying American over Qantas?

  • If you value wifi on longhaul flights, given that American has wifi on their 777-300ERS
  • If you value a reverse herringbone business class product — Qantas will have substantially better service in business class, but American has a great hard product with direct aisle access from every seat
  • If you’re someone who can reserve Main Cabin Extra for free and value the extra legroom in economy over the superior service on Qantas (it’s free in advance for oneworld Sapphire & Emerald members)
  • If you’re trying to upgrade using American systemwide upgrades

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Bottom line

This is a really exciting expansion on the part of American, as they’re finally making some serious international effort beyond Latin America.

While there’s not much confirmable upgrade space as of now, my guess is that upgrades won’t be too tough, at least initially. And since American prioritizes upgrades by status and then the time of booking, elites booking early should have good odds of clearing. Hopefully American eventually opens up some confirmable business class upgrade space as well as award seats… though I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Do you plan on taking American’s new flight between Los Angeles and Sydney?

Comments

  1. We’re really excited that American are gonna be flying down under. It will be interesting to see whether they do any targeted promotional activity in the Australian market.

  2. Lucky,

    Having recently taken QF in Biz from DXB-LHR on the day flight on the A380 – I’m not sure I’d agree with the comment ” Qantas will have substantially better service in business class.” It’s ok – crew dependent of course. As for food, I don’t think the menu on my flight or even the reviews of your F SYD-LAX or C LAX-JFK are all THAT much to write home about. And that said – with the ‘bar’ on the AA 777-300 self service in J is pretty straight forward.

    If ever a choice of reward space between the two were available, or if I have occasion to buy a revenue ticket, I think I’d go this way (mostly based on the hardware side – since in my view service levels are probably close to a push, and menus aren’t (based on other AA long haul) all that much different):
    1) QF F
    2) AA F
    3) AA J
    4) QF J

    One man’s opinion – for what it’s worth.

  3. I would disagree that qantas business class service is anything to write home about. Marginally better than AA but not worth going out of your way to book.

  4. Maybe I’m not seeing things correctly but It seems like it’s cheaper booking two awards to go via Asia than direct with American. And with AA’s cramped cabin of 10 across versus 9 across on JL or CX, I think I’ll pass on this new flight.

  5. @ Ted — You’re absolutely right for the most part. Better off redeeming Delta SkyMiles for travel on Virgin Australia, or otherwise routing via Asia using American miles, given how much space there is. If there’s no saver space, the only reason to book this flight using miles would be because you absolutely need a direct.

  6. @ victor — You’re probably right. Ultimately they have better amenities, like pajamas, but otherwise it’s probably not that great.

  7. @ choi — Not with any consistency, unfortunately. I’ve seen cabins completely empty just hours before departure where they still don’t make a single saver level award seat available.

  8. I agree with Mike and Victor – Qantas’ service is very hit and miss, so best not to expect much. Make your choice based on hard product on offer, which at least can be relied upon to a greater extent. You can get lucky and hit good crews on both carriers, or hit the slightly more common really bad ones, with most being meh on both carriers.

    Obviously being in International First on both carriers tends to improve the chances of a good cabin crew, but by no means rules out an ordinary or horrible one.

  9. How can they want that many miles for a business class roundtrip to fly on AA metal, yet you could fly on Etihad less miles. It makes no sense that partner awards are so much lower.

  10. This is an area where Alaska miles are far more valuable than AA. Roundtrip in F on QF is only 100k.

  11. @john holland I thought the loophole to book Qantas F with Alaska miles closed? I think the only way to get it is 331 days out…

  12. @Jon Holland – “Roundtrip in F on QF is only 100k.”

    Where are you seeing this? Roundtrip from USA to Australia/NZ in QF F with AS miles is 140K.

  13. @ Jon Holland — Just to clarify, they charge 55,000 miles for one-way business class on Qantas, or 70,000 miles for one-way first class. But the real value of Alaska miles for travel to Australia is that you can route through Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific.

  14. I stand corrected, I was thinking of the Business class rates.

    Actually have a trip coming up where I route to AU using QF and return via a Hong Kong stop-over on Cathay.

  15. @Jon Holland – “I stand corrected, I was thinking of the Business class rates.”

    Business is 110K.

  16. @Lucky – Refresh my memory, but one can use Alaska points and travel on Etihad to get to Sydney with a stopover in Abu Dhabi for free with Business and First Class right ? How do I find out how many miles are required for this and seat availability on Etihad and I am assuming I will have to call Alaska to get those seats ?

    Andrew F

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