Are There Award Seats On American’s New Flight To Auckland?

A couple of weeks ago American announced that they’ll be launching flights between Los Angeles and Auckland as of June 2016. This is an exciting development, as it marks the second US airline to announce service between the US mainland and New Zealand in a span of several weeks (United beat American to the punch), following the monopoly Air New Zealand has had in the market for years.

This is all possible thanks to American’s strengthened joint venture with Qantas, whereby American is also launching flights between Los Angeles and Sydney as of December 17, 2015.

AA-TPAC

When the Auckland flight was announced a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t initially reveal the exact start date or when tickets would become bookable.

American’s flight between Los Angeles and Auckland become bookable overnight, and it launches June 23, 2016.

As a reminder, the flight will be operated by a Boeing 787 with the following schedule:

AA83 Los Angeles to Auckland departing 10:45PM arriving 6:35AM (+2 days)
AA82 Auckland to Los Angeles departing 1:20PM arriving 6:30AM

American-787

So, what’s award space on the new route like? Abysmal, unfortunately. American hasn’t made a single saver level award seat on the flight available, in both economy and business class. Instead you can at best book a standard level award, which starts at 140,000 miles one-way in business class. Unfortunately this seems to be the norm rather than the exception nowadays across American’s longhaul route network.

American-Award-1

American-Award-2

Seeing not a single award seat really makes me yearn for British Airways’ Executive Club program, whereby they have a policy of making at least two saver business class and four economy class award seats available per flight.

The one thing that is valuable about getting in on this flight early is that American prioritizes upgrades within a status level based on when you book and request the upgrade. While I suspect upgrades will be tough on this flight with just 28 business class seats, if you’re an Executive Platinum and book early, you have a fantastic shot of clearing the upgrade, since you’ll almost undoubtedly be at the top of the upgrade list. So that is a consideration if you’re looking to fly down under.

And at least American has a fairly nice business class product on the 787, featuring direct aisle access at every seat.

American-787

American-787-2

Do you plan on trying American’s new flights between Los Angeles and Auckland?

Comments

  1. “American’s flight between Los Angeles and Auckland become bookable overnight, and it launches June 23, 2015”

    Shouldn’t that be 2016??

  2. @Paul Seat width in Economy Class on both AA’s 787 and NZ’s 777 are around 17″. NZ may have 1″ more seat pitch. Both are pretty much as bad as each other.

  3. @MM

    I’m not sure if you read the article, but there are plenty of seats to spend your “massively” devalued points on. They’re costing you 140k-175k each way in J.

  4. What’s written here can be repeated on other long haul routes to Asia. I checked with AA multiple times for award space to PEK, PVG, ICN, NRT, and always came up zero at the Saver level. The AA agents on the phone almost always offered JAL space (plenty of space on YVR-NRT, LAX-KIX routes).

  5. This is where AA’s 788 seat distribution really hurts. Compare to UA, where they have 36 seats on their 788s. Admittedly, they’re not all aisle, but still, for this kind of longhaul I’d rather have a better chance of a non-aisle business class seat compared to sitting in the back.

    Have I heard correctly that the AA 789 will also have only 28 J? If so, that’s going to be awful.

  6. Isn’t this almost always the case with any saver level premium cabin availability on long-haul international travel on American? I remember you posting a couple months ago pointing out that there were suddenly a fair number of TATL AA saver seats showing up – a rare novelty. They seemed to vanish very quickly once word got out.

  7. Lucky,
    After all the years of pumping up AA as the best and greatest program, it is worse than the rest.
    You may need to return to SEA

    AA TATL premium space went away with the BA merger, to collect YQ on BA metal and share

    AA has been stealing from all their customers for a while now, with implied promises.
    UA is better most days to NZ

  8. Not one person who has tried to book an award for AA international premium travel in the last 2-3 years is surprised by this. Vanishing availability is the massive ongoing devaluation that none of the bloggers want to talk about because it undermines the entire premise of loyalty programs. Vanishing availability is why my loyalty program balances keep climbing year after year. I would be more worked up about the 15%-30% increases in AA award chart rates if I thought that there was even a slight chance that I would be able to find saver awards in the foreseeable future. Saver awards on AA have become the exclusive domain of single travelers who want to travel simply for the sake of travel, who do not have a particular destination in mind, and have the flexibility and willingness to travel extra days to get into the right city to take advantage of limited award availability – or people who live in the NY/NJ area going to Europe where there is seemingly frequent extra capacity. Want to travel with a companion from your home city to a desirable location during a common vacation season? There will be one or two days a year when that availability opens up, otherwise forget it, or get ready to travel solo, with an overnight at JFK.

  9. @Another Steve,

    Amen to that. The near zero availability for typical travelers is the very real and truly massive devaluation of points that makes an adjusted award chart pale in comparison. I would love for Ben or Tiffany to talk about this. The small story is that saver and partner award international premium cabin seats are being devalued 10-35% next year. The big story is that premium international award travel has already been devalued by 75+% by simply axing saver seats. Problem solved – for the airlines at least.

  10. I’m going to pile on here. Indeed, every time the lack of AA premium saver space comes up, the standard response is always “why are you trying to fly AA anyway? You should be flying CX!” Thank you for that info. Yes, I know that CX is better. Unfortunately CX doesn’t fly directly from the US to PEK, and that’s where I need to go. Neither does JAL, or anyone else in OW. Hence my complaint about American’s massively unreported and un-talked about deval. End of rant.

  11. As I said before, AA miles have already been devalued. They are even tighter controlling their own C inventory. With the easier requirements to achieve EXP next year, you’re going to see even more people requesting to use SWU. Bye Bye AA.

  12. I was just soooo excited when they announced they were hopping into the New Zealand ring cause I have family there that I visit frequently. Between program devaluations and an obvious saver award shut out, I’m pretty disappointed in American. I knew sooner or later they’d jump the shark and join the other two legacies because instead of attempting to compete to draw in customers, they know they have a captive consumer base so they’re basically just trying to see who can build the bigger pool full of gold coins to swim in. Remember when there was actual competition among US carriers? Like when we had more than three major airlines? Good times….I miss those days…

  13. Hi…we are travelling on this flight (AKL – LAX on American Airlines AA82) in late June 2016. (and return flight AA83 also) – 2 adults and our 3 kids. Any preference on which seats we should choose (if we have the choice)? Are some better than others? First time flying long haul. Economy. Thanks, Kishor.

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