American First & Business Class Awards To Sydney!

American just launched flights between Los Angeles and Sydney as of December 17, 2015. This is an exciting new route with enhanced service, as it’s being operated in conjunction with Qantas. The flight is also operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which is American’s flagship plane.

American-777
American 777-300ER

It features American’s best first class & business class products, along with onboard wifi (something which Qantas doesn’t offer, which I value immensely).

American-777-First-Class-01
American 777-300ER first class cabin

American-Business-Class
American 777-300ER business class cabin

Unfortunately over the years American has become progressively stingier with award availability, to the point that as of a few weeks ago they didn’t have a single saver level first or business class award space over the Pacific for all of 2016.

Anyway, here’s some very exciting news. American has quite a bit of saver level first & business class award availability between Los Angeles and Sydney in the coming weeks. Through the end of February, quite a few flights have several first and business class award seats. Many flights have two first class award seats, and many flights have four to six business class award seats. That’s a huge departure from their previous system of not making any seats available at the saver level.

For example, here’s business class award availability between Los Angeles and Sydney in January:

AA-SYD-2

And first class availability:

AA-SYD-1

Here’s business class availability between Sydney and Los Angeles:

AA-SYD-3

And first class availability:

AA-SYD-4

For travel between the US and South Pacific, American charges 62,500 miles for business class, while they charge 72,500 miles for first class. While I don’t consider first class to be all that much better than business class, I’d say it’s worth a premium of just 10,000 miles. Keep in mind that American first class passengers departing Sydney can use Qantas’ excellent first class lounge in Sydney, which is one of my favorite in the world.

Qantas-First-Lounge-Sydney-19
Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney Airport

If nothing else, keep in mind that with American’s March 22, 2016 AAdvantage changes, the costs of these awards will increase to 80,000 and 110,000 miles in business and first class, respectively.

This is also absolute peak season in Australia, making this award availability even more attractive. Despite being peak season and the flight being operated as a joint venture with Qantas, American’s new route doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to full yet, so I think it’s only reasonable they make some award seats available. I hope this trend continues, whereby they’ll at least make some saver level seats available within weeks of departure, when they know they can’t otherwise fill those seats with revenue passengers.

This availability won’t last, so if you’re interested I’d recommend booking as soon as possible. American allows five day award holds, so you can always place the ticket on hold now and ticket at a later date.

Bottom line

This is quite an opportunity, given that American is otherwise extremely stingy with releasing saver level award availability across the Pacific. Furthermore, Australia is one of the toughest destinations in the world to get to on miles.

While American’s soft product might not be the best in the world (even with the enhanced service), there’s no arguing with the reverse herringbone seat they offer in business class, or the onboard wifi they offer.

I hope American continues this trend of making saver level award space available, in particular when those seats would otherwise go out empty.

Were you able to snag a premium cabin award seat on American’s new route to Australia?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. Great news! Just a few days ago Gary@VFTW was commenting about how AA wasnt releasing ANY saver award availability, either last minute or in advance. Maybe AA read his post and decided to make some changes

  2. Whoa. I think I must have slipped into some parallel universe. I almost don’t know how to react to this. Sadly, none of these dates work for me to swap out my flights for something more convenient. But, it’s good to at least see something.

  3. @ Jon — I bet Alaska’s website just isn’t updating as quickly, but I bet it would be bookable if you called.

  4. This is nice news to read, but honestly, this is a drop in the bucket when compared to the HUGE AA devaluation coming next year. This news is simply not enough to keep me loyal to AA.

  5. Wish I could book another trip to Oz for next year, gonna see if I can use a SWU to AKL before they introduce PE instead though.

  6. Not seeing these awards when I search for anything beyond January. There is availability LAX-SYD on 1/31 and nothing at the saver level in all of February, in either direction. Maybe they got pulled or already taken. Seems like I could use my miles for Australia if my family could just drop everything and go this weekend. So incredibly gracious of AA to make it possible for people who have no commitments, jobs, school classes, or any other responsibilities to go to Australia next week, makes constantly paying a premium for substandard AA service totally worth it.

  7. Were you able to snag a premium cabin award seat on American’s new route to Australia?

    Didn’t have to didn’t want to.

    Here’s my summer itinerary:
    QR A350 J MUC-DOH
    OR A332 J DOH-MLE
    EY A320 J MLE-AUH
    EY A380 F AUH-MLE
    QF A380 F SYD-DFW
    AA B738 F DFW-ATL
    BA B777 F ATL-LHR
    BA A320 J LHR-MUC

    All AA miles all booked 1 week before Lucky’s Wunsch-doomsday.

  8. With AA’s mileage buy offer due to end shortly I would only buy to top off to get the award you want and book as quickly as possible if you can. AA’s saver award availability has been horrible the past 2 years. It seems they are in the process of squeezing out the program to where but a few elite fliers are going
    to be using it at the higher mileage awards. The end game is to end the FF programs as we know them. The new program, IMHO, will be to reward FF’s with credits in the simple form of credit/cash-back vouchers for ticket use based on how much the flyer spends with the airline – i.e. no mileage accrual, no mileage based awards. This will enable carriers to dump hundreds of employees now working their FF programs. A computer system can do all of the work to track and issue vouchers to fliers. Elite standings could still be based on miles flown, however.

  9. Thanks, Lucky, Happy New Year! Have a ticket on hold for early Jan. Lots of availability remaining for others.

  10. This is so obviously in response to the “publicity” they got from Gary’s post and the chatter on FT. Most likely a CYA measure to curb liability with regulators.

  11. I was able to get a first class ticket, PIT-SYD, 72.5k miles + $26.50 on 3/9/16. The LAX-SYD leg of the flight is on Qantas a380 and you have to call Qantas for a seat assignment. (2A) Flying on an a380 is on my bucket list as well as going to Australia, being in first class is just icing on the cake. This will make my 55th birthday extra special. Thanks Lucky!

  12. Yes right AAExPlat. A billion dollar business makes decisions based on what a blogger posts to a few thousand readers. I like Gary but businesses don’t make decisions based on bloggers.

  13. While good for mileage redemptions, this can’t be good for AA. This is, as Lucky points out, absolute peak travel times for USA-Australia. If AA really can’t fill up a plane during this time of year, even with Qantas’s Austrakua point of sale strength, this can’t be a good thing for them. In the meantime, enjoy your redemptions!!

  14. Nothing available anymore. A single outbound on Feb 2nd at Business Milesaver, but getting back requires full mileage.

  15. Ben, say hi when ure in Sydney 🙂 would love to bring you and Ford(if he’s coming too) out about town when ure here 🙂

  16. Thanks for the post! Timing was perfect! I was able to get first class to LAX from Seattle and then Business Class to Sydney for Jan 6th. I had to buy some points and pay to cancel my existing ticket but it was totally worth it! I am thrilled. I had used Alaska miles for my return trip in February so continue to watch to see if they release any business seats for the trip back to Seattle in the coming week.

  17. Hmm, this was unexpected. Nothing worked for me but I’ve got a mileage ticket in QF J DFW-SYD in July, so maybe considering it’s the slow season, the closer we get maybe AA will open up some J seats. I’m partial to the reverse herringbone seats hence my temptation to switch. The seats on QF just seem dated to me.

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