Great Deal: American Business Class Awards & Upgrades To Asia Wide Open!

Over the past couple of years, American has been extremely stingy with making premium cabin award seats available across the Pacific. In late-November I even wrote about how American didn’t have a single transpacific first or business class saver level award seat available for all of 2016. Not a single seat.

Fortunately they’ve gotten a bit better lately, though only in spurts.

A couple of weeks ago American made tons of first & business class award seats available between Sydney and Los Angeles, which is a brand new route for them. What’s sort of incredible is that they made these seats available in peak season, for travel mostly in January. I guess despite their joint venture with Qantas, they’re not selling seats as quickly as they were hoping. This award availability is what caused me to visit New Zealand, actually.

If you’re looking to redeem some American miles pre-devaluation, there’s some more good news. American is making a lot of business class award seats available to Shanghai. Specifically they’re making the seats available out of Chicago and Los Angeles, though not out of Dallas.

There seems to be business class award availability starting in March through the end of the schedule. As a reminder, American charges 55,000 miles for one-way business class between the US and Asia, though that cost will be increasing to 70,000 miles for bookings as of March 22, 2016.

There isn’t just available for one person, but in many cases there are at least seven business class award seat.

American-Award-1

American-Award-2

If possible you’ll definitely want to fly the Los Angeles to Shanghai route, as it’s operated by a Boeing 787.

American-787

American’s 787s feature fully flat beds in business class, all with direct aisle access.

American-787

American-787-2

Meanwhile the Chicago to Shanghai route is operated by a Boeing 777, which featured angled seats in business class, with seven seats per row.

American-Business-Class

The 787s also have wifi, while the 777s don’t.

Perhaps even more exciting is that with American upgrade and award availability are generally identical for international business class. So any date with award availability at the saver level in business class should also have confirmable upgrade availability.

American-Upgrade

For example, American has ~$700 fares between Los Angeles and Shanghai, so being able to lock in an upgrade on such a flight at the time of booking, and picking up a ton of miles in the process, is pretty awesome.

AMERICAN-FARE

As a reminder, a visa is required for travel to China, unless you’re doing a 72 hour transit without visa. You can only do that if you’re continuing to a third country (so Los Angeles to Shanghai and straight back wouldn’t qualify).

The good news is that China now allows 10 year visas, and I highly recommend using my friends at Allied Passport & Visa if you need help with getting it processed.

Bottom line

It’s great to see American make so much business class award space available on a route. 55,000 miles for a flat bed transpacific business class product is a great value, though I’d say it’s equally exciting if you’re an Executive Platinum member, as you can book a cheap revenue fare and upgrade to business class using systemwide upgrades.

So, who is headed to Shanghai?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. I’m booked in business on a paid ticket on the Chicago to Shanghai route. Going to see if I can use a system wide to upgrade to first. (I have a few that expire soon)

  2. The headline says “Asia”, but the content is only about Shanghai. Is Asia=Shanghai? Or is the headline clickbait?

  3. Free blog gives you free ideas about how to book award travel to China, and you bitch and moan about it being “clickbait.” Why don’t you ask for a refund you dick. Oh right, you pay NOTHING for this, yet you moan like a entitled, spoilt child. If you don’t feel you’re getting accurate advertising, you should take your business elsewhere.

  4. @Kieran So because it’s free, nobody can give any feedback? That’s absurd. I agree that it would have been more accurate, and therefore more *useful* to say China rather than Asia.

    Calling someone names for making a mildly-worded suggestion is childish. Maybe you should take yourself elsewhere.

  5. You can directly connect from Shanghai to Tokyo, Osaka, Colombo, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and further on One World.. so I’d say it’s fairly accurate title. It’s quite comical to nitpick about that when he posts the TPAC segment in confirmed lie flat business, jesus.

  6. Majority of Ben’s posts are relevant and vital info to the game while the vast majority of BA posts are pretty much all click bait/s&*t that no one cares about

  7. That’s great news!!!!! (!)

    Out the door to my local WallyMart to reload my 137 Bluebirds – pound the MS, live the dream, be IN “The Hobby”…

    Oh, wait… nevermind

  8. Pacific-Big deal! Try to get Business and First MileSaver awards on AA/AB/IB/Finnair to Europe——not on BA via LHR with ripoff surcharges.

  9. I’m with Jerry Mandel… For whatever AA reps read this blog, would LOVE to see some oneworld saver level availability on transatlantic routes. Pretty please. First, business, economy, I’ll take anything at this point.

  10. Ben—if I want to go further into SE Asia and/ or Australia, what is the easiest American partner “to get along with”?

    Evan

  11. Oh and one more thing:
    AA is going to try to wedge you, come hell or high water, through London on any TrAtlantic flight!

    They know that the unbelievably odious taxes through Heathrow / rarely Gatwick–even for transfers– would give anyone pause to use use miles plus a thousand dollars; I often wonder if neophytes are aware that this AA trans Atlantic stunt is a one place super egregious rip off like no other, or they think that ALL award travel carries fees that high!

  12. @Mike–you’re right about Tokyo and Osaka but the larger point still stands you can connect to any place in Asia2 and given that that region covers the vast majority of Asia as defined by AA and that the over water flight is often the hardest to get, the title about space to Asia is indeed accurate.

  13. @evan torch:

    There was actually pretty decent availability out of ZRH for a while on AA for summer 2016, either through PHL or JFK, if you’re trying to evade LHR or other taxes (France and Germany have them as well, though not quite as steep). Also, there’s ways to evade getting nicked for UK APD on an inbound flight if you have a modest stash of Avios; there’s no charge for ARRIVING in LHR on a flight, and you can book an onward flight using Reward Flight Saver and Avios and avoid some taxes.

    I managed to line some up for myself in mid-July (ZRH-JFK-LAX in AA J/F). Quite nice to get award flights during European peak travel season for the USA.

  14. Hey Ben, there are similar deals with one of the star alliance partners at this time? thank you for the wonderful tips, I read your site daily! 🙂

  15. Checked again and they are still pretty stingy in award space from ANYWHERE to PEK. I agree with other posts – if you want to do Europe, you get stuck on BA through LHR which mean surcharges that cost as much as a regular ticket WITH awards. There are a few exceptions to this, but I would like to let others know that are new to the hobby to be VERY careful with earning miles on AA.

  16. Dee is right. Award space is NONEXISTENT to most places in Asia unless you want to spend 210,000 miles ONE way or fly overpriced award economy. AA miles are joke now. Never thought AA would make Delta’s FF program look good, but they did. I’d recommend to newbies to go elsewhere.

  17. @evan torch–are you asking if Avios can be used to pay for fuel surcharges and fees? The answer is no.

  18. What did some writers mean when they implied that THIS was a method around the BA problem.
    I’m a neophyte here!

    From a day or two ago:
    There was actually pretty decent availability out of ZRH for a while on AA for summer 2016, either through PHL or JFK, if you’re trying to evade LHR or other taxes (France and Germany have them as well, though not quite as steep). Also, there’s ways to evade getting nicked for UK APD on an inbound flight if you have a modest stash of Avios; there’s no charge for ARRIVING in LHR on a flight, and you can book an onward flight using Reward Flight Saver and Avios and avoid some taxes.

    I managed to line some up for myself in mid-July (ZRH-JFK-LAX in AA J/F). Quite nice to get award flights during European peak travel season for the USA.

  19. @Ben – Thanks for the post.
    Want to correct one of your comment ‘ If possible you’ll definitely want to fly the Los Angeles to Shanghai route, as it’s operated by a Boeing 787.” I snagged 2 business class tickets on the LA- PVG route ,and put it on hold as I need to purchase miles to complete the balance required.

    However I noticed as the flight shows it as a Boeing 777. (even went to Seat Guru and double checked the mapping configuration and they matched the 777-200)
    Did American pull out the 787 ? that would suck as the 777 does not seem to be flat bed (:

    Is it worth the difference ? your thoughts ?

  20. I emptied out my miles by booking two trips pre-devalution.
    Booked business round trip from ORD to PRG. airberlin on the way there and then BA/AA connecting through LHR on the way back. 100k with 10% back and only $186.
    Took advantage of their mile bonus, 40k, bonus 15k, and 10% off and used them to book business round trip ORD to DFW to HKG and back. Actually first class on the ORD to DFW and back leg, then a nice business class seat on the 16hr flight. All on American but 110k miles and $43 in fees!
    Really excited to add stamps in my passport and fly business – I’ve never flown in a premium cabin before!

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