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.
If possible you’ll definitely want to fly the Los Angeles to Shanghai route, as it’s operated by a Boeing 787.
American’s 787s feature fully flat beds in business class, all with direct aisle access.
Meanwhile the Chicago to Shanghai route is operated by a Boeing 777, which featured angled seats in business class, with seven seats per row.
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.
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.
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).
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)