Back in October American Airlines announced two new exciting international routes out of Dallas, to both Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The new Hong Kong service was especially exciting to me, given that Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world, it would be American’s longest route, and it would be the only route to Asia operated by American’s 777-300ERs, which feature their new first and business class products. The new Hong Kong flight became bookable as of mid-December, and as of mid-January they began releasing a ton of business class upgrade and award space, which is somewhat surprising given how tough it will be for them to turn a profit on an ultra longhaul flight like this.
Anyway, over the weekend American’s new route from Dallas to Shanghai became bookable as well. This will be American’s third route to Shanghai, complementing their daily service out of Chicago and Los Angeles. It will be operated by a 777-200, which is the same plane they fly to all their other destinations in Asia.
Anyway, American’s new Dallas to Shanghai route is now on sale for travel starting June 11, 2014 (June 12, 2014 for Shanghai to Dallas). The schedule for the flight looks as follows:
American 127 Dallas to Shanghai departing 10:55AM arriving 2:55PM (+1 day)
American 128 Shanghai to Dallas departing 4:50PM arriving 6:10PM
This definitely qualifies as an ultra longhaul flight, as it’s blocked at 15hr westbound, and 14hr20min eastbound.
Now here’s what’s really interesting about the new Dallas to Shanghai route. American is releasing virtually no business class upgrade or award space, but they’re releasing an unreal amount of first class award space. The first class cabin has 16 seats, and they’re releasing at least seven first class saver award seats on a majority of dates.
For example, in looking at first class award space for six people in first class for the first month of service (over peak summer dates), here’s the availability I see:
As you can see, in both directions all but two dates have at least six first class award seats.
American also has extremely reasonable first class redemption rates for travel to Asia, as they charge just 67,500 AAdvantage miles one-way.
So it’s not too late to book a first class award for a family to Asia this summer. While there are ultimately better first class products out there, it’s tough to compete with the price and amount of first class award space they’ve released. I don’t necessarily expect this will last, so if you’re interested I’d recommend locking in space as soon as possible.
(Tip of the hat to Brian)