ACT FAST: Wide Open American AAdvantage Business Class Award/Upgrade Space to Europe Without Fuel Surcharges

American’s revenue management has been notoriously stingy about releasing seats for premium cabin international travel over the past three years.

What’s more, because American doesn’t have as many partners as Star Alliance airlines do, that leaves few options especially to Europe and fewer still that don’t hit you with big surcharges as their primary European partner is British Airways. So when American releases premium cabin awards on their own flights, that’s notable.

American seems to have released a ton of award and upgrade space from several US cities to London. There are plenty of dates where you’ll find as many as 6 or more award seats on the elusive Los Angeles – London route even.

I haven’t made a comprehensive search while using excruciatingly slow inflight internet on an American flight this evening, but wanted to make sure folks had a shot at this while it’s out there.

Wide Open Summer Business Class Award Space to London

Los Angeles – London

The absolute gem of availability is Los Angeles both because of wide open space and because it’s the longest flight. As well, both Los Angeles – London departures are operated by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which I prefer.

Their new Boeing 777-300ERs got an off the shelf business class seat from Zodiac Aerospace similar to the US Airways Airbus A330 seat. It’s a fantastic seat.

American Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

American Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

Charlotte – London

Charlotte offers great space onboard Airbus A330s with reverse herringbone all aisle access seats. These are real winners. US Airways pioneered the seat that is often considered the best business class seat in the world (Cathay Pacific and EVA Airways use essentially the same basic seat).

Philadelphia – London

There’s just a trickle of space and it’s available in the fall onboard the legacy US Airways A330s.

New York JFK – London

In the fall there’s space during the first part of the week most of the time.

American operates a mix of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with my favorite business class seat, and reconfigured 777-200s with new business class that’s fully flat all-aisle access.

American Boeing 777-200 New Business Class Seat

Miami – London

Miami flights have space over the summer and late fall. Flights are operated by both Boeing 777-300ER and unreconfigured 777-200 aircraft.

Aircraft assigned to a given flight can, of course, change between now and departure.

Bonus Availability: Philadephia – Paris

Availability during summer with American’s strong legacy US Airways Airbus A330 business class product is reasonably good as well.

Taking the Whole Family? Now’s the Time to Act

Availability for four passengers is really good, too. On the Los Angeles – London route shows at least 6 award seats most days. There’s more confirmed upgrade space than that, even, so if you’re looking to use a ‘vip systemwide’ upgrade you’ll be able to confirm business class for the price of coach at booking on many days — with more seats than you have systemwides. You can also use miles to upgrade with a cash co-pay.

Cost of These Awards

American charges just 50,000 miles each way for business class between the US and Europe.

You can connect within North America to these flights, and on American’s partner British Airways beyond London to elsewhere in Europe, for no additional miles (and fuel surcharges for short intra-Europe flights will be modest).

These seats are available to British Airways members, of course. New York and Chicago – London cost 60,000 Avios each way. Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles – London are 75,000 Avios each way. You’ll pay additional points, though, for flights to those cities, and beyond London, and you’ll also pay fuel surcharges as well.

Starwood points transfer to American, and American lets you put awards on hold for 5 days allowing you to lock in the award reservation prior to making a transfer. Here’s what you need to know about transferring Starwood points.

(HT: flyingeph12)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Mark – Fortunately American’s operation at LAX is only very limited in the Tom Bradley terminal where security theater waits can be awful and there’s no precheck.

  2. 1) Is there nonstops from SFO?
    2) Can the transfer to AA be made from Chase?
    3) For LAX, I cannot find nonstop flights. Help please


  3. Great find! I’m looking at an itinerary for 2people LAX-LHR on AA in Biz. Taxes come out to $590 – is that correct?

  4. @Mike UK taxes for itineraries that begin in that country are high. If you return from Amsterdam, Paris, etc THROUGH Heathrow taxes drop quite a bit

  5. American offers 5 day holds, no fee free cancels (except for Executive Platinums)

    Cancel / redeposit is $150 for the first passenger and $25 each additional passenger on the same reservation

  6. No non-stops from SFO. Chase doesn’t transfer to American, but does transfer to BA which can book these seats (more miles plus fuel surcharges)

  7. Gary thanks for this post!!! I’ve been looking daily for 3 weeks for upgrade space to LHR or anywhere in Europe and have found nothing until today, thanks you. Yippee, 2 coach tickets with instant upgrade tahnks to SWU’s to business was cheaper then miles and taxes.

  8. Thanks very much. I already had a summer reservation on biz for LAX-MIA-LHR and just changed it to LAX to LHR non stop

  9. I just booked flights and found out that here are also taxes of around $190/person round trip.

  10. While space is available from LAX-LHR, the reverse is not true. LHR-LAX is pretty limited for nonstop flights.

  11. Approximately how often does AA release this “extra” award capacity? It seems like it happens every few months?

  12. Thanks Gary! I found AA first and Biz in the range of dates I’m looking at. I’ve read mixed reviews on AA First, is it worth the extra 12.5k miles for a one way from LAX- LHR?

  13. @Sam for 12.5k miles on such a long flight I would take first class for the more intimate cabin (which I find much more restful) and pajamas etc. It’s not a ton better than business on the route, but the premium for it is quite small in my opinion

  14. I am having trouble finding any Biz to/from LHR that isn’t on BA metal. Any tips on assuring AA metal? I’m happy to position, if needed. Thanks!

  15. Out of LAX in J, will you be able to access the OneWorld J lounge in TBIT this summer? I’ve been reading mixed thoughts on the connector between terminals opening on time.

  16. I can’t find anything EU-US in J for any of July with the new flatbeds, and very, very limited for even their crappy J seats.

  17. Is it worth the 62K miles for a FC upgrade on AA B777-200 JFK to FCO this October, seems this is a retrofit plane for business, is FC old school?

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