While I’m a big fan of American AAdvantage, that’s mostly for their generous top tier elite program and using their miles for awards on their airline partners.
American’s revenue management has been notoriously stingy about releasing seats for premium cabin international travel — over the past three years to Europe, and over the past 18 months or so even to Latin America and Asia.
What’s more, because American doesn’t have as many partners across the Atlantic as Star Alliance airlines do, that leaves few options.
- Their primary partner across the Atlantic is British Airways, and awards on BA incur fuel surcharges. You can come out of pocket an extra $800 or so on top of taxes and fees when redeeming miles to travel on BA.
- I usually find myself looking for business class awards on Iberia, Chicago / New York JFK / Boston / Miami to Madrid. They tend to be feast or famine, though of course connecting in Spain isn’t at all convenient for travel to Northern Europe!
So when American releases premium cabin awards on their own flights, that’s notable.
- It’s rare.
- It saves the extortionate British Airways fuel surcharges.
- American’s product — at least on the Boeing 777-300ER, the refurbished 777-200s, and the 787 — is quite good.
This Winter’s Availability for 2 Passengers
American is making transatlantic business class space available for the winter months. Actually, it opens up a bit in November and appears best in January-February.
Here’s Chicago – Paris for 2 passengers over the December-January period.
Dallas – Madrid availability isn’t that good, but far better than it usually is with American, mostly limited to the period at the beginning of the week.
London is a destination you can come by (and which from many gateways is served by the excellent new Boeing 777-300ER) from several American gateways. New York – London is a bit tough, despite having the most flights, it’s limited to the beginning of the week.
For Chicago – London you can redeem for first class, 2 passengers as well.
Business is slightly more available.
Miami – London is doable as long as you avoid the weekends.
The same is roughly true for Dallas – London.
Most surprisingly, availability for American’s non-stop Los Angeles – London flights is pretty good.
Granted, the winter may not be when you want to go to Europe. Although many do enjoy it for the holidays. What’s helpful here is that with seats widely available to London you can connect onward using British Airways award space from there, paying only the short haul fuel surcharges for the BA European segments and not the extortionate overwater surcharges.
Cost of These Flights
Here’s what American charges in miles:
- American’s business class awards are 50,000 miles each way between North America and Europe
- American’s first class awards are 62,500 miles each way between North America and Europe
Note that if you’re using miles on one of American’s partners, like British Airways (but not LAN), to claim this space you will incur fuel surcharges. Using American miles though for American flights you do not.
Choice of Aircraft Matters
It’s important to know which plane you’re getting. For instance, the old business class onboard the 777-200s (which shouldn’t be around too much longer) is angled not fully flat. The same is true for the few remaining 767s flying internationally that haven’t yet been converted.
Whereas the Boeing 777-300ER seat is among the best in the world (it’s similar to what’s installed by Cathay Pacific, EVA Airways, and others).
I like American’s 787 business class seat almost (although not quite) as much.
On the other hand I’m not a huge fan of the new 767 seat, though it’s fully flat with all aisle access. It’s just too narrow for comfortable sleeping, in my opinion.