Beat the System: Get American Airlines Business Seats to Paris Cheaper with These Tricks

Demand to Europe falls dramatically during the winter. American Airlines has good availability for business class award seats to Paris from its various gateways during this period. But what’s striking about it is (1) how much cheaper you can book the same seats on American now if you’re using another frequent flyer program instead of AAdvantage, and (2) the ways you can get American to charge you less for these flights even with AAdvantage miles.

Here’s American Airlines showing their ‘lowest priced’ business class award seats. One way from New York to Paris is coming up at 93,500 miles. That’s not ‘extra availability for more miles.’ These seats are actually traditional saver seats, which are also available to partner airlines.

Before they dropped milesAAver and AAnytime awards it cost 57,500 miles for business class between the U.S. and Europe. Now? 93,500, even though the American Airlines award chart says the price ‘starts at’ 75,000 miles.

As I mentioned, these are partner award seats too. So instead of spending 93,500 AAdvantage miles one way, you can spend 57,500 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for the same seat.

Want to spend just 57,500 AAdvantage miles one way for the seat instead of 93,500? Easy. Book that New York JFK to Paris flight and connect. That’s because the connection beyond Paris will be on a partner airline, like British Airways. And American still has their partner award chart. That hasn’t changed (though Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja hints changes may be coming there too).

You can fly to London via Paris for 57,500 miles. Without checked bags you can even get off in Paris, though strictly speaking that would be against the rules.

There’s another way to drop the price of that 93,500 mile one way award. Book roundtrip. That’ll make each way 65,000 miles. Here it pairs with a British Airways award (at 57,500 miles since that’s a partner) making the roundtrip 122,500 miles. Roundtrip you aren’t paying 93,500 x 2. (And don’t worry, you can still change the return even after flying the outbound.)

The other thing to know is that connecting itineraries on American are often cheaper than just booking the non-stop. For instance Sydney – Los Angeles – Charlotte might be one-third the cost of Sydney – Los Angeles.

American Airlines offers incredible value through its partner award chart. Pricing for premium cabins especially on its own long haul flights is a big mess. Fortunately it’s still possible to get a decent deal occasionally – you just have to jump through some hoops to do it.

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. Hi Gary,

    This is a great reminder. I currently have a flight to London booked through AS on AA due to the large mileage difference.

    I’ll take a look for award availability last minute as I find 57,500 AS miles more valuable than 63,000 AA miles.

  2. Does this take into consideration the ridiculous fuel surcharges that say BA passes on to its partners now?

  3. To say ‘you could skiplag on American but it’s “technically” against the rules’ is as irresponsible as it gets. It’s not *technically* against the rules it’s against the rules full stop. And anyone with enough miles to book a business award ticket on American most likely has a lot to lose by doing it.

  4. Not everyone has AS miles; so litle value tip. Not everyone lives in NY/NJ. Expand to show connection via CDG to London from other areas. Expand to coach flights. Connecting in CDG is a good idea; better than from CDG by train?

  5. This is useful for getting into many cities deeper in Europe – you can fly AA to LHR and then have a partner connection flight to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, etc.

    @Monsrat Yes I have found PHX -> FRA and DFW -> AMS for 57.5K AA miles + $23 in recent searches. The differentiator is whether you are flying AA or BA to LHR – if it’s AA operated you get the low fees but the better mileage pricing for the second leg being on a partner as Gary wrote about. If it’s BA the whole route the fees are much higher.

  6. Honestly if business is 200k off peak without hacks I really question whether card miles are still good for most people

  7. @HS, having just flown SQ economy on a 10 hour flight and having previously flown AA business class transatlantic a handful of times I disagree presuming I could get AA biz class for 57k – 65k miles.

  8. This definitely works from Australia. Plenty of good rewards via lax for sub 100k. Just searched for Raleigh or Asheville in May. Can get down to 135k. Not terrible for 22hrs of flying.

  9. If I do a dummy search in February I see as low as 86.5k to Asheville from Sydney. I’ll book the 135k and cancel as better options become available.

    Lolllll Singapore economy over aa biz.

    I really like aa biz. Nice private seat. Good flagship lounge in dfw and ord. If only they wouldn’t turn the lights on two hours prior to landing at lhr!!

  10. I consistently book AA using AS miles and get much more value that way. 57.5K for one way biz to Europe is usually very easy to book as long as you’re a little flexible. Also book AA first class for domestic trips at 27.5K one way. It’s really weird to see a nonstop AS flight from SEA to FLL, MIA, etc priced out at 60-90K and right next to it have an AA flight with a connection for a third of the miles.

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