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.