Great American Airlines First Class Award Space West Coast – Europe Without Fuel Surcharges

JonNYC pointed to excellent award availability in business and first class for two people San Francisco – London this summer.

And it’s certainly true you can fly American Airlines first class which has the appeal of also avoiding British Airways draconian fuel surcharges.

My first reaction to Jon’s tweet was confusion because it sounded like he was referring to American Airlines San Francisco – London non-stop, and of course American doesn’t fly that route (their joint venture partner British Airways does). No, he was talking about originating in San Francisco and this points to something really important.

For the past year and a half American has been making extra award space available on a connecting basis (married segments), mostly in coach. They’ve been treating miles as money and bidding for award inventory from revenue management.

  • This is not non-stop availability.

  • But it’s really quite good.

  • San Francisco – New York JFK – London Heathrow means flying flying in three-cabin first class the whole way.

What’s super interesting though is that when you can book San Francisco – New York JFK – London Heathrow, you can not just book New York JFK – London Heathrow. There’s no saver availability at all. And if you wanted just the one flight as an award you’d have to pay an elevated AAnytime price of 215,000 miles.

West Coast – Europe award travel is tough, getting premium cabin to Europe on American Airlines (and thus not paying surcharges) is tougher still. This is definitely worth taking ‘AAdvantage’ of. And enjoy American’s Flagship First Dining facility at New York JFK.

And if you have a stash of Etihad Guest miles, ring up about your preferred itinerary to see if they can book for 50,000 miles each way in business (vs. 57,500 from American) or 62,500 in first.

However if there was any doubt that American’s married segment award availability logic was in play for premium cabin awards now (and with ensuing negative consequences for making changes to awards) this should illustrate the extension beyond coach — and is a part of dynamic availability if not pricing.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Yes, it is pretty pitiful that you can’t ever seem to book the East Coast-London and beyond flights…I have a ton of SW miles that I never use so getting to NYC, Boston, etc wouldn’t be a problem to fly abroad but there never is availability without crazy high surcharges so they got to be useless. I finally spent a huge amount to use them up leaving me with only about 40k AA miles and a whole bunch of AA gift cards from our Amex plat card annual $200 cards we’ve accumulated. I wish I could use my BA miles and pay the fees with my AA gift cards…that would be a great combo!

  2. I’m flying at the end of the month LGA->PHL->MAN in J for the 57.5K rate. The PHL->MAN segment was not available by itself; I had to marry it with the LGA->PHL to get anything to show up. That routing makes sense for me, so I’m perfectly happy.

  3. Flew an AAL 737-8 today interior retrofit BWI-PHX, in 1st, followed by a PHX-TUS leg in 1st on an old interior AC (after my flight was cancelled the previous day for a lack of a 737-8 to fly the BWI-DFW portion of my BWI-TUS fare)

    Everything you said, less room between seats in 1st, the new seats are not as comfortable, no video screen on the backs, less room underneath for storage, tiny BR and no bulkhead between the cabins.

  4. Anyone else getting a new completely overhauled (and terrible) award booking interface on AA?

  5. Love this. These posts are so helpful – not just rehashing flyertalk but giving background. Keep up the good work!

  6. Wow, I can’t believe there is over 20 dates with availability. This must be some fat finger error or phantom availability. I can’t seem to book it with Alaska points, as Alaska doesn’t show the same availability.

    I noticed however, that it is only in the summer. Is there anything available after August?

  7. As an EP can you book SFO-JFK-LHR and then once it tickets just call and drop the SFO-JFK segment?

  8. @jeff go to the same search as though you’re buying a paid ticket, and select book with miles. that page brings you the standard search

  9. I posted about this in May in a FT thread. And 2 U class awards doesn’t even come close to what was available on the SFO-LHR-LHR route for a few weeks. We snagged 5 85k Z awards, there were 5 available almost every day of the last week of July. And U, there were 7 U awards on a number of days that week. I pointed out in the AA married segments thread that you could also get to SFO on Alaska without breaking married segments, so we added SEA-SFO as well with no mileage increase. These things were lying in plain sight (or should i say “plane sight”) for weeks,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.