Great ‘Backup Route’ For Business Class Transatlantic Awards

I noticed yesterday when searching for the great first class availability on Emirates from several cities to Dubai that there was really good award availability on Royal Air Maroc in business class between the U.S. and Casablanca, Morocco (because I was using Qantas to search and that allows combining Royal Air Maroc awards with travel on Emirates).

Royal Air Maroc has been a ‘go to’ for transatlantic award space as a worst case scenario (and it’s actually a great option in many cases) dating to long before the airline was part of oneworld, when you’d use either Etihad or Iberia Avios to book the seats. Now Alaska Airlines has added Royal Air Maroc to its award booking options this week.

And the Straight to the Points award availability email newsletter has sent out a blast about how good the award space is now as well, noting that for June through November 2022 there’s strong availability for three passengers in business class flying out of:

  • New York JFK (daily service)
  • Washington Dulles (3 weekly flights)
  • Miami (3 weekly flights)
  • Montral (daily service)

You may not think of Royal Air Maroc for transatlantic travel – but Casablanca is just over 500 miles from Madrid. Depending on the program you use you may need to book a separate award for onward travel, but that can be accomplished easily with Avios, e.g. Madrid or London via Iberia or British Airways or with Star Alliance or SkyTeam partners to its hubs as well.

Current availability isn’t quite the point because you aren’t likely to start here unless you’re looking to travel to Morocco. What I wanted to flag, and what seeing space yesterday and Spencer’s email reminds, is that it’s always a good route to check when you’ve got nothing else.

You can redeem American and Alaska miles, as well as miles in other oneworld programs transferable from various credit card currencies and get a solid business product.

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. Aeromexico flies from Monterrey and Guadalajara to Madrid.
    Also both mexican cities has a great conectivity to U.S.

  2. In normal times, sure. But Morocco has suddenly closed its borders multiple times in the last few weeks, sometimes with less than 24 hours notice. And no they don’t care that you’re “just transiting.” I heard a very sad story of a honeymooning couple that had to leave the country less than 12 hours after arriving, for example. I don’t see Royal Air Maroc booking as a reliable option for a while.

  3. I flew them this past August and was pleasantly surprised. Being in DC it’s so nice to have this option. Yes, the -9 going to Casa was great with the NG seating in business. But really, the return in the -8, while quirky, was still decent. Food on both flights was great, service was attentive and better than most U.S. carrier flights.

    I also flew them on a domestic segment to Dakhla and it was a nice surprise to get a full meal and service in business on a two hour flight. And U.S. style first seating on a 737-800.

    CMN is not horrid. Sure, it’s not MUC or LHR T5, but it does the job. Domestic security can be a bit chaotic at times, but go with this expectations. The lounge for RAM is meh but still fine (it’s in the basement level should you be confused, lol) Even has a nice outdoor atrium to sit when the weather is nice.

    I am totally fine flying them. No, it’s not Emirates or even AF business. But in a pinch it works. Especially if flying to Morocco specifically it’s perfect to avoid transfers in Europe.

  4. Transatlantic flights from the US east coast are not that long. Anybody who can’t slum it in Economy is a … what Trump called Pence for certifying the results of Election 2020.

  5. From east coast yes and Morocco is a great stop over. From west coast it’s a nonstarter might as well take a United flight if you have transit these hellhole gateways.

  6. 100k AS miles for J is rather eye-opening. At a valuation of a penny an AS mile, 60k + $400 in YQ/taxes to fly BA J pencils out even- if you value AS miles at 1.2 cpm it’s more like 60k+ $480.

    Even worse, if you’re on the West Coast (read: you have AS miles because you actually fly them), you MUST buy a positioning flight to YUL (miles or cash), or hope for AS Saver inventory to JFK/IAD/MIA (protip: not common in Y, rare in F) or buy said positioning flight.

    Adding RAM wasn’t completely useless (the Europe-Africa award isn’t terrible) but as a TATL option for AS’s customer base it’s pretty useless. The recent OW award adds by AS (QR, AY, IB, AT), have been anywhere from “meh, OK, but AA is better” (QR, AY, IB) to “LOL, AYFKM” (AT).

    I suspect this means devaluation for AA/AS is coming since AS is already devaluing mileage usefulness on new partners. I would guess that AA will hold off for a while during initial Loyalty Points implementation and then you’ll see something like partner TATL J going to 70-75k…

  7. @Big Booty — but why would choose to torture themselves by flying evonomy that far? I won’t fly economy on a 300-mile flight.

  8. @Gene the economy comment was just a way to insert TDS into the discussion, off-topic. No one would “want” to fly the economy that far even if they do of course.

  9. Agree with @Stuart here. I flew them in business when BA canceled its morning Cairo flight last summer. Lie-flat seat, service, food all decent on the trans-Atlantic portion. Only problem: the flight times don’t work for trips to the west coast (they land on east coast after last of flights to west have departed, necessitating an overnight).

  10. Availability is suspect. For early August 2022 it was showing 3 business CMN-IAD for weeks, but you get an error when you book through AA. Called the elite desk and they don’t see the availability on their end.

  11. As a Washington DC resident, I was pretty happy to get IAD-CMN-LIS in J using AA miles, with the 787-9 on the transatlantic leg. Do they still use the Etihad lounge at IAD?

  12. I realize I’m replying to an old article, but business class availability between NYC to and Casablanca ain’t what it used to be. Right now, there appears to be no more than a single business class seat on any NS flight, at least as far as the AA site is showing.

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