Hurry: Book Your American AAdvantage Awards to Europe, Brief Availability Floodgates Opened

American Airlines usually offers terrible — meaning absolutely no — premium cabin saver award space on its own planes.

Their pattern though is to occasionally dump award space that remains open for a day or two. So you need to pounce when it’s there.

The nice thing is that American AAdvantage allows you to hold award space for up to 5 days without having the requisite miles in your account, so if you need to transfer or buy some miles you can lock in your award first. (For instance, Starwood transfers generally take 2-3 days.)

Right now appears to be one of those availability dumps, for flights to London from various US gateway cities. American AAdvantage charges 57,500 miles each way between the US and Europe in business class.

Beyond London you can fly British Airways (or Iberia, Finnair). And if you can find American Airlines or Alaska Airlines award space to and from US international gateway cities you can include those for no additional AAdvantage miles.

American’s website had a problem where you’d specify American Airlines flights only, but it will still pull up partner flights. This is important on London routes because partner flights include British Airways which means:

  • An inferior business class product
  • Extortionate ‘carrier-imposed charges’ so you pay close to $1000 in addition to miles

However it appears, based on my spot checks, that much of the availability coming up is American Airlines availability (although the calendars will show intermittent BA space it seems). Check.

Here’s what we’re seeing.

Dallas Fort Worth – London, October 29 through April 16 end of schedule.

What’s especially nice is that availability isn’t even just for one flight but up to 3 flights per day.

Chicago – London, October 17 through end of schedule

Philadelphia – London, September 19 through end of schedule

Miami – London availability is more sparse, but you’ll find it September 5 through April 2 (also a handful of dates over June through August).

new york

Los Angeles – London, February 12 through April 10

Charlotte – London doesn’t have availability. Unbelievably Raleigh – London which never has availability even during periods like this has some space July 24 through August 13 and again a smattering of dates mid-October through April 10. It’s not wide open, but more than I can recall seeing on the route.

When selecting routes, be aware of the aircraft you’re going to be flying. The new (4-across business class on the seat map) Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 787 seat is quite good. As is business class on the Boeing 777-300ER (“77W”) and on the Boeing 787-9 (‘Super Diamond’ seat). The great news is that by the time this availability occurs there’s no longer supposed to be any 7-across angled business class on American’s Boeing 777-200s.

New Business Class Seat, American Airlines 777-200

(HT: JonNYC)

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. @Joe — Departures from the UK pay Air Passenger Duty (APD) which is highest for premium cabin passengers (hence sometimes known as premium cabin departure tax). If you originate outside the UK and merely connect in Heathrow you won’t pay that.

  2. Booked MCO-CDG in Feb. for 2 ppl. @115k each in J. Thanks, Gary for the heads up.

  3. Thanks Gary for the heads-up.

    LOL at the fact that people have been screaming for saver AA award availability and now that it’s finally here, two of the first three comments are more complaints!!

  4. I wonder is this is just coincidence, or if uncertainties related to the proposed electronics ban have knocked paid bookings down, and American is trying to use saver awards to entice customers back?

    (I also wonder why these sorts of opportunities always manage to arise when I have no vacation time left to take advantage of them. Rats!)

  5. I noticed this last night while planning a trip from JFK. The only issue is that AA shows multiple BA flights through LHR, as I make my way to another city. AA had just 1 flight on AA100. Where’d all the IB flight options go. Heck, where did any other alliance partner option go?

  6. You can get the same flights using Alaska Air miles for only 50k in business.

  7. Nothing for me. Flying back from Venice to Philly in mid August on direct AA metal. High availability but not AA saver. 🙁

  8. If I booked an open jaw where I fly into CDG and return from LHR with itinerary originating in PHX and returning to PHX, is the APD assessed?

  9. Flying business on BA instead of AA is an ‘inferior’ product? How so? I’ve taken this flight about 50 times, almost always on BA or AA. How is BA inferior?

  10. @Stan AA has (much) better seats — direct aisle access, compare the 777s… four seats across rather than seven… and American has wifi as well. I’d choose British Airways first over American first (narrowly), but American business over BA business in a heartbeat.

  11. @Jo yes if you originate your return from the UK you pay the APD. On the other hand if you flew to London, and returned from Paris (Paris – Lodnon – US) you would not pay the APD.

  12. Gary, thx for your kind reply and info. As soon as I hit the “enter” key on my above post it occurred to me, “Why not reverse it and fly into LHR first!” “Great minds think alike.” 🙂

  13. @Richard H When and where did you find this availability? I only tried a few dates, but in every case the 50,000 mile award was mixed class with coach over the water.

  14. Gary, just curious, why do you think there is no availability on the CLT-LHR routes?
    Are the loads really that good? Or just that there is no competition on this route?

    I ask as an American flyer who always has to go through CLT so it my preferred gateway.

  15. @Cindi Anderson – I only looked at one flight, which was for a direct flight LAX-LHR on 4-10-18. It is AA #136 and is still available. I just checked for 4-9-18 and there a 2 direct flights available. You may have to take a separate flight to get to an airport with a direct flight.

  16. @Andy – there’s usually no availability on ANY routes. For whatever reason they just didn’t open seats ex-CLT. I wouldn’t overread anything here.

  17. Thanks! Booked CLT-LHR and ATH-LHR-CLT on return all business with one BA leg. 115k for both.

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