Yesterday I wrote that US Airways had (briefly) opened the award floodgates for transatlantic business class space. Inventory had also been wide open for the weekend and two weeks ago we saw nearly whole cabins available.
These weren’t glitches mis-pricing awards, these were opportunities to get awards at their regular prices — but on most flights, most dates, on certain routes.
And they were opportunities to do it without fuel surcharges. With British Airways as the primary transatlantic partner of US Airways and American, and with the hefty fees imposed for awards on that airline, many find Europe premium cabin awards cost prohibitive. Over the past few years, American hasn’t offered much space on their own flights. There’s some airberlin space and occasional Finnair space, but their routes are limited. Iberia is feast or famine, often wide open especially for Chicago and Boston – Madrid.
Nonetheless, this was a huge opportunity. Although in each case it was short-lasting.
American has offered economy seats. But in recent times premium cabin seats have been tough to come by. This really seemed to start about two and a half years ago, but got a lot worse with the introduction of their 777-300ER (flying predominantly to London but also Sao Paulo). ‘New’ business class is something they ‘protected’ and pretty much refused to give out as an award. And as routes operated by other aircraft looked like they could convert to new seats, those closed off too, magnifying an already tight-fisted inventory policy with respect to business and first class awards.
First class to Asia used to be a gimme, but American is removing first class from all but their 777-300ER aircraft and that availability has dried up as well.
So it’s exciting, as a couple of readers pointed out to me in reaction to my posts about US Airways award space, to see a plethora of business class award seats:
- On American
- On a handful of Europe routes
- Starting in the fall
One hopes that these ‘glitches’ may be ‘tests’ as they re-evaluate inventory management that has erred on the side of refusing awards to members.
Here’s availability for two passengers in business class New York JFK – Paris, operated with a reconfigured 767 that has fully flat seats.
Here’s Chicago – Paris operated by the same aircraft.
The thawing isn’t on all routes, not even all Europe routes. For instance you won’t find the same space (or at least I didn’t) on Dallas – Frankfurt or Miami – Barcelona (although seeing space for two business class awards on roughly a quarter of dates on routes like this is itself progress).
One Mile at a Time showed New York JFK – Milan space wide open. I’m seeing availability on that route as pretty tight. So something strange is going on here.
Will this last just a few hours? Who knows. I’d put awards on hold now — American allows 5-day award holds — if you’re looking for them for the fall.
I’m hopeful that the recent spurts of availability signal improvements going forward.
- You can join the 50,000+ people who see these deals and analysis every day — sign up to receive posts by email (just one e-mail per day) or subscribe to the RSS feed. It’s free. You can also follow me on Twitter for the latest deals. Don’t miss out!