American Business Class Award Space Wide Open to Paris

While I’m a big fan of American AAdvantage, that’s mostly for their generous top tier elite program and using their miles for awards on their airline partners.

American’s revenue management has been notoriously stingy about releasing seats for premium cabin international travel — over the past three years to Europe, and over the past 18 months or so even to Latin America and Asia.

What’s more, because American doesn’t have as many partners across the Atlantic as Star Alliance airlines do, that leaves few options.

  • Their primary partner across the Atlantic is British Airways, and awards on BA incur fuel surcharges. You can come out of pocket an extra $800 or so on top of taxes and fees when redeeming miles to travel on BA.

  • I usually find myself looking for business class awards on Iberia, Chicago / New York JFK / Boston / Miami to Madrid. They tend to be feast or famine, though of course connecting in Spain isn’t at all convenient for travel to Northern Europe!

So when American releases premium cabin awards on their own flights, that’s notable.

Wide Open Business Class Awards to Paris

Between now and March American Airlines award availability between the US and Paris is very good. The absolute best availability appears to be from New York and Philadephia, although there is also some space from Miami, and Dallas.

Monday and Tuesdays are the absolute best, there are days with 7 or more business class award (and upgrade) seats available.

But in the midst of winter you’ll see strong availability across several days of the week.

Here’s availability for four business class award seats, New York JFK – Paris.

Here’s availability again for four business class award seats Philadelphia – Paris:

New York JFK – Paris is operated by a Boeing 767, and I’m not a huge fan of the new business class seat.

Far better is the US Airways seat, an earlier version of the reverse herringbone business class offered on American’s 777-300ERs and on Cathay Pacific and others.

Cost of These Flights

Here’s what American charges in miles:

  • American’s business class awards are 50,000 miles each way between North America and Europe
  • American’s first class awards are 62,500 miles each way between North America and Europe

If you’re using miles from British Airways (a Chase and American Express partner) the price is based on distance. New York and Philadelphia – Paris will run 60,000 Avios each way plus fuel surcharges. Other cities to Paris cost 75,000.

Here’s the Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets With American AAdvantage Miles.

Sure It’s Not High Season for Paris, But…

I visited Paris for Thanksgiving in 2009. And I went around Christmas and New Years in 2012 and 2014. I don’t make a point of spending a ton of time in Western European capitals, but there’s something special about the City of Light around the holidays.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. That would be for a Paris terminus though, right? I can’t think of any partners that would fly a connection from Paris. Maybe just LHR or Spain?

  2. Not seeing anything close to those results, are you sure you checked AA flights only to exclude the heavily YQd Open Skies flights?

  3. @ Gary — Even worse than the 767 is the 757, which has slanted lay-flat seats and operates on one frequency per day on this route during the winter.

  4. I like it, absolutely, but as someone with plans (and a confirmed AA award itinerary) to visit in June, I have to point out exactly how much more difficult it is to find premium seats in the high season. I spent weeks looking (and still have some alerts set up on ExpertFlyer) for first or business class seats to Paris. I eventually found some in biz, but they’re on an awkwardly-timed flight with an undesirable domestic connection. I’d give just about anything to fly F on the new 77W connecting in London, but that space just doesn’t exist. (And please don’t suggest that I could book an AAnytime award. Sure, I could, but it’d be like paying $100k for a Kia.)

    These specials should certainly be exploited by savvy Hobbyists who know what they’re getting into, but I feel like it can be deceptive–sort of like the Groupon deals for cheap airfare to Ireland in February: Sure, you’re going to Ireland, but if you had plans to enjoy anything other than bone-chilling cold, you’ll have to work for it.

    As a Hobbyist, I don’t mind that much because I earn the vast majority of my miles doing things other than flying. But if I were a devoted AA frequent flyer, I would be positively incensed if I spent time and effort to earn miles flying AA and then found out that I couldn’t book saver fares for my family during the time of year when we would actually want to travel.

  5. As the earlier poster mentioned and also Gary. On many routes it is near impossible to find saver space. So when Delta gets bashed for their changes and even United American can keep the charts the same but show no saver space. Effectively charging some of the highest rates out there. Many routes that used to be no real problem (at least in advance) now offer crappy routings on AA metal if you can find it. Or routings on BA with crappy routings and huge fuel surcharges.

  6. @poinster

    What actually bothers me as a hobbyist is that AA pushes all of their award redemption over to their JV partner BA, who adds substantial fuel surcharges. That way, they can advertise “AA doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on our free award flights” (it’s just the minimal 9/11 fee if you’re not making a connection) but then if you actually want to go to Europe, they force you onto their partner BA, with whom they actually share the “fuel surcharges”.

    As a bit of a pointless aside, I was reading a cruise forum where a poster suggested that “kayak is really awesome, I got tickets to Europe for a $50 fare roundtrip for my med cruise. Love it!” But also volunteered that there was like $600 in fuel surcharges. I really wanted to burst his bubble and say that he didn’t have a $50 fare.

  7. I am with you 100% on the fuel surcharges, Dan. I have paid them myself. I just hope that one day they will be eliminated. I think BA is far superior to AA, both on the ground and in the air. Just not $1000 per award ticket superior.

  8. ” I have to point out exactly how much more difficult it is to find premium seats in the high season.”

    Airlines, like most businesses, prefer to sell things during periods of high demand as opposed to giving them away as a way to keep making money, and, like most businesses, are more willing to discount prices or give freebies during periods of low demand.

    Frequent flyer programs were specifically invented to take advantage of this, and hobbyists also take advantage of this as well.

    Personally, I find Paris charming in Christmastime. I figure I can be cold at home or in Paris, and at least if I’m in Paris I’m in Paris.

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