ACT FAST: Amazing American AAdvantage Business Class Award Space to Europe Without Fuel Surcharges

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 and fewer still that don’t hit you with big surcharges as their primary European partner is British Airways. So when American releases premium cabin awards on their own flights, that’s notable.

Wide Open Summer Business Class Award Space to London

All American Airlines hubs with London service have wide open business class award space on American’s non-stop flights for a minimum of 2 passengers most days next summer.

Legacy US Airways hubs Charlotte and Philadelphia offer great space onboard Airbus A330s with reverse herringbone all aisle access seats. These are real winners. US Airways pioneered the seat that is often considered the best business class seat in the world (Cathay Pacific and EVA Airways use essentially the same basic seat).

I’d avoid the morning flight from Philadelphia to London. It’s scheduled to be operated by a 757, and while there’s been talk of converting these to fully flat seating I haven’t heard the final plan. (All of American’s transatlantic seats are supposed to be fully flat next year under terms of their joint venture with British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair but there may be some exceptions due to conversion delays on American’s 777-200s and that they still have 757s scheduled.)

Charlotte – London

Philadelphia – London

Legacy American flights are operated by Boeing 767s, 777-200s, and 777-300ERs.

The 767 business class is a bit tight, designed to accommodate all aisle access and full flat beds within the confines of the narrow 767 fuselage. It’s a fairly standard design similar to what’s offered on Delta and several European carriers with that aircraft.


American Boeing 767 Fully Flat Business Class

Their new Boeing 777-300ERs got an off the shelf business class seat from Zodiac Aerospace similar to the US Airways Airbus A330 seat. It’s a fantastic seat.


American Boeing 777-300ER Business Class


American Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

For their Boeing 777-200s being retrofit they went with a custom-designed business class seat from Zodiac. It’s sleek looking, and the rear-facing seats have fantastic table space, but in my opinion it feels tight and confining especially at the shoulders in bed mode.

The 777-200 project has been so delayed that future reconfigurations will even be getting a different seat.


American Boeing 777-200ER Business Class Cabin


American Boeing 777-200ER Business Class Seat

Los Angeles – London

The absolute gem of availability is Los Angeles both because of wide open space and because it’s the longest flight. As well, both Los Angeles – London departures are operated by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which I prefer.

Chicago – London

There are four Chicago – London flights on American, and these are split between 777-200s (which may or may not be reconfigured) and Boeing 767s which should be reconfigured but while offering all aisle access aren’t as wide as reconfigured 777-200 seats thanks to a narrower fuselage.

Miami – London

Miami flights are operated by both Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200 aircraft.

Dallas – London

Dallas flights are operated by both Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200 aircraft. These have the fewest available dates of any of American’s hubs.

New York JFK – London

New York JFK flights are operated by a mix of Boeing 777-300ER and 777-200 aircraft. At one point they had all new 777-300s on the route, but moved two of them at the time they added Los Angeles – Sydney to the schedule.

Aircraft assigned to a given flight can, of course, change between now and departure.

Taking the Whole Family? Now’s the Time to Act

Availability for four passengers is really good, too.

Here’s Los Angeles – London non-stop for four passengers on American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Cost of These Awards

American charges just 50,000 miles each way for business class between the US and Europe.

You can connect within North America to these flights, and on American’s partner British Airways beyond London to elsewhere in Europe, for no additional miles (and fuel surcharges for short intra-Europe flights will be modest).

These seats are available to British Airways members, of course. New York and Chicago – London cost 60,000 Avios each way. Miami, Dallas, and Los Angeles – London are 75,000 Avios each way. You’ll pay additional points, though, for flights to those cities, and beyond London, and you’ll also pay fuel surcharges as well.

Starwood points transfer to American, and American lets you put awards on hold for 5 days allowing you to lock in the award reservation prior to making a transfer. Here’s what you need to know about transferring Starwood points.

(HT: Milecards)

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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Pingbacks

  1. […] Via View from the Wing, business class award space to Europe on American metal is wide open right now. Act fast, as American is notoriously stingy about opening up premium cabin award space to Europe. The space that is wide open is any American metal to LHR. Those routes are the big American and US Airways hubs LAX, MIA, DFW, ORD, CLT, PHL to LHR. […]

  2. […] Via View from the Wing, business class award space to Europe on American metal is wide open right now. Act fast, as American is notoriously stingy about opening up premium cabin award space to Europe. The space that is wide open is any American metal to LHR. Those routes are the big American and US Airways hubs LAX, MIA, DFW, ORD, CLT, PHL to LHR. […]

Comments

  1. These first became available yesterday. I had previously book LAX-LHR on BA and sucked up the fuel surcharges but have been looking everyday, sometimes twice a day to see if AA would release seats. Yesterday morning was a windfall with space everywhere as you noted. Not sure why the change in revenue management, but I quickly switched both directions to AA metal and saved $1,000 in surcharges. Previously, you could look 11 months in advance and find maybe 2-3 days when AA metal had J seats available. Now it’s crazy. Do you know why the change? Anything to do with the res system merger tomorrow? Or just a coincidence?

  2. Of course, you probably need to come back FROM Europe at some point… and if you look you’ll be paying close to $300 for each ticket if you route through London on AA (more if using BA).

  3. @eponymous coward, yes you pay UK premium cabin departure taxes IF YOU ORIGINATE IN THE UK but not if you are coming from somewhere else in Europe and merely connect in the UK

  4. Only about $160 in extra taxes when passing through London each way with a business class ticketed destination beyond UK. Hard to avoid London with the award routings offered.

  5. Thanks for the heads up, Gary. Held two seats LAX-LHR for my in-laws based on this timely post. Much appreciated.

  6. My itinerary (originating in Europe) for ATH-LHR-LAX-DEN and back priced at 100k + $288. I can dig that!

  7. Can you hold seats and add a leg from Heathrow later?

    Gary do you have any strong recommendations for a relaxing non hussle bussle place where award hotel nights may be possible?

  8. How do you search AA metal and exclude BA when searching AAdvantage website? Every route is BA and it makes it a royal PITA to search for anything that works. For example, you list AA 777-300ER availability LAX-LHR on the calendar; how?

  9. Wow. Just booked 2 business seats from RDU-LHR on the nonstop, which NEVER has award space, for 200k miles and $621 in taxes. Thanks for the alert!!

  10. @Gary thank you for posting this! I can’t find any business reward for 3 from Europe back to YVR (except LHR), any suggestions?

  11. Just saw that, thanks! We’re trying to fly into LHR, spend a few days in London if we can find hotels, then take the train or short hops to the rest of EU. Two summers ago we hopped around EU via train and visited Amsterdam, Brussels, London, Paris, Luxembourg City, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt before continuing on to BKK, KUL, SIN, and SFO. God I miss United’s cheap partner awards and wonderful routing rules. Kicking myself for doing J instead of F since we were on LH and TG 747-8 and A380.

  12. ” yes you pay UK premium cabin departure taxes IF YOU ORIGINATE IN THE UK but not if you are coming from somewhere else in Europe and merely connect in the UK”

    You also pay smaller APD if originating in France or Germany, plus you’ll end up with lesser BA fuel surcharges.

    The trick is probably to travel USA-LHR on AA, then cash in cheap Avios awards for Europe (or train or Easyjet/Ryanair or whatever suits your fancy) and then fly back ZRH/DUB/AMS/BCN/MAD/FCO-USA (avoiding the UK/France/Germany).

  13. Wow, I am seeing three days a week on the Miami-London route through the spring and summer for two people. Haven’t seen availability like this on AA metal for at least 3 years. Do you think this is a mistake by AA revenue management? Thanks for the post.

  14. @Greg: 3 years? I haven’t seen award availability like this for summer travel to Europe in 20 years, almost since before capacity controls were added to the programs. It has to be a glitch. I don’t think we’ll see another opportunity this huge and this generous in our lifetimes. It’s a real black swan. And no doubt a black eye for someone at AA.

    This deal is still alive, against all odds.

  15. I’m looking at September, 2016 and it looks available, only it has a 6 hour layover. With this 50K award BUS ticket am I allowed in the AA lounge in JFK included in the ticket??

  16. I’m trying to do DEN-LAX-LHR-AMS. This should be possible on a single award for 50k points right? The online pricing engine wants to charge 95k with a BA LHR-AMS flight. Seems like it’s charging for each segment. I did the multi-city search. Will I need to call to price it out correctly?

  17. American multicity search doesn’t price correctly, you can hold online and call to reprice / ticket. I have not checked whether DEN-AMS can be ticketed as DEN-LAX-LHR-AMS as a single award.

  18. Hey Gary

    Im booked an AA 777-200 ord-lhr late June in biz class. Do you have any opinion in whether the new hard product will be installed by then?? Right now when selecting seats it appears to be the old version in the seat map. Thanks!

  19. @Troy no way to tell about reconfigurations come next june, they are proceeding much more slowly than anticipated, it’s too many months away to know

  20. THANK YOU Gary! Just snagged 2 business class LHR-LAX nonstop (deal apparently still alive at noon on 10/16.) Was able to cancel a booking on BA with long layover in SEA. I’ll get home quicker and more comfortably and save nearly $600 in taxes.

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