American’s New Award Availability Pattern for Premium Transcon Flights

American has been making award space especially in premium cabins much more available and this is a new intentional approach on their part.

I’ve covered American loosening up availability on the Sydney route. And I covered the floodgates opening for award space on London routes. And how they opened up China flying. That was just the start.


American Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class

Improved availability hasn’t spread to domestic routes in the same way, although there are some predictable patterns such as with American’s New York JFK – Los Angeles and New York JFK – San Francisco routes. American has the most premium product on that route, with the only three-cabin service on all flights between those cities.

They offer a business class product that’s very similar to United’s.

And they offer a first class product that’s very similar to their international business class seat on the Boeing 777-300ER, in a 1-1 configuration (each seat is both an aisle and a window).

Last night One Mile at a Time reported that American has started to release first class awards on their premium transcon flights at the last minute. In the days leading up to travel there’s plenty of availability in business and first class.

Here’s New York JFK – San Francisco showing availability today through Friday in both classes:

When there’s availability it’s most likely in the morning and late at night.

About 3 months out we start to see availability as well, with availability getting better as the calendar progresses.

What we see for New York JFK – Los Angeles is that first class becomes available (2 passnegers) most Sundays and Mondays.

Business class starts out the same way and opens up on Saturdays too.

For Los Angeles – New York JFK availability isn’t as good, with first class becoming available on Saturdays, and business class available on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes Thursdays.

New York JFK – San Francisco has some business and first class award availability for two passengers on Fridays and Saturdays starting over the summer, getting better as the summer progresses.

For the return, San Francisco – New York JFK, first class is mostly available on Sundays (with the occasional Saturday and Saturdays becoming more common alongside Sunday as summer turns into fall) starting over the summer but business class is much more available.

These patterns holds through December 31. Across most routes I’ve checked there doesn’t seem to be premium cabin saver availability into 2017 (American’s flight schedules are published a week into 2017 at this point, so they’re not releasing awards when schedules load 331 days out right now).

Availability isn’t wide open on these routes, but it is predictable.

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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  1. i have no aa status. do i need to pay a close in fee if I change the date of my biz award ticket within a week. Right now, i have LHR to JFK on day one and JFK to LAX on day two. Should JFK to LAX opens up for the JFK connection (thus not needing a forced overnight)be released within a week of my travel date, do i need to pay a fee or is it free change?

  2. Sil, to clarify, you’d pay the fee if the new flights move to within 21 days of the *original ticketing date*. For example, if you booked back on 12/25/2015, and the current travel date is 4/01/2016, you can make a change today (2/10) to travel on 2/13/2016 for free, since 2/13 is still more than 21 days since 12/25/2015.

  3. Yeah, I’ve been keeping an eye on this for an upcoming trip and they’re mostly releasing it the “wrong way”, which is to say that it’s mostly daytime west-to-east flights which are not as useful as the redeyes. As well as JFK-west flights that leave first thing in the morning, so impossible to connect to on a single itinerary.

  4. Too bad that I’ve already fired AA due to their lack of award availability over the past decade…good luck to them….whatever games that they’re playing with the new availability.

  5. Are there any discernible trends with respect to them making additional seats available as the current ones get taken? In other words, if I’m trying to book for 2 and can grab 1 now, is there track record to suggest a high/moderate/low chance of getting a 2nd seat in F on the same flight over the coming months?

  6. I don’t see where they have offered increased premium cabin award availability LAX-SYD. I checked availability for 2 seats from now through January 2017 and I could find only 5 days with seats available.

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