For quite some time American has been really really tough with award space on their own international flights. However American has been going to lengths to improve their premium cabin award availability. At the end of last year American finally opened pretty good award space on their new Sydney flight. I covered the floodgates opening for award space on London routes. And how they opened up China flying. That was just the start. And they opened up space to Auckland, too.
What’s interesting is that United seems to have been going in the opposite direction. I still like United miles for access to awards across the Star Alliance. United has more partners flying to more destinations, and that creates opportunities for award redemption (even as United charges a mileage premium to redeem awards on their partners).
After United announced an end to serving New York JFK and moving all of their premium transcon flights to Newark (New York Mayor Fiorella LaGuardia once refused to get off a plane at Newark Airport, because his ticket promised he’d travel to New York — he was at the time pushing for construction of what became LaGuardia airport), they opened the floodgates on premium transcon awards. But that was 9 months ago, and what a difference 9 months makes.
United is not releasing a single premium cabin award seat in either direction on their Newark – Los Angeles flights between now and the end of schedule. There’s about 5 days total, all over the next two months, where there is a single premium cabin award on their Newark – San Francisco flights. And there’s a month or more stretch at a time where you won’t even find a single economy award on those routes.
Let me underscore that. I’m not even looking for two seats. This is just looking for a single seat, on any day. There are 3 days in March where Newark – San Francisco has availability. There’s one in March in one in April where there is a business class award the opposite direction. And over a month during the summer where there’s not even a single economy saver award on either route either way.
Have a look at Newark – Los Angeles. Notice not a single day colored in blue or green which would indicate 1 business class award seat across about 13 flights a day. And notice days that are simply white, not 1 saver award of any kind or class or service on those days.
Have a look at Newark – San Francisco. United operates ~ 15 flights a day between those two cities.
For avoidance of doubt, San Francisco – Newark looks pretty much the same. Remember I’m only searching for 1 seat, not for 2 or to bring a family.
United’s Los Angeles – Newark flight is similarly bad. Not one day the entire year where there is even 1 business class award. And that’s on 4,000 flights.
Want to see United’s premium cabin seat on their New York – Los Angeles or New York – San Francisco flights? Good luck with that. It’s one thing for American not to release premium seats on a new route with only one flight per day. It’s another thing entirely, I think, for United not to release premium seats (or even saver coach seats) on a domestic route where they have 14 or more flights per day.