BOOK NOW: American Airlines Transatlantic Business Class Award Space

American Airlines has been uniquely stingy making award space available on its own flights. I value American miles, but really just because I can book awards on partners like Cathay Pacific and Etihad.

At the end of September they promised better award availability though so far that’s focused on coach connecting flights, which you can use to your advantage.

Over the past few years there have been availability ‘dumps’. There will be a day or two or sometimes just a few hours where tons of international business class award space opens up on American flights. We haven’t seen that in many months, but are seeing it again right now.

This is important because transatlantic award space is hard to get outside of flying American’s partner British Airways but that entails extortionate surcharges where your award ticket can cost you $1000 out of pocket. Flying American (or Finnair or Iberia) avoids that level of expense.

Right now there’s good award availability between the US and London. In some cases there’s just one or two business class award seats available, in other cases I’m seeing as many as five on the same flight.

New York JFK – London Heathrow is available mostly midweek through mid-April and a trickle starting again mid-July. Here’s two passengers in business class non-stop on American Airlines only.

There’s availability London Heathrow – New York JFK as well.

There’s good close-in availability in business class for at least two passengers between Raleigh and London Heathrow.

There appears to be only a handful of availability from Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, or Charlotte. You’ll want to check Dallas and Los Angeles and other European destinations. Award availability gets better again towards the end of 2018.

American charges 57,500 miles each way for business class saver awards between the US and Europe. Awards can be booked with Alaska miles — or using oneworld partner airlines like British Airways but when using those points surcharges will apply.

When there’s award space available there’s generally upgrade space available, too. This is the perfect opportunity to buy a coach ticket and confirm an upgrade at booking (while American upgrade instruments still allow you to go from coach to business, skipping premium economy). The upgrade inventory bucket is C and the most it will show is 7, so “C7” means “7 or more confirmed upgrade seats available.”

At some level what I’m seeing, probably only very temporarily, reflects a minimum level of award space we ought to be able to expect. But considering American’s history it’s space worth jumping on. And of course you can connect onward to and from Heathrow on American’s partner British Airways without spending additional miles.

(HT: @CoryRMoore)

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. … but if you connect from LHR on BA expect to pay additional BA surcharges, which will be masked as taxes/fees on your tickets. However, if your return would originate in country other than UK, even if you connect through LHR you will not be the subject to the draconian British departure tax on your Business class ticket.

  2. All phantom space. I tried a few different routes, JFK to HEL, DUB, OSL, etc. I see them, I go to click and it says the space is not available and the screen refreshes with a much shorter list of options which are all 2 stop/3 legs of a trip. Such as LGA > ORD > HEL. Ha no thanks! some people online said it was all BA flights anyways so tons of fees, I was trying maybe Finnair or AA to lessen the fees but no such luck.

  3. Yes, very high surcharge and departure (UK Air Duty) fees more than $1,000 to LHR…. and you still have to get to London. Fly nonstop to Paris CDG and train to London…and you are IN London.

  4. On January 4, I booked 2 saver business awards JFK-LHR-CPH for Sat. Aug. 4. Late night flight to LHR is on AA metal, connecting to BA. Had a bit of trouble – was trying to book the Finnair flights, but kept saying to call in at that time. Agent found me these flights for no charge. Taxes/fees only $25.40 pp. Would have liked a NS, but OK with this – late night flight so we can probably sleep better.

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