American Transatlantic First Class Awards Next Summer

Filed Under: American, Awards

American has become one of the stingiest airlines when it comes to releasing premium cabin transatlantic award space. While they still release first class award space on many routes to Asia, that’s not the case to Europe. I certainly understand planes are fuller than in the past, so the opportunity cost to releasing award seats has increased greatly, but they literally have virtually no space.

For example, on all their routes between the US and London next June, they have no dates with saver level economy or business class award space, and two dates with saver level first class award space.


What’s fascinating, though, is how American releases premium cabin award space when they do. “Z” is their saver first class award inventory, and in many cases a flight will either have no saver first class award seats or at least seven saver first class award seats.

For example, last November American changed the equipment on several flights to Europe for this summer, and at the time they made seven first class award seats available on every single flight. That’s truly quite strange.

It looks like there’s a similar trend for this coming summer, for only one date, though. Take a look at transatlantic first class award space for June 30, 2015 — most flights to London have all first class seats available for awards.


For example, three flights between New York and London have at least seven first class award seats each:


Two flights between Dallas and London have at least seven first class award seats each:


One flight between Dallas and London has at least seven first class award seats:


One flight between Chicago and London has at least seven first class award seats:


One flight between Los Angeles and London has four first class award seats:


Many of these routes are operated by 777-300ER aircraft featuring American’s new first class cabin, which has just eight first class seats. It’s a great hard product though the soft product may be lacking a bit.



Still, finding transatlantic first class award space using American miles is a rarity. The alternative is to redeem American miles for travel on British Airways, and that incurs fuel surcharges of ~$400 in each direction. And you typically won’t find seven first class award seats with them either, so here you potentially have access to more award space. As a reminder, American charges 62,500 AAdvantage miles for one-way first class between the US and Europe.

If the whole family wants to go to London next summer and the date works, this is tough to beat. And I’d suggest jumping on this ASAP, as it most definitely won’t last.

Gotta love American’s odd patterns for releasing award seats at times. 53 transatlantic first class award seats one day, nothing for the rest of the year. šŸ˜‰

(Tip of the hat to Jimmy & Chris)

  1. Lucky,
    Do you see any relationship between the coming merger (US Air/AA) and the wholesale “marketing” of points by Barclay pre-merger? Is AA’s response to the flood of points out there restricted of space available?

  2. likely a timing error since it seems only to happen on Tuesday’s at the planning horizon. Now I’m sure they will fix that.

  3. @ Russ — Nah, it’s a trend we’ve been seeing for years now, and it has gotten worse and worse. I think it just follows the overall industry trend — airlines are as profitable as they’ve ever been, so they don’t see much reason to release award space.

  4. @ beachfan — Not any that I see. But you can always redeem a different type of award for the return, like Iberia, airberlin, Finnair, etc.

  5. @ Lantean — The 777-300ER has wifi and a more spacious hard product, though not as private. I’d say BA first class gets the slide edge in terms of amenities, but I think for the most part they’re fairly comparable.

  6. Lucky, I noticed similar thing but a different date for me. I was looking for 3 or 4 seats from ATL to LON and the only date that had AA availability was June 1st. I managed to snag 4 seats in BIZ from MIA-MAD-LHR with connections for 3 from ATL and 1 for me from PHX. There was also availability of 3 seats in econ for ATL-ORD-LHR on AA metal. That was about all I could find on AA. Of course there was plenty on BA but I didn’t want to pay the fuel surcharges.

  7. There are some days with space on first to/from South America, with the same patterns, on next june, too.

  8. @ Luis — Someone else has booked them in the meantime apparently, because they were there earlier.

  9. @ Lucky

    Is it normal for the BA web site to barely show any availability on AA metal when using avios?

  10. @ Vinod — They do sometimes not show all award availability, in which case it should still be bookable by phone.

  11. Something strange is going on with the AA search engine. Booked JFK-LHR in F (thanks, btw :-)) but need a flight from LAX to JFK. I can see the space online for all 4 morning flights in F from LA but the agent on the phone can’t! Spoke to 4 different agents! Any ideas how to tackle this? I have a flight with connections on hold but it would entail being on a red-eye and spending the day in NYC, which I don’t want to do (ideally).

  12. Sad state of affairs. And yet the bloggers continue to defend AA. You can place this squarely on the US Airways guys.

    It was never this bad.

  13. @ Greg — I agree it’s ridiculous how little award space they have, they’re taking it to an extreme. At the same time there are much better uses of American miles, Cathay Pacific still releases a good amount of award space, and American’s redemption rates to Asia on partners are less than half of United’s in many cases, so I feel like we can’t really complain, all things considered.

  14. Looks like only BA is available and AA is already full for JFK-LHR. Is it BA still worth redeeming for the first class product?

  15. It’s also odd that they would release award space in first on a 777-200 almost a year out, when there’s a good chance that by next June, those first cabins will have been eliminated altogether and replaced with an expanded business cabin retrofit. So then they’ll be processing involuntary downgrades. Why not just release business space rather than F, if anything, and avoid the headache.

  16. @Chris – that’s an interesting point. What type of compensation do they typically give out for involuntary downgrades?

  17. I’d put 5 seats in First on hold for AA 106 on June 30th the day your wrote this post (thanks!) but decided not to ticket it; that date doesn’t work out for us after all. Pity, it would’ve been a great start to our family’s European vacation! In any case, I cancelled the hold and the availability returned right back – so if someone’s interested, snap it up šŸ™‚

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