My First Trip Of 2015: International First Class For $1,500

My First Trip Of 2015: International First Class For $1,500

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I put “mileage run” in quotes because it’s not really a mileage run. Nowadays mileage running is for the most part dead, in my opinion. But there’s still plenty of merit to finding good fares on fun routings for maximizing miles, ideally with stops at fun places in the process.

Oddly while economy airfare has increased drastically over the past several years, we’ve seen more discounted premium cabin revenue tickets lately than I ever recall seeing. Why? Probably because airlines are actually doing everything in their power to maximize revenue, rather than opening up award space or letting seats fly empty.

So what’s the first “big” trip I booked for 2015?

I wrote several days ago about how British Airways has a global business class fare sale around the holidays, whereby they’re selling roundtrip business class tickets to many destinations around the world for ~£1000. The catch is that the promotion is only for travel originating in London between December 21, 2014 and January 3, 2015.

BA-Fare-Sale

As luck would have it, I’ll be in London off the Etihad A380 inaugural flight on December 27, and hadn’t yet planned my way home. I figured I might as well spend New Years in Europe (I really enjoyed spending last New Years in Edinburgh) and then fly somewhere using this fare.

So I looked at the possibilities. There were lots of places I could go in British Airways business class, though there wasn’t much upgrade space to first class available. Then I realized the same fares were available on American. And not just on codeshare flights, but also when booking directly with American (which is an important distinction, because American systemwide upgrades can’t be applied on codeshare flights, per the rules).

As luck would have it, the fares were valid to almost everywhere in the US… including Hawaii!

So I booked London to New York to Los Angeles to Honolulu, and then Honolulu to Los Angeles to London.

AA-Biz-Fare

Both longhaul flights are on the American 777-300ER, and the flight from New York to Los Angeles is on the American A321.

While the fare was in paid business class, you can upgrade any paid fare on American, so I managed to apply a couple of expiring systemwide upgrades to confirm first class on all segments. While American doesn’t have much confirmable business class upgrade space nowadays, they usually have plenty of confirmable first class upgrade space.

I’ve reviewed American’s 777-300ER business class extensively, though haven’t yet reviewed American’s new first class. I’m not convinced it’s actually much better, but at least I’ll be able to review it to say for sure.

American-First-Class
American 777-300ER first class

American-First-Class-2
American 777-300ER first class

How many miles do I earn?

That routing is 16,500 butt-in-seat miles, and with a 50% class of service bonus (which is new as of 2015 — previously you only earned a 25% bonus for business class) I’ll be earning almost 25,000 EQPs (elite qualifying points). In all I’ll be earning over 40,000 redeemable miles as well. I wish I were eligible for American’s fall transatlantic promotion, though best I can tell that’s only valid for travel between North America and Europe, and not for travel between Europe and North America (though if anyone has a different read on it, please let me know).

Anyway, it’s certainly not a mileage run, but at six cents per elite qualifying point I’d say it’s a heck of a fare for being able to fly international first class.

Have you taken advantage of the American & British Airways New Years fare sale?

Conversations (53)
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  1. brandon Guest

    Lucky,

    if you were going to apply a system wide upgrade and they're confirmable on any paid ticket, why would you purchase a business class fare? Why not buy an economy ticket and then apply the upgrade? isn't it the same thing and you'd save some money?

  2. Jack New Member

    Hey Lucky you mention you looked at BA business class fares but there wasn't much upgrade availability to First–how would you plan to upgrade if there was space? Do you use Avios or AAdvantage miles, or cash? Thanks!

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Jack -- To upgrade on BA you'll want to use Avios. That being said, I booked American and then could use my systemwide upgrades to confirm the upgrade.

  3. Christine Guest

    Thanks a lot Lucky! it's really relieving to hear that and let's hope so!

  4. Christine Guest

    @ Lucky :

    Oh no! 777-200 is old!....I wonder why AA keep operating old model in their long transatlantic flights. Any chance that they will exchange their transatlantic flight plan from 777-200 to 300 by end of March or beginning of April?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Christine -- Well they're still in the process of taking delivery of their new aircraft, and they're updating them as quickly as possible. They're also updating their 777-200s to take out first class and add a new business class instead. There's a chance the aircraft type could still change.

  5. Patrick Guest

    Lucky, I'll be in London for NYE also. What are you planning for the big night?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Patrick -- Thinking of going somewhere else for NYE. Not usually a fan of the "big city" NYE festivities.

  6. joshua Guest

    how did you find such an awesome fare? all the business fares I searched on aa.com were over 5k for LAX-LHR

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ joshua -- Just make sure you're following all the rules in this post, and it shouldn't be too tough:
      https://onemileatatime.com/great-deals/flight-deals/

  7. Cris Guest

    Hey Lucky,
    Let me understand, you paid a business fare and upgraded to first by miles or paid upgrade?
    Did you use the multi-city search tool on AA website, or did you purchase one by one?

    Safe flights!

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Cris -- I used multi-city to book. And I used systemwide upgrades to upgrade.

  8. italdesign Guest

    I love how you focus on the flights and only mention Hawaii as a 3 letter airport ;-)

  9. Norman Guest

    So the 1500 deal, is it the price for all segments? And how do you actually book it?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Norman -- Correct, for all segments. I booked it on aa.com.

  10. Jeff New Member

    Well, Ben, if you jump to Maui and have never been I would be happy to show you around (1/3 or 1/4). Otherwise, there are some real gem spots on Oahu (if you are staying there) that are worth the car rental and time to visit. Email me privately if you're keen on the Maui personalized tour.

  11. Gordon Guest

    This is an amazing offer by BA standards. I have booked lhr-lax rtn for a crazy day trip. Booked with a hotel the price can actually drop below the quoted £1,007 base price. I'm paying £1,057 incl night at Bellagio.

    Also booked lhr-mia rtn over the new year - £1,007.

    Following on from biz lhr-ams-nrt rtn for £999 with KLM in October nice year end.

  12. Matt S. Guest

    @Lucky,

    How many passports do you go through a year? ;-)

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Matt S. -- Hah, getting more pages added to my passport next week. :D

      Truth be told, between Global Entry on my US passport and my EU passport, I don't actually get stamped *that* much.

  13. W Gold

    What plane is LAX HNL LA operated with? 767?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ W -- It's a domestic 757.

  14. Christine Guest

    @ Lucky,

    I will have my first flight in F class from DFW - NRT on 3/30/15, AA flight 61.
    They just send me email confirmation saying that it will be in Boeing 777.
    Can you please tell me which 777 is it? 777-200, 777-300, or 777-300ER (I hope!!!)

    @ Mohamed,

    Wow, is it really that bad....I am skeptical and kinda regret to redeem extra miles for my first flight experience in first class on AA....should look for different airline carrier...sigh :(

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Christine -- It's the 777-200. The only destination in Asia to which they fly the 777-300ER is Hong Kong.

  15. SB Guest

    @Without Bacon - It's not hard to understand if you actually read the post:

    "Then I realized the same fares were available on American. And not just on codeshare flights, but also when booking directly with American (which is an important distinction, because American systemwide upgrades can’t be applied on codeshare flights, per the rules)."

  16. Without Bacon Guest

    Ben - I don't understand: you purchased AA tickets on 001 ticket stock, but paid BA's sale prices through BA's website?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Without Bacon -- The fare was available on American's website as well. They have a joint venture, so pricing across the Atlantic is the same.

  17. Ivo Guest

    So Ben, you can still spend NYE In Europe? We did londen last year and now we're trying Berlin. I've redeemed some marriott miles in an Awesome hotel, called am steinplatz, their autograph collection. So meet you there?!?:)

  18. Joey Diamond

    I think this is super awesome!!! will you be crediting all flights to AA or only the return segments in 2015? I recall you already qualified for exec plat earlier this year.

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Joey -- All my segments on this itinerary are in 2015. So all are going to American. :)

  19. Mohamed Guest

    I just flew LHR to JFK business and JFK to LHR first with AA 777 and to be frank i regret paying the extra for first,i was seated 1G and the whole night the 2 flight steward spent the night chatting in loud voice like most american do with no respect for passenger sleeping,i just wanted to go and shout on them,the food not much difference,exactly same beef tenderloin,same dessert sundae,as for the turndown i...

    I just flew LHR to JFK business and JFK to LHR first with AA 777 and to be frank i regret paying the extra for first,i was seated 1G and the whole night the 2 flight steward spent the night chatting in loud voice like most american do with no respect for passenger sleeping,i just wanted to go and shout on them,the food not much difference,exactly same beef tenderloin,same dessert sundae,as for the turndown i dont need that piece of white sheet to feel more confortable,the service in general was decent just robotic,quality of food ok nothing special for first class.

  20. buzzmeister Guest

    ....and will you be checking out the Andaz on Maui?!?

  21. Angel Member

    @lucky Great fare indeed!! The post title might be a little misleading since you need to have (or borrow) 2 SWU upgrades to really fly for $1,500 in F..... :)

  22. Without Bacon Guest

    Alternatively if you had a 125 ticket on BA presumably you could upgrade with Avios?

  23. Without Bacon Guest

    Ben, is this issued on 125 ticket stock? AA will let you use a SWU even if not issued on 001?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Without Bacon -- It's on AA stock.

  24. Stannis Guest

    I'm confused. Won't you still end up back in London and have to get home? I thought that was the premise of the whole idea.

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Stannis -- Hah, indeed. But keep in mind I live in hotels, so didn't actually necessarily have anywhere to go. So it's not necessarily getting me anywhere, but it's a fun way to spend a week or so, in my (twisted) mind. :D

  25. Daniel Guest

    American's fall transatlantic promotion should be valid for origins either way. Definately was for me when I originated from LHR during a similar promotion in Jul/Aug... Maybe an effective mileage run after all?

  26. elwoodbud Guest

    Just took AA LHR-LAX in Flagship First. Can't say I was too impressed. Catering is virtually the same and the service didn't seem any better than the Biz flight I took on the way over. The F seat is roomier than the new J seat, which is nice, but the extra space and privacy didn't seem to to worth the extra premium you pay. It certainly isn't as big an upgrade as going from J...

    Just took AA LHR-LAX in Flagship First. Can't say I was too impressed. Catering is virtually the same and the service didn't seem any better than the Biz flight I took on the way over. The F seat is roomier than the new J seat, which is nice, but the extra space and privacy didn't seem to to worth the extra premium you pay. It certainly isn't as big an upgrade as going from J to F on the older 777-200s. You probably will see a benefit on the LAX-LHR route since you will get more time to appreciate the larger bed on the overnight flight. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts.

  27. George Member

    A quick LHR-EWR (flying BA's 787) while on my EuroAsia trip ;-)

    GRU-LHR-LIS
    LIS-LHR = EWR = LHR-FRA
    FRA-HKG
    HKG-DOH-GRU

    So now it's an EuroUsAsia one.

  28. Brandon Guest

    Quick turn in HNL or spending some time on the beach to start the new year?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Brandon -- The latter. :)

  29. 1K Guest

    I'm sorry Lucky, nobody seems to read what you write, but instead they would like to tell you how to travel.

  30. Kyle Guest

    Sounds like a great trip! When in Honolulu, let me know if you want to meet up with a local and/or if you want some pointers!

  31. Mike Guest

    Thanks for sharing, Ben! :-)
    How was it $1500 again?
    Cheers!

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Mike -- With the current fare sale, that's what they're charging between London and the US.

  32. colleen Guest

    If you would have opted for BA, could you have applied the stackable BA Visa & AARP discounts?

    And/or did you find using the SWU a better value?

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ colleen -- Nope, they're only valid for travel originating in the US, and not for travel originating in Europe, unfortunately.

  33. Luis Diamond

    You could have flown to Rio or Buenos Aires, instead you chose this?

  34. elteetrav Gold

    If I say "I hate you" you know I'm just joking and jealous, right?

  35. Nick OMAAT

    Oh man, you wasted that opportunity on the same-old, same-old LHR-JFK- and -LAX route on American? Tsk, tsk.

    Ben, make 2015 the year you branch out of your American Airlines bubble!

    1. lucky OMAAT

      @ Nick -- You have a better idea? ;)

      It's a new review, haven't yet flown first on the 777-300ER!

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brandon Guest

Lucky, if you were going to apply a system wide upgrade and they're confirmable on any paid ticket, why would you purchase a business class fare? Why not buy an economy ticket and then apply the upgrade? isn't it the same thing and you'd save some money?

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lucky OMAAT

@ Jack -- To upgrade on BA you'll want to use Avios. That being said, I booked American and then could use my systemwide upgrades to confirm the upgrade.

0
Jack New Member

Hey Lucky you mention you looked at BA business class fares but there wasn't much upgrade availability to First–how would you plan to upgrade if there was space? Do you use Avios or AAdvantage miles, or cash? Thanks!

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