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A few weeks ago, One Mile at a Time was all over the new American Airlines international routes:

  • Dallas (DFW) <-> Seoul (ICN)
  • Dallas (DFW) <-> Lima (LIM)
  • Chicago (ORD) <-> Dusseldorf (DUS)
  • New York (JFK) <-> Dublin (DUB)

Those flights went on sale yesterday, meaning that they were added to the award calendars. I decided to take a look at the award-space picture, and I found some surprising results. Let’s go through them one-by-one, so you can plan your international escape.

Dallas to Seoul

AA 27 DFW-ICN 10:30 AM – 3:00 PM on next day
AA26 ICN-DFW 5:00 PM – 4:20 PM on same day (time travel!)

Dallas to Seoul will begin daily flights May 9, 2013 on a 777-200 aircraft with 16 first class beds and 37 angled lie flat business class seats.

Korea is in American’s Asia 1 zone on the award chart. That means it costs 32.5k/50k/62.5k miles each way in economy/business/first between North America and Seoul. If you fly between October 1 and April 30 in economy class, you can take advantage of the off peak price of 25k miles each direction.

American is showing incredible availability on the Dallas to Seoul flight. There are 2+ first class seats available every Monday through Friday from the inaugural flight until the end of the award calendar.

If you’re after business class seats, there is space every Tuesday through Thursday for a pair of passengers.

Space on the return flight is even better, showing seven-day-a-week availability in first, and four-day-a-week availability in business.

If you’re a mile-pincher though, you are out of luck. American has released almost no economy award space at all on the flight.

What would my strategy be here? I would enthusiastically book a roundtrip first class award for 125k miles. The difference between the first class bed and the business class angled lie flat is dramatic, so for only 25k miles extra, first class is a no-brainer.

Getting to Dallas shouldn’t be a problem because American’s domestic availability is fantastic. Connecting beyond Seoul is much more difficult, since Seoul is not a oneworld hub.

Bottom line: the new Dallas-Seoul route is great for premium-cabin travelers who want to go to Korea.

Dallas to Lima

AA 2193 DFW-LIM 5:30 PM – 12:25 AM on next day
AA 2194 LIM-DFW 2:00 AM – 9:15 AM

Dallas to Lima will begin daily flights on April 2, 2013, operated by a 757. This is a very disappointing plane for the seven-hour flight, since it features only economy and business class–and business class is just domestic first.

Peru is in American’s Central America/South America Zone 1 region, meaning the flight is only 17.5k/30k each way in economy/business.

Dallas to Lima is showing incredible business class availability–two seats almost every day that the flight will operate!The return from Lima to Dallas is also showing absolutely fantastic availability for two people in business class.

Unfortunately I didn’t see any seats in economy class in either direction.

My strategy for an award to Peru would be to avoid this flight if possible. American’s partner LAN serves Lima from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and New York with flat bed business class seats. For the same number of miles, you could enjoy a far superior product.

If you get to Lima on American from Dallas or Miami or on LAN, you should have plenty of connection options throughout Peru and South America on LAN, which has a hub in Lima.

Bottom Line: This route adds more premium cabin space from the US to Peru, but since the premium cabin on an AA 757 is far from premium, this route doesn’t do much.

Chicago to Dusseldorf

AA 242 ORD-DUS 4:45 PM – 8:15 AM on next day
AA 241 DUS-ORD 12:10 PM – 2:20 PM

American is operating its new flight to partner airberlin’s hub with a 767-300 with two cabins, starting April 11, 2013.

Business class is only angled lie flat, but the point is moot. American has not released any space in business class that I see.

Economy class has a little bit of space, for instance May 25th. Economy awards will cost 30k miles each way, 20k if you fly between October 15 and May 15.

Fear not. If you want to get to Germany and Europe with American miles from Chicago, your 2013 options are rosy. Airberlin is launching a new service from Chicago to Berlin (TXL) on March 23, 2013. Space on airberlin on this route and others is fantastic in economy and business (recliners) class.

ORD-DUS space in Summer 2013, completely powered by airberlin space

Bottom Line: Chicago to Dusseldorf on American will not be a great route for award space, but there are other ways to get to Europe with American miles.

New York to Dublin

AA290 JFK-DUB 6:55 PM – 6:55 AM on next day
AA291 DUB-JFK 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

American will operate New York to Dublin with a 757 identical to the one they are sending Dallas to Lima. That means you have a choice between economy class and business class–domestic first class–for 30k and 50k respectively each way.

The good news (for American) is that this route must be forecasted to be especially popular. That’s the only reason I can think that American has not released a single seat in any cabin on the flight.

If you want to go to Dublin with American miles, you will probably have to route through London.

Bottom Line: Nothing in the new New York – Dublin route for award travelers.

Avios

Many people have tons of Avios that they are looking to burn. These new flights–like all AA flights–are all bookable with Avios. But that doesn’t make them a good deal.

Let’s take a look at the Dallas-Lima and Dallas-Seoul flights since those flights actually have decent space.

With AA miles, Dallas to Lima roundtrip is 60k miles and $66 in business class. That breaks down to 30k miles each way, $17.50 in taxes to Peru and $48 in taxes on the return.

The same flights with Avios cost the exact same number of dollars in taxes. The Avios needed are a bit more at 40k Avios each way for business class versus 30k AA miles.

At these prices, I would probably use 30k AA miles over 40k Avios. And for anyone who lives outside Dallas, the price difference balloons. The AA price is 30k whether you’re coming from Honolulu, Richmond, or Dallas, but the Avios price increases with each segment.

Dallas to Seoul is an even worse use of Avios. British Airways wants an astounding 210k Avios and $383 for a roundtrip first class award.

American wants only 125k miles roundtrip. And American will collect only government taxes. (I can’t pull up the exact amount right now–aa.com is buggy–but I am sure it is under $100 roundtrip.) BA is collecting the government taxes plus a nasty surcharge on this route.

New York to Dublin might be a good redemption with Avios in economy class, but there is currently no space available on that route.

The bottom line is that you should continue to use Avios intra-USA, intra-South America, intra-Australia and on short, direct, surcharge-free flights.

Recap

Last week American announced four new routes to three continents. The award space opened on those flights yesterday. None has good space in economy.

Dallas <-> Seoul has great business and first class space. I recommend first class.

Dallas <-> Lima has great business class space. I recommend looking for LAN space instead.

Avios redemptions are not a great deal on the new routes.

For more information on AA awards, see How Much Are AAdvantage Miles Worth? The Value of American Airlines Miles Part 1.

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