For a long time, a major weakness of American Airlines miles has been that American Airlines Business Class featured exclusively angled lie flat seats. That is changing rapidly.
- American’s newest plane, the 777-300ER, arrived with fully flat beds in Business Class. The plane serves some flights to Sao Paulo, London, and Hong Kong.
- American Airlines’ 767 is being retrofitted with fully flat beds in Business Class. The retrofitted plane already flies several routes to Europe, and more retrofitted planes will serve more of Europe in the coming months.
- American Airlines’ 777-200 is being retrofitted with fully flat beds in Business Class and will arrive “later this year” to serve undisclosed routes.
All three of these Business Class products look nice. The question is: what is the award space picture on these flat beds?
- Where is the award space on AA’s new flat beds?
- How can you book AA flat beds?
- What is the best flat bed space with AA miles on non-AA planes?
All three of the new American Airlines flat bed Business Class designs are different.
American Airlines 777-300ER
The flat beds on AA’s newest plane are arranged in a reverse herringbone. Window seats angle toward the windows, and middle seats toward each other.
Unfortunately, almost since the launch of this plane, there has been basically zero award space in Business Class and not much more in First Class.
American Airlines 777-200
The Business Class on the retrofitted 777-200s is like nothing any other airline operates.
Business Class will feature fully flat beds in a 1-2-1 configuration, but each row will alternate whether seats face forward or backward. You can kind of see it in this photo: the head rest in the background is facing the opposite direction as the seat in the foreground.
The page AA has set up for the retrofitted 777-200 says that they “will begin service later this year. ” I couldn’t get any more information from American Airlines’ Twitter team. Hopefully these begin to see service on American Airlines’ routes to South America, which currently feature the old 777-200 with its angled lie flat Business Class seat.
American Airlines 767-300
American Airlines’ retrofitted 767-300 with flat beds in Business Class already flies from New York to Zurich, Madrid, and Barcelona. The 1-2-1 configuration is different than on the 777s and similar to what Austrian Airlines operates on its 767s. (See this trip report for my thoughts on Austrian’s beds.)
Since this plane already flies three routes, I checked their schedules for the next 11 months for two passengers in Business Class, and I found zero days with award space in either direction.
I re-ran the search for one person in Business Class from JFK to Zurich and found some Business Class award space in February through May 2015.
For the flight to Europe, award space starts February 9 and ends May 12.
The return from Zurich to JFK has a lot more space. It begins January 28 and ends May 29, with a lot of space in May.
I was even able to seat select for both segments. By the way, the seat map for all three of the American Airlines planes with flat beds in Business Class should appear to have a 1-2-1 configuration similar to this.
AA Flat Bed First and Partner Business Class
The general picture is that the newest flat bed Business Class space on American Airlines flights is weak. However, there are plenty of options to book flat beds with American Airlines miles.
All American Airlines international First Class space features flat beds, even on the old 777-200s. American Airlines’ A321s between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco feature flat beds in Business and First.
Also don’t forget about American Airlines’ partners. American Airlines partners with airlines that fly from the United States to Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East with flat beds in Business and First Class. This is one reason I called American Airlines miles the best miles for ultra-luxury redemptions.
Booking It (Getting the Miles)
Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® offers 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. You can also transfer Starpoints to American Airlines miles, and there is currently a 20% bonus on transferring Marriott points to American Airlines miles.
You can also book any Saver award space on American Airlines flights with US Airways miles, since the two merged in December. A roundtrip in Business Class to Europe would cost the same 100,000 US Airways miles.
We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time in early 2015. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.