Where is the Space? American Airlines New Flat Bed Business Class

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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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.26.26 PM

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.

See American Airlines Best Business and First Class on New Route and The Best Value Flight Across the Atlantic Has Almost No Premium Award Space.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.36.35 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.03.29 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.04.07 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.54.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.02.59 PM

I put together an outbound and return with flat bed Business Class space. It priced out at 100,000 American Airlines miles and $61. Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.04.53 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.05.01 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 4.05.42 PM

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.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. My heart sank when I saw milevalue.com report that the SW 50k offers are back; My timing has been lousy and every time these offers are around, my wife and I have just finished a round of apps.

    But seeing American’s 777-300ER featured in Scott’s post lifts my mood a bit. I was able to snag 2 adjacent 1st class saver tickets JFK-LHR in July. I originally wanted business class for 50k but a day or so after beginning to look for seats, the few that were available were gone. When I did find the 1st class saver seats, it was a 48 hour marathon to plan the whole trip around that flight, but I managed to rearrange some other plans and make it work. I actually paid the fee to transfer some points so I could make it work. Had to borrow from a friend (it’s good to have friends with points!)

    My advice: if you see business or 1st class saver seats on any of these new planes open, act FAST and be willing to make some alterations in your other plans to make it possible.

  2. I am on AA 170 from Narita to LAX which is a 777-200 for a flight at the very end of November. And as much as I wish it was a retro-fitted one, the seating chart is still showing the old 777-200. I’d take the new business class seat over the first class seat on the old 777-200. =)

  3. The picture is weak indeed, and they have tons of last minute open seats and still try to get Anytime prices for them. I’m currently looking at tickets to South America and there’s nothing I can find, even in off-peak months or last-minute right now.

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