How to fly in a lie-flat seat between the US and the Caribbean

Dec 10, 2019

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What’s better than a trip to the Caribbean? Flying there in a lie-flat seat. While these flights to a tropical paradise aren’t as long as routes to Europe or Asia, booking a flight to the Caribbean with lie-flat first- or business-class seats means that you’re going to enjoy a much better product than the standard recliner domestic first-class seats. After all, if you’re planning to pony up for first or business class, it makes sense to fly the best available product.

We dug into the flight schedules for each U.S.-based airline to find the best options. Here they are arranged by airline:

In This Post

Here’s how the options break down by carrier:

Air Canada

For those based in Canada — or who don’t mind heading north to go south — Air Canada is running seasonal service from Montreal (YUL) to Cancun (CUN) once daily from Dec. 19, 2019 through Jan. 8, 2020 using an Airbus A330.

If you’re looking to book the nonstop flight with miles, business class costs 30,000 miles by booking through United MileagePlus, Aeroplan or Lufthansa Miles and More. But, since we are so close to departure, keep in mind that United will add a mileage surcharge:

Related: How to maximize Aeroplan miles

American Airlines

Through mid-2020, American Airlines’ flight schedule has 13 routes to the Caribbean that operate using aircraft with lie-flat business-class seats.

First off are American Airlines’ Dreamliners. American Airlines has two different versions of the Dreamliner: the 787-8 and the 787-9. And both of these aircraft types are operating both routes from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Chicago (ORD) to Cancun (CUN).

If you have the choice, I’d recommend the -9 over the -8, as the business-class seats on the -9 aircraft are notably better. You’ll be able to fly this aircraft type on the following routes and dates:

Image by JT Genter / TPG.
(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

The forward/rear-facing staggered seats on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners aren’t my favorite in the AA fleet — especially as your seat will rock when the passenger in the connected seat moves. However, it’s a great way to fly down to Cancun:

Business class seats on American Airlines
Business-class seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 787-8. (Photo courtesy of American Airlines.)

A legacy product of U.S. Airways, AA’s Airbus A330-200 still have the “Envoy Suites” that U.S. Airways rolled out in 2009. While it doesn’t compete well against other international business-class products, it’s more than fine for a flight from a legacy U.S. Airways hub down to the Caribbean:

  • Charlotte (CLT) to Cancun (CUN): daily now through May 6
  • Charlotte (CLT) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ): daily through Feb. 29 (except Dec. 24-25, Dec. 31)
  • Charlotte (CLT) to San Juan (SJU):
    • 1x daily from Jan. 7 through May 6
    • Thursday-Mondays from June 4 through at least June 29
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Cancun (CUN):
    • 1x daily (exc. Tuesdays) through Dec. 16
    • 1x daily from Mar. 29 through June 3
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ):
    • 1x daily from Dec. 18 through Jan. 6
    • 1x daily from Feb. 13 through Mar. 4
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to San Juan (SJU):
    • 1x daily now through Jan. 8 (exc. Dec. 17)
    • 1x daily from Jan. 12 through June 8
    • Thursday-Monday from June 11 through at least June 29
Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy
Business-class seats on American Airlines’ Airbus A330. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

While AA’s Boeing 767-300 business class isn’t nearly as nice as the above options, it’s still a much nicer seat than a recliner domestic first-class seat. These seats don’t have in-flight entertainment screens, and it’s unclear if AA will hand out the IFE tablets on shorter routes, but here’s where you can find this configuration:

  • Miami (MIA) to Cancun (CUN): at least 1x daily now through Mar. 28
  • Miami (MIA) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ): Saturdays from Dec. 21 through Jan. 4
  • Miami (MIA) to San Juan (SJU): 1x daily now through at least June 30
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Cancun (CUN):
    • 1x daily from Dec. 18 through Feb. 12
    • Saturdays from Feb. 15 through Feb. 29
    • 1x daily from Mar. 5 through May 6
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ): 1x daily from Dec. 18 through Jan. 6
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to San Juan (SJU): Dec. 17 and Jan. 9-11
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Sint Maarten (SXM):
    • Thursday-Monday from Jan. 16 through Feb. 13
    • 1x daily from Feb. 14 through Mar. 4
Business-class seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 767. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

Lie-flat options between the U.S. and the Caribbean still cost 25,000 AAdvantage miles each way. AA added an ambiguous asterisk to the award chart saying that award prices would be 7,500 higher “if the award includes travel on an aircraft that offers lie-flat seats in the U.S. and Canada.” However, awards are still pricing at 25,000 miles each way:

That means that you can get enough miles for a lie-flat round-trip award with the 60,000 miles you can earn with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, or the 50,000 miles you can earn from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

But, if you’re flying nonstop, there’s a better option: using British Airways Avios instead. Nonstop business-class flights under 1,151 miles will cost just 16,500 Avios each way, and nonstop flights between 1,152 and 2,000 miles cost 22,000 Avios. If you’re connecting, you can use total mileage-based Iberia Avios to score a cheaper-than-AA award.

Both British Airways and Iberia are 1:1 transfer partners of American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can stock up on Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months).

Related: Maximizing redemptions with American Airlines AAdvantage

Delta

Delta One lie-flats will arriving in the Caribbean via an A330 route to Puerto Rico. (Photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy.)

While Delta has historically offered minimal lie-flat options to Caribbean destinations, that’s all changing come winter 2019–2020. Beginning Dec. 21, 2019, Delta will run an Airbus A330-300 daily between its home base in Atlanta (ATL) and San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU). We reviewed this aircraft on a flight between London (LHR) and New York (JFK), and those seeking to stretch all the way out to the Caribbean without needing a passport will appreciate its 34 lie-flat seats.

Related: How to earn miles in the Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program

JetBlue

JetBlue Mint won the Best Domestic Business Class of the year at the inaugural TPG Awards in 2018 and is one of TPG’s absolute favorite business-class products, with great food, great service and snazzy amenity kits. And, yes, the seats lie fully flat. While these were made famous on transcontinental routes in the U.S., the good news is that you can also fly this award-winning product to the Caribbean.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
JetBlue Mint seats lie fully flat — and come with excellent amenities and service. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.)

However, for all of these, you’re going to have to plan for a seven-night stay in the Caribbean if you want to fly Mint both ways. All of these routes are currently operate only on Saturdays.

From New York-JFK, you can fly JetBlue Mint to:

  • Aruba (AUA)
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays through Dec. 14
    • up to 2x daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 5
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Sept. 5
  • Barbados (BGI)
    • 2x weekly on Saturdays now through Dec. 14
    • up to 2x daily from Dec. 19 through Jan. 6
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Sept. 5
  • Grenada (GND)
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from now through Dec. 14
    • daily from Dec. 22 through Jan. 8
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Apr. 25
  • St. Lucia (UVF)
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays now through Dec. 21
    • daily from Dec. 23 through Dec. 31 and Jan. 7-8
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 4 through Sept. 5
  • St. Maarten (SXM) — 1x weekly on Saturdays from Sept. 7 through Apr. 25

From Boston (BOS), JetBlue flies the Mint product to:

  • Aruba (AUA)
    • up to 2x weekly on Saturdays through Dec. 14
    • up to 2x daily from Dec. 20 through Jan. 5
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Sept. 5
  • Barbados (BGI) — 1x weekly on Saturdays through Sept. 5
  • St. Lucia (UVF) — 1x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 through June 6
  • St. Maarten (SXM) — 1x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 through June 6

With JetBlue, award pricing varies based on the price of the revenue flight. If you find cheap Mint paid fares, consider booking the flight with JetBlue TrueBlue points. For example, a cheap one-way Mint flight from Boston (BOS) to Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI) could cost either $331 or 30,000 JetBlue points, plus $7.10 in taxes.

Meanwhile, an expensive flight during the holidays from New York-JFK to Aruba (AUA) might cost $1,239 one-way or 120,000 points plus $15.60 in taxes/fees:

You can score some extra JetBlue points by signing up for the JetBlue Plus Card, which is currently offering a 40,000 point sign-up bonus for spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. You can also transfer miles from the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Amex Membership Rewards.

Related: How to redeem points with the JetBlue TrueBlue program

LATAM

Believe it or not, you can fly nonstop from Miami to the Dominican Republic on a Chilean airline. As TPG reader Hunter Matthew pointed out, LATAM flies a Boeing 787 between Miami (MIA) and Punta Cana (PUJ).

But, it’s easy to miss. The flight operates once per week on Sundays now through December 15, increasing to 2x per week (Saturday-Sunday) from Dec. 21 to Feb. 9 before returning to 1x weekly on Sundays from Feb. 16 through July 12.

Business class aboard a LATAM 787. Image courtesy of LATAM.
Business class aboard a LATAM 787. (Photo courtesy of LATAM.)

And it’s not too expensive to try out LATAM’s lie-flat business-class seat for yourself. Most dates cost just $284 one-way or $585 round-trip. That means you can book it for 38,983 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

It’s become difficult to book an award flight on this route with LATAM’s exit from Oneworld. To redeem miles for LATAM flights, you’re limited to transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to LATAM Pass or redeeming flexible points through a bank travel portal like Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Related: How to redeem miles for flights on LATAM

United

From what I can find from United’s current flight schedule, you have three options to fly lie-flat to the Caribbean on United:

  • Newark (EWR) to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) — daily through May 19 on a B/E Aerospace Diamond-fit Boeing 767-400ER
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Cancun (CUN) — Saturdays now through Mar. 28 using a Boeing 777

  • Newark (EWR) to St. Thomas (STT) — daily through Mar. 28 on a lie-flat Boeing 757
  • Houston (IAH) to St. Thomas (STT) — Saturdays through Dec. 14 and then Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Mar. 28 on a lie-flat Boeing 757

While United adopted a more dynamic award pricing system in November, United still generally charges 30,000 MileagePlus miles for saver business-class award flights between the U.S. and the Caribbean. That means you’ll have enough miles for a round-trip by applying for the United Explorer Card which is offering a limited-time bonus of 60,000 United MileagePlus miles: Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. This offer ends April 2, 2020.

If you don’t have enough United miles, you can transfer points to United 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

You can also book United lie-flat seats via Avianca LifeMiles by making a transfer to that program from cards like the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business (with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening) and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. You can also transfer points to Avianca from Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou cards to book the same flights when available at the saver level for 30,000 LifeMiles. The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: How (and when) to book United awards through partners

Interested in other lie-flat options? Check out our miniseries including:

Are you finding any other lie-flat options to the Caribbean? Please let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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