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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/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 US-based airline to find the best options. Here they are arranged by airline:

In This Post

Here’s how the options breakdown by carrier:

American Airlines

Now through the end of 2019, American Airlines’ flight schedule has eight routes to the Caribbean that operate using aircraft with lie-flat business class seats.

First off are American Airlines’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners. These forward/rear-facing staggered seats 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 (which, of course, isn’t exactly the Caribbean, but is close, so we’ll include it):

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

A legacy product of US Airways, AA’s Airbus A330-200s still have the “Envoy Suites” that US 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 US Airways hub down to the Caribbean:

  • Philadelphia (PHL) to San Juan (SJU) — Aug. 18, 19, 23, 25, 26; Sept. 1–2; Oct. 12–13, 20–21; and then daily starting Oct. 28
  • Charlotte (CLT) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) — daily starting Nov. 2
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ) — one-off on Nov. 30
Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy
Business class seats on American Airlines’ Airbus A330. (Image 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) — daily through Dec. 17
  • Miami (MIA) to San Juan (SJU) — daily
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to Cancun (CUN) — daily except Tuesdays now through Sept. 2 and from Oct. 3 through Nov. 2; and then daily starting Dec. 18
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to San Juan (SJU) — daily from Sept. 4–Oct. 27 (except Sept. 21, Oct. 12–13, 20–21)
Business class seats on American Airlines’ Boeing 767. (Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Lie-flat options between the US 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 US 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 for the 50,000 miles you can earn by signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® ($2,500 spend in the first three month required) or the 50,000 miles you can earn by signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® ($5,000 spend in the first three months required).

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. Even better, you can make these awards even cheaper thanks to the ongoing 40% bonus for transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Avios now through October 1.

Stock up on Chase Ultimate Rewards points by signing up for 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).

Delta

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

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.

JetBlue

JetBlue Mint won the Best Domestic Business Class of the year at the TPG Awards 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 US, the good news is that you can also fly this award-winning product to the Caribbean.

JetBlue Mint seats lie fully flat — and come with excellent amenities and service.

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’s 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 Apr. 25
  • Barbados (BGI)
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays through Oct. 26
    • 2x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 through Dec. 14
    • up to 2x daily from Dec. 19 through Jan. 6
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Jan. 11 through Apr. 25
  • Grenada (GND)
    • 1x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 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 Apr. 25
  • 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 Apr. 25
  • Barbados (BGI) — 1x weekly on Saturdays through Apr. 25
  • St. Lucia (UVF) — 1x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 through Apr. 25
  • St. Maarten (SXM) — 1x weekly on Saturdays from Nov. 2 through Apr. 25

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 New York’s JFK to Saint Maarten could cost either $279 or 25,000 JetBlue points, plus $5.60 in taxes.

Meanwhile, an expensive flight during the holidays from New York’s JFK to Bridgetown might cost $1,831 one-way or 180,000 points plus $7.10 in taxes/fees:

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 in the first 90 days of account opening. You can also transfer points from Capital One Venture, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Amex Membership Rewards.

LATAM

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

But, it’s easy to miss. The flight only operates once per week on Sundays now through December 15 and then from February 16 through July 12, 2020. But LATAM isn’t taking a break from December 21-February 9. Instead, it’s operating on both Saturday and Sunday during this time period.

Business class aboard a LATAM 787. Image courtesy of LATAM.
Business class aboard a LATAM 787. Image courtesy of LATAM.

And it’s relatively cheap 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 38,975 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to booking an award flight on this route. The good news is that LATAM is a partner of British Airways and the 911-mile route means that a business class award only costs 15,000 Avios each way. Even better, there’s currently a 40% transfer bonus for transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios. That means it’ll only cost 11,000 Amex points one-way to book this award.

The bad news: it’s hard to search for LATAM award availability. The airline is one of only a few Oneworld partners that cannot be searched or booked through American Airlines’ website. And, LATAM can’t be searched through ExpertFlyer either. While you can search award availability through British Airways’ website, it doesn’t seem you can actually book these awards through the website.

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 Sept. 15 and then daily starting Oct. 27 on a B/E Aerospace Diamond-fit Boeing 767-400ER
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Cancun (CUN) — Saturdays only starting Nov. 2 using a Boeing 777
  • Newark (EWR) to St. Thomas (STT) — daily on a lie-flat Boeing 757 starting Oct. 27

While it is moving to a more dynamically based award pricing system in November, United Airlines currently charges 30,000 MileagePlus miles for saver business class award flights between the US and the Caribbean. That means you’ll have enough miles for a round-trip by signing up for the United Explorer Card during the current 40,000-mile sign-up offer for spending $2,000 in purchases in the first three months after account opening.

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

Should you prefer to book your United lie-flat seat via Avianca LifeMiles by making a transfer to that program from your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou cards, you could book the same flights when available at the saver level for 30,000 LifeMiles.

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 image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.

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