How to Fly in a Lie-Flat Business Class Seat Between the US and Mexico
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Throughout the month of May, we’re exploring Mexico at The Points Guy, so check back regularly for flight and hotel reviews, features and deals from our neighbor to the south.
What’s better than a taking a vacation to one of Mexico’s great destinations? Flying there in a lie-flat seat. Sure, you don’t need a lie-flat first/business class seat for these short- to mid-haul flights. But if it’s the same cost — in cash or points — why not fly the best available product? Beyond the comfort level, what I’ve found from flying lie-flat seats on domestic routes is that the food and drink options are generally much better on these flights as aircraft have more galley storage and better cooking elements.
With that in mind, we dug into the flight schedules for each US-based airline to find available options for flying in a lie-flat seat to Mexico.
Here’s how they break down by carrier
While most of AeroMexico’s flights between the US and Mexico are operated by smaller aircraft, there are two notable exceptions. AeroMexico has recently taken delivery of new Dreamliner aircraft and has scheduled the birds on two US routes.
Note that AeroMexico operates two different versions of its 787 Dreamliner between Mexico City and the US. So, it’s important to pay attention to the digit that comes after the dash.
AeroMexico’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will fly most days between Los Angeles (LAX) and Mexico City (MEX) from June 1 to September 2. This aircraft is equipped with B/E Aerospace Diamond seating which is arranged in a rather open 2-2-2 arrangement.
Meanwhile, AeroMexico’s Boeing 787-9 is being flown daily — with a few exceptions — between New York Kennedy (JFK) and Mexico City (MEX) at least through the end of 2019. This aircraft is arranged in a much more private 1-2-1 arrangement using B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seating. To boot, this aircraft has a sleek walk-up bar in business class.
There are a couple of ways to book these flights with miles, but none of them are particularly great. You can book AeroMexico awards through Delta SkyMiles. Delta ditched its award chart years ago, but looking through Delta’s award calendar, it seems that the price starts at 35,000 SkyMiles each way.
Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program is also a partner of AeroMexico with awards costing 36,000 Flying Blue miles for a business class one-way award for both routes. The good news about Flying Blue miles is they’re very easy to accumulate. The program is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. You can also transfer Capital One miles to Flying Blue at a 2:1.5 ratio. All of these transfers should process instantaneously.
In the current American Airlines flight schedule, there are four routes to Mexico that have lie-flat seats. Unfortunately for those that are hoping to head elsewhere, all four of these routes are to Cancun (CUN).
Two of these routes (DFW-CUN and ORD-CUN) are operated using American Airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Most flights are operated using the 787-8 Dreamliner. These forward/rear-facing staggered seats are my least favorite in the AA international fleet, as your seat will rock when the passenger in the connected seat moves. However, it’s a great way to fly down to Cancun.
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) — operating Thursday-Monday using a 787-9 Dreamliner now through June 3
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) — operating daily using a 787-8 Dreamliner now through at least the end of 2019
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Cancun (CUN) — operating 2x daily from Thursday-Monday and 1x daily on Tuesday-Wednesday
While AA’s Boeing 767-300 business class isn’t nearly as nice as the Dreamliner, it’s still a much nicer seat than a recliner domestic first class seat as the alternative. These seats don’t have in-flight entertainment screens, and it’s unclear if AA will hand out the IFE tablets on shorter routes (so BYO entertainment).
- Miami (MIA) to Cancun (CUN) — operating daily
- Philadelphia (PHL) to Cancun (CUN) — operating daily starting June 6
American Airlines has two different types of seating arrangements on its 757. One version has standard domestic recliner seats while the other has undergone a retrofit with lie-flat seats. Good news for Cancun-based travelers. The lie-flat version is currently scheduled on two routes:
- Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) — daily now through October 26 and then November 3 through at least year-end
- Philadelphia (PHL) to Cancun (CUN) — daily now through June 5
Note that the Phoenix (PHX) to Cancun (CUN) route also operates using a 757 nearly daily (except on Saturday) now through September 3. However, the seat map shows that AA is using a domestic 757 rather than the lie-flat version.
Thankfully, the Mexico region survived AA’s recent premium cabin award chart devaluation. Lie-flat options between the US and Mexico still cost 25,000 AAdvantage miles each way at the saver level. 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 on this route:
That means that you can get enough miles for a lie-flat round-trip with the sign-up bonus you can earn on the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard (Earn 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months of account opening.) or the bonus on the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (50,000 miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening).
However, if you’re flying nonstop, there’s a better option: use British Airways Avios instead. Now through the end of May (before the partner award chart changes), nonstop business-class flights under 1,151 miles (such as Dallas to Cancun) will cost just 15,000 Avios each way. Nonstop flights between 1,152 and 2,000 miles cost just 20,000 Avios.
If you’re connecting, you can use Iberia Plus Avios instead, as it uses a mileage-based chart based on the total distance of your itinerary (though note that you can only book round-trip AA flights this way).
Both British Airways and Iberia are 1:1 transfer partners of American Express and Chase. Or you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to BA or Iberia at a 3:1 ratio — plus 5,000 bonus Avios for transferring 60,000 points.
Even better, you can transfer Chase UR points to BA Avios with a 30% bonus now through June 16 — just make sure to book before May 30 to take advantage of the current award chart.
With the current British Airways partner award chart and 30% bonus from Ultimate Rewards, a family of four could fly from Dallas to Cancun in lie-flat seats for less than 47,000 total Chase points.
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 3 months) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ) for consumers, or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months ) or Ink Business Cash Credit Card ($500 cash back or 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, when linked with another UR-earning card) for businesses.
In addition to its partner AeroMexico offering a couple of routes to Mexico with lie-flat seating, Delta tacks on one route to Mexico with lie-flat business class seats.
On Saturdays from June 8 to August 24 — as well as Sunday, June 30 — Delta is scheduled to operate a 757 with lie-flat B/E Aerospace Diamond seating between New York Kennedy (JFK) and Mexico City (MEX).
Delta also operates New York JFK-Cancun, Los Angeles-Mexico City and Detroit-Mexico City using a 757. However, these routes use a 757 with a traditional reclining chair up front rather than the 757 lie-flat version.
Since ditching its award chart years ago, Delta charges whatever it feels like for awards on its own flights. Currently, the JFK-MEX route is available for no less than 46,000 SkyMiles:
And as much as 100,000 SkyMiles each way:
But there’s a better way to book Delta award flights. Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club is charging just 30,000 miles each way for the same flights.
Even better, you can get this award for right around 23,000 points thanks to two ongoing transfer bonuses. Now through July 1, you’ll get 30% bonus miles when transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Flying Club. And now through June 22, you’ll also get 30% bonus miles when transferring Citi ThankYou Points to Flying Club.
Airlines Without Lie-Flat Seats to Mexico
JetBlue: The winner of the Best Domestic Business Class of the year at the TPG Awards went to JetBlue Mint. And, while JetBlue flies flights with a Mint-configured aircraft to parts of the Caribbean, no Mexican destinations are scheduled to be served by a Mint-equipped aircraft.
United: United has plenty of aircraft with lie-flat seats, and you can fly some of these on domestic US routes. However, I can’t find a single aircraft with a lie-flat business class seat deployed on any of United’s routes to Mexico.
Alaska, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit and Sun Country: All of these carriers fly between the US and Mexico, but unless you have a really empty flight and luck into “poor man’s business class” — three seats all to yourself — you aren’t going to get a lie-flat seat on any of them.
Interjet, Viva Aerobus and Volaris: These Mexican low-cost airlines don’t have a business class section, much less lie-flat seats.
Featured photo of American Airlines 787-9 business class taken by the author.
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