Amex Avios 40% Bonus Sweet Spot: Lie-Flat Business Class Seats For Under 12,000 Points
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Last week, we saw the return of an excellent transfer bonus: Now through October 1, you’ll get a 40% bonus when transferring American Express Membership Rewards to Aer Lingus Avios, British Airways Avios or Iberia Avios. This transfer bonus amplifies all kinds of sweet spots in the Avios award chart, and this week we are going to dive into the best of these sweet spots.
Today, let’s focus on how you can fly AA’s best international business class products domestically for just 12,000 Membership Rewards points in each direction.
The Sweet Spot
Here’s how this sweet spot breaks down: American Airlines codes its “domestic first class” seats as business class. Even after the recent BA award chart devaluation, it only costs 16,500 British Airways Avios for nonstop business class awards on flights less than 1,151 miles.
But, it gets sweeter: AA sometimes flies its internationally-configured aircraft on domestic flights. With the 40% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios, you only have to transfer 12,000 MR points to BA to book these award flights.
Finding nonstop award availability can be tough on American Airlines flights, especially since AA made some annoying changes to how it releases award availability in late 2017. However, it’s far from impossible to find award space — and flights on these premium-heavy widebody aircraft usually end up having more award availability than on domestic aircraft.
The problem is, the schedules for these internationally-configured aircraft on domestic routes vary from month to month. So, we here at The Points Guy dig into AA’s schedule regularly to unveil where you can find these excellent seats. With an eye toward just those routes that are 1,151 miles or less, let’s take a look at the routes where you can book some of AA’s best international business class seats for 12,000 Membership Rewards or less.
787-9: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond
One of my favorite business class seats is found on American Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner: the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat. While you’ll typically find this business class cabin on long-haul flights around the world, you can test it out for yourself between Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) on the following schedule:
|DFW||ORD||2412||12:25||14:48||7-Jul||19-Aug||Daily (exc. Sat)|
|DFW||ORD||2412||12:25||14:47||20-Aug||30-Aug||Daily (exc. Sat)|
777-200: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond or Zodiac Concept D
American Airlines’ 777-200 is a bit complicated. While the seat maps look identical, there are actually two business-class seat options. While both are lie-flat, one is significantly more spacious and stable than the other. However, either one would be a huge improvement from standard domestic first-class products you’d find on other AAircraft. So, here are the domestic routes under 1,151 miles where you can currently fly the 777-200:
|DFW||MIA||2550||10:55||14:53||4-Sep||13-Sep||Daily (exc. Sat)|
|DFW||MIA||2550||10:55||14:53||16-Sep||2-Oct||Daily (exc. Sat)|
|MIA||DFW||2469||17:32||19:36||23-Sep||2-Oct||Daily (exc. Sat)|
|MIA||DFW||2567||12:00||14:00||19-Aug||25-Aug||Daily (exc. Tues)|
|MIA||DFW||2567||12:00||14:00||26-Aug||31-Aug||Daily (exc. Sun)|
While AA’s 767-300 business-class seat isn’t winning any awards internationally, the seat does lie flat, and it’s a huge upgrade from standard domestic first-class products. Here are the routes and flights:
|MIA||PHL||2333||19:36||22:29||9-Sep||14-Sep||Daily (exc. Fri)|
|MIA||PHL||2333||19:36||22:29||16-Sep||22-Sep||Daily (exc. Sat)|
|PHL||MIA||2571||15:35||18:34||9-Sep||14-Sep||Daily (exc. Fri)|
|PHL||MIA||2571||15:35||18:34||16-Sep||22-Sep||Daily (exc. Sat)|
787-8: Zodiac Concept D
While it’s not my favorite American Airlines business class product, the lie-flat seats up front on AA’s 787-8 are significantly better than booking a standard domestic first class seat. And you can try it out at least daily between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD):
|DFW||ORD||1463||17:00||19:25||10-Sep||29-Sep||Daily (exc. Mon, Wed)|
|ORD||DFW||830||17:25||19:43||5-Sep||29-Sep||Daily (exc. Mon, Wed)|
What About Award Availability?
American Airlines has become known for having AAtrocious AAward AAvailability on nonstop flights, but I’m finding a decent amount of award availability on some of these flights. The availability is helped by the sheer number of business-class seats on these aircraft. Remember to use the best techniques when searching to save yourself time and hassle.
For example, here’s one 777-200 flight from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Miami (MIA) with seven business-class award seats available. Even better, a hot lunch is served on the flight.
How to Book
Now that you know the routes, you might be wondering how to take advantage of this opportunity. Thankfully, we have step-by-step instructions on how to do so.
First, make sure that you find award availability before transferring points. Then, to transfer points, log in to your American Express account, navigate to the point transfer page and select “Transfer Points” under the British Airways Avios tile. In our experience, Amex Membership Rewards transfer to British Airways Executive Club instantaneously. You’ll want to transfer 12,000 MR points to get enough Avios for a one-way award.
Once the Avios are in your account, search for the award flight you found, select your flight option from the search results and then click “Continue” at the bottom. Read and agree to the terms on the next page, clicking “Continue” again to progress. On the next page, your personal information should be populated from your account profile. Update as needed and click “Continue” again. On the final page, complete your payment information to finalize the booking.
Remember to use a credit card with trip delay and baggage insurance protection. Top choices are the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 6+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay), Chase Sapphire Preferred Card ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay) and the Citi Premier® Card (12+ hour delay).
Since this transfer bonus only runs for two months, the promotion is going to be best for those who already have Membership Rewards points in the bank. But if you don’t have points in your Amex account — or want to resupply after taking advantage of this deal — here are three great credit card welcome bonuses that are currently available:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership (also check the CardMatch tool for a possible targeted 100,000-point bonus; targeted offer subject to change at anytime). Terms Apply.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 85,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
- American Express® Gold Card: 60,000-point welcome bonus for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Terms Apply.
While it’s a lot more fun to fly these lie-flat business-class products overseas, it’s also nice to try them out on domestic routes. In addition to the extra space, I’ve found the food and drink to generally be better on these internationally configured aircraft. So if you’re flying between one of the cities above, check to see if you can try out one of these aircraft for yourself using just 12,000 Membership Rewards.
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