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On Saturday, we saw the return of an excellent transfer bonus: Now through November 15, 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’re diving into the best of these sweet spots. We started on Sunday by showing you how to fly to Ireland for 10,000 Amex points one-way (or 19,000 round-trip) and shared on Monday how you can fly to Europe in business class for 49,000 Amex points round-trip.
Today, let’s focus on how you can fly AA’s best international business class products domestically for just 11,000 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. And it only costs 15,000 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. Even sweeter: The 40% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios means you only have to transfer 11,000 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 wide-body 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 11,000 Membership Rewards.
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:
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:
787-8: Zodiac Concept D
While it’s certainly not my favorite American Airlines business class product, the lie-flat seats up front on AA’s 787-8 are definitely worth booking over 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):
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/Forth Worth (DFW) to Miami (MIA) with seven business-class award seats available. Even better, a hot dinner 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 11,000 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 ThankYou 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: 60,000-point welcome bonus for spending $5,000 in the first three months of Card Membership (also check the CardMatch tool for a possible targeted 100,000-point bonus; targeted offer subject to change at anytime)
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Up to 75,000-point welcome bonus for spending $20,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express: 25,000-point welcome bonus for spending $2,000 in the first three months of Card Membership
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 11,000 Membership Rewards.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees