Amex Avios 40% Bonus Sweet Spot: Lie-Flat Business Class Seats For Under 12,000 Points

Aug 4, 2019

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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.

In This Post

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.

Routes

787-9: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond

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

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:

From To Flight # Depart Arrive Starting Ending Frequency
DFW ORD 2412 12:25 14:48 7-Jul 19-Aug Daily (exc. Sat)
DFW ORD 2412 12:35 14:58 13-Jul 17-Aug Saturday
DFW ORD 2412 12:25 14:47 20-Aug 30-Aug Daily (exc. Sat)
DFW ORD 2412 12:35 14:57 24-Aug 31-Aug Saturday
DFW ORD 2412 12:25 14:47 1-Sep 3-Sep Daily
DFW ORD 2412 12:30 14:50 5-Sep 31-Oct Daily
ORD DFW 116 20:35 22:45 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily
ORD DFW 312 20:35 22:55 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily

777-200: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond or Zodiac Concept D

AA’s Zodiac seats aren’t great by international standards but are excellent for a domestic flight.

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:

From To Flight # Depart Arrive Starting Ending Frequency
DFW MIA 797 11:00 15:09 20-Aug 3-Sep Daily
DFW MIA 1219 16:45 20:46 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
DFW MIA 1219 17:20 21:10 4-Sep 27-Oct Daily
DFW MIA 2206 18:20 22:15 7-Jul 2-Oct Daily
DFW MIA 2206 18:05 21:43 27-Oct 31-Oct Daily
DFW MIA 2386 7:05 11:06 7-Jul 19-Aug Daily
DFW MIA 2386 7:03 11:04 21-Aug 11-Oct Daily
DFW MIA 2386 7:00 10:48 14-Oct 26-Oct Daily
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)
DFW MIA 2550 10:55 14:47 3-Oct 31-Oct Daily
DFW MIA 2875 11:56 15:43 7-Sep 7-Sep One-Off
DFW MIA 2875 11:56 15:43 21-Sep 21-Sep One-Off
JFK MIA 243 15:59 19:29 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
JFK MIA 243 15:30 18:42 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily
MIA DFW 2469 17:32 19:36 4-Sep 13-Sep Daily
MIA DFW 2469 17:32 19:36 16-Sep 22-Sep Daily
MIA DFW 2469 17:32 19:36 23-Sep 2-Oct Daily (exc. Sat)
MIA DFW 2550 17:29 19:35 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
MIA DFW 2567 12:00 14:00 7-Jul 18-Aug Daily
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)
MIA DFW 2567 12:00 14:00 1-Sep 11-Oct Daily
MIA DFW 2567 12:00 14:01 14-Oct 26-Oct Daily
MIA DFW 2575 7:15 9:15 20-Aug 31-Oct Daily
MIA DFW 2808 9:20 11:19 7-Jul 26-Oct Daily
MIA DFW 2808 9:15 11:18 28-Oct 31-Oct Daily
MIA JFK 1199 15:41 18:52 1-Jul 3-Sep Daily
MIA JFK 1199 16:10 19:10 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily

Boeing 767-300

Business class on AA
Business class on AA’s 767. Photo courtesy of American Airlines.

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:

From To Flight # Depart Arrive Starting Ending Frequency
BOS PHL 544 6:00 7:30 3-Oct 11-Oct Daily
BOS PHL 544 6:00 7:30 15-Oct 25-Oct Daily
BOS PHL 544 6:00 7:30 28-Oct 31-Oct Daily
JFK MIA 291 12:59 16:14 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
JFK MIA 291 12:29 15:33 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily
MIA JFK 54 8:35 11:34 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily
MIA JFK 291 8:49 11:52 1-Jul 3-Sep Daily
MIA PHL 1623 6:56 9:48 1-Jul 31-Oct Daily
MIA PHL 2333 19:35 22:28 1-Jul 31-Aug Daily
MIA PHL 2333 19:35 22:27 2-Sep 8-Sep Daily
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)
MIA PHL 2333 19:36 22:29 23-Sep 6-Oct Daily
MIA PHL 2333 19:36 22:27 7-Oct 13-Oct Sun-Thurs
MIA PHL 2333 19:36 22:27 14-Oct 31-Oct Daily
MIA PHL 2570 13:35 16:36 7-Jul 31-Oct Daily
PHL BOS 1874 20:55 22:23 2-Oct 2-Oct One-Off
PHL BOS 1874 21:05 22:35 3-Oct 10-Oct Daily
PHL BOS 1874 21:05 22:35 14-Oct 20-Oct Daily
PHL BOS 1874 21:05 22:35 21-Oct 30-Oct Sun-Thurs
PHL BOS 2336 14:29 15:51 31-Oct 31-Oct One-Off
PHL MIA 1623 10:49 13:51 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
PHL MIA 2571 15:35 18:50 7-Jul 31-Aug Daily
PHL MIA 2571 15:35 18:49 2-Sep 8-Sep Daily
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)
PHL MIA 2571 15:35 18:34 23-Sep 6-Oct Daily
PHL MIA 2571 15:35 18:33 7-Oct 13-Oct Sun-Thurs
PHL MIA 2571 15:35 18:33 14-Oct 31-Oct Daily
PHL MIA 2595 17:20 20:22 7-Jul 19-Aug Daily
PHL MIA 2595 17:45 20:54 20-Aug 31-Oct Daily
PHL MIA 2665 10:55 13:50 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily

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):

From To Flight # Depart Arrive Starting Ending Frequency
DFW ORD 1258 11:30 13:58 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
DFW ORD 1258 11:50 14:09 4-Sep 27-Oct Daily
DFW ORD 1258 11:50 14:08 29-Oct 31-Oct Daily
DFW ORD 1463 17:00 19:30 7-Jul 8-Sep Daily
DFW ORD 1463 17:00 19:25 10-Sep 29-Sep Daily (exc. Mon, Wed)
DFW ORD 1463 17:00 19:25 30-Sep 31-Oct Daily
ORD DFW 830 17:50 20:13 7-Jul 19-Aug Daily
ORD DFW 830 17:37 19:59 20-Aug 3-Sep Daily
ORD DFW 830 17:25 19:43 5-Sep 29-Sep Daily (exc. Mon, Wed)
ORD DFW 830 17:25 19:43 30-Sep 31-Oct Daily
ORD DFW 1408 13:20 15:45 7-Jul 3-Sep Daily
ORD DFW 2754 13:30 15:50 4-Sep 31-Oct Daily

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 accountnavigate 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).

Earning Points

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:

Bottom Line

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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