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American Airlines’ fleet is frustratingly inconsistent, especially on US domestic routes. Some long domestic routes will lack power outlets and in-flight entertainment screens — even in first class. Meanwhile, you can find lie-flat business class seats sold as economy on one-hour flights. So if you’ve got some flexibility in your travels, knowing American Airlines’ fleet schedule can mean getting a superior experience.
The problem is: AA’s fleet schedule varies widely from month to month. So, we here at The Points Guy dig into it regularly to unveil where you can find these excellent seats.
Whether you splurge on a first-class award or paid ticket, get a free upgrade using 500-mile upgrades or get a complimentary upgrade as a Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum member, here are the ways to fly on American Airlines’ best business class seats without having to bring your passport.
One of the best business class seats in the sky, American Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER (77W) is a great way of traveling anywhere. However, it’s typically expensive to buy an international round-trip on this aircraft; award availability on these flights is especially hard to get and upgrades on these premium routes are highly sought after.
If you’re looking to try it out with out a passport, the good news is that the aircraft returned to domestic routes on May 3 with cross-country flights between Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX). The aircraft is scheduled on the route through October 26:
These flights are being sold as three-cabin flights: first class, business class and economy. Premium economy seats are available to economy passengers as Main Cabin Extra seats — meaning these seats are free for Platinum, Platinum Pros and Executive Platinum elites.
777-200: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond or Zodiac Concept D
American Airlines has two different business class seats in its 777-200 fleet — the “rocking” Zodiac Concept D seats and the much-better B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats. You can’t tell these apart from looking at the seat map. And, even if you do book a particular version, equipment changes means there’s no telling which type will show up at your gate.
However, both versions are lie-flat business class seats and all of AA’s 777-200s have been retrofit with premium economy. While sold as premium economy on international flights and flights to/from Hawaii, these seats are labeled as Main Cabin Extra on mainland domestic routes. That means that these seats are free for Platinum, Platinum Pros and Executive Platinum elites. While you won’t get any extra service while sitting in premium economy seats on mainland domestic routes, these seats are a definite upgrade over the rest of the economy cabin.
So, looking for 777-200s on domestic routes is sure to provide a better-than-average first class experience and a better-than-average Main Cabin Extra experience. Here are the routes on which AA is using these aircraft within the 50 US states:
|DFW||MIA||2386||7:00||10:56||Current||31-Aug||Daily exc. Aug 20|
|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 Sunday|
787-9 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond
While American Airlines mostly keeps its fuel-efficient 787-9 Dreamliners on international routes, periodically it will have to position these aircraft between hubs due to scheduling needs. This opens up a golden opportunity to try out AA’s newest business-class seat for yourself.
Upgrade didn’t clear? Or, don’t want to pay for first class? AA has made the decision to not sell premium economy on domestic routes (except to Hawaii), so the premium economy seats found on these 787s are sold as part of the economy cabin. However, these seats are labeled as Main Cabin Extra, so you’ll need AA elite status to choose them for free.
A330 Envoy Suite
While not the newest business-class seat in the fleet, the legacy US Airways A330s provide a solid business class product — and certainly more than sufficient for a domestic flight. There’s an important difference to keep in mind through. The Airbus A330-200 have been retrofit with premium economy and Main Cabin Extra, but the Airbus A330-300 aircraft still won’t be retrofit.
The good news is that — from June-August — only the premium economy retrofit A330-200 (332) aircraft are flying domestically:
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 on a couple of routes this spring — including between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Anchorage (ANC) and between DFW and Chicago:
The sixth and final aircraft on the list is American Airlines’ old Boeing 767s. While these are far from the best AA business class seats — actually, these are #6 in our rankings — at least they’ve got lie-flat seats, meaning they’re significantly better than your standard domestic first class options. Here’s where you can find them from June to August:
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page about flying American Airlines’ lie-flat business class products domestically, so you can bookmark it and check back for the latest update. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older versions below.
Know before you go.
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Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $700. In addition, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. As of July 23, 2017 this is the only card that offers Admirals Club lounge access so if you are an AA flyer this card might make sense for you. Aside from lounge access the primary cardholder will receive a Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years, first checked bag free for up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights.
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you*
- Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation*