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Every other month, we at TPG go through American Airlines’ schedule to find all of the internationally-configured wide-body aircraft that AA is flying domestically. These flights are great for getting a spacious lie-flat seat rather than a standard recliner seat in business class, and most aircraft have in-flight entertainment screens and in-seat power in economy.
However, there’s two notable wide-body AAircraft AAdditions that are coming up in 2019 that are worth highlighting: American Airlines is scheduling internationally-configured Dreamliners on flights to Cancun this winter/spring and Anchorage in the summer.
American Airlines is launching Dreamliner service on the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to Cancun (CUN) route on Jan. 6, 2019 — a delay from the originally-reported launch of Dec. 19 — using a Boeing 787-8 on the following flight schedule:
- AA 2684 — Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 1:45pm Departure ⇒ Cancun (CUN) 4:15pm Arrival
- AA 2684 — Cancun (CUN) 6:25pm Departure ⇒ Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 8:25pm Arrival
Then, from Mar. 3 to Apr. 1, 2019, this route will also get a once-daily flight using a Boeing 787-9, which offers premium economy seats and a better business class product than the 787-8. This flight will operate on the following schedule:
- AA 1190 — Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 9:05am Departure ⇒ Cancun (CUN) 12:45pm Arrival
- AA 1601 — Cancun (CUN) 2:05pm Departure ⇒ Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 4:10pm Arrival
Then, from Jun. 6 to Sept. 3, 2019, a Boeing 787-8 will operate between DFW and Anchorage:
- AA 399 — Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 3:25pm Departure ⇒ Anchorage (ANC) 7:12pm Arrival
- AA 399 — Anchorage (ANC) 8:40pm Departure ⇒ Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) 6:00am Arrival (+1 day)
Let’s go through why this is good news for flyers:
Elite Upgrades: As both of these destinations are in North America, they fall under American Airlines’ 500-mile upgrade scheme. That means that Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites will get complimentary upgrades to lie-flat business class on these flights — and EPs will even get free upgrades on award flights.
AA Gold and Platinum elites will have to “pay” three 500-mile certificates for the 1,028-mile flights between Dallas-Cancun and a hefty seven 500-mile certificates for the 3,043-mile flights between Dallas-Anchorage.
Award flights: As these aircraft have significantly more capacity than the aircraft they’re replacing, hopefully this will mean more availability when booking with miles. In addition to nearly double the business class seats, there shouldn’t much competition from business travelers on these mostly-leisure routes.
And while American Airlines charges a premium for coast-to-coast award flights in lie-flat business class, there’s no mileage premium charged for booking a lie-flat business class on these routes. So, you’ll get a significant upgrade over the alternatives for the same price.
Speaking of the mileage price, flights between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Anchorage (ANC) are pricing out at:
- Economy: 15,000 miles plus $5.60 taxes/fees one-way
- Business: 30,000 miles plus $5.60 taxes/fees one-way
Despite being significantly shorter flights, award flights between DFW and Cancun (CUN) cost the same number of miles in economy plus more taxes:
- Economy: 15,000 miles plus $32 taxes/fees one-way
- Business: 25,000 miles plus $32 taxes/fees one-way
Premium Economy Sold as Economy: The last benefit worth highlighting is that all Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners have a premium economy cabin. And, the Boeing 787-8 aircraft are going to be retrofit in early 2019. On the Cancun routes, American Airlines isn’t selling premium economy as a separate class of service, so these extra-legroom, extra-width seats will be coded as “Main Cabin Extra.” These seats will be free for Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites to reserve at booking.
On the Anchorage flights, AA is going to sell the premium economy cabin as a separate class of service. That means that you’ll have to pay a little more to get these seats, but you’ll get all of the benefits of AA premium economy — including better service and catering.
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*