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How to Fly American Airlines’ Lie-Flat Business Class Seats For Just 12,000 Chase Points

April 23, 2019
12 min read
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On Monday, we saw the launch of Chase's first ever transfer bonus: Now through June 16, you’ll get a 30% bonus when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios. This transfer bonus amplifies all kinds of sweet spots in the Avios award chart, and we are going to highlight some of these over the next week.

Today, let's focus on how you can fly AA's best international business class products on domestic routes for just 12,000 Ultimate Rewards points in each direction.

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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 30% transfer bonus from Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios means you only have to transfer 12,000 UR points to British Airways 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 not 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 12,000 Ultimate Rewards.

Routes

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

B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class on some AA Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy.
B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class on some AA Boeing 777-200 aircraft. Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy.

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 aircraft. So, here are the domestic routes under 1,151 miles where you can currently fly the 777-200:

FromToFlight #DepartArriveStartingEndingFrequency
DFWMIA31716:4520:447-Jun7-JunOne-Off
DFWMIA79711:0014:593-May5-JunDaily
DFWMIA121916:4020:303-May30-JunDaily
DFWMIA220618:1521:552-Apr30-JunDaily
DFWMIA223914:2518:246-Jun6-JunOne-Off
DFWMIA23867:0010:567-Jun30-JunDaily
DFWMIA254117:0120:472-Apr2-MayDaily
JFKMIA24315:3018:512-Apr2-MayDaily
JFKMIA24315:5919:274-May30-JunDaily
MIADFW40810:4012:513-May3-MayOne-Off
MIADFW133515:4017:532-Apr2-MayDaily
MIADFW223910:5412:596-Jun6-JunOne-Off
MIADFW246917:1519:283-May5-JunDaily
MIADFW256712:0013:597-Jun30-JunDaily
MIADFW25757:169:253-May30-JunDaily
MIADFW28089:0011:162-Apr30-JunDaily
MIAJFK119916:0519:012-Apr5-JunDaily
MIAJFK119915:4118:526-Jun30-JunDaily

787-9: B/E Aerospace Super Diamond

Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy.
Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy.

Another way that you can try out the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond business class seats is on AA's Boeing 787-9 -- which is available between Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD):

FromToFlight #DepartArriveStartingEndingFrequency
DFWORD8212:4515:053-May5-JunDaily
DFWORD241212:2514:526-Jun30-JunDaily exc. Sat
DFWORD241212:3514:598-Jun29-JunSaturday
DFWORD263112:3014:472-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW31220:3022:516-Jun30-JunDaily
ORDDFW230018:5521:272-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW230018:2520:513-May26-MayDaily
ORDDFW230018:2520:5127-May4-JunDaily exc. Thurs
ORDDFW273822:090:2630-May5-JunWed-Thurs

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):

FromToFlight #DepartArriveStartingEndingFrequency
DFWORD1496:509:092-Apr2-MayDaily
DFWORD125812:1014:293-May5-JunDaily
DFWORD125811:3013:596-Jun30-JunDaily
DFWORD129420:4523:002-Apr2-MayDaily
DFWORD146317:0019:273-May26-MayDaily
DFWORD146317:0019:2727-May2-JunDaily exc. Wed
DFWORD146317:0019:273-Jun5-JunMon-Wed
DFWORD146317:0019:316-Jun30-JunDaily
DFWORD241816:3518:542-Apr2-MayDaily
DFWORD252018:3020:482-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW83017:3720:013-May30-JunDaily
ORDDFW110610:5013:182-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW140813:2015:466-Jun30-JunDaily
ORDDFW16257:059:302-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW242915:0517:302-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW250116:5519:202-Apr2-MayDaily
ORDDFW275413:2215:513-May26-MayDaily
ORDDFW275413:2215:5127-May2-JunDaily exc. Wed
ORDDFW275413:2215:513-Jun5-JunMon-Wed

A330-200: Envoy Suite

Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy
Image by JT Genter / The Points Guy

In some ways, US Airways is still alive and well within American Airlines. One of those ways: the old US Airways Envoy Suites business class product is still flying on AA's Airbus A330s. You can find these domestically between Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte (CLT) or Orlando (MCO). The PHL-CLT route is under 500 miles -- meaning any elite can upgrade for free on this flight -- but the PHL-MCO route is a better use of miles. Here's the schedule for both:

FromToFlight #DepartArriveStartingEndingFrequency
CLTPHL219116:3918:332-Apr2-MayDaily
MCOCLT4618:1610:063-May3-MayOne-Off
MCOPHL18999:0111:292-Apr2-MayDaily
PHLCLT79312:5514:472-Apr2-MayDaily
PHLMCO191918:1020:482-Apr2-MayDaily

Boeing 767-300

Image of AA's Boeing 767 business class courtesy of American Airlines.

While AA's 767-300 business-class seat isn’t winning any awards, the seat does lie flat, and it’s a huge upgrade from standard domestic first-class products. Here are the routes and flights:

FromToFlight #DepartArriveStartingEndingFrequency
JFKMIA24315:5919:323-May3-MayOne-Off
JFKMIA29112:5916:123-May30-JunDaily
JFKMIA157110:5914:082-Apr2-MayDaily
JFKMIA257213:3016:442-Apr2-MayDaily
MIAJFK548:5511:523-May5-JunDaily
MIAJFK2918:4911:526-Jun30-JunDaily
MIAJFK15716:569:572-Apr2-MayDaily
MIAJFK257218:5922:012-Apr1-MayDaily
MIAPHL16236:569:474-May30-JunDaily
MIAPHL233319:5522:503-Mar30-JunDaily
MIAPHL257013:5016:422-Apr30-JunDaily
PHLMIA15339:0012:103-Apr2-MayDaily
PHLMIA162310:4913:506-Jun30-JunDaily
PHLMIA257115:3518:494-May30-JunDaily
PHLMIA259517:4520:492-Apr30-JunDaily
PHLMIA266510:5013:563-May5-JunDaily

What About Award Availability?

American Airlines has become known for having very unsatisfactory award availability on nonstop flights, but I’m finding a decent amount on some of these flights. That 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 through British Airways. 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 Ultimate Rewards account, click "transfer to travel partners" and click "transfer points" next to British Airways Avios.

In our experience, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to British Airways Executive Club instantaneously. You’ll want to transfer 12,000 UR points to get enough Avios for a one-way award. Note that Chase will only show that you'll get 12,000 Avios, British Airways will add another 3,600 Avios after the transfer is completed:

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 Card ($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 runs for less than two months, the promotion is going to be best for those who already have Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the bank. But if you don’t have points in your UR account — or want to resupply after taking advantage of this deal — here are three great credit card welcome bonuses that are currently available:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Small businesses can score 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

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 -- surely assisted by having better ovens and larger galleys. 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 Ultimate Rewards points.

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Featured image by JT Genter
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.