Six American Airlines AAdvantage Business Class Sweet Spots

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As regular readers will know I’ve recently made the move away from the AAdvantage program and am currently crediting my flights to the British Airways Executive Club. The BAEC makes earning top-tier status easier for me but I miss earning AAdvantage miles as the AAdvantage program offers a number of Business Class sweet spots that can be very useful and which represent a great use of miles.

The sweet spots I discuss below aren’t in any particular order and may not be all the sweets spots you can find  but they’re definitely good value.

All mileage figures represent roundtrip travel

Europe – Middle East: Business Class – 85,000 miles

This route used to offer an even better deal before the devaluation a couple of years ago but 85,000 miles for roundtrip travel with Qatar Airways or Etihad is a very good deal indeed.

Both Middle Eastern carriers offer excellent Business Class cabins and are noticeably superior to British Airways which is another option on this route. British Airways also charges unreasonable surcharges on award bookings which is another good reason to stay away from its flights.

With Qatar Airways I’d look to book the 777 (Qsuites version), A350, A380 or the Dreamliner if possible while with Etihad the A380 offers a better Business Class cabin than the 777.

Etihad Business Class A380Etihad A380 Business Class (reviewed here)

You can book roundtrip First Class between Europe and the Middle East for 125,000 miles but I don’t really see the value here – I found Qatar’s First Class product underwhelming and the flights aren’t long enough to really make the most of the good First Class that Etihad offers.

USA – Tokyo/Seoul: Business Class – 120,000 Miles

This is a good deal if you’re flying from the West Coast and a fantastic deal if you’re flying from the East Coast.

JAL is the airline to use if you can as it offers excellent Business Class cabins and the service onboard should be very good too. When you consider that flight times can be as long as 14.5 hours 120,000 miles is almost a steal.

JAL Business ClassJAL 777 Skysuite

American Airlines also offers its own aircraft on non-stop routes from the West Coast but, while the Business Class cabin seats are very good, there’s a good chance the service element will be poor…or possibly even terrible.

USA – Africa: Business Class 150,000 Miles

This isn’t going to be a great redemption if you’re looking to fly to North Africa but if you can book Qatar Airways Business Class (via Doha) to destinations like Zanzibar or even South Africa this award is hard to beat.

Qatar Airways offers its excellent 787-8 on its route to Cape Town and you’ll find the Dreamliner’s Business Class cabin hard to beat.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class (reviewed here)

Don’t be tempted to book British Airways (unless you absolutely have to) as the Business Class cabins are stuck in the late 1990’s and the surcharges you’ll be charged for the privilege of sitting in antiquated surroundings are ridiculous.

Etihad isn’t really a viable option here as American won’t let you route via Abu Dhabi to any other destinations in Africa without charging for a second award and that makes everything a lot more expensive.

Australia – New Zealand: Business Class 50,000 Miles

The best value you’ll find here is for flights between Perth and Auckland where the flying time can be over 7 hours. Qantas doesn’t actually fly between the two cities non-stop (you’ll probably need to change in Sydney) but, if you’re careful with your flight selection, you can fly this route using 787 and A330 aircraft which both offer true lie-flat Business Class seats.

Qantas A330-300 Business Class

It’s worth checking how many British Airways Avios are needed for shorter flights as they may offer better value but if you’re flying any kind of distance AAdvantage Miles are the way to go.

Flights Within Australia: Business Class 40,000 Miles

It’s easy to forget just how large Australia is and flights between Sydney and Perth can take over 5 hours.

When you consider that Qantas offers its new 787-9 Dreamliner on this route and that you can also book the airline’s Airbus A330-300s on this route too (both of which offer true lie-flat seats) this looks like a very good deal indeed.

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787-9 Business Class (reviewed here)

Business Class fares between Sydney and Perth regularly cost in excess of $2,000 so it’s easy to get over 5 cents/mile in value out of this route and that’s the kind of value that’s getting harder to find.

For short routes within Australia you may be better off using British Airways Avios but for the longer flights within the continent AAdvantage Miles can offer great value.

USA – Asia (ex. Japan/Korea): Business Class 140,000 Miles

The key to this award’s value is the fact that American Airlines will allow you to route to various Asian destinations via Tokyo, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur while only charging for one award.

What this means in practice is that you can book some of the better Asian carriers across the Pacific (JAL, Cathay Pacific etc…) and then use those carriers’ Asian networks to get you to where you want to go without paying more than 70,000 miles one-way.

Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class (reviewed here)

Malaysia Airlines will be an option when you’re flying within Asia but if you have the option of flying with JAL or Cathay Pacific those are the airlines I would go with first.

Asia – Australia/New Zealand: Business Class 80,000 Miles

Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo to Sydney are all flights scheduled to take between 8.5 and 10 hours but you can fly each of those routes in Business Class for just 40,000 miles each way using AAdvantage Miles.

Malaysia Airlines A330 Business ClassMalaysia Airlines A330 Business Class (reviewed here)

Be aware that the Malaysia Airlines A330’s that operate between KL and Sydney have Business Class cabins in which it’s important to book the right seat (see the review linked above) but, on the other routes, the choice of Qantas, Cathay Pacific and JAL should provide numerous opportunities for good seat and good in-flight service.

USA – Northern South America: Business Class 60,000 Miles

American Airlines calls the northern part of Such America “South America Region 1” and this includes the following:

  • Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Manaus (Brazil)
  • Peru

The better value awards are to be found on the longer routes offered by LATAM like Los Angeles – Lima  and New York – Ecuador on which the airline offers lie-flat seating on a 787-8 Dreamliner but you should be wary of American Airlines flights out of cities like Miami.

American Airlines offers narrow-body aircraft between Miami and northern South America and the cabin you’ll book into will be a domestic First Class cabin and unremarkable at best.

American Airlines 737 MAX 8American Airlines 737 MAX 8 First Class

If you’re not based near a hub airport you can use American Airlines to connect to LATAM’s Dreamliner routes (eg. fly from San Francisco to LA before connecting to LATAM’s Lima flight) without it costing any more miles.

Bottom Line

American Airlines may not be very good at opening up Saver award space on its own aircraft but awards on partner airlines aren’t always all that hard to find and are often better value.

If you can book the Business Class cabins on the likes of JAL, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways then you’re already ahead of the game. If you can book those airlines on one of the routes I’ve mentioned above then you’re almost certainly getting great value out of your miles.