American Airlines has the world’s largest fleet of aircraft, which means you have plenty of options to experience their first class product. Whether you’re going to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, or even Sydney, you can get there in first class on American Airlines.
Rather than pay thousands of dollars for this experience, you have your choice of several frequent flyer programs to book your first class ticket!
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A Look Inside American Airlines First Class
If you are departing from Chicago (ORD), London (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), or New York City (JFK), you will have access to American’s Flagship First check in process, complete with an individual customer service representative and expedited security access.
Your first class ticket also grants you access to the Flagship lounge when traveling internationally. American currently has Flagship lounges at 4 airports: Chicago, Los Angeles, London, and New York City; it is expanding to Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, and Philadelphia soon.
Flights within North America and the Caribbean usually do not grant access to Flagship lounges, but transcontinental flights between New York City and Los Angeles/San Francisco and between Los Angeles and Miami also provide access.
American Airlines will also be rolling out a new Flagship First dining product at their Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City Flagship lounges in 2017.
Note that credit cards offering lounge access, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, do not offer entry to any of these premium lounges.
Now, let’s talk about what to expect on your American first class flight.
Your seat will have direct aisle access, so you don’t have to crawl over someone while they’re sleeping when you want to stretch your legs, and your flight attendant won’t have to reach over someone to hand you food and drink.
For your comfort, all seats are lie-flat so you can sleep during your flight as well. American still offers the hot towel amenity, which is a lovely way to refresh and clean up at the beginning and end of the flight.
Additionally, you’ll receive pajamas and a Cole Haan amenity kit complete with 3LAB products.
If you are flying into London, you will even have access to the American Airlines arrivals lounge to freshen up before venturing into the city.
From start to finish, American Airlines pulls out all the stops for its first class passengers so you can relax and enjoy the experience!
How To Fly American Airlines First Class
You can, of course, use American AAdvantage miles to book first class on American Airlines, or book through one of their Oneworld partner airline programs like Japan Airlines. If you have Alaska Airlines miles, you can also use them to fly American since they have an individual partnership.
American Airlines AAdvantage
One of the easiest ways to book American first class is through their own AAdvantage program. You can complete the entire booking process online. Here are the steps to an easy booking process:
- Go to the American Airlines website
- Log into your AAdvantage account
- Select “Redeem Miles”
- Enter your departure and destination cities
- Enter your travel dates
- Select your class of service to see the mileage cost
- Make sure to choose SAAver level so you get the cheapest award price
- Confirm your travel date
- Select your flight and hit “Continue”
- Enter passenger details
- Enter your payment information
Fortunately, American Airlines will hold your award reservation up to 5 days (if you book at least 15 days in advance), so you will have time to transfer SPG Starpoints.
Keep in mind that American’s AAdvantage program does not allow stopovers on award tickets, but you can book one-way awards.
If you need more American AAdvantage miles, you can transfer SPG Starpoints. The transfer takes about 2 days. For every 20,000 SPG Starpoints you transfer, you will receive an additional 5,000 miles as a bonus.
Need some inspiration? Check out the best ways to redeem American miles.
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
Unlike American Airlines and many other frequent flyer programs, Japan Airlines’ Mileage Bank program uses a distance-based award chart. The award chart is broken into tiers based on how many miles you fly.
If you fly multiple segments, you’ll need to account for the distance between each airport.
Unfortunately, Japan Airlines requires you to call to book award flights with partner airlines, but this is easy if you follow the steps below.
- Go to the Japan Airlines website
- Log into your JAL Mileage Bank account
- Select “JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Reservation”
- Select American Airlines under “Partner Airlines”
- Select first class, your travel dates, and the departure and destination airports
- Select your flights and hit “Next”
- Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required
Japan Airlines allows stopovers, so you can see multiple destinations on your trip if you want.
If you need more Japan Airlines Mileage Bank miles, you can transfer SPG Starpoints. Before you decided to transfer SPG Starpoints, keep in mind that they take around 7 days and Japan Airlines does not hold award tickets.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
One of the best ways to book American Airlines’ first class is through Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program. While American Airlines devalued their award chart in early 2016, the award prices through Alaska’s program remain the same.
|To/From North America||One-Way Award Cost|
|Europe||62,500 Alaska miles|
|Hawaii||47,500 Alaska miles|
|China||67,500 Alaska miles|
|Japan/Korea||62,500 Alaska miles|
|South America (northern)||40,000 Alaska miles|
|South America (southern)||62,500 Alaska miles|
|Mexico/Central America/Caribbean||40,000 Alaska miles|
|Australia/New Zealand||110,000 Alaska miles|
|Continental U.S./Canada||32,500 Alaska miles|
To book, follow these simple steps:
- Go to Alaska’s website
- Sign in to your account
- Search for your desired route (make sure you select “Use Miles”)
- Select your desired flight and “Add To Cart”
- Pay the necessary taxes/fees and complete your booking
Not only are Alaska’s award prices better than American’s own, but you can also book a stopover. Make sure you consider using Alaska miles when booking this cabin class!
If you need some other ideas for using your Alaska miles, check out our best ways to redeem Alaska miles.
Other Options for Booking American Airlines
American Airlines has several other partners that can be useful when booking award flights. Cathay Pacific and British Airways (Oneworld partners) both have distance-based award charts that contain some sweet spots, but watch out for the high surcharges.
Additionally, American Airlines has a partnership with Etihad Airways that includes some great redemption rates, but they don’t allow you to book online.
Great American Airlines First Class Redemptions
If you’re looking for a way to try American first class with their Flagship services, check out these great international options:
|Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) round-trip|
|American Airlines||170,000 miles|
|Japan Airlines||115,000 miles|
|Alaska Airlines||125,000 miles|
|Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) round-trip|
|American Airlines||220,000 miles|
|Japan Airlines||135,000 miles|
|Alaska Airlines||135,000 miles|
|Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to London (LHR) round-trip|
|American Airlines||170,000 miles|
|Japan Airlines||100,000 miles|
|Alaska Airlines||125,000 miles|
How To Earn Enough Miles for AA First Class
You can use a Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express to earn SPG Starpoints that are easily transferred to each of the programs mentioned above. The business version of this card also earns SPG Starpoints.
American Airlines and Alaska Airlines both have credit card partnerships you can utilize to earn more miles as well. Learn more about the Citi and Barclaycard co-branded American Airlines credit cards to see how you can use them to earn AAdvantage miles directly.
If you’d like to learn more about how to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles, check out your options with their co-branded Bank of America cards.
When Should You Search for Award Space?
American Airlines is notoriously bad about releasing first class award space at the MileSAAver level. You can pay their AAnytime award rates, but it requires an unreasonable amount of miles.
Your best bet for finding first class award space is to start searching as soon as you have an idea of your travel dates and keep checking regularly.
Unfortunately, they are not predictable in how they release space, so this process can be time intensive.
What Makes This a Great Redemption?
American Airlines’ Flagship lounges are where their ground experience really shines. From the buffet to the beer, wine, and spirits selection, you’ll be able to relax while waiting for your flight.
Even better, American Airlines is stepping up their game by adding revamped dining options for first class passengers. The buffet might be nice, but a fine-dining experience is better! Flagship lounges will soon provide a fantastic sit-down dining option exclusively for first class passengers.
Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow
We mentioned the arrivals lounge in London earlier, but you might be wondering what that actually means for you. At the arrivals lounge, you will have the chance to take a shower and change clothes after a long transatlantic flight.
Additionally, you’ll be able to get a nice meal from the buffet or order from an a la carte menu. To top it off, you can have a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne. Whether you’re in London for business or vacation, this is a great way to start your trip!
As you’re planning your next first class flight across the Pacific or the Atlantic, make sure you consider AA first!
Not only will you have a great flight, but you’ll have a fantastic experience from the moment you walk into the airport. How many passengers can say that?!
All you have to decide is where to go, and which airline program you want to use to book the flight!
Table of Contents
- A Look Inside American Airlines First Class
- How To Fly American Airlines First Class
- Great American Airlines First Class Redemptions
- How To Earn Enough Miles for AA First Class
- When Should You Search for Award Space?
- What Makes This a Great Redemption?
- Final Thoughts