Best Ways to Book American Airlines Business Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

American Airlines 787-9 Flagship Business Class rear cabin view

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With long-haul routes to places like London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Sydney, you can visit some amazing cities by flying American Airlines’ business class product.

Unlike some carriers, American Airlines does not have a consistent business class product. On some flights, you won’t have Wi-Fi, and others lack a lie-flat seat.

Before you decide to book a business class flight with American Airlines, make sure you check which aircraft is operating on your selected route and what that model includes.

Which Version of American Airlines Business Class Are You Flying?

American Airlines 777 300 ER
For a comfortable international business class flight, check out American Airlines’ 777-300ER. Image Credit:

Usually, we’d dive right into what to expect from a business class flight. However, American Airlines flies several aircraft (and multiple versions of said aircraft) with international business class. Long story short: not all American Airlines business class flights are created equal.

When we look at their Boeing aircraft, it starts to get really confusing. There are several aircraft types including the Boeing 757-200, 777-200ER, 777-300ER, 787-8, and 787-9.

We’ll consider these in order. One version of the 757 has lie-flat seats, while the other has seats that only recline. The one with lie-flats is used on international routes, but it does not have direct aisle access. Both versions also have Wi-Fi.

There are 3 versions of the 777-200ER. One version also has a first class cabin; this one is significantly different from the other 2 versions. The seat is not lie-flat, nor do all seats have aisle access. In fact, the middle section is 3 seats across! It also doesn’t have Wi-Fi.

The other 2 versions of the 777-200ER are significantly better. They have lie-flat seats (all with direct aisle access), and both aircraft provide Wi-Fi.

American’s Boeing 787s (also known as Dreamliners) have different cabin layouts, but all seats still have direct aisle access and are lie-flat. Additionally, all Dreamliners are outfitted with Wi-Fi.

Finally, we have the 777-300ER, which is American Airlines’ flagship product. All business class seats are lie-flat with direct aisle access. The cabin layout is very similar to the Dreamliner 787-9.

Since it is the flagship product, we’re going to focus on this 777-300ER when discussing American Airlines business class.

A Look Inside American Airlines Business Class

american airlines business class 777
A lie-flat seat with direct aisle access keeps you comfortable in business class. Image Credit:

As we mentioned above, all business class seats on the American Airlines 777-300ER are lie-flat and have direct aisle access. These are both required to meet our standards of a quality business class product.

Upon arrival at the airport, you will have access to priority privileges that provide an expedited check-in, security, and boarding process. Even if you arrive at your gate after boarding has started, you can still breeze through the priority boarding lane!

admirals club lounges
As a business class passenger, you can relax in one of the American Airlines Admirals Clubs while waiting for your flight. Image Credit:

While waiting for your flight, you can enjoy your time in the Admirals Club. Rather than wait in the crowded space by the gate, you can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer while munching on something to eat.

Better yet, you will now be able to access the AA Flagship Lounges. There are locations in Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA), and New York City (JFK), with future locations in Dallas Fort-Worth, London-Heathrow, and Philadelphia.

If you have the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, you can access Admirals Club lounges even when you are flying in economy class.

American-Airlines Business Class Dining
Enjoy American Airlines’ premium dining experience in business class. Image Credit:

Business class passengers will also have premium inflight dining options. You can even reserve your meal choice between 30 days and 24 hours prior to your flight. To top it off, pair your meal with a nice glass of wine.

While business class on American Airlines isn’t on the same level as what you’ll receive when flying Cathay Pacific business class, it is still a solid way to fly internationally.

Hot Tip: For additional in-depth info such as fare types, fees and add-ons, consumer satisfaction, and more, check out our American Airlines in-depth review

How to Book American Airlines Business Class

If you are booked on the right aircraft, flying business class with American Airlines can be a very enjoyable experience.

Let’s take a look at the different airline loyalty programs you can use to book your next business class award ticket.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Award prices for Hawaii and Canada travel changed for bookings made from January 16, 2019. Some Hawaii prices went up. For award chart purposes, Canada is now included with the Contiguous 48 U.S. which brought some Canada prices down.

Here’s the new award chart for travel to/from the Contiguous 48 U.S. States & Canada:

American Airlines Business Class Award Chart 2019
Image Credit:

Using American AAdvantage miles is one of the simplest ways to book a flight with American Airlines. Just follow the steps below to book online:

  1. Go to the American Airlines website
  2. Log into your AAdvantage account
  3. Select “Redeem Miles”
  4. Enter your departure and destination cities
  5. Enter your travel dates
  6. Select your class of service to see the mileage cost
    • Make sure you choose SAAver level so you get the cheapest award price
  7. Confirm your travel date
  8. Select your flight and hit “Continue”
  9. Enter the passenger details
  10. Enter your payment information

A very useful feature of the American AAdvantage program is that it will let you put an award booking on hold for 5 days. To be eligible for this 5-day hold, your departure date must be at least 15 days away.

One downside to American’s AAdvantage program is that you cannot book stopovers. However, you can book a one-way award ticket.

Our Transfer Partner Calculator will easily help you calculate the number of points you need to transfer for your awards.

Hot Tip: For more ideas on ways to use AAdvantage Miles, check out our post on the best ways to redeem 100k.

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

Japan Airlines’ Mileage Bank program uses a distance-based award chart that is broken into tiers based on your flight miles.

This means that if you have a connecting flight, you will need to consider the miles flown between all airports on your itinerary.

Japan airlines award chart
Since the new devaluation from November 20, 2018, JAL award redemptions are going to be more expensive. Image Credit: Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines will require you to call to book an award flight with American Airlines. Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Japan Airlines website
  2. Log in to your JAL Mileage Bank account
  3. Select “JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Reservation”
  4. Select American Airlines under “Partner Airlines”
  5. Select your class, your travel dates, and your departure and destination airports
  6. Select your flights and hit “Next”
  7. Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required
  8. Call 1-800-525-3663 to complete your booking

Japan Airlines allows stopovers, so you can see multiple destinations on your trip. Make sure you calculate how many flight miles each stop will add to your trip so you can plan for how many Japan Airlines miles you will need.

If you’re looking for other award booking options, take a look at the best ways to redeem Japan Airlines miles.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

A great way to book flights with American Airlines is with Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan program.

American AAdvantage devalued their award chart in early 2016, but Alaska Airlines has not changed the miles required for flights on American Airlines.

To/From North AmericaOne-Way Award Cost
Europe57,500 Alaska miles
Hawaii40,000 Alaska miles
China70,000 Alaska miles
Japan/Korea60,000 Alaska miles
South America (northern)30,000 Alaska miles
South America (southern)57,500 Alaska miles
Mexico/Central America/Caribbean27,500 Alaska miles
Australia/New Zealand80,000 Alaska miles
Continental U.S./Canada25,000 Alaska miles

To book American Airlines business class, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Alaska’s website
  2. Sign in to your account
  3. Search for your desired route (make sure you select “Use Miles”)
  4. Select your desired flight and choose “Add To Cart”
  5. Pay the necessary taxes/fees and complete your booking

On top of the better award chart, Alaska Airlines also allows you to book stopovers, which makes it easy to see multiple destinations with 1 booking.

For some more ways to use the Mileage Plan program, check out our best ways to redeem Alaska miles.

Other Options for Booking American Airlines

American Airlines flights can be booked by any of their Oneworld partners. Cathay Pacific and British Airways both have distance-based award charts that contain some sweet spots, but watch out for high surcharges.

American Airlines has also partnered with Etihad Airways which (like Alaska Airlines) has better award rates. However, you cannot book these flights online.

Great American Airlines Business Class Redemptions

Let’s take a look at some of the best routes for trying business class on American Airlines. Often, you will use the fewest miles and points if you book using the Japan Airlines Mileage Bank program.

Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan miles might be more accessible, though, which can make it a solid choice as well.

Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) round-trip
American Airlines115,000 miles
Japan Airlines100,000 miles
Alaska Airlines115,000 miles


Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) round-trip
American Airlines140,000 miles
Japan Airlines110,000 miles
Alaska Airlines140,000 miles


Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to London (LHR) round-trip
American Airlines115,000 miles
Japan Airlines85,000 miles
Alaska Airlines115,000 miles

How to Earn Enough Miles for American Airlines Business Class

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines both have credit card partnerships you can utilize to earn more miles. Learn more about the Citi and Barclays 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 earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles, check out your options with their co-branded Bank of America cards.

Marriott Credit Cards

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, or Japan Airlines at a ratio of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 bonus miles.

Recommended Marriott Cards

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after qualifying purchases, plus 10x total points on eligible purchases in select categories. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn up to 17X points per $1 at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2X points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn up to 14X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 6x per $1 at hotels participants in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program plus 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual Fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - Earn 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 of eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

This is a solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

When Should You Search for Award Space?

American Airlines has been very stingy with releasing MileSAAver awards. Technically, AAnytime awards are often available, but they require way too many miles.

Start searching for award space as soon as you have an idea of your travel dates. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to predict when American Airlines business class award space will be released.

What Do You Get With American Airlines Business Class?

Let’s talk a bit more about what you get from the American Airlines business class experience.

Admirals Club

One of the best perks of flying business class is access to the Flagship Lounges and Admirals Club. Spending long layovers with complimentary drinks and food really helps pass the time!

You can find both quiet spaces if you need to work or rest, and a bar area where you can mingle with other passengers.

If you’re traveling during football season, you’ll often find a group of passengers enjoying a game on one of the TVs.

Business Class Seat

American Airlines provides a business class seat very similar to the one provided by Cathay Pacific. Its lie-flat function makes sleeping much easier, which can be especially important when you have a meeting or other plans first thing upon arrival.

Don’t forget the direct aisle access! On international long-haul flights, you’ll likely want to get out of your seat at least once. With direct aisle access, you won’t have to climb over someone (or have anyone climbing over you!)

Final Thoughts

While American Airlines isn’t known for having world-class business class service, they do provide a solid product when you want a comfortable international flight.

With a few programs that provide good redemption rates, you shouldn’t have any trouble earning the necessary miles to fly American Airlines business class.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best way to book American Airlines business class?

If you are booking business class on American Airlines, check both Japan Airlines Mileage Bank and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Japan Airlines has a distance-based award chart that has some sweet spot redemptions, while Alaska Airlines has a region-based award chart that also provides some great options.

What credit cards can help me fly American Airlines business class?

You can earn more American Airlines miles by using their co-branded Barclays or Citi cards.

Bank of America provides co-branded cards that earn Alaska miles if you need to top off your Mileage Plan account.

What do I get when flying American Airlines business class?

Prior to your business class flight, you can relax in the Admirals Club with access to beverages and food.

Inflight, you can expect a lie-flat seat with direct aisle access when flying on American’s Boeing 777-300ER. Remember to check which aircraft will operate your flight, since the cabin layout varies depending on aircraft and route.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

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  1. I booked a 1st class flight on American #1473 LAX to MIA Sept.17 for March 16, 2020 departure. The aircraft is 772 (777)
    Seats 3a and 3d. I just found out today, Oct. 8, that the plane has been changed to an Airbus A321. Not only did American not notify me of the change, they put us in the same seat numbers on the A321 which means my wife and I are not even seated together and no lie flat seats!
    I feel ripped off like paying for a Mercedes and getting Toyota. What can I do? I specifically paid extra, and at not the most opportune time for our travel, just to fly on the 777.


    • Hey Gregg,

      So sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, American Airlines periodically has aircraft swaps due to operational considerations and changes in customer demand.


  2. I recently flew 1st class on AA ORD->LAS on a 787. Great seat, but AA did NOT allow me to use the Admirals Club. The stern matron assured me that they NEVER allow access for domestic flights except for coast to coast.


  3. I just booked an award ticket on AA for Feb 2020 departure. My flight is PVG-LAX business and LAX-ATL first. Will I be allowed to use the Admirals Club in LAX? Thanks.


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