Best Ways To Book American Airlines First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

American Airlines First Class 777-300ER
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American Airlines has the world’s largest fleet of aircraft, which means you have plenty of options to experience its 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!

A Look Inside American Airlines First Class

Priority Check-in

If you are departing from Chicago (ORD), London (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), or New York (JFK), you will have access to American’s Flagship First check-in process, complete with an individual customer service representative and expedited security access.

Flagship Lounges and Flagship First Dining

Your first class ticket also grants you access to Flagship Lounges when traveling internationally. American currently has Flagship Lounges at 5 airports: Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK); it is expanding to Philadelphia (PHL) soon.

Admirals Club Miami International Airport Flagship Lounge Chairs
If you’re flying through Miami (MIA), you can relax in this American Airlines Flagship Lounge before your flight. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

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.

Flights within North America and the Caribbean usually do not grant access to Flagship Lounges, but transcontinental flights between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)/San Francisco (SFO) and between Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA) also provide access.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX tarmac view with Krug and mojito
American Airlines Flagship First Dining at LAX comes with great tarmac views and bottomless Krug Champagne. Image Credit: Stephen Au

American Airlines also boasts a Flagship First Dining experience at its Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK) Flagship Lounges.

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.

Seat and Amenities

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.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T seat 1F
American Airlines A321T Flagship First. Image Credit: Stephen Au

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 Shinola amenity kit complete with D.S. & Durga products.

2021 American Flagship First amenity kit
Stay refreshed inflight with your first class amenity kit. Image Credit: American Airlines

From start to finish, American Airlines pulls out all the stops for its first class passengers, so you can relax and enjoy the experience!

Hot Tip: Check out our detailed guide to American Flagship First and Flagship Business, including amenities, routes, and booking options.

How To Book American Airlines First Class Using Points

You can, of course, use American AAdvantage miles to book first class on American Airlines, or you can book through one of its Oneworld partner airline programs like Japan Airlines or Alaska Airlines.

If you have Etihad Guest miles, you can also use them to fly American since it has an individual partnership with the airline.

Etihad Guest

While most people aren’t aware of American Airlines’ partnership with Etihad Airways, this is an incredibly lucrative option to consider.

Etihad Guest, in addition to having fantastic award redemption prices on American Airlines-operated flights, is one of the few partners with an abundance of transfer partnerships.

Here’s what the first class award chart looks like:

To/From North AmericaOne-Way Award Cost
Europe62,500 Etihad Guest miles
Hawaii47,500 Etihad Guest miles
China67,500 Etihad Guest miles
Japan/Korea62,500 Etihad Guest miles
Central America and Northern South America40,000 Etihad Guest miles
Southern South America62,500 Etihad Guest miles
Mexico/Caribbean40,000 Etihad Guest miles
Australia/New Zealand72,500 Etihad Guest miles
Continental U.S./Canada32,500 Etihad Guest miles

To book American Airlines flights using Etihad miles, you have to give Etihad Guest a phone call. Here are the recommended instructions:

  1. Find American Airlines first class availability using Qantas’ website or British Airways’ website.
  2. Jot down the itinerary details and call Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767. Ask the agent to assist with booking an American Airlines award ticket.
  3. Provide the representative with the flight information, redeem your miles, and use a credit card to pay for taxes and fees.

Earning Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad Guest miles, as we mentioned above, has transfer partnerships with a variety of transferable currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Amex and Citi transfer almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Capital One transfers in around 36 hours at a 1:1 ratio.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers in approximately 3 business days at a 3:1 ratio. Also, for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to Etihad Guest, you’ll earn an extra bonus of 5,000 Etihad miles.

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American Airlines AAdvantage

One of the easiest ways to book American first class is through its own AAdvantage program. Here’s the first class award chart for travel from the contiguous 48 United States and Canada:

American Airlines first class award chart
American Airlines first class award chart. Image Credit: American Airlines

You can complete the entire booking process online using these easy steps:

  1. Go to the American Airlines website.
  2. Log in to your AAdvantage account.
  3. Select Redeem Miles.
  4. Enter your departure and destination cities as well as travel dates.
  5. Select your class of service to see the mileage cost (make sure to choose SAAver level so you get the cheapest award price).
  6. Confirm your travel date.
  7. Select your flight and hit Continue.
  8. Enter passenger details.
  9. 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 points.

Keep in mind that American’s AAdvantage program does not allow stopovers on award tickets, but you can book one-way awards.

Hot Tip: Need some inspiration? Check out our posts on the best ways to redeem AAdvantage miles in general — and the best ways to use 100k AAdvantage miles if you’ve got a big stack!

Earning American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines AAdvantage has just 1 transfer partner in Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott Bonvoy transfers to AAdvantage at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus of 5,000 miles whenever you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at once to AAdvantage.

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Citi and Barclays both issue AAdvantage co-branded credit cards that earn miles directly, which is an easy way to add to your mileage balance.

Hot Tip: Through November 13, 2021, you’ll also be able to transfer your Citi ThankYou Points to AAdvantage.

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.

Japan Airlines partner award chart
Redeem JAL miles for superb value in American Airlines Flagship First Class. Image Credit: Japan Airlines

If you fly multiple segments, you’ll need to account for the distance between each airport.

Japan Airlines allows you to book AA award flights online if you 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 first class, your travel dates, and the departure and destination airports.
  6. Select your flights and hit Next.
  7. Confirm the Mileage Bank miles and taxes/fees required and book the ticket.

Japan Airlines allows stopovers, so you can see multiple destinations on your trip if you want. Remember, each stop will add additional flight miles that must be considered when determining the number of Japan Airlines miles that will be required for booking.

Earning Japan Airlines Miles

Japan Airlines has 1 transfer partner: Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott points transfer to JAL at a 3:1 ratio in 2 business days.

As with other partners, when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Japan Airlines, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 miles.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is one of the best ways to book American Airlines first class flights using points, thanks to a solid award chart:

To/From North AmericaOne-Way Award Cost
Europe85,000 Alaska miles
Hawaii40,000 Alaska miles
China110,000 Alaska miles
Japan/Korea80,000 Alaska miles
South America (northern)55,000 Alaska miles
South America (southern)85,000 Alaska miles
Mexico/Central America/Caribbean52,500 Alaska miles
Australia/New Zealand110,000 Alaska miles
Continental U.S.25,000 Alaska miles
Canada32,500 Alaska miles

To book, 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 Add To Cart.
  5. 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.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

Alaska Airlines has partnered with Bank of America to offer co-branded personal and business credit cards. That way, you can access a sign-up bonus and earn Alaska miles directly.

In addition, Marriott Bonvoy is a 3:1 transfer partner with Alaska Airlines. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer to Alaska Airlines, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Alaska miles as a bonus.

Marriott Bonvoy takes around 4 business days to transfer to Alaska Airlines.

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 some sweet spots, but you’ll be on the hook for hefty fuel surcharges.

Great American Airlines First Class Redemptions

If you’re looking for a way to try American first class with its Flagship services, check out these great international options:

Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR)Dallas (DFW) to London (LHR)New York (JFK) to London (LHR)Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG)Miami (MIA) to São Paulo (GRU)New York (JFK) to São Paulo (GRU)Miami (MIA) to Buenos Aires (EZE)
Etihad Guest125,000 miles125,000 miles125,000 miles135,000 miles125,000 miles125,000 miles125,000 miles
American Airlines AAdvantage170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles220,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles
JAL Mileage Bank190,000 miles165,000 miles120,000 miles190,000 miles135,000 miles135,000 miles135,000 miles
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles170,000 miles

How To Earn Enough Miles for American Airlines First Class

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 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 how to earn Alaska Mileage Plan miles, check out your options with its co-branded Bank of America cards.

Here are all of the transfer partnerships you can maximize to book American Airlines Flagship First Class using any of the frequent flyer programs above:

  • Amex Membership Rewards transfers at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly to Etihad Guest.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards transfers at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly to Etihad Guest.
  • Capital One Miles transfers at a 1:1 ratio within 36 hours to Etihad Guest.
  • Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio to Japan Airlines Mileage Bank (2 days), American Airlines AAdvantage (2 days), Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (4 days), and Etihad Guest (3 days) with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

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 its 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, American is not predictable in how it releases space, so this process can be time-intensive.

What Makes American Airlines First Class a Great Redemption?

Flagship Lounges

American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges are where the ground experience really shines. From the buffet to the beer, wine, and spirits selection, you’ll definitely be able to relax while waiting for your flight.

Even better, American Airlines has stepped up its game by adding revamped dining options for first class passengers. The buffet might be nice, but a fine-dining experience is better! Flagship First Dining provides a fantastic sit-down dining option exclusively for first class passengers.

Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow

We mentioned the arrivals lounge in London (LHR) 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 à 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!

Final Thoughts

As you’re planning your next first class flight across the Pacific or the Atlantic, make sure you consider American Airlines first class!

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!


For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.


Frequently asked questions

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

If you are planning a first class experience, the best deal will likely be by using Etihad Guest miles or redeeming Japan Airlines miles. Make sure you also consider using American Airlines AAdvantage for enhanced award availability of Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan if you happen to have a bunch of Alaska Airlines miles.

Japan Airlines’ distance-based award chart provides some great redemptions, but generally, Etihad Guest offers better deals.

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

Etihad is transfer partners with Amex, Citi, Capital One, and Marriott Bonvoy, so using any card that earns these points will go a long way.

If you need to boost your American miles balance, you can use one of its co-branded Barclays or Citi cards.

Bank of America offers 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 first class?

Flying first class on American Airlines is a great experience from start to finish. From priority check-in, security, and boarding to fine dining in the Flagship Lounge, you won’t be disappointed.

If you are flying to London, you will also have access to a lounge upon arrival so you can have a meal and take a shower.

What is difference between business class and first class on American Airlines?

On international flights, first class is much more exclusive than business class. You’ll sit in a spacious, open-air suite in first class and have access to better amenities, like better bedding, elevated service, more extensive food and beverage options, and luxury amenities.

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).

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2 comments

  1. I am looking at flights right now on AA between NYC and Paris for 6/20 and can’t see first class. The seat maps only shows business. I tried future dates too and same result.

    Reply

    • Hi Laurent

      AA doesn’t have first class to Paris (CDG) on the DFW, MIA, JFK, PHL routes. AA flies first class from JFK>LHR and DFW>LHR.

      Reply

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

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