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 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!

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.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge
Relax in one of American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges before your flight. Image courtesy of

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 City (JFK); it is expanding to Philadelphia and London (Heathrow) 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 Flagship First Dining
You’ll be able to enjoy a sit-down meal at a Flagship Lounge when flying AA first class. Image courtesy of

American Airlines is rolling out a new Flagship First dining product at their Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City 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.

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.

American Airlines Amenity Kit
Stay refreshed inflight with your first class amenity kit. Image courtesy of

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

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

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 for an easy booking process:

  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
  5. Enter your travel dates
  6. Select your class of service to see the mileage cost
    • Make sure to choose SAAver level so you get the cheapest award price
  7. Confirm your travel date
  8. Select your flight and hit “Continue”
  9. Enter passenger details
  10. 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 American miles in general — and the best ways to use 100K AAdvantage Miles if you’ve got a big stack!

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank

Since the new devaluation from November 20, 2018, JAL award redemptions are going to be more expensive.

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.

  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
  8. Call 1-800-525-3663 to complete your booking

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.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

One of the best ways to book American Airlines first class is through the 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 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.

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 Airlines170,000 miles
Japan Airlines190,000 miles
Alaska Airlines170,000 miles


Chicago (ORD) to Beijing (PEK) round-trip
American Airlines220,000 miles
Japan Airlines165,000 miles
Alaska Airlines220,000 miles


Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) to London (LHR) round-trip
American Airlines170,000 miles
Japan Airlines165,000 miles
Alaska Airlines170,000 miles

How to Earn Enough Miles for AA 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 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 transfer rate 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 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?

Flagship Lounges

American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges are where their 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 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!

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 Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ 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, make sure you check both Japan Airlines Mileage Bank and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

Japan Airlines’ distance-based award chart provides some great redemptions, but Alaska Airlines’ region-based award chart is sometimes a better deal.

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

If you need to boost your American miles balance, you can use one of 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 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.

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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  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.


    • 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.


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