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Act fast: Great award rates and availability for transcontinental American Airlines Flagship Business and First

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With lie-flat seats, enhanced amenities and Flagship lounge access, American Airlines’ Airbus A321T Flagship Business and Flagship First are some of the most sought-after domestic seats. Even though Flagship First will be retired at some point next year, American has released widespread discounted award space for the next two months, allowing you to book these seats for as little as 25,000 and 37,500 miles in business and first class, respectively. This news was first reported by View from the Wing.

You can find American’s A321T on the following nonstop routes:

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), John Wayne Airport (SNA) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to LAX.

The deal

First class seat on American

Airline: American Airlines.
Cost: From 25,000 AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees one-way in business class and 37,500 AAdvantage miles plus $5.60 in first class.
Dates: January through March.
Pay taxes and fees with: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5 points per dollar on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Chase Sapphire Reserve (3 points per dollar on travel) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2 points per dollar on travel) for travel protections on the award flight.

Sample itineraries

Here’s a look at the award space. To ensure that you’re looking at the Flagship A321T, make sure that “Nonstop only” is selected when conducting award searches; however, AA will show Alaska Airlines nonstop flights, which don’t have lie-flat seats, on the calendar view. In the screenshots that follow, there are at least two available seats.

Los Angeles/Orange County to New York

New York to Los Angeles/Orange County

San Francisco to New York

New York to San Francisco

Los Angeles to Boston

Boston to Los Angeles

Related: Your ultimate guide to American Airlines AAdvantage

Don’t forget about Orange County

American Airlines Airbus A321T

Overwhelmingly, we found the lowest award rates to be on American’s routes between SNA and JFK. Here’s an example from Jan. 18.


Related: American introduces a new business-class fare that includes first-class perks

A note about Flagship First

ExpertFlyer Z fare class from JFK to LAX

Our tests show Flagship First award rates start at 37,500 AAdvantage miles between SNA and JFK. However, if you’re looking to travel in Flagship First on any of these routes for a lower price, consider booking with Etihad Guest. As long as you find Z-fare seats (we recommend using ExpertFlyer, which is owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures, to check for award space), you can book a Flagship First transcontinental flight for 25,000 Etihad Guest miles and around $50 in taxes and fees.

Note that Etihad Guest doesn’t allow American Airlines bookings on its website, so you’ll need to call Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767 to book AA awards over the phone. Additionally, Etihad Guest requires all American Airlines award tickets to be issued within 24 hours of departure, so be careful with last-minute bookings.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards pointsCapital One miles and Citi ThankYou Rewards points to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 ratio. In our tests, these transfers are instantaneous.

Related: Etihad Guest miles continue to fly under the radar

Bottom line

American Airlines routinely charges over $700 and $1,000 for one-way premium transcontinental A321T flights in business and first class, respectively. Consequently, by booking one of these award flights for less than 30,000 miles, you stand to get around 3 cents per mile, nearly double TPG’s valuation.

For JFK travelers (if JFK is your origin, destination or connection), Flagship Business passengers can access the Greenwich Lounge, while Flagship First gets you into the posh Soho and Chelsea lounges.