American First Class Awards Booked With Avios Just Got A Lot Cheaper…If You Can Find Saver Award Space

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BA Avios was one of my favorite mileage currencies before American pulled the rug out and stopped releasing saver award space. BA can only book American flights when is showing saver award space.

Ironically that happened earlier this year after they devalued their award chart and forced BA to devalue their award chart for AA flights. That led to these posts:
-What Exactly Is American’s AAdvantage?
-A Comparison Of AA, Delta, And United Saver Award Space: Is AAdvantage The New SkyPesos?
-Is AAdvantage A ScAAm? See For Yourself And Let The DoT Know

Compounding matters is that AA has always used a first class fare code for the front cabin on 2 class planes for domestic flights. That meant flying first class with Avios was prohibitively expensive.

That has finally changed. Effective for flights on or after 1/11/17 the front cabin on 2 class planes will have a business class fare code.

For example this Philadelphia to Chicago flight in first class will now cost 15K Avios instead of 30K Avios:






Unfortunately American is still incredibly stingy with their saver award space. Many routes have no first class saver award space at all after 1/11, but hopefully that’s due to the fare class changes and space will improve shortly.


You can see in this BA award chart just how many Avios the reclassification will save you.
-Zone 2 NYC to Miami in first drops from 30K to 15K.
-Zone 3 Chicago to LA drops from 40K to 20K.
-Zone 4 Los Angeles to Hawaii drops from 50K to 37.5K.

ZoneFlight DistanceCoachBusinessFirst
1 (Flights that don't touch the USA)1-6504.5K9K18K
1 (Flights to, from, or within the USA)1-6507.5K15K30K

HT: Gary

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18 Comments On "American First Class Awards Booked With Avios Just Got A Lot Cheaper…If You Can Find Saver Award Space"

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Can you tell us about the seats? Is it worth it for the average person.


Will JFK lax count as Business or First?


It’s a wider seat with more legroom and on most planes it’s a 2-2 configuration instead of 3-3.
Plus 2 checked bags are free.

JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO is a 3 class plane that already has business and first class. It has always been pricing properly.


I agree that AA award space has been generally very stingy the last year. However, it does vary drastically on the route. For example a route such as LGA-RIC typically has very good availability. Other routes like BDL-MÍA or JFK-LAX have terrible a availability.


How about Atlanta to Brasil?


As we know, a scam. I live in CLT and it has become so difficult to find saver awards for direct flights (sometimes appear within 21 day window so AA may collect the short booking fee, to which I just go to BA), but when they do appear it will route all over country with crazy layovers lengths for saver. To make matters worse, can search GSO and will find saver award space connecting in CLT and then going direct to final destination.
One joke is CLT to HNL, business saver. When appear it is often with 2 connections, of those 3 legs only 1 of 3 legs is First/business the others are economy and layovers make flight 28-30 hours.
Most of these changes have coincided with revenue based devaluation earlier this year.


I never have partner airline availability come up when I search BA? Am I doing something wrong?


is it worth using american airlines miles on british airways flights? if so,for a flight that is 4.5K avios for example, would it cost the same aa miles proportionally (i.e. 4.5 aa miles?)


My buiz has me traveling about 2/3 times a month across the country primarily DTW. I stocked up on BA and am now sitting on 500K BA that in the past year I haven’t been able to find a single flight when needed..SCAAAAAAAAAAM!!!

David Gabay

PHL BUF used to be wide open all the time now go find something it is very hard! well miles are not what they used to be…


I don’t know why is Avios so discriminating against the people in the US, not only because they charge 7500 miles if in USA instead of 4500, but also because they currently charge about $600 in taxes/fees for round trip business LON to NYC, but over $1000 for the exact same flights if booking for the opposite direction NYC – LON. Very very unfair.


It is almost impossible to find space on AA using Avios while travelling within states even for a trip that is months out. Only the international routes have some availability.

If you’re hoping to make use of BA’s distance based award chart you are in for a rude shock. Avios are worthless for domestic travel.


I have been trying to search for flights from ORD-DFW for 12/3-12/4 using Avios since yesterday. I get an error: “There was a problem with your request, please try again later.”

This search worked fine last week and AA show plenty of saver availability for my dates. It looks as if the BA avios search cannot see AA award space. If I search for a paid BA ticket between ORD and DFW, I receive “Error: British Airways does not have traffic rights to operate directly between these two cities.”


Search first for nonstop saver award space.

Book 2 one-ways.

Call BA.


BA award search in the US is currently broken if you search for Jan 10 or before.


I used to fly American Eagle from LGA to Montreal using 9000 Avios for a return flight—-with very reasonable availability—-but that stopped about 2 years ago—-nothing available even a month in advance these days.




I’m so disappointed with Avios. We wanted a new credit card and made a careful choice last year to get the BA card with a 50k bonus. We would have liked to use the points to travel, but the available seats just don’t align at all with any reasonable trip my family can take.

Two questions:

1) The card has charged the $95 fee. What’s the best way to downgrade the card (avoid the fee)?

2) I know now that I can’t redeem the miles for cash. I see posts to transfer points into Avios – is there any reasonable way to get of Avios besides spending them on flights?

Thank you!