Hurry: American Has Close-In First Class Award Space On Premium Transcons

by Chris Dong

American isn’t known for their fantastic award availability. In fact, the scarcity of MileSAAver award space is often dire, especially on seats that have a lie-flat bed. Some of the best ways to redeem American AAdvantage miles is to not fly on the airline and instead on a partner.

One particularly unicorn of an award is American’s great premium transcontinental product between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO). Those routes are flown by specially configured 3-class Airbus A321T’s with a first class, business class, and coach.

Chase Points American Flagship First Class

American trancon first class on the A321T

In recent years, American has been very stingy releasing award availability in business and first class on these flights. There’s been a few “windows” of award availability, but those seats are quickly snatched up after the inventory dump by American.

A couple of years ago, American used to at least consistently offer last minute close-in awards for a lie-flat seat on the premium transcontinental flights.

Last Minute American A321T First Class Availability

Well, I’m not sure if this is one of those situations where American decided to feel generous or actually indicative of a trend to releasing close-in space again, but it appears that there are some lie-flat first class award seats available on the A321T within the next week.

It’s by no means a huge dump of award space, but there are a handful of flights over the next week with availability especially on the LAX-JFK route.

Los Angeles to New York first class MileSAAver

This is what San Francisco to New York looks like. Note that many of these SAAver seats actually route through LAX.

San Francisco to New York first class MileSAAver 

Unforunately, there’s even less first class SAAver availability going from New York to the west coast.

New York to Los Angeles first class SAAver

I’ve been monitoring these premium transcontinental routes, and it’s pretty notable that there are any first class award availability at all, even if this doesn’t seem like much.

Unfortunately, I’m not seeing much in the way of business class award space except for some Saturday flights.


Five first class MileSAAver award seats available LAX-JFK

american first class transcon

How To Book American A321T Transcontinental Awards 

By far, the best way to book American’s first class awards are to use the Etihad Guest program. Etihad charges just 25,000 miles in either business or first class on these premium transcontinental routes — yes, first class is the same number of miles as business.

Thankfully, it’s easy to earn Etihad Guest miles by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards. 

If you were to book directly with American, they’d charge you a whopping 50,000 AAdvantage miles each way. Business class on the A321T (with a lie-flat bed) is 32,500 miles.

Of course, one of the best perks of first class on these transcon flights is access to American’s Flagship First dining at JFK and Los Angeles.

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Jason October 14, 2019 - 5:02 pm

Typical AA behavior: handing out a few crumbs to pacify the critics of the very limited or restrictive availability of AA business class award seats.

Jeff October 21, 2019 - 11:40 am

Snagged a seat LAX-JFK on the 4:30pm flight his past Saturday. First Time Ever. IT WAS AMAZING. Thanks!

Chris Dong October 23, 2019 - 10:13 am

Awesome! Glad you got to take advantage because looks like award space has all dried up…


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