In a major boost for anyone looking to use Avios points for long-haul flights from regional airports, American Airlines has announced new routes from Birmingham International and Edinburgh to New York.
Flights will launch on May 8th next year and will operate daily.
From Birmingham, the outbound will leave Birmingham at 10am to arrive in New York at a convenient 12.55 whilst the return will be an overnight flight at 7pm, landing at 7.10am.
From Edinburgh, you will depart at 9.15am to arrive at 11.50am. The return will depart at 7.10pm to arrive at 7.15am.
The bad news is that both flights will be operated with an older single-aisle Boeing 757. This will have 22 business class and 160 economy class seats.
These are unlikely to be fully lie-flat seats in business, albeit for a day flight that will not be a major issue. I am assuming it is the ‘angled’ lie flat version. I think if I lived near Birmingham or Edinburgh I would be happy to fly this 757 outbound rather than waste hours connecting at Heathrow purely to get a fully flat seat on a twin-aisle plane. Coming back overnight is a different matter although the convenience may still outweigh the poorer product.
I ran the numbers on Birmingham. There are plenty of economy seats at 40,000 Avios return plus £335 of tax and spurious charges. If you have any American Airlines miles, the cost would be 60,000 AA miles plus £98.
Business class redemptions seem to be restricted to Saturdays for much of the time – the easiest way to see what is available is to search at aa.com (you don’t need to log in) and then plug the dates into ba.com. American wants 100,000 AA miles and £169 whilst British Airways wants 80,000 Avios and £512.
It is not clear if the Edinburgh service will be a replacement for the existing US Airways flight (US has now merged with American) from Philadelphia to Edinburgh which usually runs during the Summer.
If you have Star Alliance miles, remember that United also flies from Edinburgh and Birmingham to Newark.
In other route news, American is adding a service from Frankfurt to Miami from May 14th. This will offer another redemption option for anyone struggling to find seats on the existing BA and AA services. American is also adding a second Los Angeles to Heathrow service from late March, taking the combined total of BA and AA services to LA to four per day.