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First Class domestic redemptions on American now permanently half price

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Last month I wrote about changes to the way that American Airlines codes its flights which impact how you spend Avios and how you earn British Airways tier points.

Two class American Airlines domestic flights in the USA are sold as ‘First’ and ‘Economy’.  More importantly, the premium seats are coded as First Class.  This has two consequences, one good and one bad:

Avios redemptions on AA which book into two-class domestic First Class require 4x the standard number of Avios, which makes them ludicrously expensive compared to what you get (see the photo below of A321 First Class seats)

Cash tickets booked on AA in domestic two-class First Class earn First Class tier points.  This means that flights under 2000 miles earn 60 tier points whilst flights over 2000 miles earn 210 tier points.  A dedicated tier point runner could construct an itinerary via numerous 2000+ miles segments to maximise the tier points earned.  Note that such tickets must be booked with an AA flight number and NOT a BA codeshare flight number for this to work – BA codeshare bookings earn Business Class tier points.

For travel after 12th January, AA has changed the way it tickets First Class flights on two class aircraft.

Whilst the front cabin is still be called First Class, tickets now book into J, D, I or R fare classes.  These are all business class fare buckets.

This means:

You will ‘only’ need to pay 2x rather than 4x the economy Avios price to fly up front

You will only earn 40 or 140 tier points, depending on distance, on cash tickets

There are no changes to how international flights or three-class AA domestic flights are ticketed.

These changes are now reflected in ba.com Avios redemption pricing for travel after 12th January.

Here is a flight from Washington to Miami in March, for example:

Avios redemptions on American

….. which shows 15,000 Avios and £4 tax for a one-way First Class redemption.  Note that ba.com now shows these seats as Business Class but the cabin is the usual AA domestic First Class one.

Going forward, the cost of a redemption seat in American Airlines First Class on a two-class aircraft will be:

15,000 Avios (was 30,000 Avios) EACH WAY for flights up to 1,150 miles

20,000 Avios (was 40,000 Avios) EACH WAY for flights of 1,151 – 2,000 miles

You can argue about whether AA First Class is worth it even at just twice the price of Economy, but as the taxes on American Airlines domestic Avios redemptions are virtually nil, anyone who is Avios rich will probably now decide to splurge.

Before you rush off to ba.com to book, you should note that AA First Class redemptions are currently VERY difficult to find – you may end up in Economy after all.


British Airways BA Amex American Express

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The 30,000 points bonus on Amex Gold runs to 9th November 2021. The 60,000 points bonus on The Platinum Card runs to 2nd November 2021.

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies. This card has a limited time offer of 60,000 Avios when you sign up:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (35)

  • Tina says:

    Does this mean that cash flights booked before 12 January still earn the 60/200 TPs regardless of travel dates?

    • AndyR says:

      No only travel before 12 January will earn 60/200 TP’s. See post from Pjh981 above where his MMB is showing the new TP earning rates for an existing booking for travel after 12 Jan. Hopefully BA will come good and credit the current TP earning for existing bookings.

  • Barry cutters says:

    This is good news for me , I always thought it was a lot of miles to Hawaii for example from la. 12500 vs 50,000. We did it a few weeks ago and couldn’t justify the 200k vs 50k, the economy seat were ok though and did include a checked bag. For 100k I would take the first seat.

  • Nick_C says:

    As stated, AA Domestic First at its worst is way better than Club Europe. At its best, you can end up with a flat bed on an international plane that is repositioning. AA 235 for example, the 17:00 from JFK to MIA uses an international 767 with 1-2-1 flat bed seating (Thomson Vantage). All forward facing and all with direct aisle access.

    You’ll also get this on Domestic First from DFW to HNL.

    No IFE though on these planes for domestic flights. (They give you a Samsung tablet when these planes fly TA).

  • Michael says:

    Availability seems terrible! Even for economy I struggled to find redemption seats mid week in January.

  • dps says:

    Let’s hope it’s a (resolveable) mapping issue – since I can’t find anything in 2-class “First” for Avios on several dates in March on high-frequency short-haul routes such as LGA-MIA, BOS-ORD and DFW-LAX that used to have plenty of seats in First (for 4X Coach).

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