Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

First Class domestic redemptions on American now permanently half price

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

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 Avios redemption pricing for travel after 12th January.

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

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)

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

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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.

Comments (35)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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).

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.