Best Ways to Book American Flagship First Transcon
Looking to travel from coast to coast in style? American Airlines transcontinental Flagship First class is one of the best ways to do so. Only available on select routes between their hubs, it’s worth flying if you have to miles to do so. And there are several good ways to book American Flagship First transcon flights.
American Airlines often charges far more miles than other carriers. Not to mention their general stinginess around releasing Flagship First class award seats to partners. However, if you can find partner-available award space, there are cheaper ways to book transcontinental Flagship First class than through AAdvantage.
What Is American Airlines Flagship First Class?
American Airlines is the only remaining U.S. air carrier to offer a true first class product. Branded as “Flagship First”, the airline operates it on select coast-to-coast and international routes. On their domestic Flagship First routes, American typically operates specially configured Airbus A321 transcontinental (A321T) aircraft.
When searching aa.com for Flagship First availability, you’ll see A321T as “Sharklets”.
You’ll also find the occasional 777 operating domestically offering their Flagship First product. But here I focus on their A321T aircraft. Sadly, American plans to discontinue this service. So it’s high time to consider booking an American Flagship First transcon flight if you hope to fly this product.
Now lets dig into the best ways to book AA transcontinental Flagship First class.
How to Book AA Flagship First with Etihad Guest
Etihad Guest is the hands-down cheapest way to book AA transcontinental Flagship First class. According to the Etihad partner chart for American, the award falls in the Business/First category, requiring just 25,000 miles one way for flights wholly within the U.S. and Canada! One could argue that it should be the “Premium” price, as it isn’t your typical first class. But I’ll happily take the lower price.
How to book
You cannot book Etihad awards online for American-operated flights. Find the award you want using some other partner search (e.g. ba.com), note down all the flight details, and then call 1-877-690-0767 to connect book. Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.
Bottom line: Etihad Guest is by far the cheapest way to book American Flagship First transcon flights. Searching for space should be done via ba.com, which is a bit of a pain. The second hurdle is having to book over the phone.
How to Book AA Flagship First with British Airways Avios
British Airways uses a distance-based award chart to determine award prices. They also have a calendar of peak and off-peak dates where off-peak award rates are cheaper. These don’t apply to American Airlines award tickets, however. All domestic American Airlines Flagship First routes fall into the Zone 4 band, which requires 51,500 Avios for first class.
How to book
Finding award availability for American Airlines Flagship First can be a bit of a slog. You can only view one date at a time. Taking a brief look at the award calendar at aa.com for the cheapest Flagship First award rates (filter the calendar to First and Nonstop) can be helpful for guessing which dates have seats available to partners. I’ve found that there are often a reasonable number of dates with partner-available Flagship First award space looking no more than a couple months out in the off-season. At least lately. Inventory changes frequently.
Bottom line: Pricing is static at 51,500 Avios and $5.60 in fees. Searching for space can be a pain. Online booking is easy.
Tip: Take advantage of the 40% Membership Rewards transfer bonus to Avios that we’ve seen. This will reduce the award cost to just 37,0000 Membership Rewards! However, you’re still better off transferring to Etihad Guest to book.
How to Book AA Flagship First with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cathay Pacific offers awards for American Airlines transcontinental Flagship First for 45,000 Asia Miles. The carrier has set award rates for partner awards, charging 5,000 more miles than awards on their own metal. Best I can tell, this latter fact isn’t published online.
How to book
One unfortunate aspect of using Asia Miles is that you can’t book American Airlines tickets online. You have three other options: call Asia Miles, use the online booking form, or chat with an Asia Miles representative. My experience of late is that the online booking form doesn’t work. I’ve submitted three requests, none of which have been handled.
I’d argue the WhatsApp chat option is the best, although it may take a long time (over a day) to be connected with a representative. Once you are chatting, it’s maybe 10-15 minutes for them to complete the booking. You’ll be sent a payment link by email. Once you pay the taxes and fees, your ticket will be issued to your email.
Bottom line: Decent static pricing at 45,000 Asia Miles. Booking process can be lengthy and frustrating. And there are award cancellation penalties.
How to Book AA Flagship First with American AAdvantage
American both wins and loses when it comes to their transcon Flagship First pricing. You can sometimes find great deals, including seats for fewer than 40,000 miles one-way. At time of writing, I’m seeing a good number of days where you can book a ticket between JFK and SFO for 45,500 miles. Not a bad deal.
But there are also consistently bad deals at times, such as days where you’d pay over 100,000 miles one-way for Flagship First class. Not something I’d consider. With American’s dynamic award pricing, your best course of action is to catch a deal. Then again, you can’t wait forever if you want to fly the product.
How to book
Using American Airlines’ own program is the most straightforward way to book American Airlines transcontinental Flagship First. It’s also the way to have access to the most award space. Select an award after searching at aa.com and work through the online booking.
Bottom line: Pricing is variable. You can occasionally find great deals, but you’ll often pay lots of miles. Online booking is very simple.
American Flagship First Transcon Awards: Final Thoughts
No matter which transferable bank points you have, there is at least one option for you to book American Airlines transcontinental Flagship First class. Because I’m a masochist when it comes to award bookings, I booked my ticket to fly Flagship First using Asia Miles. The upside is that the cost is one of the lowest available, and I used up some soon-to-expire Asia Miles. But it was a frustrating experience. Fortunately, I was eventually able to book the ticket I wanted.
If you manage to book American Airlines Flagship First between the coasts, I’d love to hear how you did it!
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How about booking with Alaska Mileage Plan??
The new pricing says “starting from 30,000 miles”, but this has historically been for the Alaska product. I actually didn’t search them, as I wouldn’t want to use my stash of Alaska Miles for AA transcon First. Have never heard of it being a deal.
LOL @ “you can’t book AA online with AsiaMiles”. I have multiple trips to London with AsiaMiles on AA…
How recently? Says it right on the flight award redemption page. Need to submit a request. https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_US/book-a-trip/redeem-flights/redeem-flight-awards.html?recent_search=rt&vs=2
No AA flights come up in the search.
You have roughly 12 months to try Flagship First. Transcon will start to transition from the T-Bird to the XLR in February 2024. Not certain how long the transition will take.
One of the reasons why I wanted to get this posted. Worth trying it out before they discontinue it.