A little late to the blog party, but American business class awards to Europe are wide open! Normally American is very stingy about releasing premium award space, but every once in a while, like right now, award space become wide open. The routes that are available are every city that American flies direct to London from, so Los Angeles, Charlotte, Miami, New York (JFK), as well as Philadelphia. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to be quite as open as the other cities. Furthermore, you avoid the high fuel surcharges from British Airways by flying on American for the long haul.

Return availability is a bit harder to find, so I’m personally going to wait for other space to open up, or do a last minute award booking.

The timing was perfect on this, as I had just finalized plans to go to Tomorrowland in Belgium during the summer and was looking for flights there. I personally grabbed San Francisco – Los Angeles – London – Madrid – Ibiza in business class on American for the US connection and the long haul, on British Airways London to Madrid, and on Iberia from Madrid to Ibiza, all for 50,000 miles and $122 in taxes and fees. I wasn’t able to book this online, as the AA.com search engine couldn’t find that route as a one-way, and when I tried multicity search, it would price the award as 2 separate tickets and charge me 70,000 miles.

I called in to explain the problem, and apparently part of the problem with my desired itinerary of a nonstop from London City Airport (LCY) or London Gatwick (LGW) to Ibiza, I would violate the minimum connection time and would have to ticket it as 2 separate tickets. There also weren’t any later flights that would satisfy the minimum connection time until the next morning. Instead, I opted for a short connection in Madrid instead. Fortunately, the agent recognized that I couldn’t book my desired itinerary online and waived the $40 phone booking fee.

I want to compare the cost of booking the last leg with cash vs. using miles. The cost of SFO to LHR is just $5.60 for the American security fee, while SFO-LHR then nonstop from some airport in London (LHR, LGW, LCY) would be $79. The short connection in Madrid drives the price up to $122 in fees. Furthermore, the cash price of a ticket on a low cost carrier is around $98-107.

Connecting with a low cost carrier is technically cheaper than my short connection, but then I have to pay for luggage, my luggage isn’t automatically forwarded to my destination, and my connection isn’t protected.

On the other hand, with the award ticket, I can actually change to the nonstop business if it ever opens up as my origin and destination isn’t changing at all. I may decide later to change my London to Ibiza leg to a nonstop the next morning, as I do have a friend who lives in London that I could stay with, but we’ll see about that later. Thanks to Suzanne at American Airlines for being wonderful and helping me ticket this award!