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Transcontinental in Style: East Coast to West Coast in Premium Cabins

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As a rule, it’s not worth splurging miles for premium travel domestically. The flights are usually short, the seats are old-school recliners, there are no individual entertainment systems and the food is usually average at best.

However, there are domestic routes that feature true international-class configuration and service in business and first. And some of these routes are long enough to justify paying a few extra miles for the next-level comfort.

Several airlines offer non-stop flights between New York and Los Angeles and New York and San Francisco, featuring international-class configuration and service. United and Delta charge 25,000 miles one-way for a business class seat, but American, which is the only airline offering three classes of service on transcontinental routes, charges 32,500 for business and 50,000 for first.

American Airlines

American flies new A321T aircraft between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles/San Francisco. Featuring fully lie-flat seats, 15.4-inch monitors, and a premium menu in both first and business classes, AA offers a solid product, albeit at a higher rate than Delta and United. On the other hand, American has better availability.

Since both premium classes have lie-flat seats, you might feel that a business class seat would fit the bill just fine for this 5.5–6-hour flight, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

business class
Comfortable business class seats

How to Find Your Lie-Flat Seat

You have to be very flexible in order to get your seat, so presuming that you are, go to AA. com and enter your search parameters. Check One way and Redeem miles. Since finding your premium seats in both directions on the first try is likely to be difficult, searching segments one by one is usually better.

Please note, if you have elite status with American or even a Citi AA credit card, don’t forget to sign-in since you might receive better availability. If not, signing in is not necessary at this point.


Next screen opens up the results.


Change the number of stops from no preference to nonstop only  and click Show Full Calendar


As you can see, there is no availability for your desired date, but there are two dates available, May 22 and 23. If one of these dates works for you, choose it and click Continue.


Remember that you need non-stop flights that show 32.5K. Every connecting flight you see for 25K miles will be in the old, tired domestic configuration. After you choose your flight, sign in and complete your purchase.

United Airlines

United flies to Los Angeles and San Francisco from Newark on 757s (however, it’s just started flying 3-cabin 777s between EWR and LAX) and offers practically the same amenities as American, including lie-flat seats and 15.4-inch monitors with hundreds of movies and TV programs. The major difference is the width of the seat – if you are a larger person, you will be more comfortable in the United business seat than in American’s – 21 inches instead of 18.5 inches.


United Airlines business class seats

Go to and enter your desired flight parameters. Do check Search for award travel and Nonstop.


See if the available date (in green) works for you and click on it if so.


To verify that you’re getting a lie-flat seat, click Seats.


Delta Airlines

Delta flies 757s and 767s between JFK and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, but finding its business class award at a Saver rate is virtually impossible.
Next: Flying  Flat-Bed to Hawaii

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