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Flying in international business class is great. But odds are you fly more often domestically. While Delta receives a lot of kudos for their domestic premium class product, I was pleasantly surprised with American Airlines A319 business class.
American Airlines 319 Business Class with Credit Card Points
All thanks to travel credit cards, my wife and I were able to use an award redemption for business class flights to/from Santiago, Chile over a long holiday weekend, and I explain in detail how we booked our specific flights (check out the details here).
Our American Airlines A319 business class flights were one segment of our longer itinerary, but AA domestic business class flights are very easy to book on their own as well.
Per the search results above, you can fly in AA economy for 12,500 miles one-away, or you can fly in business/first class for 22,500 miles each way. Take note that rewards credit cards offer lucrative welcome bonuses and it’s usually around 50,000 miles, so that means you could book a roundtrip business class itinerary just for signing up for a credit card.
In terms of the cash price for these kind of domestic business class flights, you’re looking at almost $1500 each.
So calculating the value in terms of points: $1496/22,500 miles = a very respectable 6.6 cents/mile! That’s a MUCH better return than 1 cent/point or a 1% cash back card. And since all of the points can come from a credit card sign-up bonus, it makes this kind of redemption even sweeter.
Of course… you don’t ONLY have to use AA miles for American Airlines A319 business class redemptions. You can also use Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, or Japan Airlines miles as well. Each will have those own award prices, but there are a ton of options for redeeming points and miles for business class awards.
American Airlines A319 Business Class Airport Experience
One of the benefits of flying in business class is having a dedicated check-in line at the airport. However, since it was a quick Thursday-Monday trip, we carried on our luggage and went straight to the security line.
Another benefit of business class is having expedited access through security, but since we both have TSA PreCheck, we opted to use the separate PreCheck line instead. In the “normal” security lane, we still would have had to remove our shoes, belts, laptops, liquids, etc., since the expedited access for business class passengers doesn’t waive those frustrating requirements. So in most instances, TSA PreCheck is actually better than the “priority access” lane for domestic business class flyers. (We received credit for TSA PreCheck with our Chase Sapphire Reserve card.)
Going through security took maybe five minutes, and we headed straight to the Turkish Airlines airport lounge. There a number of airport lounges at Dulles airport that offer complimentary entry with our Priority Pass (also a benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card), but the Turkish Airlines lounge is always my go-to. American Airlines doesn’t have a dedicated lounge at the Dulles airport, and I was a little surprised that we weren’t offered entry in one of their airline partner lounges (like British Airways) instead since we were American Airlines A319 business class passengers. Yet another example of how beneficial having the Chase Sapphire Reserve card can be!
Not surprisingly, the Turkish Airlines lounge was quite busy, but we grabbed a few beers (and baklava) and found a table upstairs.
American Airlines A319 Business Class Seats
*NOTE: This flight occurred before the COVID-19 coronavirus; the current onboard offerings may differ*
We arrived at the gate about five minutes before the scheduled boarding time, and the gate agents decided to start the boarding process early. We were ushered onto the plane, sat in our seats, and given a pre-departure drink. We opted for the champagne (obvi).
Business class included eight seats, and we had a dedicated flight attendant for our section of the cabin.
While all of the other passengers settled into their seats, she came by to take our dinner orders and made small talk by asking about the final destination for our travel. She was genuinely friendly, but not trying too hard. I went with the beef short rib, and Taryn picked the pasta.
A storm was brewing that evening, and we sat on the tarmac for about 10 minutes before the pilot said we might be delayed to wait out the impending rain. We only had an hour connection in Miami, so I started to get a little nervous. But the travel gods went to bat for us, and two minutes later the pilot said we had moved up the priority list for departure and were ready for takeoff. Big sigh of relief.
After escaping the storm and starting to cruise above the clouds, the flight attendant took our drink orders and gave a small tray of nuts. I went with red wine.
After handing our drinks, our flight attendant started preparing the meals. There’s no meal cart in business class, so she took out each tray individually from the galley and delivered the meal to each seat.
Overall, I was very impressed with the service and the presentation. The meal included a side salad, focaccia bread, beef short rib with chimichurri sauce, and a (twice baked?) potato. I’ll admit that I had low expectations for a domestic business class flight, and I didn’t expect a meal this nice. That short rib was legitimately awesome. I thought our meal on the overnight flight to Chile was going to be the best one, but dinner on our short flight to Miami easily takes the cake.
My wife also enjoyed her pasta but wasn’t as excited as I was about my meal.
What I also really liked was the separate, elevated mini-table meant designed for passenger’s drinks. I’m notorious for knocking over glasses of water on my tray table, so these handy mini-tables were awesome.
I was already super impressed with the whole experience – the friendly flight attendant, the food, the new(er) seats. But as I was on my third episode of Modern Family, I smelled cookies being baked from the galley. Sure enough, five minutes later, the flight attendant delivered warm cookies as a dessert.
Warm cookies for dessert was definitely the cherry on top of a great flight. It was only 2.5 hours, but it was one of the most pleasant short-haul business class flights we’ve flown. Maybe that’s because my expectations were so low. U.S airlines are notorious for being cheaper and less luxurious when compared to European or Asian airlines. The “Big Three” U.S. airlines have been trying to revamp their service and products (especially in business class) to compete, and if they offer the same experience as we received on our flight, American Airlines will be able to compete with the best of them.
Interested in seeing what international business class is like? Check out our American Airlines Boeing 777 overnight flight from Miami to Santiago, Chile.
Overall Experience with American Airlines A319 Business Class
I kept my expectations pretty low going into the flight since the domestic business class experience pales in comparison to long-haul business class ( lie-flat seats, fancy food, etc.). In general, I wouldn’t advocate for splurging on domestic business class award flights because it’s like comparing apples with oranges.
But honestly, American Airlines A319 business class really impressed me.
Airport Experience: 5/10
I was slightly surprised that American Airlines didn’t give us lounge access as business class passengers. Luckily, we had PriorityPass so we could sneak into the Turkish Airlines lounge. At least they gave us priority boarding?
They weren’t lie-flat seats wrapped in Italian leather, but they were new(er) and comfortable. That large in-flight entertainment screen was also nice.
Honestly… one of the best meals I’ve had on a plane. Maybe I was THAT hungry. Or maybe I was just suckered by the smell of warm cookies? In any case, I wish I could eat that food on EVERY domestic flight.
The flight attendant was friendly… but not too friendly. Helpful… but not too helpful. I’ve been on domestic business class before, and this was easily the best service I ever had.
Maybe my expectations were too low going into the flight. But this was the best domestic flight I’ve ever had. People often like to poke fun at AA, but my American Airlines A319 business class flight was fantastic.
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