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Your First Class Trip May Not Be in the Cards

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My absolute favorite use of airline miles is for International First Class. These are seats that can run easily north of $10,000 yet aren’t typically that much more than Business Class in terms of miles.

Singapore Airlines First Class

Singapore Airlines First Class – I redeemed Chase Ultimate Rewards for this flight

International First Class vs. International Business Class

The difference between Business Class and First Class escapes most people that have never flown International First. International Business Class is so nice that it seems easy to think “What more could I need?”

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Until, of course, you fly International First. If you haven’t experienced it, here are some First Class reviews I’ve written over the past few years:

You’ll notice that the theme in First Class is a MUCH larger personal space than Business Class (sometimes 2-4X the space) and very personalized onboard service and food/beverage.

 

What’s Going on With First Class Availability Right Now?

Several airlines have pulled First Class from the schedule for most or all of the remainder of 2020.

Etihad has pulled all A380’s (the only planes with the First Class Apartments and The Residence) for all of the rest of 2020 (HT: OMAAT)

Etihad First Class Apartment

Etihad First Class Apartment

Lufthansa has also blocked sales of most (but not quite all) First Class seats through October 2020.  (HT: OMAAT again)

Lufthansa First Class 747-800

Singapore Airlines does not appear to be selling any First Class seats through at least the end of 2020.

I see the same lack of F/A space on every date I search below.

sq first class space

For all of the above, we can only guess as to why they are blocking sales of the First Class cabin but it’s my assumption that they are doing this because they see a very low demand for the First Class cabins in the near term and they want the flexibility to swap planes like the A380 and B747 for smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft without having to deal with downgrading passengers.

Note that these sales blocks apply to both award and revenue tickets.

 

Japan Airlines First Class Awards May Not be Available to Partners Anymore

Meanwhile, Point Me to the Plane reports that after March 31st, 2021, partners appear unable to book JAL First Class awards. This means that American Airlines’s AAdvantage program, Alaska’s Mileage Plan, British Airways and all other Oneworld partners are unable to ticket First Class awards after this date. It’s only available to JAL’s own members.

japan airlines jal first class

JAL First Class

I’m really hoping this isn’t a permanent thing, because JAL’s First Class is one of my absolute favorites. I ranked it *just* below the Etihad First Class Apartment.

It can be an absolute steal at just 70,000 – 75,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles to Asia, with a free stopover.

If you had to use JAL miles to book, the only transfer partner would be Marriott Bonvoy, which would be a huge shame as Bonvoy points are cumbersome to collect in quantity these days.

Currently, several other airlines restrict First Class awards in some way:

  • Air France only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Flying Blue members
  • SWISS only allows First Class to be booked by it’s own Elite Miles&More members
  • Korean Air only allows it’s own frequent flyer members to book First Class (elite status not required)
  • Singapore Airlines only allows KrisFlyer members to book First Class (luckily you can transfer in to Singapore from every transferable point)
  • Lufthansa only allows partners to book First Class within 14 days.

Long story short, I really hope JAL reconsiders as I’d love to fly their First Class again.

 

Thoughts?

Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

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