Best Miles for Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat Seats

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Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat - United 757 Premium Service

Best Miles for Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat Seats

Flying up front domestically is still a treat to me. I’ve landed a handful of domestic upgrades, all for free with varying low-to-mid tier airline status. Recliner first class is nice, but there is a better way to cross the country: a lie-flat bed. Have no fear if you don’t have status to score this luxury. This post will cover the best ways for booking transcontinental lie-flat seats with miles.

Domestic Routes Offering Lie-Flat Seats

Obviously, airlines only operate lie-flat business class on a select number of domestic routes. You won’t find this sort of product on a regional hop between Durango and Denver. Most often you’ll be looking at routes that span the country nearly from coast to coast.  Here is a short list of routes consistently offering domestic lie-flat seats:

  • United Premium Service
    • Los Angeles to Newark
    • San Francisco to Newark
    • San Francisco to Boston
  • American Flagship Transcontinental Business and First
    • Los Angeles to New York – JFK
    • Los Angeles to Boston
    • Los Angeles to Miami
    • San Francisco to New York – JFK
  • Domestic Delta One
    • Las Vegas to New York – JFK
    • Los Angeles to Atlanta
    • Los Angeles to New York – JFK
    • Los Angeles to Boston
    • San Francisco to New York – JFK
    • Seattle to New York – JFK
  • JetBlue Mint
    • Boston to San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas
    • New York JFK to San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas
    • Fort Lauderdale to San Francisco and Los Angeles

These are the typical transcontinental routes with lie-flat service. Not every flight will offer this, and you’ll need to check the equipment operating each to make sure you’re booking what you’re expecting. Most of the time, you’ll be flying a 757 (with Delta and United) or an A321T (with American), but sometimes you’ll end up with a wide-body aircraft, depending on the carrier and route.

You can certainly find some other routes served by lie-flat business class. I remember being surprised when I stepped on a 777 for a flight between Denver and SFO a couple years ago. It’s a fairly short hop, and I was not expecting a 777.

Now, let’s move on to booking transcontinental lie-flat seats with miles on each domestic carrier.

Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat Seats - United Polaris

Booking United Premium Service

The best miles for booking transcontinental lie-flat seats in United Business Class are Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. I don’t know of a better deal for premium domestic travel. Rather than shelling out 35,000 United miles for their saver premium service, you can cruise across the country in Polaris business class for just 12,500 Miles & Smiles!! Transfer  either Citi ThankYou points or Marriott Bonvoy points to Miles & Smiles to make this magic happen.

Next up is Lufthansa Miles & More. You can score a lie-flat seat across the country in United Premium Service (p.s.) for just 20,000 Miles & More. The issue is accruing these miles. They are a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy, and you could also consider the co-branded Barlcaycard Miles & More Mastercard which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 miles.

The next best options are Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Air Canada Aeroplan which charge 23,000 miles and 25,000 miles, respectively. Singapore Airlines miles are especially easy to accrue, as the program is a transfer partner of multiple currencies. Both still solidly beat United’s price of 35,000 MileagePlus miles.

The main issue with United is finding saver space available to partners. Good luck hunting for p.s. seats without booking just a couple weeks from departure!

Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat Seats
American Airlines 321T Business Class SFO-JFK.

Booking American Lie-Flat Business and First

American is unique in that they offer not only domestic flagship business, but also flagship first. The product is available on their Airbus A321T (T for transcontinental) aircraft, as well as on the couple flagship 777-300ER aircraft that operate their premium transcontinental routes.

Etihad Guest is the way to go booking American’s flagship transcontinental business and first. Well…for now. It was rumored months ago that Etihad and American could be cutting ties, but we have yet to see this actually happen. It could still be around the corner, so if this is on your list, book soon!

Etihad only charges 25,000 miles for either business or first class. Both are lie-flat on the A321, although the first class option is obviously a much nicer experience. Finding space can be an issue.

Alaska MileagePlan is another option for booking American transcontinental lie-flat business. Alaska charges 25,000 MileagePlan miles, which is a good deal for this product. Cathay Pacific Asia Miles aren’t far behind at 30,000 miles for American lie-flat business.

Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat American Business Class Alaska Miles
American Airlines Transcontinental Business Class for 25,000 Alaska Miles!

American’s own miles are an option, albeit not a good one, as they charge 32,500 miles for business and a ridiculous 50,000 miles for first class one way. Considering that you can fly in business class to Japan for 60,000 AAdvantage miles, transcontinental business and first with AA’s own program is a no from me.

Booking Transcontinental Lie-Flat Delta One

The best way to book Delta premium cabin flights is with Virgin Atlantic miles. But good luck finding the space! I’d use Virgin’s website to search, as you cannot tell whether anything is a saver award without an award chart to work from. Luckily, Virgin will let you use a 5-week search.

I covered the calendar for the whole year for LAX-JFK and pulled nothing. Delta is super stingy about space in their premium cabins. But…if you can find it, you can book a lie-flat seat for just 22,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.

Korean Airlines offers the same price as Virgin Atlantic, but their miles are a whole lot harder to accrue. I’d stick with Virgin unless you have a stash of Skypass miles that you’re itching to burn.

Other than the rare saver seat with Virgin, you can expect sky-high prices using Delta’s own miles. A quick search yielded prices of 59,000 miles. This is why Delta ended up with the SkyPesos moniker.

JetBlue Mint Review Airbus A321 (LAX-JFK)
JetBlue Mint suite.

JetBlue Mint

JetBlue Mint is a great way to cross the country, at least based on what everyone has told me. I’ve yet to fly it myself. There are a good number of routes on which JetBlue operates this product, which is nice. If you’re based in the northeast, you can even fly Mint to the Caribbean!

The primary issue with booking JetBlue Mint with miles is that they generally charge a lot of miles. Sadly, the value you get for your miles is often less than if you’d booked economy, which is also frustrating. The cool thing is, the price is revenue-based, so if you happen along during a Mint fare sale of $399 or less across the country, the price in miles will likewise be less.

However, given the fairly poor value, cash may still be the best option, or flexible points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards redeemed from your Chase Sapphire Reserve through the travel portal.

Conclusion

While U.S. airlines charge a premium for booking transcontinental lie-flat seats, using partner programs can be a winning strategy. The most insane deal by far is using Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles to fly in a Polaris seat for just 12,500 miles. But there are other decent strategies depending on your carrier of choice.

Finding space will always be the biggest challenge to booking these tickets. United will routinely offer a decent amount close-in, and you can sporadically find American Airlines premium space. Delta will continue to be the worst in this regard.

If you manage to book using any of the above methods, be sure to let us know in the comments!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I scored an AA Business Saver award PBI/PHL/LAX for 25K each person with the PHL/LAX segment in a lie flat seat in Feb 2019 for my wife and I.

    Oct 2017 I was able to book LAX/ATL/PBI on DL in a lie flat for the LAX/ATL segment as a cash paid ticket for a very reasonable rate.

    Have also done ATL/SEA on DL in lie flat seats on DL companion pass tickets a couple of years ago.

    You just have to do some research and pick the flights as was stated.

    • No, you must transfer from Citi ThankYou or Marriott Bonvoy. You can’t transfer miles from one airline program to another airline program, unfortunately.

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