Award seat analysis: American vs. United – Chicago to Tokyo Narita

This installment of Award Seat Analysis looks at the Chicago to Tokyo Narita nonstop market and I’ve researched availability from American Airlines and United Airlines in September 2012.

I specifically searched for award seats at the minimum amount of miles required, namely MileSAAver awards on American and Saver awards on United. Any available seat is open for premium redemptions requiring double the miles and is therefore outside the scope of my research. The data below was captured on Monday, January 23, 2012 using ExpertFlyer.

American flies a daily 777 on the route configured to seat 243 passengers (16/37/190) and United operates a 747 that month seating 374 passengers (12/52/310).

American’s GDS, Sabre, shows a maximum availability of seven seats per bucket – United’s Apollo, nine – so there are likely more seats allocated for award use on those days availability showed the max in ExpertFlyer, especially for economy. I was actually a bit surprised to find so many seats available, particularly in Business Class, on what I consider to be a top business travel market. It’s interesting, too, that American is tighter in Business Class on the ORD-NRT segment vs. United tightening up on the return.

I also like to take a deeper look into premium cabin awards where at least two seats are available on the same flight, as well as the total number of days with availability. Both carriers have a large number of days without Business Class availability, but United is more generous offering up half the month with at least two seats available for award use in the middle cabin.

For the Narita to Chicago segment, both American and United effectively have the same Business Class availability if you’re looking to redeem miles for a pair of tickets.

In my last two analyses I declared a winner, but both carriers here deserve kudos for allocating a decent amount of seats for award travel.

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