Fantastic Transcontinental Business Class Space!

As you may or may not know, United decided to move their premium service flights from JFK to EWR airport, as it facilitates flight connections to United’s destinations better. This starts October 25th. These flights are one of the more comfortable ways to get coast-to-coast, featuring fully flat business class seats in a 2-2 configuration.

United p.s. Business Class

United p.s. Business Class

I don’t like JFK or EWR very much, so the shift is a moot point for me. However, the benefit from this is that significant amounts of award space have been released from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York. This is really useful, because over the past few months United has tightened up considerably on releasing award seats from their SFO/LAX – JFK services, only releasing small amounts of space closer to the departure date.

Cheapest Ways to Fly

The absolute cheapest way to fly this is with Miles & More, which runs 17,000 points each way for business class. The award must be flown within the US. To obtain these points, you can transfer miles from Starwood Preferred Guest. The easiest way to earn these points are with the Starwood American Express Card, offering a limited 20,000 points signup bonus, getting you 26,000 Miles & More points after completing the minimum spend. That gets you pretty close to a roundtrip award ticket.

You can also book this using Aeroplan, which is 25,000 one-way and 50,000 roundtrip. The great thing about Aeroplan is that you’re permitted one-stopover even on a roundtrip North America trip, which is a good way to maximize your award. The best way to earn these miles are with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite. It currently has a limited-time 25,000 Aeroplan miles signup offer with first year fee waived. For details, see my coverage of the card.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite

Alternatively, you can also earn 25,000 Membership Rewards points with the American Express Gold Card, or 60,000 with the Platinum Card.

Award Space Patterns

This is what San Francisco to New York JFK looks like over the next two months with awards. Only three dates have flights with two or more seats in business class.

United SFO - JFK Award Space

United SFO – JFK Award Space

However, from late October, when United moves their services to EWR, the availability is significantly improved. Nearly every day over November and December has at least two award seats in business class, even during some peak Christmas dates. This pattern extends through to the end of the schedule.

United SFO - EWR Award Space

United SFO – EWR Award Space

Space is available on many of the flights.

2+ Business Class Awards on Many Flights

2+ Business Class Awards on Many Flights

This award space isn’t that useful for domestic Canadian itineraries, but it’s pretty great for transborder coast-to-coast flights such as Vancouver to New York. With Air Canada rouge flying to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Vancouver (see my review), award space is also readily available to piece together an itinerary. This should also be the case for Toronto/Montreal to Newark and onward to SF or LA using UA p.s.

The Air Canada widebody flights from Vancouver – Toronto/Montreal are also very comfortable, but often the flights that do have award space are the narrowbody planes that do not have the lie-flat beds.

While I’ve flown United international business and first class, I’ve never done United p.s, so I’m looking to try out one of these flights soon. Will you be booking this?

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  1. Which aircraft types offer UA p.s. service in J? These flights are operated by B757s – Do they have the lie flat seats?

  2. IIRC there are no stopovers permitted on Aeroplan awards issued on UA metal (on NAmerican itineraries). This only applies when all flights are on AC metal and only on return bookings, not one-ways.

    • That’s not my understanding. As per the Aeroplan T&C:

      28. On roundtrip rewards, stopovers are permitted as follows:

      28.1. Travel within Canada or between Canada and the Continental USA (not including Hawaii/Puerto Rico): One stopover permitted in addition to the point of turnaround. One open jaw is permitted in lieu of the one stopover.

      You can easily price out a SFO-EWR-LAX-SFO ticket on

  3. Would love to try that but I’m not sure adding two stops and US DHS is worth it. YVR-YYZ > YVR-SFO-EWR-YYZ even with the lie-flats.

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