Finding Star Alliance Business Class Award Seats Across the Pacific


Keeping up with my recent efforts to expose a bit of data surrounding award availability here are some of the numbers related to Business Class award seats from both Los Angeles and San Francisco to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing. Much like the first class award availability numbers I recently shared the business class award numbers show some distinctive patterns depending on the carrier. Click on any of the charts for a larger view of details.

Departing Los Angeles

I have data on four Star Alliance airlines for flights out of Los Angeles headed west. Of them Thai Airways is, by far, the stingiest with award seats. It will occasionally show up about two weeks in advance of travel but very little outside of that. Also, this route is rumored to be on the chopping block with the restructuring of the carrier so the lack of seats might not be a big deal.

Availability for one award seat on LAX-ICN Thai Business Class
Availability for one award seat on LAX-ICN Thai Business Class

Contrary to the Thai option Asiana is mostly wide open, though there are clearly defined blocks of times where no seats are made available. The lines in the charts are pretty clear in that regard.

Availability for one award seat on LAX-ICN Asiana Business Class
Availability for one award seat on LAX-ICN Asiana Business Class

United’s flight to Tokyo is the second hardest to find award seats on, though a last minute opening will happen from time to time.

Availability for one award seat on LAX-NRT United Business Class
Availability for one award seat on LAX-NRT United Business Class

If you can plan ahead, however, getting a seat on an ANA flight should not be too difficult. With limited exceptions right around Christmas/New Years the carrier seems to be pretty consistent in opening up award seats when the schedule opens.

Availability for one award seat on LAX-NRT ANA Business Class
Availability for one award seat on LAX-NRT ANA Business Class

Departing San Francisco

For Asiana and ANA the charts out of San Francisco look remarkably similar to those out of Los Angeles. Asiana has the relatively strict black-out dates and ANA has far more availability when the schedule opens than it does close in to departure.

Availability for one award seat on SFO-ICN Asiana Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-ICN Asiana Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-NRT ANA Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-NRT ANA Business Class

For flights on United metal the charts are a bit different. With significantly more capacity out of SFO to Tokyo, for example, access to business class seats on the route is much more generous.

Availability for one award seat on SFO-NRT United Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-NRT United Business Class

United’s flights to Beijing and Seoul have some interesting vertical lines showing blocks of dates which are not available for redemption. But, where they are available the Seoul flights seem to remain mostly available throughout the schedule, with an extra bump of inventory showing up around 74 days out and again around 14 days out..

Availability for one award seat on SFO-ICN United Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-ICN United Business Class

For the Beijing flights the close-in “magic number” appears to be more like 20 days, though in both cases there are plenty of examples where it doesn’t show such that depending on it for planning a trip would be a risky move.

Availability for one award seat on SFO-PEK United Business Class
Availability for one award seat on SFO-PEK United Business Class

Hopefully this data helps in some of your travel planning and award hunting.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

8 Comments

    1. Yeah, don’t forget about them. I had a fantastic flight in J from TPE-LAX. The previous leg from HKG-TPE started off nicely in the Virgin lounge, but went south when we were bussed onto the tarmac to a nasty old MD-80.

  1. Thanks, this great. I’d love to see you add EVA and Air China to this. Seattle and YVR (including air canada flights) would be interesting too.

  2. Agreed this is very helpful. I agree, can you please do Air China? I’ve noticed that their business class seats Pek-LA (and reverse) have been non-existent the past few months when they used to be the most available.

    Also slightly a tangent, but Pek-Syd seems to have totally disappeared as a redemption option. I checked both United and ANA’s sites. Any idea what’s going on? Thanks!

  3. Thanks for sharing the data – confirms my gut feel and anecdotal evidence from many searches out of SFO! I’d also love to see the EVA data – I’ve done many searches across Asia and they hardly ever come up and when, then on weird routes, like 5th freedom routes…

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