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How to use the British Airways website to find AAdvantage awards that are hidden

by on Fri August 21, 2015 • 13 Comments
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British Airways fees

The British Airways website is a powerful tool when you’re trying to find hidden award space you can book with your American AAdvantage miles (see our full cheat sheet on using AAdvantage miles here).

It shows award space on the following airlines you won’t find on the AA.com website:

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Japan Airlines
  • LAN
  • TAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Iberia
  • S7
  • Sri Lankan
  • Qatar Airways

All you have to do is register for an account on BA.com, and follow this link to get to the award search page.

You’ll enter your travel date and destination, and results will pop up. Any award space you see available from the airlines above is bookable with AAdvantage miles by calling American Airlines and requesting the flights.

aviosbookflight

But it’s easy to get the wrong information or miss out on opportunities if you aren’t aware of some of the pitfalls.

Here are some of the more frustrating ones and how to get around them:

It will only display options with one connection

Let’s say you want to fly from Los Angeles to Singapore.

The British Airways site will only show options with no stops or one stop like Los Angeles – Hong Kong – Singapore.

baoneconnection

But it won’t show perfectly convenient options like Los Angeles – San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore that have 2 or more stops.

The best way to find additional options that could work is to start your search with a hub city as your destination. You can check your final destination later.

So for Los Angeles – Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong are big hubs you might connect through. You can do a search for Los Angeles – Tokyo and Los Angeles – Hong Kong to get the most options. Then add on a search for Hong Kong or Tokyo to Singapore to complete the search.

You can’t see Economy, Business, and First Class results at one time

The site is able to display results from four classes of service (Economy, Premium Economy, Business Class, and First Class).

selectbusinesseconomybasite

The default setting is ‘Economy,’ which will show you Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class results. But it will hide First Class.

yvrjfkeconomy

Similarly, if you choose ‘First Class’ it will hide Economy Class results.

yvrjfkfirst

So you’ll need to run some searches twice to see all of your options, changing the class selection each time.

Some space displayed just doesn’t exist

LAN and TAM Airlines to South America are notorious for this, but sometimes you’ll see space available on the British Airways site, but when you call American Airlines to book, it’s not available. The agents aren’t lying to you. Sometimes there is a lag between what the British Airways site displays and actual, live availability. Most of the time it’s accurate, but with LAN and TAM it’s a pretty common and frustrating issue. And there’s no workaround other than to find out when you call.

You’ll see options that aren’t possible with AAdvantage miles

American AAdvantage is a little tricky with how it lets you route your way across the world.

Generally…

  • You can only go to Asia (except India) via the Pacific Ocean (but the British Airways website will show options going over the Atlantic)
  • You can only go to the Middle East, Africa, and India via Europe and the Atlantic Ocean, or via Doha on Qatar Airways to Africa
  • You can only go to Australia and New Zealand via the Pacific Ocean, and not via Asia, but an exception is you can fly via Doha on Qatar Airways

So beware the British Airway site is less restrictive and may show you options that just aren’t legal bookings with American AAdvantage.

The date selection will sometimes reverse your month and day

If you’re using the U.S. version of the site and choose a date like March 10th, 2016 from the calendar, it will fill the date field with “10/3/16”, rather than “3/10/16” and when you search you’ll get an error as the calendar tried to enter a European date format for a U.S. website search.

calendarmixup

So to fix it, manually enter your date and don’t let the calendar fill it in.

Other options

The Qantas website is also great for searching for a lot of award options hidden from the AA.com website. It’s generally easier to use, but not without its own pitfalls, like not showing Japan Airlines award space. You can read about it here, and between the two sites you can get a really good picture of what’s available with your AAdvantage miles.

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13 thoughts on How to use the British Airways website to find AAdvantage awards that are hidden

  1. David

    I am trying to fly from SCL or LPB to IPC. Robert, as you pointed out, LPB to IPC requires multiple stops and it’s probably why nothing shows up. Seats are available on LAN’s website for SCL to IPC, but BA shows nothing for next April. Any tips? Thank you very much.

    Reply
  2. Silver

    @MileCards, I’m looking to fly from SIN to MCO in late September or early October but even for departure dates within a few days from today are not showing anything in business or first class. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Robert

      “It will only display options with one connection”

      That’s key for your question. SIN-MCO on oneworld airlines will require at least 2 connections, so you’ll need to break up your search. Your best bet will be Cathay Pacific via HKG. Focus on the long flight first as it’s the toughest to find. HKG flies to the following N. American airports: JFK, EWR, ORD, BOS, YYZ, LAX, SFO, and YVR. Your optimal itinerary would be through JFK, ORD, or LAX as you could get a non-stop on AA from those airports to MCO, so I would focus on those. Search ba.com for HKG-JFK, HKG-ORD, HKG-LAX, and the others if you don’t have success. But you will have success if you’re date-flexible. For example, this Wednesday there are plenty of business class seats on SIN-HKG-ORD-MCO, 6:45am departure out of SIN, 6:45pm arrival @ MCO.

      Reply
      1. Silver

        @Robert, for AS miles, do I also use BA’s website to search for awards seats? If not, which airline’s site should I use? Thanks.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Silver – Use the BA site to find the Cathay Pacific flights. Unfortunately Alaska only lets you use one partner plus connecting Alaska flights each way of an award. You can’t for example fly American to New York on your award, then Cathay onward. That would be using two partners on an award. And Alaska doesn’t fly to any Cathay gateways from Orlando, unless you want to do a routing like MCO-SEA-YVR or SFO.

          Your best bet might be to find the Cathay flights, then buy a separate ticket to get you to the Cathay gateway like New York or Boston.

          Reply
          1. Silver

            @MileCards, thanks. If I use AA miles, will I be able to fly all the way from SIN to MCO without having to buy a separate ticket from a gateway city to MCO?

  3. Keith

    Trying to book a routine shuttle flight between say Tokyo and Osaka which has more than 10 flights a day.
    Unfortunately BA only displays the first few flights and I can’t select an evening flight at all.
    Anyway to get around this?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Keith – What days are you looking at? For example LGA-DCA the site has no problem showing 15 flights, provided they are actually available for award booking.

      Reply
    2. Nicki

      Call BA! I had to do this to secure a LIM>CUZ flight on LAN using BA miles recently and they were very helpful. I was also looking for an evening flight and the results online only showed morning/early afternoon ones. (They waived the phone fee for me!)

      Reply
  4. Carly taylor

    I want to fly from iAd to capetown on February 5 and return from singapore to iAd on March 15. Any suggestions. Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Carly – Qatar Airways will get you IAD-DOH on the 5th, which then connects to DOH-CPT on the 6th in Economy Class

      For the way back look at SIN-HKG and you’ll see some Cathay Pacific options. Then look at HKG-WAS (use ‘WAS’ instead of IAD so you get Reagan in the results). And you’ll see options on Cathay Pacific flying via New York to Washington.

      Reply

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