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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:
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.
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.
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).
The default setting is ‘Economy,’ which will show you Economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class results. But it will hide First Class.
Similarly, if you choose ‘First Class’ it will hide Economy Class results.
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.
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.
So to fix it, manually enter your date and don’t let the calendar fill it in.
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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