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AA.com is tricky when it comes to booking partner awards.
It never displays award options from these key partner airlines:
And it will display availability with these partners, but not always by default.
For years, a basic award search from the AA.com home page would show most results from these partners by default.
But with the current state of AA.com, a lot of options that have award space aren’t showing in award search results by default. And it’s especially troublesome for Alaska Airlines searches.
The trick to get around this is to go to the Advanced Search page and start your search, instead of doing your search from the AA.com home page.
You don’t have to change any settings on the Advanced Search page. It has the ‘All Airlines’ selection made by default. But you’ll only see full results if you start your award search from this page.
Unfortunately there’s nothing on the AA.com site that says you need to do this.
And sometimes when you do a default search from the home page, you’ll get partner results like these for Seattle to Portland, which further confuses things.
The common theme seems to be codeshare flights.
Basically, if there is an American Airlines flight number associated with a partner flight, known as a codeshare, it will display by default if there are no American Airlines options for the route.
But if there isn’t an American Airlines flight number sold for that partner flight, or there are American Airlines options, then it often won’t display by default, and you’ll need to start your search from the Advanced Search page to see the results.
For example, American will sell tickets on its own flights from Seattle to Maui, and here’s a result searching from the AA.com home page (not using Advanced Search). Only American Airlines flights are visible.
But if you do the same search from the Advanced Search page, you’ll see cheaper Alaska Airlines options listed.
This is a maddening feature of AA.com, especially since the site explicitly states partners like Alaska Airlines are visible in award searches, with no distinction that you need to use the Advanced Search feature to see all of them.
Whether it’s a bug or intentional doesn’t really matter – it’s a bad experience that hides award options from many, if not most AAdvantage members looking for awards, and it forces reliance on American Airlines flights, where American tends to be very stingy about award availability.
Bookmark the Advanced Search page so you don’t get short changed the next time you search.
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