If you are loyal to AA you are probably aware that you cannot search for most partner availability using your AAdvantage miles on the aa.com website. While American is starting to add more OneWorld partners to their search engine, currently the capability is not quite there and requires a call to an AA representative. Additionally, AA representatives are 100% aware of all availability.
Fortunately, Qantas.com (a OneWorld partner) has a great award search tool and includes all OneWorld award redemptions. So let’s say you are looking to redeem American Airlines from Boston to Barcelona (true story as I had to do it for my parents this past week). The partner routes include American, British Airways, or Iberia Airlines. Although you will not be flying Qantas, their online award availability search can tell you all the routes and dates available.
To search for availability, however, you must register for a Qantas account. Membership is free (unless you are a resident of Australia or New Zealand) and takes just a few minutes to join (join here).
Once you join, you can access the award search tool here (remember: you must be logged on).
Select your departure and arrival cities, along with the dates and number of passengers. Also, if you are flexible with dates, ensure to select the corresponding checkbox.
A calendar view will appear letting you know the dates available for each fare type. You can select Economy, Business, or First depending on your desired fare type.
Once you select the departure and arrival date, the available flights will appear on the next page.
Knowing the available dates prior to calling American will help you when booking your ticket. While representatives are relatively good, they many times only look at the most well known routes. So for example, from Boston to Barcelona they look at American (via JFK) and British Airways (via London), and many times fail to consider Iberia via Madrid.
When I called AA to change my parents reservation, I checked out Qantas.com and saw that seats opened up on their desired date. While I knew of this availability, I wanted to see what the representative would come up with first, just for fun I guess! My conversation went something like the following:
Mrs. Deals: Hi, I would like to change the return flight of this record locator for this date (and told them the desired date)
AA representative: Unfortunately, we have no availability for that date, but the following day has some availability, would that work?
Mrs. Deals: Oh really, what about the Barcelona to Madrid then Madrid to Boston flight on Iberia Airlines?
AA representative: Oh, ummm…. actually, there is availability on that flight on your desired date.
Had I not done my homework ahead of time, I would have never known the true availability and would not have secured the desired flights. This is a great tool to piece together your desired itinerary and check for availability. Unfortunately, you are still not able to book the reservation yourself and have to have an AA representative actually confirm the booking. While you might need to spoon feed the representative the flights you want, including flight number, airline, and flight time, it is well worth it.