A couple of days ago I wrote about the 35% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to the British Airways Avios program.  This bonus is automatic (no registration needed) and runs through June 7th.  In that post I discussed some potential uses for those points that don’t involve flying on British Airways.  One of the best uses is on American Airlines flights within the US and other nearby North American destinations.

I got several questions about how to actually book an American Airlines flight via British Airways, so I thought it would be useful to dedicate a post to that topic.

The first important thing to know is that British Airways Avios availability should match up with MileSAAver availability for American Airlines flights.  This does not mean that all options on AA can be booked on BA since, for example, Hawaiian partners with AA but not BA.  Of course that is assuming that all computer systems are in a good mood and communicating effectively – which is an assumption.  So, the easiest way to check for Avios availability for an American Airlines flight is via the American Airlines website.  Search for a reward flight there just as you would if you were planning to use American Airlines miles.  If I’m having trouble finding flights that will work, I like to use their “show full calendar” feature.

Once you see a date with MileSAAver availability, click on it to see the specific flight details.  These details are very important if you want to book with Avios.  Sometimes you will be shown options with really bizarre routings with multiple connections.  Not only are these flights annoying to fly, but with Avios they would also be much more expensive since the price in Avios increases based on the distance and number of segments.  You want the most direct routing possible.

For my example I am showing a flight from NYC to Nassau.  On this random date in February there is availability at the MileSAAver level to fly from Newark (EWR) to Miami and then connect from Miami to Nassau.  This means that I should be able to book these flights via the British Airways site using Avios.

First, I log into my British Airways account and then select “spending Avios”.

Then select “Book flight with Avios” and get to searching.

Not surprisingly the BA website turns up nothing when I put in EWR – NAS on the date that I found the availability for on the American website.  Why is this not surprising?  Well, because it seems to frequently have problems with flights that require connections.

So I change course and individually search for EWR – MIA and then MIA – NAS.  No surprise that it finds that availability to match perfectly what the American website has shown.  It prices out to 7,500 Avios for the first segment and 4,500 Avios for the second for a total of 12,000 for this one-way journey.  That is awesome, especially with the current transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to British Airways.

Back to booking…you could choose to just book the two segments online individually and call it a day, but there are some real drawbacks to that plan since your itineraries would be treated as two individual trips and if there are any delay issues along the way you could get stuck.  I have never been able to find a multi-city tool for Avios bookings, so the safer option is to call in to British Airways and feed them the individual segments you have found to book as one ticket.  This may mean you have to pay the $25 fee to book over the phone (though try explaining that the website was not working properly), but at least you can book the flights you want.  Don’t trust the website if it tells you the flights are not available – dig deeper before giving up.

After your ticket on AA flights is booked via BA, you can then add it to your American account by going to checkmytrip.com to get the AA confirmation number.  You can read more about this and other potential perks of booking an Avios flight on this post.

I wish the website made everything super easy – but sometimes having a little extra work is worth it in the end.  With the 35% Amex/BA transfer bonus that runs until June 7th, some extra work could mean a round trip ticket from New York to somewhere like Nassau in the winter for the equivalent of a little less than 17,000 Membership Reward points each.

Posted by mommypoints | 63 Comments

63 Responses to “How to Book American Airlines Flights With British Airways Avios”

  1. Elena says:

    Thank you!

  2. Winger says:

    Hi MP. Can Avios be used with AA partners, such as Alaskan?

    Thanks for the details, BTW. Very helpful!

  3. DaveRamseyIsDangerous says:

    Another advantage, IMO, is that you can book a stopover in a hub city for no real extra cost (well, for just an extra $5 in fees). For example, say I want to fly from Cincinnati to L.A. I can book a flight from Cincinnati to Chicago, stay over in Chicago for a day or two, then fly to L.A. On the way back, I could fly from L.A. to DFW, stay over in Dallas for a few days, and then fly back to Cincinnati. If one has interest in staying a few days in a hub city, this can be a tremendous benefit.

  4. Curtis says:

    One thing to note about this also. I have been able to reproduce an issue with their booking system with AA where it almost always says there is no availability on the exact days you choose, however if you go forward or back a day, there is a flight. In order to get a true check, you should search for flights the day before or after the actual one you want, then advance the day in their search afterwards. You can test this out pretty easily by doing your exact dates first, see nothing. Next search 1 day earlier on each, advance after search and suddenly they have found availability. Hope this helps!

  5. Geoff says:

    Good post MP. On to another card and a new min spend:)

  6. DaveRamseyIsDangerous says:

    As a follow up, though, if you are paying luggage fees, those fees are assessed again if your arrival into the hub and departure out of the hub are more than 24 hours apart…that is, according to my experience & understanding of AA rules.

  7. Mike says:

    Another useless post that has been covered a zillion time.

  8. York says:

    I found from AA website that you could book reward tickets on HA or AS as well. Neither AS or HA is OW member, but it seems that they have partnership with AA. Can BA Avois be redeemed for HA or AS flights as well?

  9. eco mama says:

    Great post. And really smart comments too! Thanks everybody. Still monkeying around with this, my points have not posted (and won’t until May), so availability for this summer for my trip is looking dismal, but happy to know how to do this for the future. Mommypoints, you rule.

  10. nate says:

    This is probably the 10th blog post I’ve read where people say that MileSAAver availability should be available on BA, but I’ve called BA numerous times and every single time I get told the opposite. That AA has to release the availability to BA or BA can’t book what you see on AA.

    I’d really like to get to the bottom of this, because I’ve been trying to use Avios to go from LAX to HNL round trip this summer, and AA was showing tons of availability, but BA told me they weren’t showing anything!

  11. Tim says:

    You shouldn’t worry about booking separately, they are treated as one reservation per AA: http://www.aa.com/i18n/agency/Booking_Ticketing/Reaccom/oneworld_tkt_policy.jsp

    And IIRC, the BA phone fee is waived if the website isn’t working for a ticket that should be bookable by the website. So asking for a waiver on Alaska/LAN subsidiaries is YMMV, but any simple AA flight should be waived. I’ve always received a waiver, but had to push for it a couple times, because it is the Jacksonville call center after all.

  12. Tim says:

    @Nate
    I used Avios for LAX-Hawaii for over a dozen tickets, and have never seen a mismatch in availability. Are you 100% sure that AA has SAAver space on the direct AA flight from LAX-HNL? On the AA website you’ll also see the direct flights from Hawaiian and a lot of Alaska flights with connections. Those won’t show up on BA.com

  13. Stefan says:

    @Mike – Maybe you should start your own blog since you seem to know it all anyway? Why even comment…

    Just as an FYI – I also have had some issues with matching AAsaver availability and finding those with BA, but maybe YMMV.

  14. jamie says:

    I love the comments about the Jacksonville call center. That’s where I grew up. lol!
    Luckily, no one I know ever worked there.

  15. York says:

    @eco mama, you may be able to borrow up to 15000 points if you are gold member (or up to 60000 points if you are platinum) until 6/30.

  16. CodeAdam10 says:

    DaveRamseyIsDangerous, how do you in-cooperate a stop over when booking AA metal using Avios?

  17. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the post! I’m trying to book anything from Nashville on Avios, and the only thing that was available was to D.C.
    Hopefully with this method I can try some more places.

  18. DBest says:

    Is there any difference between sAAver and off-peak sAAver?

  19. nate says:

    @Tim wow, thank you!! from what i remember, no one has ever clearly pointed out in their blogs that you need to be sure the availability is on AA not partners! this is pretty obvious if you know about the fact that AA.com will show you partner availability, but if you’re a noob like me, then it’s not so apparent. i see availability pretty much in line now that you’ve pointed this out and I started de-selecting Hawaiian and Alaska partner flights! Thanks a ton, this makes planning this trip soooo much less frustrating now!

  20. DaveRamseyIsDangerous says:

    CodeAdam10 – You just book one leg at a time. It costs you the same number of Avios, whether you book the legs combined into one routing (i.e. CVG-ORD-LAX; LAX-DFW-CVG) or you book one leg at a time – CVG-ORD then ORD-LAX then LAX-DFW then DFW-CVG.

    For example, you book CVG-ORD on May 8. You hang out in Chicago for 4 days. Then, you book ORD-LAX on May 12. You’re in LA for a week. You book LA-DFW on May 19. You hang out in Dallas for 3 days. Then you return DFW-CVG on May 22. This uses the exact same number of Avios as going CVG-ORD-LAX on May 8 and then LAX-DFW-CVG on May 22.

    YOU are the one building in the domestic stopover, not British Airways or AA, simply by booking one leg at a time.

  21. George says:

    Does AA allow you to attach your AA FF# to your reservation for AA-operated flights booked with Avios? I’m just wondering if these award flights would be eligible for the checked bag fee waiver that comes with the Citi AA card (but is associated with the AA FF# only).

  22. Tim says:

    @DBest nope I just booked off-peak savers two minutes ago and am flying on peak savers in three months.

    @Nate you can do a search without partners (AA only) under option 6) in the AA.com advanced award search.

    @George check your reservation (with your British Airways confirmation code) at the FinnAir website. You can enter your AA FF# there and after that, yes, the flights will be eligible for the checked bag fee waiver.

  23. mommypoints says:

    Looks like you guys all answered your own questions. Nothing for me to do here – well done! ;)

  24. Winger says:

    @mp. you may have missed a couple (or maybe I missed something). Can Avios be used to book flights on AA partners (e.g. AS) ?

  25. mommypoints says:

    Winger, yeah this article was specifically about booking AA – you can also book AS and would probably want to check availability on AA, but you can’t book those online. ;)

  26. mike says:

    Hi…and thanks for this information. I just signed up for Avios points online (I have no points). I followed your steps to find AA flight between St. Louis and Chicago and the search engine gave me multiple options. I then used the same dates on the BA website to see if I could get the ‘partner’ airlines to display. I wasn’t able to find any flights. I then used your sample above (EWR-MIA) and still couldn’t find any flights.

    Does it matter that I have 0 points? Shouldn’t I be able to see something? Thanks for any help you can provide.

  27. tonto says:

    Was able to get 15k AMEX points advanced and ive only had the gold personal card 3 months! Got turened down the first time, got it the second time. Advanced directly to my BA account

  28. mommypoints says:

    tonto, awesome! Enjoy!

  29. Scott says:

    Thank you, that is very helpful.

  30. Dawn says:

    I booked a flight with no problems at the end of April. But now I see a flight I could use on AA but even after I break it down by segment I still don’t see it on the BA site. Any ideas what I should do?

  31. mommypoints says:

    Dawn, if there is AA Saver availability (not one of their partners) could be IT acting up, could be a fluke, could be something else. Double check the AA saver flights on AA metal and then try again. If that fails you can try feeding the segments to a BA rep over the phone.

  32. Dawn says:

    Thanks. I shortened it even further and now I can get out of Honolulu to LAX at least.

  33. Madhu says:

    This is my first time trying to use Avios to buy AA flights. This blog asks to first search on AA.com and then goto BA.com. Assuming I found the flight details from AA.com that Ia m interested in, where on the BA.com website under ‘Spending Avios’ section do i input these flight details?
    As far as I can see, it asks me to fill out the Origin ,destination, dates etc and then just dispalys search results. So what is the point of searching for these flights on AA.com?

    Thanks

  34. Tocqueville says:

    @Madhu – that is correct

  35. TruetomyCountry says:

    I have been trying this method all night without success. I went to AA.com and found a flight from SFO-ORD, ORD-PEK for June 6th. which on AA.com shows as available for reward fight. I then went to BA.com, and searched for either one of those (SFO-ORD, or ORD-PEK) for June 6th..and I get nothing. BA’s site is so damn difficult to use. Can someone confirm?

  36. mommypoints says:

    Truetomy, the SFO-ORD that I see is on Alaska which BA doesn’t display online, so you have to call in for that. I don’t see anything at the Saver level on AA for ORD-PEK for that whole month, so I’m not sure what you are seeing on your end. Wish I had better news!

  37. STG says:

    mommypoints. I just find BA’s booking system extremely difficult to use. Through their site, can you check to see if you are able to find any award flights SFO-HKG for June? I couldnt’ find anything for their partner airlines. Thank you for any help that you can offer. (So frustrated with their booking system)

  38. Simon says:

    Hi, trying to book a Business Class one-way trip from New York JFK to Sao Paulo on April 4th, but am getting no luck finding available flights on the BA website. AA.com has the reward flight listed on their website. Any ideas what I am doing wrong here? Thanks.

  39. Jamison says:

    Amazing write up! Tons of help and I finally got to see what I can use my points for, only 1 thing… every “test” destination I try from PHL offers first class only? I have tried multiple dates/cities in terms of a destination but still, it only shows First class and a $300 flight to Chicago is running me 45k avios points. Is this because I am a blue card member?

  40. Karen says:

    Thanks for this post although, unfortunately I haven’t found what you’ve posted to actually work for me.

    For instance I am trying to go from PHL – SFO in late August. I found flights on AA.com that would work perfectly, called BA and got possibly the rudest and most condescending “customer service” person ever, who told me there are NO flights available and the flights I see they can’t book. Problem is there are NEVER flights available on BA to anywhere I want to go at any time (looking at this specific SFO trip and other upcoming trips). Breaking up the flights into segments doesn’t seem to work on BA either.

    I have over 50K in Avios points and am about to get another 50K. I feel like they may be absolutely pointless since they are impossible to use!

  41. Carl says:

    Thank you so much for this excellent info. I just booked a ticket for my wife to return from Chicago to DFW for 7500 Avios plus $2.50, on very short (2 days before flight) notice. She had discount ticket round trip and wanted to come back a day early. AA would have charged us about $400 to exchange the ticket or $374 just to buy a new ticket, or 12,500 AA miles plus late booking fee. The only problems are: 1) as your article says, the BA website doesn’t work well. It did not show any flights and I did have to find the flights on AA and call BA Executive Club to the the booking, which is a time waster. (BA did waive the agent fee after checking the website to confirm that I could not book on line); and 2) Don’t think your article mentions it, but to get a seat assignment, I had to go to AA. There were 34 seats available but the only option AA offered was pay $25 for a middle seat(!). I told wife just to get seat when she checks in. AA is getting to be a real piece of work with their restrictions and upcharges.

  42. poohstix says:

    Hi,

    I see an AASaver flight on AA.com that has Rome to London on BA and the London to Chicago and Chicago to SFO on AA. Can I use Avios points to book this entire flight— BA American doesn’t fly from Rome to London— or does the entire itinerary have to be on AA?

    Many thanks.

  43. mommypoints says:

    poohstix, techincally it should work I think, but will be quite pricey in both Avios and fees unfortunately.

  44. [...] Mommy Points – How to book American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios [...]

  45. Tyler says:

    Is it possible to book if no saver AA award seats are available? I can book the Economy AAnytime awards on aa.com (alot more points, but really need this flight).

  46. mommypoints says:

    Tyler, you can’t do it with Avios. You could use more AA miles to book the flight though.

  47. Ras says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but if I try to book between, say, NYC and LAX, on BA.com I get a message saying: “British Airways does not have traffic rights to operate directly between these two cities.” (true, but AA has flights between those cities??)

    And if I try to book a flight with my Avios between these two cities, it just shows no availability regardless of which dates I’m using (and AA.com shows plenty of award flights between the two cities).

    Is it even possible to use Avios for flights between two US cities if you are a resident of a European country (not the UK)?

  48. [...] search should show many how-to e.g. this one is for booking AA using Avios, CX should be similar http://boardingarea.com/mommypoints/…-airways-avios – Visit BAEX Redeem My Miles page https://www.britishairways.com/travel/redeem/execclub – login – [...]

  49. […] 2k spend in 90 days, with the first year fee waived.  The caveat here is that the booking process is a little complicated, and that the tickets are subject to award availability … so this wouldn’t work for a […]

  50. JTP says:

    Hopefully you can help me out here— Can you use Avios on an Alaskan Airlines flight operated by Delta? I know Delta and BA aren’t partners, but it’s coded as an AS flight so. This would be wonders if it worked.

  51. JTP says:

    Actually, it’s a Skywest DBA Delta connection… not sure if that is anything different.

  52. mommypoints says:

    JTP, it would have to be operated by Alaska to work. Sorry!

  53. Brendan touhey says:

    Trying to book travel for 2 from ewr to rtb jan 18 return jan 25. Aa.com shows availability at 35000 pt ea way/ ticket. Ba.com shows nothing, claims they ( or their partners) don’t even fly to rtb . Call ba and was told the flight shows up but there is no availability. Ba claims their inventory and aa’s inventory are 2 different things. What can I do?

  54. Steve says:

    Really frustrated trying to get from SFO or LAX to Paris next June using Avios on American Airlines. Called AA and was told to call British Air. Called BA and they said (as Nate cites above) that AA only releases certain flights to BA, so the availability on the AA site is not accurate for Avios. I go to BA website and only flights show into Britain; nothing to North America or European Continent. This can’t be true if the site also shows AA availability. After three hours I’m no closer to Paris, but I sure am angry. Anyone out there with any advice?

  55. mommypoints says:

    Steve, there are lots of answers to this, but the first problem is that you may not want to use Avios on American to go to Paris. You will be hit with huge fuel surcharges just as if you were flying on BA more or less. If you already know that and still want to go with this plan let me know and I’ll do what I can to dig some. You are much better off using American Airlines miles to fly on American Airlines to Paris as you won’t be hit with the huge fees.

  56. Brian P. says:

    Hi…I have a question for you. I’ve been searching in the November and December 2014 time frame for flights from LA to Hawaii…both LAX to LIH as well as OGG. On AA web site there is a lot of availability for milesaver flights for several dates in those months but then when I log in to BA to search those same dates it doesn’t bring up any availability. Has something changed with the ability to book AA flights using British Avios? Or do you think it is just a flaw in the web site and I need to call to book them. Thanks.

  57. Corin says:

    Hi, I am looking to fly from TPA – MIA on 13 Dec 14 (am), AA is showing Economy MilesAAver and Economy AAnytime, but nothing is showing on BAEC, I have tried the same for MCO – MIA too, is there anyway of booking these rewards via Avios to AA ? I have already booked my MIA – ANU for this day at 11am via BAEC :-) thanks for any help or pointers :-)

  58. Brett says:

    Trying to get from SMF-SEA March 8 and return on the 10th. Tons of SAAver availability on AA.com but multiple calls to BA and they keep telling me there is nothing for them to book.

    Any ideas?

  59. Matt says:

    I just wanted to say thank you, I’ve followed your instructions to book my first AA redemption via BA Avios! :-)

  60. mommypoints says:

    Matt, awesome!

  61. Ali says:

    I live in north Florida and wondering if I can only book with Avios when flying out of Orlando or Miami, instead of JAX (my nearest airport)? Do the segments for AA have to be segments that BA also flies?

  62. matt says:

    Just to confirm, you can only book MileSAAver flights on BA, even if you call them on the phone to book, correct? So it could be economy MileSAAver, business MileSAAver or first MileSAAver, but no AAnytime fares?

  63. mommypoints says:

    Matt, correct

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