Why I have started checking BA reward seats on aa.com

The British Airways website has a lot of good things about it, let’s be clear about that. However, when it comes to quickly checking award availability, I have begun to find it a pain.

I have two main issues:

The inability to look for First and Club World availability in the same search

The inability to see partner availability without clicking on a specific day (the calendar only automatically shows days with BA availability)

That’s why, in recent weeks, I have gravitated across to the American Airlines website. This allows you to check oneworld availability without even bothing to ask you if you have an AA account or not!

American Airlines

The downside with the AA site is that it will not show you availability over a whole month at a time, only a week. However:

You can switch between First and Business class availability in one click

If there is partner availability it will show on the overview page, unlike with BA

The downsides of using the AA site are:

It doesn’t show non-oneworld partners who offer seats to BA members

A BA Gold would not see the extra Economy seats that ba.com would show

You cannot see World Traveller Plus availability on the AA site

It will show you some AA partners which cannot be booked with Avios eg Etihad

The American Airlines site is not, therefore, a winner in all scenarios. If you want to very quickly check whether a First or Club World seat has opened up, though, it will be quicker than using ba.com. (Obviously you can use avios.com as well, but this does not include oneworld partner airlines.)

One day I need to take a proper look at the Qantas site as well, which some people also use to speed up the search for Avios reward availability.

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Comments

  1. Bullfrog says:

    Agreed !

    Two months ago, I wanted to book a New Years Day flight from Heathrow to Miami with BA in First.

    The BA website would only offer January 2.

    I checked AA & got a BA flight in First, using up some 62,500 AA miles & $ 356 which was cheaper than any BA option.

    Job done !

  2. James67 says:

    Hi Raffles, two points to add. Firstly, BA usually has availability (even for non elites) that boths shows and can be booked on BA which does not show on AA and cannot be booked even via AA call centre paying the fee. Thus it seems BA has a few advantages for its own members booking via its own web ste. Secondly, on AA site you can view a whole month availability at a time. The button is on top right of weekly dare and the three travel classes. It is not perfect though as it shows the lowest available class on each day. So if economy is available you then thave to click a specific date to check if J or F is also available. Cheers.

  3. On the whole I agree that the AA site is easier to check awards in all cabins at the same time.

    However not all airlines are covered (Cathay & Malaysian are notable examples). I’m also puzzled about your Etihad comment. I’ve never seen EY availability on the award search.

    • I was assuming EY was there, apologies …. perhaps it is one of those ‘you need to call for availability partners’

  4. Does anyone find that BA site will show some dates available (I was looking for flights in the very near future, i.e. in the next week or two) and allow you to click them, but once you do, it goes to check availability, and comes back saying none are available on those dates, even though it specifically showed those dates as having flights available on the dates selection screen? Find this very annoying, and it effectively renders the site (in this particular situation) useless. Perhaps it only affects flights in the very near future… Haven’t tried it with dates further ahead.

  5. No apology necessary – thanks for my morning fix of very helpful stuff.

    Yes, you do need to call AA for EY availability.

  6. richie says:

    bit off topic but does anyone have any ideas for me. i will have 200,000 avios in my household account when the tesco bonus comes along. im just wondering what to do with them… any ideas. (theres 2 of us -so 100k each) open to any suggestions.

    • Best 100k routes (in terms of ‘miles flown’) are Cape Town and US West Coast (San Fran, LA, Vegas etc). As you can come back from a different airport, and it is easy to get one-way car rentals in California, a driving holiday there is always good fun. San Francisco, down the coast road to LA, through Death Valley to Vegas, then up to Yosemite National Park (if looping) or stop in Vegas and come back from there.

      • richie says:

        i did that highway one trip in 2008 for my 21st. and my fiance is polish so usa visa is quite a complicated process. asia is more attractive i have just been looking this morning at berlin to phuket-air berlin with a stop in uae then back from hong kong with ba on the a380 , or possibly cathay. this way mimimises the taxes a lot as well

        • Yes, that would be a result, especially (in business) as you should get the new fully flat AB seat.

          • Janes67@ says:

            How does Berlin to Phuket wirk? Is second leg from AUH not an Etihad flight? If this is possible I would like to explore it too. Richie could route HKT HKG via KUL with MH take advantage good hotel deals in KUL overnight to see the city and then experience MH a380 to HKG.

          • Yes, on certain flights an AB plane goes on to Phuket. Not sure if you need to book this as two redemptions (Berlin/Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Phuket) or if it would book straight through. (You won’t save Avios by booking straight through, now that BA charges by individual flight.)

            Tax etc shown here http://www.headforpoints.com/2013/02/03/avios-redemption-university-lesson-6-lowering-taxes-by-redeeming-on-airberlin/

          • James67 says:

            Thx Raffles, I will explore further. I am trying to figure the cheapest route from UK to SE Asia using BA avios. I’ guessing this wit RFS to TXL might be best option for minimising cash while RFS to HEL followed by HEL to BKK on AY might offer best compromise on avios required traded off against tx and fees. However, the new AY Helsinki to Xi’an route comes in at under 4000 miles so provides interesting possibilities.

  7. i have 150,000 BA avios miles but am at the lowest level and never find availability on BA flights. When I called about going to USa this summer thay told me nothing was available for the whole of July and August. Can I book Avios on AA as it may be easier to book there or does it have to be with BA? Any other ideas to book on One World Carriers?

  8. Dear Raffles,
    Can someone with a basic AAdvantage account immediately reserve a seat when making an online rewards flight reservation on AA, or is this a privilege reserved solely for AA frequent flyers? (As is the case for Silver/Gold Tier members on BA.)