Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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:

American Airlines

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!

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.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (19)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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 !

  • 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.

  • PGW says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • Vlad says:

    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.

  • PGW says:

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

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

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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

        • Rob says:

          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.

          • Rob says:

            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 https://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.

  • samir says:

    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?

  • Marco says:

    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.)

    • Rob says:

      Don’t know, but BA is very much the odd one out with its current policy. Anyone?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.