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Old Oct 31, 2015, 7:06 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: beltway
British Airways' mileage currency (Avios) offer a potentially advantageous option for redeeming for award tickets on AA, especially on shorter flights. This wiki (which originated in a thread in the now-closed US forum) attempts to summarize key aspects of the program, as well as several problems and workarounds relating to use of the BA website.
CAUTION
Post #1 contains outdated information and should not be relied on.


What are the general rules for redeeming Avios?
  • Avios is charged per individual flight segment. The cost for a single connecting itinerary AAA-BBB-CCC is the same as the cost of two separate tickets for travel AAA-BBB & BBB-CCC.
  • Avios uses a distance-based chart. (See below.)
    • International first and AA domestic three-class first cost roughly 4x as many Avios as coach.
    • For segments over 2000 miles, business class (and first-class awards on AA domestic two-class service) costs roughly 2.5x coach.
    • For segments under 2000 miles, business class (and first-class awards on AA domestic two-class service) costs roughly 2x coach.
  • You can redeem one-way awards with Avios.
  • Avios is generally region-agnostic. (That is, a given distance costs the same regardless of whether it traverses one or more world regions.) Thus, Avios can provide great value when flying to Hawaii for those who fly coach and can do so in one segment.
  • There is no ticketing fee for online booking. If you call instead of booking online, there is a $25 ticketing fee. (Some people have success in getting this fee waived when an itinerary cannot be booked online, making a phone call unavoidable.)
  • There is no close-in ticketing fee.
  • BA charges $55 to cancel or change a ticket. However, if you cancel online, your cost is capped at the amount of taxes/TSA fees paid; for domestic itineraries on AA, this will normally be much less than $55. (This workaround does not apply to changing a ticket online, which will incur the full $55 fee.) You must cancel 24 hours in advance to get the Avios redeposited; see the BAEC T&C, section 17.
On December 12, 2023, BA substantially increased the cost of awards in the first four bands. The new award chart:




What's the process for redeeming Avios?
Go to the Avios award search page; log in; and enter your desired itinerary.

Great! That sounds easy! What's the catch?
Unfortunately, there are several practical restrictions on redeeming Avios for domestic travel on AA, especially when attempting to book online.
  • Most importantly, AA MileSAAver awards must be available. (You can confirm award availability at the lowest level by searching the AA site directly or by using a third-party service such as Expert Flyer.)
  • The BA search tool cannot generate partner itineraries that include more than one connection. (You can still book each segment as an individual ticket, although doing so will create problems if you wish to check luggage all the way through and/or if you miss a connection owing to flight delays.)
  • Even where AA has low-level award availability, the Avios search tool will often fail to display it. This is especially true on routes with numerous flights in a single day (such as the DCA-LGA, LGA-BOS & DCA-BOS shuttles), but occurs regularly on numerous routes. There is no workaround except calling BA reservations.
    • Recommendation: Always search for one-way awards. The BA search tool is known to display no availability in either direction on round-trip searches when awards are in fact available in one direction but not the other.
  • The BA search engine will accept metropolitan area pseudo-codes (WAS, LON, PAR, NYC, etc.) as well as individual airport codes. For best results, try both (e.g., DCA, BWI & IAD as well as WAS).
OK, I managed to make an award booking despite all these pitfalls. How do I get my AAdvantage number into the reservation in order to enjoy my AA elite benefits?
When finalizing the booking of your award ticket on the BA site, delete your BA Executive Club number from the frequent-flyer ID box. Once the ticket is issued, you can update the reservation on the AA site (using the record locator number provided by BA) to add your AAdvantage number.
  • NOTE: Deleting your BAEC number prevents future modification of the award through the BA site or app. If there is any possibility that you may need to cancel, leave your BAEC number in until your plans are firm (or until the 24-hour advance deadline for canceling, whichever comes earlier) and then add your AA number, ideally through AAs very responsive Twitter liaisons. Otherwise, you will need to call BA & likely suffer a lengthy hold time.
  • Members with BA household accounts may not be able to delete the BAEC number. In this event, contact AA via Twitter or phone to make the change.
I want to change my seat but the BA site never gave me an AA record locator. What's the solution?
Look up your reservation on the AA site using the BA record locator. You can also go to "Manage My Booking" on the BA site; simply select the desired booking (you may need to click the large plus sign at the right), click "Choose Seats," and then follow the prompts. You will be redirected automatically to the AA site, where you can also view your AA record locator and add your AAdvantage member number to the reservation.

How can I accumulate Avios?
  • Fly British Airways.
  • Credit OneWorld flights to British Airways.
  • Open a Chase British Airways credit card, ideally with a generous sign up bonus.
  • Move Chase Ultimate Reward points (CSP, Ink Plus, Ink Preferred) to your BA account.
  • Move AMEX Membership Rewards points to your BA account, preferably during the 2-3 times a year when a bonus is offered.
  • Move Marriott points to your BA account. 60K Marriott points yields 25K BA Avios.
  • Form a household account (see BA forum for discussion) so that miles can be pooled.
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Booking American Airlines awards

Old Jun 18, 2021, 12:13 pm
  #151  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: New York, N.Y.
Posts: 307
A dumb question: I've got an AA itinerary booked with Avios that I now need to cancel. On the BA website, the only cancelation option is to take a travel voucher, which I'm not interested in; I'd rather give up the ~$11 in taxes per ticket and get the miles back. I assume that I can do this by calling the call center, but will BA attempt to charge me the $25 phone service fee? My view is that they shouldn't, since I cannot complete the transaction I want to make online, but I'm never sure of the rules of the road these days.
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Old Jun 18, 2021, 12:21 pm
  #152  
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No they shouldn't try and charge you the offline fee.
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 6:51 am
  #153  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Originally Posted by Ijones027
If I'm ba silver award ticket on aa domestic metal will I still get free bags and mce?
Just bumping this...
Looking at doing a Caribbean to LAS via Miami in Economy (its the only award seat open) but its not offering me any bags included in the deal.
I looked at https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-p...s-benefits.jsp and it infers that I will get up to 3 bags as a BA gold but its not exactly well written.

Can anyone confirm please?
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Old Sep 13, 2021, 8:10 am
  #154  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: LHR / LAS
Programs: BA GfL, GGL/CCR
Posts: 2,406
We've checked three bags before on AA reward as OWE. Sometimes the agent isn't aware though so can cause a little delay at check-in.

That was precovid.
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Old Dec 13, 2021, 9:09 pm
  #155  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 6
Is BA now tacking on fees/charges to AA international award flights? For instance, looking at a number of AA flights from the US to Europe, it's 22.5K AA Miles and $5.60, but 20.75K Avios and $199! Are these a fluke or was there a change to how Avios deals with AA flights?

Example itinerary: AA44 JFK-CDG on Feb 11, 2022.
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Old Dec 13, 2021, 11:40 pm
  #156  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 744
Originally Posted by sunshinebob
Just bumping this...
Looking at doing a Caribbean to LAS via Miami in Economy (its the only award seat open) but its not offering me any bags included in the deal.
I looked at https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-p...s-benefits.jsp and it infers that I will get up to 3 bags as a BA gold but its not exactly well written.

Can anyone confirm please?
Im pretty sure you do; once youre at the airport or on the plane there shouldnt be a functional difference between miles and revenue tickets.
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Old Dec 13, 2021, 11:43 pm
  #157  
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Originally Posted by benjaminp
Is BA now tacking on fees/charges to AA international award flights? For instance, looking at a number of AA flights from the US to Europe, it's 22.5K AA Miles and $5.60, but 20.75K Avios and $199! Are these a fluke or was there a change to how Avios deals with AA flights?

Example itinerary: AA44 JFK-CDG on Feb 11, 2022.
BA has been collecting carrier surcharges on AA flights for some time. The only exceptions are AA flights wholly within the Americas.
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Old Dec 14, 2021, 2:17 am
  #158  
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Originally Posted by guv1976
BA has been collecting carrier surcharges on AA flights for some time. The only exceptions are AA flights wholly within the Americas.
Originally Posted by benjaminp
Is BA now tacking on fees/charges to AA international award flights? For instance, looking at a number of AA flights from the US to Europe, it's 22.5K AA Miles and $5.60, but 20.75K Avios and $199! Are these a fluke or was there a change to how Avios deals with AA flights?

Example itinerary: AA44 JFK-CDG on Feb 11, 2022.
Welcome to FT benjaminp and congratulations on your first post.

I think just to be clear, when booking through BA using avios BA is passing on AA's carrier surcharge, BA isn't adding on any surcharge of their own. For example if I look at JFK-CDG in F on AA on ba.com I get:

82,500 Avios + 549.80
74,250 Avios + 694.80
61,900 Avios + 854.80
49,500 Avios + 1,019.80
45,400 Avios + 1,064.80
41,250 Avios + 1,119.80
If I look at that same flight as a normal cash booking I get the following as taxes/fees/charges:

United States Passenger Civil Aviation Security Service Fee (AY) US$5.60
Carrier-imposed surcharge (YR) US$700.00
US International Departure Tax (US) US$19.10
US Passenger Facility Charge (XF) US$4.50
------------------------------------------------------------
Total taxes/fees/charges $729.20 = 552

EDIT: this has been the case for a long time now, when booking rewards on partner airlines through BA with avios you pay all the taxes/fees/charges of that partner airline flight

Last edited by KARFA; Dec 14, 2021 at 2:46 am
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Old Dec 14, 2021, 8:28 am
  #159  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 6
KARFA and guv1976 thanks for your helpful replies! I have mostly used BA Avios for flights within the Americas (including LATAM, back when that was an option), so was surprised to see the carrier surcharges.
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Old Dec 14, 2021, 8:41 am
  #160  
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
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On other news this post has confirmed to me AA rewards are now showing on BA again
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Old Jan 1, 2022, 5:14 pm
  #161  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: LHR
Programs: BA Gold
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Having a strange technical/UI problem trying to book an award flight from NYC to Miami.
I've searched on BA for Avios flights from LGA to MIA. BA shows me flights from LGA, EWR and JFK to MIA - frustratingly I cannot make it keep to LGA as the point of departure.
The UI seems to load maximum 11 flights at one time, and they're shown in order of time of departure. NYC to Miami being such a busy route, the latest one is 11am, but I'm trying to book an afternoon flight.
There isn't a "Next Page" or "Load more flights" option to bring in more flights. (Sorting by time of departure descending simply reverses the order of the existing list of flights, rather than pulling in later flights in the day.)

Any idea idea how I can do this other than just calling and booking over the phone?
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Old Jan 1, 2022, 8:52 pm
  #162  
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Originally Posted by estate
Having a strange technical/UI problem trying to book an award flight from NYC to Miami.
I've searched on BA for Avios flights from LGA to MIA. BA shows me flights from LGA, EWR and JFK to MIA - frustratingly I cannot make it keep to LGA as the point of departure.
The UI seems to load maximum 11 flights at one time, and they're shown in order of time of departure. NYC to Miami being such a busy route, the latest one is 11am, but I'm trying to book an afternoon flight.
There isn't a "Next Page" or "Load more flights" option to bring in more flights. (Sorting by time of departure descending simply reverses the order of the existing list of flights, rather than pulling in later flights in the day.)

Any idea idea how I can do this other than just calling and booking over the phone?
It's a known limitation on the avios booking page I am afraid, and becomes a problem with high frequency routes. The only workaround I know of is to book an earlier flight and then change it in MMB which does show the later flights. With change fees this was of limited use as only GGLs are exempt from reward change fees, but with current BWC policy of no change fees for everyone it may work.

Alternatively you can just call to book it as you noted.
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Old Jan 4, 2022, 12:30 pm
  #163  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: LHR
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 339
Despite a fair bit of searching I can't seem to find an answer to this:
Trying to find US domestic first class reward flights. There is J class availability that I can find as reward flights on AA.com (though I don't have AAdvantage membership), and also on Expertflyer. However these J class "award" seats don't show up on BA.
For economy, I understand T class availability (the Miles AASaver or whatever it's called) is needed for it to show up on BA to book with Avios.
But I can't find the equivalent for First. J of course is just full-fare business, but I'm wondering why they're bookable as rewards seats on AA but not with BA? Is there another booking class for domestic first that is bookable via BA?

Thanks!
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Old Jan 4, 2022, 12:46 pm
  #164  
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Originally Posted by estate
Despite a fair bit of searching I can't seem to find an answer to this:
Trying to find US domestic first class reward flights. There is J class availability that I can find as reward flights on AA.com (though I don't have AAdvantage membership), and also on Expertflyer. However these J class "award" seats don't show up on BA.
For economy, I understand T class availability (the Miles AASaver or whatever it's called) is needed for it to show up on BA to book with Avios.
But I can't find the equivalent for First. J of course is just full-fare business, but I'm wondering why they're bookable as rewards seats on AA but not with BA? Is there another booking class for domestic first that is bookable via BA?

Thanks!
Is MileSAAver showing up on aa.com for the domestic First Class award seats you are seeking? These book into "U" class. This only applies to AA two-cabin flights. On some trans-continental routes, AA sells First, Business, and Economy.
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Old Jan 4, 2022, 1:41 pm
  #165  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: LHR
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 339
Ah thank you! No, nothing in U class on AA which explains the lack of seats in the BA search. Much appreciated!
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