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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Post #1 contains outdated information and should not be relied on.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 Dec 7, 2022, 11:16 am
  #226  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: DFW
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold, Admirals Club, Global Entry
Posts: 1,139
When you book AA with Avios through the BA website, BA is your travel agent until 24 hours before your flight and, therefore, only BA can change anything. Within the 24-hour window, however, AA takes control and can make changes and you do not go through BA anymore. When I did this a few weeks ago, the airport agent (at the LGA Admirals Club) happily put me on the standby list, and I flew out of LGA an hour early.

But you want a "confirmed" same-day change. That also works. The Admirals Club agent told me that if I had had higher status -- I'm only a lowly Gold on AA -- I could've confirmed the change and would not have had to fly standby, i.e., I could've done a same-day confirmed change.

So there you have it. Oh, and by the way, the key to putting in your AA number on your BA-made reservation is this: after your reservation is done and paid for following the method described above, go back and find the "select seats" option on the BA website (which you'll have to pull up using the BA record locator). You'll see the right spot right away. (I did this, too.)
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 12:16 pm
  #227  
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Originally Posted by FallenPlat
When you book AA with Avios through the BA website, BA is your travel agent until 24 hours before your flight and, therefore, only BA can change anything. Within the 24-hour window, however, AA takes control and can make changes and you do not go through BA anymore. When I did this a few weeks ago, the airport agent (at the LGA Admirals Club) happily put me on the standby list, and I flew out of LGA an hour early.

But you want a "confirmed" same-day change. That also works. The Admirals Club agent told me that if I had had higher status -- I'm only a lowly Gold on AA -- I could've confirmed the change and would not have had to fly standby, i.e., I could've done a same-day confirmed change.
Information on same-day standby and same-day confirmed change can be found on the following AA webpage. (Note that anyone -- even those who do not have a frequent-flyer account -- can stand by for free on an earlier, same-day flight in those markets where AA permits standby travel.)

https://www.aa.com/i18n/plan-travel/...day-travel.jsp
guv1976 is offline  
Old Dec 7, 2022, 4:12 pm
  #228  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 81
Thank you so much. I love the way you described it as BA being the travel agent until 24 hours before the flight; it makes it easy to remember. It sounds like I can change the time of the flight when I am checking in. Has anyone had experience doing this online or do you usually need to call AA or have an airport agent assist? I will be flying with another person on the same reservation so I want to make sure I do everything correctly. Thanks again.
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Old Dec 7, 2022, 4:25 pm
  #229  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 81
Originally Posted by guv1976
Information on same-day standby and same-day confirmed change can be found on the following AA webpage. (Note that anyone -- even those who do not have a frequent-flyer account -- can stand by for free on an earlier, same-day flight in those markets where AA permits standby travel.)

https://www.aa.com/i18n/plan-travel/...day-travel.jsp
Thanks so much for the followup. I read this AA page earlier but was uncertain if it applied because it was an Avios booking. FallenPlat clarified that AA takes over at 24 hours before checkin. Reading the page again, it appears that I just have to go to "My trips" and request the change. (Hopefully no need to call up or visit an agent.) Thanks again, looking forward to enjoying the little luxuries that come with Platinum Pro status for four months.
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Old Feb 12, 2023, 2:32 pm
  #230  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: UK
Programs: BAEC
Posts: 1,146
Currently trying to make use of a trip credit booking I hold with American Airlines - to use on a flight between London and Istanbul operated by BA (but under an AA codeshare). Does anyone know of any limitations to the codeshare, am trying to book a business fare - but they can only offer economy.

Availability wide open on the BA site and so any ideas for why business class might not be bookable, gratefully received!
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Old Feb 12, 2023, 2:44 pm
  #231  
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Originally Posted by londonba2014
Currently trying to make use of a trip credit booking I hold with American Airlines - to use on a flight between London and Istanbul operated by BA (but under an AA codeshare). Does anyone know of any limitations to the codeshare, am trying to book a business fare - but they can only offer economy.

Availability wide open on the BA site and so any ideas for why business class might not be bookable, gratefully received!
Are you sure that AA offers a codeshare on BA's LON-IST service when booked as a stand-alone flight? When I do a search for LON-IST as a cash fare on the AA app, no options are returned. (Options do appear when searching for award travel on that route.)
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 12:18 pm
  #232  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Norn Iron
Posts: 235
I am interested in booking an award flight from DFW-MCO return next Feb/Mar. I know that AA releases flights 331 days in advance which explains why I'm not yet seeing any availability for the return in Mar but there isn't much showing for the outbound in Feb. Do AA typically release additional MileSAAver award flights as time goes on?
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 12:30 pm
  #233  
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Originally Posted by SandLake
I am interested in booking an award flight from DFW-MCO return next Feb/Mar. I know that AA releases flights 331 days in advance which explains why I'm not yet seeing any availability for the return in Mar but there isn't much showing for the outbound in Feb. Do AA typically release additional MileSAAver award flights as time goes on?
AA award availability to partners is dynamic; it can change over days -- or months -- so all you can do is keep checking. If you have, or can acquire, some AA miles, you should be able to find availability on that route.

I also recommend periodically checking cash prices, as AA has competition on that route from LCCs Frontier and Spirit (and Southwest flies DAL-MCO too).

Be aware that there are school holidays in mid-February due to the Presidents' Day holiday.
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 12:47 pm
  #234  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: BAEC Silver, IHG Diamond
Posts: 7,659
Originally Posted by guv1976
AA award availability to partners is dynamic; it can change over days -- or months -- so all you can do is keep checking. If you have, or can acquire, some AA miles, you should be able to find availability on that route.

I also recommend periodically checking cash prices, as AA has competition on that route from LCCs Frontier and Spirit (and Southwest flies DAL-MCO too).

Be aware that there are school holidays in mid-February due to the Presidents' Day holiday.
I find a lot of routings never appear (some may appear on AA but BA doesn't show them), or are snapped up quickly.
Some days such as Sundays, availability can be non-existent on many routes.
Other times, you may find only the 6:00am flight appears 5 days out of that week (which may create a challenge getting to some airports for that flight if there's no public transport or it costs to get there).

Sometimes worth looking to see if things such as DFW-MIA might be available. May cost more Avios, but you may find availability to MCO from FLL, TPA, MIA, or wherever.

137 seems to be the cheapest direct AA flight in Feb at present. Sure basic economy fares etc. will possibly filter down at some point.
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 12:48 pm
  #235  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Norn Iron
Posts: 235
AA miles availability is better than Avios availability? I'm not sure how I could acquire 25k AA miles - and I'm not sure I want to go down that rabbit hole!

I appreciate your advice.
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 1:02 pm
  #236  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Norn Iron
Posts: 235
I have OWE status so AA has advantages.

I'll keep on eye on cash or Avios options.

Thanks
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 1:35 pm
  #237  
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Originally Posted by SandLake
AA miles availability is better than Avios availability? I'm not sure how I could acquire 25k AA miles - and I'm not sure I want to go down that rabbit hole!

I appreciate your advice.
There is always AA miles availability on AA flights, as long as there are seats for sale. The redemption rate, though, can be widely variable. Here's an example, for travel on February 20:



Yes, I would always choose AA over Frontier and Spirit; but sometimes AA will match -- or at least, reduce -- its own fares in order to remain competitive when Frontier or Spirit has a sale.

If flying out of DAL (Dallas Love Field) is an option for you, I would keep an eye on Southwest's fares. You would not get any elite benefits, but all Southwest fares include two checked bags. (Southwest will probably not load its February/March schedules until much later in 2023.)

And depending on where you will be staying in Florida -- and whether you plan to rent a car -- flying into TPA might be worth considering.
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 2:53 pm
  #238  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Programs: BAEC Silver, IHG Diamond
Posts: 7,659
All those seem to be available, in economy, on BA for 9k Avios + 4.60.
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Old Mar 29, 2023, 9:00 pm
  #239  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Seattle, WA. USA
Programs: MR, AA, UA, DL, AVIS and growing
Posts: 1,172
To MCO

Originally Posted by guv1976
There is always AA miles availability on AA flights, as long as there are seats for sale. The redemption rate, though, can be widely variable. Here's an example, for travel on February 20:



Yes, I would always choose AA over Frontier and Spirit; but sometimes AA will match -- or at least, reduce -- its own fares in order to remain competitive when Frontier or Spirit has a sale.

If flying out of DAL (Dallas Love Field) is an option for you, I would keep an eye on Southwest's fares. You would not get any elite benefits, but all Southwest fares include two checked bags. (Southwest will probably not load its February/March schedules until much later in 2023.)

And depending on where you will be staying in Florida -- and whether you plan to rent a car -- flying into TPA might be worth considering.
This is another AA non-stop decent route SEA-MCO 12k + $5.60 , X class. Business 24k miles + $11.20
Trying to make list of good fares domestic on AA since intl' is trash.
SEA-PUJ is 10k + 52 in Jan that's the lowest.
euromannn is offline  
Old May 20, 2023, 4:07 pm
  #240  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: DFW
Posts: 30
Wiki: When finalizing the booking of your award ticket on the BA site, delete your BA Executive Club number from the frequent-flyer ID box.
My BA EC number and husband's are hard coded and unable to be deleted. Is this because we have a Household Account? Do I need to close the Household account to be able to put in AA FF#? Is there another way to book flights and attach the AA FF# for status and free bags?
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