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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Post #1 contains outdated information and should not be relied on.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 Feb 9, 2015, 12:59 pm
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Originally Posted by TxTrav
I'm trying to save my Aadvantage miles to use for Europe but the Avios needed for this flight is 60,000 vs 37500 for AA miles.

New to Avios so not really sure if this redemption makes sense. I'd like to use my US miles but they don't offer one-way (unless using RT miles).

Any insight or recommendations? Thanks.
Tough call. It is a cash vs miles decision. For me the real value of Avios has been US coach travel as F is 3x the coach miles. Sometimes but not in this case it is still better for F vs Aadvantage miles. Also with Avios even though it is more in taxes for Europe there is availability for booking nearly a month sooner.

Your US miles will shortly become Aadvantage allowing one ways but doesn't really help you at this moment.
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Old Feb 9, 2015, 1:40 pm
  #17  
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Originally Posted by TxTrav
Any insight or recommendations? Thanks.
Cash ticket for Y, spend AA miles + copay on an upgrade if available?

IMO neither option is particularly awesome unless you're just flat broke, in which case I think they're both valid options with a slight nod to the AA miles; eventually your US miles will be AA miles so you will be recharging the AA account anyways, and 60K Avios is a lot of Y AA shorthaul flights you can save cash on...
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Old Feb 9, 2015, 3:50 pm
  #18  
 
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Originally Posted by TxTrav
I'm trying to save my Aadvantage miles to use for Europe but the Avios needed for this flight is 60,000 vs 37500 for AA miles. New to Avios so not really sure if this redemption makes sense. I'd like to use my US miles but they don't offer one-way (unless using RT miles). Any insight or recommendations? Thanks.
You could wait for the US Airways Miles to merge with the AAdvantage account in Q2 (which is right around the bend).
I'd use 37,500 AA Miles and only use Avios for short-hops, or grow Avios higher for something even better. Good luck!

P.S.: The UK has got to dump all of those taxes and fuel surcharges.
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Old Feb 10, 2015, 12:20 pm
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Spock Seat

P.S.: The UK has got to dump all of those taxes and fuel surcharges.
That's the biggest hang up!
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Old Feb 10, 2015, 1:01 pm
  #20  
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Originally Posted by TxTrav
That's the biggest hang up!
Wouldn't hold my breath for that one.
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Old Feb 10, 2015, 1:12 pm
  #21  
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Originally Posted by TxTrav
Originally Posted by Spock Seat

P.S.: The UK has got to dump all of those taxes and fuel surcharges.
That's the biggest hang up!
The UK does not impose surcharges; airlines do. And there is no UK APD due for merely arriving in, or connecting through, LON. It is only when you fly out of the UK (without connecting there) that the APD is assessed.
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Old May 19, 2015, 11:04 am
  #22  
 
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AA Awards flight, cheaper with BA miles?

I am a miles amateur, so apologies if this message is misplaced

I'm looking at flying one way DCA-RSW (or from anywhere around Washington) around Memorial Day -- availability likely to be better on the Tuesday

The flight will be on US metal, I'm guessing. For the same flight:

looking on my BA Exec Club account it will cost 7,500 miles and 3.

On my AA account, the same flights costs 12,500 miles, 3.60.... then another whopping $75

If I recall correctly, cancelling on BA is a little more generous in terms of fees as well.

Am I missing something in terms of value? AA miles are easier to earn? it looks like BA is cheaper than AA itself.

I'm flying from the UK to the USA in a couple of days on AA/US. Am I better off taking the miles in to my BA account if the redemption are more generous?
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Old May 19, 2015, 11:14 am
  #23  
 
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Short haul flights are indeed cheaper on BA. You are generalizing from one example, though.
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Old May 19, 2015, 11:27 am
  #24  
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We've merged your query into the existing thread regarding using Avios for AA / US with jmgriffin's excellent and informative post.

JDiver
Senior Moderator
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Old May 19, 2015, 11:45 am
  #25  
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Originally Posted by galego
I am a miles amateur, so apologies if this message is misplaced

I'm looking at flying one way DCA-RSW (or from anywhere around Washington) around Memorial Day -- availability likely to be better on the Tuesday

The flight will be on US metal, I'm guessing. For the same flight:

looking on my BA Exec Club account it will cost 7,500 miles and 3.

On my AA account, the same flights costs 12,500 miles, 3.60.... then another whopping $75

If I recall correctly, cancelling on BA is a little more generous in terms of fees as well.

Am I missing something in terms of value? AA miles are easier to earn? it looks like BA is cheaper than AA itself.

I'm flying from the UK to the USA in a couple of days on AA/US. Am I better off taking the miles in to my BA account if the redemption are more generous?
AA charges a $75 close-in award-booking fee for non-elites; BA does not.

AA's redemption scheme is zone-based: DCA-Florida on a non-stop will cost the same number of miles as DCA-ANC, even with one or two connections.

BAEC's redemption scheme is distance-based, and BAEC charges for each flight flown. Short- and medium-haul nonstops are the sweet spot for BAEC redemptions, but only on routes with low or no surcharges.

DCA-CHS and DCA-JAX would be even cheaper: just 4,500 Avios one way in Coach!
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Old May 20, 2015, 2:54 am
  #26  
 
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Thanks for this...hadn't spotted it. Indeed a great post!
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Old Oct 31, 2015, 7:09 am
  #27  
 
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I've added a wiki (drawing on my earlier one in http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/us-ai...s-one-way.html, which is now closed). Let me know if you have questions.

[Mods: Please don't lock this thread. This information is directly relevant to AA flyers and is not replicated in the BA forum.]
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Old Dec 30, 2015, 12:39 pm
  #28  
 
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BOS-EZE with Avios

Switched to BAEC (from LH M&L), so learning the ropes. Trying to use Avios to book BOS-EZE on AA. AA has lots of availability for reward flights, but can't figure out how to use Avios to book that flight. What would be your recommendation how to do that?
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Old Dec 30, 2015, 1:28 pm
  #29  
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Originally Posted by volta
Switched to BAEC (from LH M&L), so learning the ropes. Trying to use Avios to book BOS-EZE on AA. AA has lots of availability for reward flights, but can't figure out how to use Avios to book that flight. What would be your recommendation how to do that?
Only "SAAver" award seats displayed on aa.com are bookable with BA Avios -- and at BAEC's rates, not AA's.

If SAAver award seats are available on aa.com, but nothing comes up on ba.com when you search for BOS-EZE award seats, note the exact route that aa.com is offering, and search each segment individually on ba.com.

Also, note the aa.com cannot display award availability on LAN Argentina and TAM, each of which might be able to get you to EZE/AEP.
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Old Jan 16, 2016, 1:00 pm
  #30  
 
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A reminder that BA's award chart adjustments--expressly designed to [ANGLO-SAXON VERB] US-based flyers--kick in starting in a little over 2 weeks. Book your awards for segments < 651 miles soon.
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