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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Post #1 contains outdated information and should not be relied on.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 Jan 10, 2017, 7:49 pm
  #46  
BLG
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
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I have a couple of questions about using Avios for travel on AA. I thought, based on something I had read, that there had to be Mile Saver availability on AA to use Avios for a redemption, but I was told by a BA Exec Club phone agent that I could use Avios to book any AA flight that had redemption available, even Anytime Availability and that the price in Avios for LAX-LHR in CW would be 75,000 Avios. I forgot to ask, but because it would be AA metal I presume that there would be virtually no tax to pay, just like an AA miles redemption. Since what I heard from the agent was different than what I had read, I wanted to check here to see what wisdom I could get:

1. Is it correct that I can use Avios to redeem any flight that AA has any kind of reward availability on?

2. Is it correct that the tax would be normal AA metal tax?

3. Is this Avios calculator one that can be trusted:

http://wandr.me/avios-calculator/

It does show 75,000 on BA partner for that flight.

Essentially, it seems like Avios redemptions on AA make any flight with Anytime availability redeemable in Avios for the same number of Avios as a Mile Saver flight?

Anything else I need to know about using Avios for AA travel?

Thanks very much.
BLG is offline  
Old Jan 10, 2017, 8:04 pm
  #47  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
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Originally Posted by BLG
I have a couple of questions about using Avios for travel on AA. I thought, based on something I had read, that there had to be Mile Saver availability on AA to use Avios for a redemption, but I was told by a BA Exec Club phone agent that I could use Avios to book any AA flight that had redemption available, even Anytime Availability and that the price in Avios for LAX-LHR in CW would be 75,000 Avios. I forgot to ask, but because it would be AA metal I presume that there would be virtually no tax to pay, just like an AA miles redemption. Since what I heard from the agent was different than what I had read, I wanted to check here to see what wisdom I could get:

1. Is it correct that I can use Avios to redeem any flight that AA has any kind of reward availability on?

2. Is it correct that the tax would be normal AA metal tax?

3. Is this Avios calculator one that can be trusted:

http://wandr.me/avios-calculator/

It does show 75,000 on BA partner for that flight.

Essentially, it seems like Avios redemptions on AA make any flight with Anytime availability redeemable in Avios for the same number of Avios as a Mile Saver flight?

Anything else I need to know about using Avios for AA travel?

Thanks very much.
The agent was incorrect. The only AA award flights you can secure with Avios are those available at the MileSAAver level.

There are no surcharges collected for Avios redemptions on AA flights within the Americas (North and South).
guv1976 is offline  
Old Jan 10, 2017, 8:18 pm
  #48  
BLG
 
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It all seemed "too good to be true" and it seems it was. Thanks.
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Old Jan 11, 2017, 1:27 am
  #49  
 
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I find avios amazingly useful for travels intra-US. Next august we will have a multicity family trip in USA, and almost* all domestic flights, plus one US>Mexico, are already booked with avios. For a family of 4 is a big saving on money.

*I need another ticket for DCA-BNA, as I was able to find only 3 on a specific day. I check almost every day to see if another seat opens up, and if closer to the date nothing is available, I will buy it. Still a good outcome.
Lefly is offline  
Old Feb 9, 2017, 1:02 pm
  #50  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,103
I've updated the wiki to add more detail on how to select seats on your AA flight using the BA website.
beltway is offline  
Old Feb 9, 2017, 3:15 pm
  #51  
 
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I was looking at MCO-CLT (one way) today for a trip this summer. The cheapest non-stop coach flight is over $600 on AA (First is $450--weird pricing, I know) but for 7500 Avios I can get a seat on pretty much any flight. Not sure why pricing is so problematic, but seem like a great use of Avios to me.
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Old Feb 12, 2017, 1:18 pm
  #52  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 148
Hello,

I'm after a bit of help.

I'm looking to fly LAX-BUF ideally or LAX-BOS as a back up around 10/5-14/5 (one way) using my BA miles on AA.

When I've looked on the BA reward flight search, the only day available is 13/5 LAX-BOS. It's also an awkward flight time which I'd rather avoid.

I've signed up to AAdvantage (0 miles) and through their reward flight search see multiple 2 stop options for LAX-BUF. I understand from the Wiki that BA's site doesn't show options with more than one connection.

Is there any way around this so I can book the AA 2-stop LAX-BUF using my BA miles?

Thanks all.
pallan12 is offline  
Old Feb 12, 2017, 1:34 pm
  #53  
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Originally Posted by pallan12
Is there any way around this so I can book the AA 2-stop LAX-BUF using my BA miles?
Yes, just ring up. Because this is something that should and sometimes does work, there shouldn't be a telephone fee but do check on that. Note that AA having availability isn't the key, it's Miles SAAver availability that you require here.
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Old Feb 13, 2017, 1:41 am
  #54  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 148
Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave
Yes, just ring up. Because this is something that should and sometimes does work, there shouldn't be a telephone fee but do check on that. Note that AA having availability isn't the key, it's Miles SAAver availability that you require here.
Thanks for this.

Just called and tried to book LAX-LAS-ORD-BUF as seen on AA.com for 12,500 miles. I assumed it would be 12,500 with BA also but was told on the phone it would be 25k. Does this sound right (It was a Miles SAAver fare).

Is there a way I could transfer BA miles to my AA account?
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Old Feb 13, 2017, 2:01 am
  #55  
Ambassador, British Airways; FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
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Originally Posted by pallan12
Thanks for this.

Just called and tried to book LAX-LAS-ORD-BUF as seen on AA.com for 12,500 miles. I assumed it would be 12,500 with BA also but was told on the phone it would be 25k. Does this sound right (It was a Miles SAAver fare).

Is there a way I could transfer BA miles to my AA account?
avios and BAEC is a completely different scheme with completely different miles currency, so miles prices for flights do not equate across. Also BAEC prices based on per sector basis rather than overall distance. Have a read of the sticky guides to understand how BAEC works.
KARFA is online now  
Old Feb 13, 2017, 7:17 am
  #56  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,103
Originally Posted by pallan12
Just called and tried to book LAX-LAS-ORD-BUF as seen on AA.com for 12,500 miles. I assumed it would be 12,500 with BA also but was told on the phone it would be 25k. Does this sound right (It was a Miles SAAver fare).

Is there a way I could transfer BA miles to my AA account?
Sounds right: 7500+10,000+7500 for the 3 segments. And no, you can't transfer miles in any way that makes economic sense.

Avios redemption on AA is a terrible deal when you start stringing together multiple connections, given the per-segment pricing structure.

Originally Posted by KARFA
Have a read of the sticky guides to understand how BAEC works.
The wiki at the top of this page is a much better, more concise guide to redeeming for travel on AA.
beltway is offline  
Old Feb 13, 2017, 7:45 am
  #57  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
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Originally Posted by pallan12
Thanks for this.

Just called and tried to book LAX-LAS-ORD-BUF as seen on AA.com for 12,500 miles. I assumed it would be 12,500 with BA also but was told on the phone it would be 25k. Does this sound right (It was a Miles SAAver fare).

Is there a way I could transfer BA miles to my AA account?
JetBlue operates the only LAX-BUF nonstop. It's a red-eye, but if that's OK with you, the May 10 departure is currently offered for $147 one way.
guv1976 is offline  
Old Jul 5, 2017, 3:38 pm
  #58  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,103
Originally Posted by 747FC
Thanks for those tips and resources! Is Phantom Inventory ever a problem that might cause me to transfer miles only to be unable to book flights that show as open?
AA's system is reliable as to its own award inventory, obviously. As noted in the wiki, BA's results are often underinclusive; however, after booking dozens of US domestic awards on AA using Avios, I have never once observed BA showing AA award inventory that didn't exist.
beltway is offline  
Old Jul 5, 2017, 3:49 pm
  #59  
 
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Originally Posted by beltway
AA's system is reliable as to its own award inventory, obviously. As noted in the wiki, BA's results are often underinclusive; however, after booking dozens of US domestic awards on AA using Avios, I have never once observed BA showing AA award inventory that didn't exist.
Many thanks for this!
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Old Jul 5, 2017, 6:14 pm
  #60  
mia
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Originally Posted by 747FC
... Phantom Inventory ever a problem that might cause me to transfer miles only to be unable to book flights that show as open?
If you search for availability on aa.com, but cannot find the same on ba.com, you should call to verify availability before transferring. Transfers from American Express or Chase to BAEC are typically completed in real time, you can literally make the transfer during the booking process if you wish.
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