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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Post #1 contains outdated information and should not be relied on.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 Apr 3, 2018, 11:58 am
  #91  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Programs: BA Lifetime Gold. GGL/CCR.
Posts: 13,103
Originally Posted by lowfareair
These are nonstops that don't show up on ba.com whether looking one-way or round-trip.
It looks like that's a new route that starts in the summer and is still pending government approval (as you stated in your original post). It's possible that it won't show up on BA.com until approval has been granted. It would be worth calling BA to see whether they can book it.

Looks like it was only announced last week.

Newsroom - American Airlines Adds New Service to Destinations in Mexico and South America - American Airlines Group, Inc.
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Old Apr 3, 2018, 6:39 pm
  #92  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
 
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This might be relevant too (problems with BA seeing AA award inventory):

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/29599403-post2959.html
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Old Apr 16, 2018, 2:30 pm
  #93  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 159
Just curious if anyone knows when I should be looking at booking flights on AA with Avios for February 2019. I checked out the BA site and I see no availability that month. Is this because AA hasn't opened up availability yet, or is this a popular route in the winter and so they get snapped up quickly?
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Old Apr 16, 2018, 2:52 pm
  #94  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 8,105
Originally Posted by bluemeansgo
Just curious if anyone knows when I should be looking at booking flights on AA with Avios for February 2019. I checked out the BA site and I see no availability that month. Is this because AA hasn't opened up availability yet, or is this a popular route in the winter and so they get snapped up quickly?
The BA award search engine is famously erratic. Did you follow the advice in the wiki, most especially to search one-way (and even by segment if you're making a connection)?
beltway is offline  
Old Apr 26, 2018, 5:12 pm
  #95  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 162
Hi guys, I'm trying to book one-way flight in Y for 2 pax on 29.12.2018 NYC-CUN using Avios. I did check flight availability on americanairlines.co.uk and it shows that flight is available for MileSAAver redemption (flight number 1434). When looking on BA website, it doesn't show any availability, obviously... Not for any day few months +/-. So I've called BA support, and the guy on the phone said there is no flights available for Avios redemption. And maybe they will become available later? Also he confirmed that the flight is half booked. Any advice, how to get tickets on this flight with Avios?


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Old Apr 26, 2018, 5:35 pm
  #96  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Programs: BA Gold
Posts: 165
Originally Posted by oruvin
Hi guys, I'm trying to book one-way flight in Y for 2 pax on 29.12.2018 NYC-CUN using Avios. I did check flight availability on americanairlines.co.uk and it shows that flight is available for MileSAAver redemption (flight number 1434). When looking on BA website, it doesn't show any availability, obviously... Not for any day few months +/-. So I've called BA support, and the guy on the phone said there is no flights available for Avios redemption. And maybe they will become available later? Also he confirmed that the flight is half booked. Any advice, how to get tickets on this flight with Avios?
There's currently a bug on BA.com and possibly with the phone agents as well where they can't see any AA reward availability. Refreshing the website eventually shows the availability. I was able to see that specific flight after refreshing about 5 times. To refresh on the website, just hit the 'Change' button on top and then 'Find Flights'.
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Old Apr 26, 2018, 6:22 pm
  #97  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 162
That's really weird... Can it be related to browser (I'm using Chrome)? Will keep trying, thnx!

Last edited by oruvin; Apr 26, 2018 at 6:29 pm
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Old Apr 26, 2018, 10:29 pm
  #98  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 242
This evening has been a nightmare finding known AA flights with award availability on BA.com.
I would search multiple times, get nothing...
Then every now and then I might click the day before I want to travel and it all shows up.... But then disappears again for the day I want to travel, and then it will be gone for every day of the week.
Tried different browsers, same issues.
Oh, and one time I did get through on the day I wanted, but it errored out on the next step....
Will try tomorrow, and worse case give them a call...
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Old Apr 27, 2018, 3:45 am
  #99  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Munich, Algarve, Sussex or S.F Bay Area
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Posts: 4,103
Originally Posted by JoeJetplane
This evening has been a nightmare finding known AA flights with award availability on BA.com.
I would search multiple times, get nothing...
Then every now and then I might click the day before I want to travel and it all shows up.... But then disappears again for the day I want to travel, and then it will be gone for every day of the week.
Tried different browsers, same issues.
Oh, and one time I did get through on the day I wanted, but it errored out on the next step....
Will try tomorrow, and worse case give them a call...
Just call them. The problem booking AA flights online on BA is well known. Dont waste time trying as the availability might disappear. If you know from aa.com that there is availability in the MilesSaver category then phone BA to book. If they tell you it is not available, insist, or hang up and call again, as I do think some agents systems may also be affected by this bug.
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Old Apr 28, 2018, 3:53 pm
  #100  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: San Diego, CA
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Posts: 676
Originally Posted by Pocalypse
There's currently a bug on BA.com and possibly with the phone agents as well where they can't see any AA reward availability. Refreshing the website eventually shows the availability. I was able to see that specific flight after refreshing about 5 times. To refresh on the website, just hit the 'Change' button on top and then 'Find Flights'.
Thank goodness for Flyertalk! I had the issue where I could see plenty of low level award availability for SAN to PHX on AA.com but nothing at BA.com. Refreshed the same search four times in a Firefox browser and voila, I found the flights I was looking for and booked right away. I've finally drained my Avios account and am finished with this nonsense.
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Old Oct 8, 2018, 4:19 pm
  #101  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: TPA/ABZ
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Posts: 13,103
I'm getting the same problem. I've tried two BA agents with no luck so far. After the second call I've asked her to contact the oneworld helpdesk and I'm waiting for her to call back.

I'm looking for TPA-MIA-LHR on the AA2584 connecting to the AA38 in business.

On the AA site it's available as shown below:





However, on BA.com the MIA-LHR sector shows no availability in business class. Both telephone agents can't see it either.

The other weird thing - which may be connected - is that if I search just MIA-LHR on AA.com this flight doesn't show there either. It only shows up when searching for TPA-MIA-LHR. ExpertFlyer shows the same thing with TPA-MIA-LHR available in MilesAAver on those flights but not when I search for just the MIA-LHR. The normal advice on BA.com is to search for individual sectors and that's possibly what the agents are doing but that won't work as it doesn't appear as available even on AA.com as individual sectors.

I have not experienced this before. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Last edited by golfmad; Oct 8, 2018 at 4:25 pm
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Old Oct 8, 2018, 5:03 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by golfmad
I'm getting the same problem. I've tried two BA agents with no luck so far. After the second call I've asked her to contact the oneworld helpdesk and I'm waiting for her to call back.

I'm looking for TPA-MIA-LHR on the AA2584 connecting to the AA38 in business.

On the AA site it's available as shown below:





However, on BA.com the MIA-LHR sector shows no availability in business class. Both telephone agents can't see it either.

The other weird thing - which may be connected - is that if I search just MIA-LHR on AA.com this flight doesn't show there either. It only shows up when searching for TPA-MIA-LHR. ExpertFlyer shows the same thing with TPA-MIA-LHR available in MilesAAver on those flights but not when I search for just the MIA-LHR. The normal advice on BA.com is to search for individual sectors and that's possibly what the agents are doing but that won't work as it doesn't appear as available even on AA.com as individual sectors.

I have not experienced this before. Comments and suggestions welcome.
This sounds like a "married-segment availability" issue. AA is not making MIA-LHR available at the MileSAAver level as a stand-alone redemption, only as part of a TPA-MIA-LHR redemption. If BAEC searches one segment at a time, the availability will not appear. Whether BAEC can search TPA-LHR so as to get the availability on both segments is something I do not know.
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Old Oct 8, 2018, 5:07 pm
  #103  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Originally Posted by guv1976
This sounds like a "married-segment availability" issue. AA is not making MIA-LHR available at the MileSAAver level as a stand-alone redemption, only as part of a TPA-MIA-LHR redemption. If BAEC searches one segment at a time, the availability will not appear. Whether BAEC can search TPA-LHR so as to get the availability on both segments is something I do not know.
Yes, that sounds right. Unfortunately, searching for TPA-LHR on BA.com doesn't yield any success and searching for individual sectors (the normal advice) seems to fall foul of this 'married sector' problem.
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Old Oct 8, 2018, 7:55 pm
  #104  
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
 
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Posts: 13,103
The second agent came back to me but had nothing new to offer so I ended up speaking with the manager of the GGL team in the India call centre. He was keen to assist but had absolutely no experience (not surprising really) of the relationship between AA MilesAAver and BA Avios. I explained the connection and we looked together at the availability on AA.com. Sadly, that didn't help because he asked me if I could point to some documentation that explained the link between AA MilesAAver and BA Avios. Of course, other than pointing to threads on FlyerTalk - which I did not want to do - I could not but I did say I'd check and get back to him.

So, does anyone have any BA or AA references (proper airline references other than on FlyerTalk) that explains the linkage between redemption availability between the two programs?

Otherwise, I shall have to find an alternative or use some of my actual AA miles to book it.
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Old Oct 8, 2018, 8:03 pm
  #105  
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Originally Posted by golfmad
The second agent came back to me but had nothing new to offer so I ended up speaking with the manager of the GGL team in the India call centre. He was keen to assist but had absolutely no experience (not surprising really) of the relationship between AA MilesAAver and BA Avios. I explained the connection and we looked together at the availability on AA.com. Sadly, that didn't help because he asked me if I could point to some documentation that explained the link between AA MilesAAver and BA Avios. Of course, other than pointing to threads on FlyerTalk - which I did not want to do - I could not but I did say I'd check and get back to him.

So, does anyone have any BA or AA references (proper airline references other than on FlyerTalk) that explains the linkage between redemption availability between the two programs?

Otherwise, I shall have to find an alternative or use some of my actual AA miles to book it.
I can't offer anything more, other than to note that if you do redeem AA miles for this route, your total cash cost will be just $5.60.

If you are considering doing that, I would immediately put those flights on a free, five-day hold at aa.com, before they disappear.
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