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One of the very best uses of British Airways Avios points is to use them to fly British Airways partners like American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska. If you aren’t already familiar with the British Airways Avios program I really recommend studying up on their program at some point since it is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. They also have their own co-branded credit card via the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. In other words, it is pretty easy to rack up Avios!
British Airways uses a distance based award chart, so you can fly for as few as 4,500 points on flights under 650 miles, which is really great on short to medium length routes. They do have some nasty fuel surcharges when flying long haul flights operated by themselves and many other airlines, but for hoping around the US, Caribbean, etc. on partner airlines they can be tough to beat since those flights don’t have fuel surcharges.
Best case scenario is when you can just head to the British Airways website, put in where you want to go, and book the partner flights you want right there quickly and easily. Some partners, like US Airways and American Airlines, are typically bookable on the British Airways website. Here is a post on how to book American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios.
However, while working on some research for a different post today I noticed the American Airlines operated flights that should be displaying on the British Airways site, weren’t. Normally if there is saver award space on the American site (which is usually where I go to first look for the flights I want), it will display on the British Airways site as bookable with Avios. Occasionally there is a one-off flight or connection that doesn’t display, but this time there was just nothing. No American Airlines flights were displaying. US Airways flights were displaying as normal.
I did some digging and saw that One Mile at a Time posted about this issue with American Airlines operated flights a few weeks ago, but unfortunately the problem is still happening. A tweet to @BritishAirways about the problem was promptly answered with:
Due to the technical issues we’re experiencing through the website, AA rewards flights can only be booked over the phone.
I asked for an estimate on when the issue might be resolved, but for now the only advice is to call British Airways to book American operated flights over the phone if they aren’t displaying on the website when you go to book. I’ve also read that some agents are having trouble booking over the phone and they need to use a manual process. I’m sure you can get them to waive the phone booking fee for these awards, but sadly that won’t make getting through to British Airways any easier. Here are a few tips from the last time I had to call British Airways Executive Club (though it has been about a year, so perhaps the system has improved).
In the past, I personally have had the best luck calling British Airways earlier in the day at 1-800-452-1201 (the call center opens at 7:30AM Eastern) and then selecting option 2 instead of option 1 that says it is for Avios bookings. Others have reported success calling the Singapore or Hong Kong booking office (using Skype or similar).
Have you recently had trouble booking American Airlines operated award flights on the British Airways website?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.