Save Big on AA Operated Award Flights and Book Online!

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Last week I shared that American Airlines operated award flights were temporarily not bookable online using British Airways Avios.  While the glitch was always expected to be temporary, it did last a couple weeks in total, and calling British Airways to book over the phone often ranges from “not very fun” to “pretty miserable” largely because of frequently large hold times.

The great news is that the online booking functionality has been restored, and you can again potentially save big by booking your American Airlines operated award flights online using the distance based British Airways Avios award chart instead of simply booking the awards using American Airlines miles and their zone-based award chart.

Since we are on the topic, I’ll give three quick examples for those newer to this concept because this really is something you need to put into practice – especially since you can easily rack up British Airways Avios on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and transfers in from both the Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards programs.  All mileage prices listed below are in economy and on nonstop flights.  Itineraries requiring connecting will increase the total number of Avios required since each segment prices individually.

Award availability should be the same with British Airways Avios as with American Airlines AAdvantage miles as long as the flight is available at the lowest MileSAAver level.

LAX – Lihue, Kauai on nonstop American Airlines flight – 45% savings via British Airways

This trip would cost you 12,500 British Airways Avios each direction instead of the 22,500 miles American Airlines would want.  For a round trip, that is a savings of 20,000 miles per person.

using Avios to book American flights

Using British Airways Avios to Book American

Dallas – Montego Bay on nonstop American Airlines flight – 43% savings via British Airways

This trip would cost you 10,000 British Airways Avios each direction instead of 17,500 American Airlines miles.  For a round trip, that is a savings of 15,000 miles per person.

New York – Orlando on nonstop American Airlines flight – 40% savings via British Airways

This trip would cost you 7,500 British Airways Avios each direction instead of the 12,500 miles American Airlines would want.  For a round trip, that is a savings of 10,000 miles per person.

This same principle also works with other British Airways partners such as Alaska Airlines and US Airways, though be aware that Alaska operated flights cannot be booked on the British Airways website – you must call to book those over the phone.  If you want to learn more about this whole process of booking partner airlines using Avios then check out this post.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Disclaimer: The comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I looked at their site and I can’t find a single location to fly out of Chicago. Do they just not have a big presence at O’Hare?

  2. Avios used to be amazing for AA flights before the system outage, but something has changed since it came back online last week.

    For example JFK-LAX used to have lots of availability, you could normally always book an awards flight for the next day, but now almost nothing. Also, JFK-CMH is the same.

    If you look at those routes on the AA site, or even on Qantas (which used to show less availability than BA), there is almost always availability. I think BA has changed this because so many people were using their generous reward levels for US domestic flights.

    • I don’t think this has anything to do with BA/avios. I’m looking on for non-stop availability NYC-LAX, and there is nothing at the saver level in Y or J for months. Literally July through Nov 1 is all gray. Looks like AA inventory problem to me.

  3. It’s very strange, a few weeks ago I could find routing on BA’s site for Cathay Pacific flights from SFO to TPE in May ’16. Now I can’t seem to find any from SFO, LAX, DFW, ORD, or JFK for any dates in May or June ’16.

    Seems like there’s still something wrong? Can anyone else verify?

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