Using Avios for American Airlines Flights Has Gotten Easier

Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.

It’s no secret that using British Airways Avios for American Airlines operated flights can be a very good deal since the Avios chart is distance based and charges as few as 4,500 points for a flight that is up to 650 miles, 7,500 points for flights 651-1,151 miles, and 10,000 points for flights 1,152-2,000 miles.  However, just like when booking with many airline partners in a variety of programs, the process often involves some extra steps beyond what is usually required when you are booking directly with the operating carrier.

One of those big steps in this case was related to getting and/or changing seat assignments…something that is clearly important to pretty much all family travelers.  Previously to do this you had to get the American Airlines record locator number from British Airways (as it was not the same as the confirmation number you get from British Airways).  There was a website that helped with this process, but it was still a process.  You then had to take that AA record locator number to the AA site to try and select or change your seat assignments.

However, recently the process has been greatly improved, and you can actually click to select your seats on the AA site directly from the British Airways site.

BA Seats

This will then take you to the American Airlines site where you will see your AA record locator number (deleted below) and be able to select or change your seats.

BA Seats AA

This may not seem like a huge improvement, but for us it is a very helpful improvement.

BA Seats AA plane

Using British Airways Avios for short flights on their partners can be a tremendous deal, so don’t overlook this option for flights operated by partners such as American Airlines, Alaska, and US Airways.  Alaska operated flights have to be booked over the phone with BA.  As a reminder, you can easily earn British Airways Avios by getting the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, or by transferring points in from cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or even the Starwood Preferred Guest program.

Now with American Airlines operated flights, the process isn’t just a good deal, it is actually even simpler than before!


Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support. 

The responses 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. To me it looks like it has gotten more difficult to use Avios on AA because of the way AA has redistrubed their award inventory across 5 levels. They aren’t releasing any economy saver seats a year out on a route I’m looking to book, there is plenty of Alaska inventory but not direct.

  2. You can also “easily” get Avios miles by transferring from Amex MR cards. I don’t know whether the fact that you lost your Amex links made you forget that.

  3. Big time, Nick. I am stunned at how much less economy saver nonstop space is now available as compared to even a few months ago. I love Avios and certainly plan to continue using them as best I can, but AA already has devalued its award chart significantly while still being able to claim that tix are available for 25K miles.

  4. Nick, in general I have found that AA availability has been decreased for a while now. I’m still able to find what I need if I have some flexibility, but it is a bit harder than a year ago for sure.
    Chris, that is listed “…or by transferring points in from cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, or even the Starwood Preferred Guest program.” I didn’t break out and list any of those cards just to keep things simple. Nothing to do with affiliate links as I didn’t list out the cards from any of the programs, but thanks for asking!
    Barb, agree that availability isn’t as great as it was a year ago or so. Still works for us, but does require more flexibility.

  5. Any way to select seats on Alaska flights using Avios?

    Our family of 5 was split up on our trip to Maui since we couldn’t select our seats beforehand.

  6. If you think finding Economy Saver awards is difficult, just try finding award seats in Bus and FC! Catching a view of the Loch Ness Monster is easier. 🙂

    It’s a stealth devaluation, in that they didn’t remove the awards from the chart, nor raise the number of miles required. They just stopped opening up any seats at the Saver level. Saver FC TATL is virtually nonexistent.

  7. do you have any experience with seat assignments disappearing? I booked AA flight LAX to hawaii back in september 2013 using Avios. At that time i picked seats. As of today, seats are no longer assigned and when to to choose new seats, but only 1 seat is showing being available to pick, but award is for our family of 4. I called AA and they said I needed to call BA.

    Anything to worry about?

  8. TJ, I experienced the same thing on a flight I took 2 weeks ago. Booked with Avios about 6 months prior with 2 of my friends. About 2 months before they changed planes and our seat assignments disappeared. Called AA and they said call BA. Called BA and they said call AA. I followed up a week before our flight with AA and they said the only way to confirm a seat was a $25 charge or seats would be assigned at check in. I was concerned the flight was oversold but it wasn’t so I didnt worry. In the end it worked out ok and I was able to sit by 1 of my friends. Had I been traveling with family I would have been more persistent in getting seats assigned sans a fee. I would make sure the flight isnt oversold and push to get your family seated together. Good luck.

  9. What you are saying about prior practice is not really true. After you booked your flight with BA on American, all you needed to do was to go to the American site and put in the flight number and your name and you get the record locator. With that you just select your seat.

  10. @Lee – thanks for the info Lee. how to do you tell if it’s oversold? i’m not a premium expertflyer member. 7/1/2014 AA253 from LAX to OGG

  11. @TJ – when I was trying to get seats assigned I asked the AA rep and she told me it wasn’t. I was concerned in an oversold situation that we’d be the first bumped. The rules I follow (especially on Avios tickets on AA) 1. always make sure you are ticketed and 2. do everything you can to get a seat assignment. AA tix booked with BA miles had some “glitches” last year whereby people thought they were all set until they arrived at the airport and found out they were never ticketed. The issue has been corrected since then but dont take any chances, call AA &/or BA.

  12. Once you have the AA record locator, is there any way of putting your AA or AS FF # in the record online? (For example, if elite or cc holder, to get the extra benefits?) Or do you have to call AA Res?

  13. Prior to this change I always had to call BA to put my AA ff # on the reservation in order to select preferred seats.
    Does anyone know if this new link recognizes your AA status?

  14. Has the Avios distance based benefit disappeared? I just looked at DTW to LGA in September on BA via AA and it indicated 45,000 plus $25….. Normally it is 9,000 miles and $5…. help!! have there been any recent and big changes…?

  15. ooopppsss… sorry…. the website retained the number of passengers from a previous request…. therefore, the 5 passengers I had inputted previously carried over and made it look like 45,000 per ticket…. bad info on my behalf sorry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *