Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from March 2013 can be found here.
This is the twenty-fifth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.
Knowing how to use BA.com is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
Why? BA.com displays award space for more oneworld partner airlines than does AA.com. This post will teach the basics of how to use BA.com to book with either currency.
First, you need to sign up for the British Airways Executive Club to be able search. The link is on the top right of BA.com. Next, you must log in.
Along the left side of the screen after logging in, click on Spending Avios. Several choices will emerge beneath where you clicked. Choose Book Flights with Avios.
On this screen, type in the details of your potential award trip. One trick is that if you’re willing to fly either of two classes, select the higher one. BA.com will always display worse classes with space available if the class you want doesn’t have space.
If you’ve selected a route that BA doesn’t fly, a calendar will appear noting that fact. Click the red button that says Include Partners, and you are on your way.
If you’ve selected a route BA does fly, a screen will pop up asking if you want a stopover in London. Leave No Stopover selected, and click Continue.
If for some reason your dream award does involve flying BA and stopping over in London, you should just search segment by segment anyway. And most likely you are trying to avoid flying BA because of the insane fuel surcharges American and BA impose on awards on BA planes.
Hopefully, if you’re trying to avoid BA, you have selected a date when no award on BA planes is available on your route. In this case, you’ll have the option to click the blue Search button in the Partner airlines box on the left.
If the date you select does have BA availability, it will be shown to you automatically. The trick in this case is to figure out a date that doesn’t have BA availability, search that date, and click the blue Search button in the Partner airlines box.
If the exact date you’ve selected has no availability in any class, you can click to search up to seven days later or earlier. You can continue clicking those buttons to see the availability in your desired date range.
If you find a desirable award booking, and you’re using Avios to book, click continue and book.
If instead you were just using the search engine but will book the award with AAdvantage miles, note the times, flight numbers, and classes of your desired award and call American, which will have access to the exact same space.
(I wouldn’t recommend using AA miles to book this itinerary. But if you had found space on airberlin for example, this is where you would call AA.)
BA.com has access to airberlin, AA, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and S7, which is all of oneworld.
(As of 9/7, JAL availability has not been displaying on ba.com for weeks. Hopefully it will be resolved soon. Also BA.com shows tons of phantom LAN space that AA can’t book.)
BA.com is not intuitive, not user-friendly, and not good for visualizing when availability is wide open or hard to find. But it does have great coverage, so it’s an important place to know how to search.