Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from March 2013 can be found here.
This is the twenty-first 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. The reason is that it displays award space for more oneworld partner airlines than does aa.com. This post will teach the basics of how to use it 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 not sure what class you want, select First. If you select Economy, only Economy flights will come up. But if you select First, all classes will be displayed.
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.
Now, you will again have the options to include partners, and see their availability. 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.
Yesterday, I talked about using HawaiianAir.com’s award search engine. Let me tell you how I’ve used Hawaiian’s and BA’s together for the same award. My brother wanted an award from Melbourne, Australia to Honolulu, Hawaii with AAdvantage miles. Since I was booking the award, I insisted that he add a free-oneway stopover to fully exploit his miles.
I used BA.com to search for business class space from MEL-SYD-HNL and found one seat on the perfect day. Then I searched AA.com for first class space HNL-LAX over President’s Day Weekend, so he could visit me. Of course, like most legacy carriers, AA has poor availability to and from Hawaii. There was no space.
So I went to Hawaiianair.com and searched for HNL-LAX availability and found the perfect flight. With all the flight numbers written down, I called AA from Nairobi, Kenya (that’s another story entirely) and booked his award flight MEL-HNL, stopover, HNL-LAX. That’s how BA and Hawaiian’s search engines can work in conjunction to book the perfect AA award.