MileValue is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more.

Note: Some of the offers mentioned below may have changed or are no longer be available. You can view current offers here.

British Airways has a unique, distance-based award chart that can provide fantastic value for short-haul flights.

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

imagesBritish Airways has access to all American Airlines “MileSAAver” award space. Furthermore, on some routes British Airways actually charges fewer miles for the same flight than American Airlines.

Unfortunately, using is not as straightforward as using is perfect for searching direct flights, but it often misses connecting itineraries, even simple ones with only one layover.

The other day, a reader emailed me saying that he had found MileSAAver award space from New York to Lima on American Airlines, but wouldn’t find it,. I looked into the problem and found a classic case of missing an obvious connecting itinerary.

  • What is the simple trick to finding award space on
  • How can you book American Airlines flights using British Airways Avios?
  • When should you use British Airways Avios instead of American Airlines miles?
  • How can you fly a one way award flight for only 4,500 miles?

The Problem

A frequent question posed to our award booking service goes something like this:

Q: “I want to fly from New York to Lima, Peru using British Airways Avios. I have found saver award availability on, but when I log in to I can’t find the same flights. Please help!”

This frequent flyer is experiencing problems because British Airways’ computers are terrible at finding connections on award itineraries. When he searched for his award on he found this:


When he searched, he found this:


This illustrates a fundamental point of award booking: The search engine is no reliable when searching for award itineraries with connections.  

The Solution

To use the search engine, you must break up an award trip into its component flights. Searching separately for New York to Miami and then Miami to Lima yields the following results:



We have now confirmed availability of an award trip from New York to Lima using British Airways Avios. To book this itinerary, our traveler will need to call British Airways at 1-800-AIRWAYS (1-800-247-9297).

He should give the phone agent each flight segment’s flight number, date, and cabin. The phone agent may try to charge our traveler a phone fee, but he should protest as this itinerary is not bookable on

Occasionally, searching segment by segment on will still not show award space that can be found on Aacom.  The two most common reasons for this are discussed here.

If you have gone through all of the above and still cannot find the same award space on that is available on, then you may be encountering a technical glitch. Sometimes, if there are multiple open award flights available on the same day, will only list the flights leaving earlier in the day. If your desired flight departs in the evening, you may need to call British Airways and give an agent the flight information that you found on Again, don’t pay the phone fee if the award was not bookable online.

AA or BA miles?

This Trip

Our friend in the above example now has a choice to make: should he use American Airlines miles or British Airways Avios? For this route, New York to Lima via Miami, American Airlines charges 15,000 miles + $20.  British Airways charges 20,000 Avios + $35 for the same route.

If you have unlimited miles of all types, use American Airlines miles to book your trip from New York to Lima, since the award uses fewer miles. However British Airways miles are easier to obtain than American Airlines miles since British Airways is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Thus, the decision on which type of mile to use may come down to which mile you can afford to use.

Domestic Trips

American Airlines charges 12,500 miles for any one way award within the continental United States. British Airways charges 4,500 to 12,500 miles for each segment within the United States, depending on the distance flown. In the past I have created lists of possible Avios awards and their costs, leaving Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City. Many award routes are available from each location for as few as 4,500 Avios each way!

In addition to flying within the United States, British Airways Avios provide good value on the following (note that all of these routes involve relatively short distances):

  • to the Caribbean (flying American)
  • within South America (flying LAN)
  • to Central America (flying American)
  • within Australia (flying Qantas)
  • within South Africa (flying Comair)

Sometimes, British Airways will give an option to pay for part of an award flight with cash and part with Avios. An analysis how to take advantage of this offer can be found here and here.

Recap can be used to search for award space bookable with British Airways Avios. To match award space seen on, award itineraries often must be broken down segment-by-segment. After you have verified availability, you should call British Airways at 1-800-AIRWAYS (1-800-247-9297) to book the award itinerary. Don’t pay the phone fee if the itinerary was not bookable online.

If you have American Airlines miles and British Airways Avios, deciding which one to use depends on how far you are flying and which miles you have more of.

If you decide to book a flight using British Airways Avios and you are offered the chance to pay for part of your award with cash, consult this free spreadsheet.

If you can’t find your desired award space, the MileValue Award Booking Service is open 24/7/365.

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 75,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is 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 questions are answered.