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This post is about the best practices to use when searching oneworld availability when you want to use your American Airlines miles.

American Airlines miles can be used on any oneworld airline and on its non-oneworld partners. For a list of oneworld airlines, see Free First Class Next Month: Airlines’ Codes, Hubs, and Alliances.

The best part about using partner award availability is that partner award availability always prices at the sAAver level, so you are always getting the best miles price you can. See the AA partner award chart.

Also partner award availability can be used to take advantage of AA’s off peak awards to Hawaii, South America, Asia, and Europe.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about searching oneworld space on qantas.com, I use three free search engines to search oneworld award space: aa.com, ba.com, and qantas.com.

I’ve talked about how to use aa.com here and ba.com here, but I haven’t said when to use each of the three search engines. My basic strategy is to use aa.com when possible, qantas.com when aa.com doesn’t display the partner, and ba.com as my last choice.

I go to aa.com first because I love its month-long calendar and because you can actually book what you find on aa.com immediately.

The calendar makes it easy to toggle between your options in each cabin, and search for direct flights only by selecting Non-Stop Only from the dropdown box.

AA.com perfectly displays space available with AA miles with no phantom space, which qantas.com and ba.com can occasionally show. And once you select a flight, you can see the total out-of-pocket taxes and fees and book immediately.

For all these reasons, I start my oneworld searches on aa.com when I think I may want to book an award on an airline that has its award space displayed on aa.com. Those airlines are American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin.

If I want to fly on LAN, Iberia, or Cathay Pacific, I search qantas.com. Qantas is my second choice search engine because it has a much easier to use display for results than ba.com has. Qantas shows a month-long calendar while ba.com shows one day at a time, which is incredibly frustrating.

Sure there are also drawbacks to qantas.com, which I detailed yesterday, like not having all possible cities in the “From” dropdown menu, but those can be overcome. And qantas.com is hands-down my favorite place to search LAN, Iberia, and Cathay Pacific award space.

When you can’t use aa.com or qantas.com, head to ba.com. I search JAL, Royal Jordanian, and S7 on ba.com.

BA.com has a lot of annoying features.

1. If BA has award space between the cities you want on the day you want, only BA space will be displayed. I have to find a date without BA space and search for that date, then click Add Partners, then click back to my original date to do some searches.

2. For partner award space, you can’t see a calendar, you have to search a day at at a time.

3. I find ba.com to be particularly bad at giving me “creative” routings, so I have to search segment-by-segment more often.

But ba.com should perfectly display JAL, S7, and Royal Jordanian space that AA has access to, so ba.com has a place on my search list–specifically the last place after aa.com and qantas.com.

What about non-oneworld partners that don’t display on aa.com?

Air Tahiti Nui: Search Expert Flyer as I explained in Getting to Tahiti with American Airline Miles.

Air Pacific: Search Expert Flyer as I explained in Getting to Australia and New Zealand with American Airlines Miles.

All other non-oneworld partner airlines: Call 800-882-8880 and ask an agent.

Booking

After searching and finding space, book online if possible–that is, if every segment on the itinerary is flown by American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin.

If you can’t book online, call 800-882-8880 to give the exact details of the flights you want to book. You will incur a $25 per ticket fee, and there is no way around this.

Recap

I search for AA awards on aa.com if I can. Aa.com displays American, Alaska, Hawaiian, British, Qantas, Finnair, and airberlin.

If I can’t, I search on qantas.com for Iberia, Cathay Pacific, and LAN.

If I want to search JAL, Royal Jordanian, or S7, I use ba.com.

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