The biggest mistake the average member of a frequent flyer program makes when it comes to using their miles for travel is believing that you just go to your airline’s website, enter the city you’re traveling from and where you want to go, and the website will spit out your options.
It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation in 2018, but it’s not how it works. Different airlines do better and worse jobs at this, of course. Some don’t have all their partners online. Some won’t show all possible combinations of flights.
American Airlines has been a laggard even compared to United and Delta. AAdvantage started talking about adding booking of partner airline awards to their website back in fall 2011.
- They added Alaska Airlines flights to online award search in November 2011.
- They added British Airways and Hawaiian awards in April 2012.
- airberlin and Finnair were added in October 2012
- Besides that only Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and Iberia were added.
American’s website is also notorious for failing to show award space that’s available (e.g. Iberia, Qantas), and for showing space available that isn’t really there (e.g. Finnair, Qantas).
Now American appears to have at least partially added the ability to book awards online with four more partners: Cathay Pacific, Qatar, SriLankan, and Malaysia Airlines.
Here you’ll see award space on Cathay Pacific show up as part of a larger award search:
Qatar Airways — which American has has nasty words for and with whom they severed codesharing — now has flight awards coming up at AA.com.
So does Malaysia Airlines, in fact here’s an itinerary with both Malaysia and Cathay:
And here’s SriLankan:
What’s super strange is that though American’s website now shows partner award space, it doesn’t seem to bring up the space if the route you’re searching for has availability on the partner non-stop, and isn’t seeming to bring up the space for long haul travel departing the U.S.
So for instance when Boston – Hong Kong is available non-stop on Cathay Pacific, that space won’t come up. Although Cathay space intra-Asia will. I searched Tokyo – Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines when space was available non-stop. The non-stop space wouldn’t show up.
When I searched Los Angeles – Colombo, Sri Lanka award space from London to Colombo showed as part of the itinerary. But search just for London – Colombo and the non-stop doesn’t come up.
Put another way AA.com just seems to want to include these partners as a small piece of a larger award and not on a standalone basis. Perhaps that will change — AA.com still doesn’t list these airlines among those supported for online booking.
This is an improvement for members generally, or at least will be once they work out the kinks. It’s not better for those of us that are savvy about searching for award space, because it will mean more competition for those seats once they’re easier for the average member to book.