There’s Something Wonky Going On With American Airlines Access To British Airways Award Seats

Update: American Airlines tells me “You’re correct – there is a glitch in the system which caused these issues and we’re working with our third-party partner on a fix. ”

Update 2: American follows up, “British Airways award space is now accurately displaying on aa.com. Thanks again for letting us know about the error.”



Reader Jeff wrote in asking about booking British Airways awards with American AAdvantage miles. There’s definitely something strange going on.

He noted to me, “I was searching for awards to [London Heathrow] on aa.com. They only show [American Airlines] awards for June 2022 and I have to back up to October 2021 to get aa.com to show BA award space.”

I first looked at New York JFK – London Heathrow and had no problem finding space on my first try, for the first set of dates I plugged in (May 18, 2021):

However then I plugged in a date for space in May 2021 for Austin – London Heathrow and only American Airlines flights came up. I pulled up the award calendar and it appears to register BA space correctly. (Only British Airways flies the route non-stop, and nearly every day has business class award space available.)

But when I click any day, I get the result that nothing is available. So I called American, and the agent I spoke with couldn’t see any business class award seats on Austin – London Heathrow either… for all of May or June. (She claimed “they just haven’t loaded the seats yet,” natch.) She was happy to offer me coach.

Right now American Airlines doesn’t appear to have access to all of the British Airways award inventory that BA is offering – and that is bookable by other airline partners. For instance, Alaska Airlines has no difficulty showing the space:

I’ve reached out to American, but wouldn’t expect a response on a Sunday evening. I imagine this is a glitch, rather than a new attempt by American AAdvantage to restrict access to award seats.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. BA190 on May 24th is available via QF awards as well. Seems it is just an AA issue.

  2. Related/Unrelated but I can’t find any regional QR award past 6/8 (ie, DOH-MLE, MCT, DEL etc); can find and book long haul QR flights though.

  3. @Jerry – I’ve done it twice. Of course, I’ve had to cancel both flights because of the pandemic, but that’s another story.

  4. I don’t think the issue is limited to BA as I have seen similar issues booking QR into DFW from DOH. I am sure there is some time of monetary compensation among the OneWorld partners for using each other’s award seat inventory. Looks more like AA maybe doesn’t want to pay whatever they pay the other carriers to use their award seats. I never use BA seats over LHR because the excessive ‘Other fees’ AA charges for premium awards on BA. In the above example it is $729 ow which is outrageous for what is supposedly a free ticket.

  5. What happened to BA first class availability (I know, I know, it’s the best “business class”). Prior to the pandemic it wasn’t too hard to nab two seats if you planned ahead, but don’t see any anymore.

  6. I have booked via American airlines British airways flights several times through the course of this next coming month and every last one of them has been canceled by BA. So apparently with their schedule being hit hard with the pandemic they are canceling a bunch of flights and American is probably tired of dealing with all the call center traffic

  7. Could be a little tit for tat going on here. I’ve noticed AA has taken a liking to pricing a lot of their own awards just a hair over the old “sAAver” threshold, which serves to deny partner programs the ability to book the seat as an award (while still leaving the price as generally reasonable in AA miles). Maybe BA pulled award inventory in response to AA’s actions.

    I tend to see this price action primarily on AA’s direct short haul routes, where BA miles would be of most use.

  8. I booked an award via AA.com for CPH-DFW in April 2022 and both legs are on BA. The LHR-DFW is BA193 and had no issues seeing it online and getting space confirmed.

  9. I’ve already booked Charlotte to Madrid award travel on AA. for April 2022. But for return flights June 2022 (from France), BA was my only option at the point level I was willing to use. Hate those fees to fly on BA but I’ve reaped plenty of benefits using AA miles so it’s worth it to fly business/first.

  10. I think its AA issue. I went to book AA award through Finnair. Went to BA to search for flights. Called AY, agent at 1st says no seats available. When I point out BA is showing them (which means AY should also) agent did something and bam, all of a sudden many options appear.

  11. Expert flyer reports that it is only an issue with BA flights showing in systems in USA – not unique to AA site. However, if you go to another AA side outside the USA, such switching to the British version of AA.com – it shows and you can book reward travel on AA.co.uk.

  12. Here is message from Expertflyer.

    “BA Flight Availability for the USA Point of Sale is returning all zeros due to a BA issue. Please select a different Point of Sale for now. They are actively working to fix the issue. Thank you for your patience.”

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