Is BA unable to see American Airlines award space?

UPDATE: Trying the search over and over again seems to be the solution. A quick-ish way to do that is to to click the tabs for different days and then click back.  See: How to find AA award space on BA.com.


Yesterday I tried to book a short distance one-way award flight on American Airlines.  It didn’t go as I had hoped.  AA had good award prices for the flight (7.5K economy, 15K business class), but they also wanted $75 for the close-in booking fee.  Ouch.

My usual go-to for avoiding those close-in fees is British Airways.  I searched for the flight on BA.com and got… nothing.

I tried a number of times.  Still nothing.  I even tried using a VPN to set my location to London, opened an incognito browser, and searched again (hey, you never know what might work).  Nothing.

Iberia’s website found the flight without any trouble.  But Iberia requires round-trip awards when booking oneworld partners, and I needed only a one-way.  I priced a one-way business class with a throw-away economy return at around 17K.  Not too bad, but all of my Avios points are in my British Airways account.  And try as I might, I couldn’t get a point transfer to go through.  I tried from the BA site.  Then I tried from the Iberia site.  I would have tried from Avios.com, but that site now requires not just a UK address, but a UK phone number as well.  It shouldn’t be this hard.

I called British Airways Executive Club (1-800-452-1201) and was happily surprised when an agent answered the phone right away (I was expecting a long wait).  Unfortunately, she couldn’t see the award space either.  She told me that it’s a known issue and that the problem comes and goes.  It was her opinion that it is more likely to work for customers than for the agents in the call center (Um… OK…).  Her recommendation?  Try, try again.

A few blogs reported this issue last summer (here and here, for example), but I assumed that the problem must have been fixed by now.  Right?  Apparently not.  At least, it’s not currently working for me.

In my case, this may have actually been a good thing.  My BA Avios woes led me to check the paid price for the flight which I had just assumed would be sky high.  Not so.  The flight was just $92.  So, I dug around my stash of pay with points options and booked the paid flight (I used CNB points in this case).

Still, the BA failure is troubling.  BA Avios are worth a lot less to me if AA flights are no longer an option.  But this was just one example.  I checked a couple of other routes and found the same pattern.  A few examples hardly proves that it’s universal, but it’s not good.

What has your experience been?  Have you been able to book AA award flights through British Airways lately?  Please comment below.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

47
Leave a Reply

avatar
37 Comment threads
10 Thread replies
15 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
41 Comment authors
MikeNick Reyesk lHawaiiDreamingPeaceandPost Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
RKToledo
Guest
RKToledo

I experienced the same 2 week’s ago. Try, try and try again was indeed the solution. About a dozen attempts at booking over 5 hours resulted in AA flights finally appearing on BA’s website. One way at a time. Very frustrating but perseverance was the solution in my case.

TvlGuru
Guest
TvlGuru

I booked a flight a few days ago as flights were available. But not available yesterday and today so far.

Kim
Guest
Kim

Same experience as TvlGuru

purple
Guest
purple

I tried to get an ORD -> ATL one way and the AA flights werent showing up 2 weeks ago. Havent tried again yet.

Jorge
Guest
Jorge

It happened to me about two or three months ago. I saw plenty of award seats on AA.com and I thought I was going to see the same seats when booking with my Avios. Man, how wrong I was. There was almost no seats when I searched through BA.com. I called BA and they could not see them either. I kept searching for several days/eeeks and nothing.

Since my dates were somehow flexible I ended up booking what I found which by the way was better in terms of routing than AA flights, now famously convoluted (2 stops with overnight connections).

The good thing was that since AA rewards can be easily changed as long as the origin and destinations remains the same, I thought My AA flights booked with Avios could be changed as well the same way.

I called AA because the flights were with American and after 30 min on hold the agent told me I had to call BA. Fair enough. But then I checked my flights and they had been changed to my desired dates! I called BA and the agent validated them, no fee!

By the way, the flights were moved to a date where I could not see available seats on BA either. With the same better routing offered by BA website initially. Strange situation and a lucky outcome

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I like AA u can change the dates which I did 2x on my CDG ticket + the 10% rebate They gave 5k points for the $95 reup fee .I got 12.5 k left good for something.
CHEERs

k l
Guest
k l

I recently learned my AA ticket purchase with Avios can be completely refunded as long as I contact BA 24 hours before the flight. Avios go back into my account. No penalty!

Nick Reyes
Editor

That’s one of the advantages of booking with BA. Technically, you either have to pay a small fee or forfeit the taxes ($5.60 on a one-way US flight) to get your Avios refunded, but in practice they have been refunding the tax also.

Danno
Guest
Danno

It happened to me last night as well. Trying to book BOS-DFW and nothing would come up on BA. Plenty of award space on AA.

jeph36
Guest
jeph36

I know the point of your article is the BA issue with AA space, but I wanted to note that using aerlingus.com you can use your US address/info and do the indirect transfer between Iberia and BA. I have a BA family account and thus am unable to do a direct Iberia->BA transfer of Avios, but it works via Aer Lingus. In my (one-time) experience it does take a few minutes for each transfer, so be sure to allow for that.

tassojunior
Guest
tassojunior

Man, I wish I could figure Aer Lingus out. I have tons of BA avios but Aer Lingus insists on using Avios.com as it’s reward site. I would love to transfer from BA to Aer Lingus. Transferring from BA to Iberia is not easy but at least it diminishes the surcharges a lot.

Mehdi Dinia
Guest
Mehdi Dinia

Qatar flights aren’t showing anymore, I tired all US cities, all dates, all months, nothing!

Nick Reyes
Editor

I was just checking this out. I see at least 2 seats in business class from Atlanta to Doha every day from April 24th-29th via British Airways. I saw one seat on the 23rd and 30th. I didn’t continue searching much beyond that, but it seems that Qatar flights are indeed showing up.

oedge
Guest
oedge

Yup … me too … booked a one way a month ago thinking easy to get back now on checking last night, nothing showing available even when I double check against saver awards in aa. Not sure how long it took last summer to resolve but hope its sorted soon.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Greg & Bloggers
I have used ExpressVPN for 3 years which they update all the time . There is a few websites Citi,EasyJet and others which show error codes .SOooo if it worked before or doesn’t work correctly now turn it off then back on .when ur done .

CHEERs

tm1128
Guest
tm1128

Haven’t been able to book a short r/t flt for over a year. Tried to book r/t flt to Mexico using partner AA about 4 years ago with similar results.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I had the same thing happen yesterday; however, I called and the agent was able to find the space “in another system.” She did acknowledge that it was an ongoing problem, though.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Over the past several months I have found the same thing repeatedly. While I have (once) used my stash of BA Avios, most of the time I am unable to find AA space, and the agent is unable to help.

Larry D
Guest
Larry D

About two weeks ago, similar issues, and like you, said to myself, “these BA Avios points are worth a lot less if we can’t use them on booking AA flights”. Sure enough, the BA website showed availability last Wednesday and Thursday and grabbed seats on four different flights that I was monitoring. From the comments, sounds like BA knows it’s a problem. Not a techie, but how does it become a problem? Did American do something or did BA do something to their system. If Iberia sees the seats, then I guess BA did something.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Same thing happened to me a few weeks ago but luckily they were able to see the space when I called in

Michael Belisle
Guest
Michael Belisle

I am able to use avios.com to transfer avios. Don’t have UK address

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

On April 10 I was very pleased to see wide availability for a AA flight on BA site. I had to check a few things first so I didn’t book. On the 11th I went back and couldn’t find any AA availability for anything anywhere on the BA flight.

TCCQuest
Guest
TCCQuest

Happened to me yesterday afternoon/evening, called in, as you said barely a wait. Immediately the agent acknowledged there is an issue that is being worked on, she claimed it was an issue with AA not sending the data. However after giving my name, DOB, address, and Executive Club number I was able to feed her dates and AA flight numbers. She pulled them up no problem and was able to book without hassle.

Of note, when she read off the taxes and fees it was quite high, I asked if that included a phone booking fee, she said it did and I kindle requested it be waived since I had tried to book online and was unable. She did quiz me on “how” I tried to book online, which I explained and then she waived. She said some folks claim they searched online but either didn’t do it correctly or do it at all “I can tell by how you explained it that indeed you did try quite a bit and gave it an honest effort online, and I can waive the fee for you.”

So it’s a bit of a PIA but calling in is working.

Ken
Guest
Ken

I’m actually on AA2108 from DCA to DFW as I write this, paid for with BA avios, found thru BA website. So; worked for me.

Audrey
Guest
Audrey

I haven’t been able to find LATAM award space for months. BA used to be the best place to see it. I can’t swear it’s actually available but it used to be easy to find.

lifeonthego_k
Guest
lifeonthego_k

LATAM flights (SCL-JFK, SCL-LAX, etc.) were showing up till about a week ago for me. Now nothing appears for any dates. I’m hoping the issue get resolved quickly!

Usernamechuck
Guest
Usernamechuck

I also tried without success last night.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Yes this is happened multiple times to me. It is definitely an ongoing issue. Sometimes by waiting 24 hours they will magically appear, other times not

Steve
Guest
Steve

Yep, exact same issue just last week trying to book DEN-ORD. I sure hope it’s a tech issue that resolves, because that is a consistently cheap and physically convenient redemption that I really would hate to lose. Otherwise it’s WN into MDW, which is far less convenient and usually costs more.

Josh
Guest
Josh

I have experienced this problem regularly and repeatedly over the last 2+ years. The telephone agents are unable to help, and when querying the BA social media team about it I’ve just received snarky responses about how I should be flying BA instead of AA …

Matt B
Guest
Matt B

Yep, i’ve noticed this same problem for direct AA flights I’ve been trying to book for the past two weeks where there’s plenty of space on AA.com but nothing on BA. I keep going back every couple days but haven’t found a window where it works yet.

ed k
Guest
ed k

Airline loyalty programs are pointless now. We already shifted to other means. If a big airline starts really wanting loyalty, this is the time to capture the market.

Susan
Guest
Susan

What worked when I had this issue was clicking on other days of the week calendar that come up and then coming back to the day I actually wanted. The refreshed query without leaving the page brought it up after the third or fourth try. Did this trick a few times on multiple occasions with success. Hope it helps others.

trackback

[…] morning I asked “Is BA unable to see American Airlines award space?”  I had found an AA saver award that I wanted to book.  And I knew space was available.  […]

tassojunior
Guest
tassojunior

I was told by one BA csr that AA does not release all award space to BA.

Ryan del mundo
Guest
Ryan del mundo

I had a similar but different issue when I was booking a flight last week. There was NO availability on AA.com, but BA showed flights (“7 seats available” actually). I tried booking the flight 4-5 times and it never worked, I put in payment details etc, but in the end it errored out. I can also say switching dates seemed to kinda work, finally showing availability, but alas, they wouldn’t book. I figured it was a glitch since there was nothing on AA.com. So lots of problems on BA.com. Ended up going via UA with my first ever “train as the first leg” trip ZFV (Philly) departure.

James
Guest
James

yup, no AA flights from West Coast gateways to Hawaii shown yesterday. Ended up using AA miles 1 way since there was a convenient connection from my hometown airport (and I haven’t passed Iberia Avios 101 yet)

Dean
Guest
Dean

I had the same problem over and over till I finally got fed up and sold my 50,000 BA miles for $400.00 . I kept reading about how you could use Ba miles for AA award flights ,but that was a crock of bull ,I never once got to use the miles for even cheap aa flights when award flights were available,so people are being misinformed, even when Calling the BA phone # ,I got nowhere with them either because they claimed there were no award flights available, but I could see them on the AA website.

Phil
Guest
Phil

Just refresh by going back to the previous page and hit search. It took me 8-9 times but eventually the flts showed up. Only took about 2 minutes.

Carolina
Guest
Carolina

This is ridiculous, such a waste of time. I have been looking for tickets to PHX for about ten days now and I know they are available for almost the entire week I need to travel. Only a couple of times has one of the days appeared, just for the date when I can’t travel.
I have been a fan of Avios since the beginning, but what good are they now if they can’t be used?

PeaceandPost
Guest
PeaceandPost

After about 15 tries going back and forth between dates to get DFW-FLL round trip to show up, I finally got it to show but when I selected both flights and hit continue it just brought me back to the search page. Anyone run into this?

HawaiiDreaming
Guest
HawaiiDreaming

Yep, same thing here. I have wasted a lot of time and still can’t get the flights to show up. I have gone back and forth 50 times to different days, but no luck. This used to be my favorite use of points, but they obviously have had issues for quite some time and don’t feel to need to fix it. Expert Flyer shows inventory.
When I search those same flights on Alaska, they show up every time. I guess I will have to call them to see if they show the availability. Anyone else have any other ideas?

k l
Guest
k l

This has been an ongoing issue off and on for a few years. BA has posted an alert however this time and it is the first time I am seen them mention the error. This message appears on the page when you are booking flights w Avios “There is a technical problem with American Airlines’ reward flight availability which American Airlines is currently working to identify and resolve.

While this problem is ongoing, to book a reward flight on American Airlines, please contact your local contact centre. We apologise for the inconvenience.”

Mike
Guest
Mike

BA:

“We Are currently experiencing a technical problem displaying AA reward flights”

This has been going on for days if not weeks.
AA and BA couldn’t care less