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.