Free First Class Next Month: Using BA.com for oneworld Awards

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Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from April 2015 can be found here.

This is the twenty-fifth post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Knowing how to use BA.com is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Why? BA.com displays award space for more oneworld partner airlines than does AA.com. This post will teach the basics of how to use BA.com to book with either currency.

First, you need to sign up for the British Airways Executive Club to be able search. The link is on the top right of BA.com. Next, you must log in.

Along the left side of the screen after logging in, click on Spending Avios. Several choices will emerge beneath where you clicked. Choose Book Flights with Avios.

On this screen, type in the details of your potential award trip. One trick is that if you’re willing to fly either of two classes, select the higher one. BA.com will always display worse classes with space available if the class you want doesn’t have space.

If you’ve selected a route that BA doesn’t fly, a calendar will appear noting that fact. Click the red button that says Include Partners, and you are on your way.

BA doesn’t fly LAX-JFK

If you’ve selected a route BA does fly, a screen will pop up asking if you want a stopover in London. Leave No Stopover selected, and click Continue.

BA does fly LAX-LHR-BUD

If for some reason your dream award does involve flying BA and stopping over in London, you should just search segment by segment anyway. And most likely you are trying to avoid flying BA because of the insane fuel surcharges American and BA impose on awards on BA planes.

Hopefully, if you’re trying to avoid BA, you have selected a date when no award on BA planes is available on your route. In this case, you’ll have the option to click the blue Search button in the Partner airlines box on the left.

If the date you select does have BA availability, it will be shown to you automatically. The trick in this case is to figure out a date that doesn’t have BA availability, search that date, and click the blue Search button in the Partner airlines box.

If the exact date you’ve selected has no availability in any class, you can click to search up to seven days later or earlier. You can continue clicking those buttons to see the availability in your desired date range.

If you find a desirable award booking, and you’re using Avios to book, click continue and book.

If you click on the little “i” icon, you will see why BA wants $311 in addition to the Avios needed to get from LAX to Budapest.

If instead you were just using the search engine but will book the award with AAdvantage miles, note the times, flight numbers, and classes of your desired award and call American, which will have access to the exact same space.

(I wouldn’t recommend using AA miles to book this itinerary. But if you had found space on airberlin for example, this is where you would call AA.)

BA.com has access to airberlin, AA, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and S7, which is all of oneworld.

(As of 9/7, JAL availability has not been displaying on ba.com for weeks. Hopefully it will be resolved soon. Also BA.com shows tons of phantom LAN space that AA can’t book.)

BA.com is not intuitive, not user-friendly, and not good for visualizing when availability is wide open or hard to find. But it does have great coverage, so it’s an important place to know how to search.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. question: i found that the AA’s availability (AASaver) on BA website is much less than on AA website. I heard that I would need to call BA to redeem Avios for those not published on BA’s website which tend to have better schedule. Could you confirm? thanks.

  2. You stated: (I wouldn’t recommend using AA miles to book this itinerary. But if you had found space on airberlin for example, this is where you would call AA.)

    So if you use Avios then you have to pay the fuel charges, so I’m not understanding the point, unless I’m missing something. I thought the post was about avoiding the high BA fuel charges? or am I misreading something.

  3. If Avios can be transferred to an account with Iberia, can the same happen with AAdvantage account, i.e. avios —> AA???

      • Thank you for the response. Yesterday I was reading some of your interesting posts/comments about BA. On the other hand, should not BA’s program be considered the worst one to choose from 🙂 ? Even though they let you get 100K Avios in quite a short period of time, the question is what’s the point and more importantly where’s their value?!?! 700-800usd plus 70-90K Avios for a flight from JFK to NRT some time in the near future, when in fact such ticket costs around $900 with another airline. Not to mention the flights in EU where there’s plenty of ‘non-expensive’ carriers.
        Any suggestions for a redemption of 125K from NYC??? United does not realy make it so complicated.

        • BA has a great program for certain short, direct flights and a horrible program for premium transatlantic flights. If you only use Avios for the flights that it does well, it’s a great program.

          • Why would one want to use Avios for ‘the flights that does well’ while there are always alternatives?! Though, I’ve noticed it is the alternative for AA flights within US or to Mexico and within EU 🙂 How about Iberia, would it be considered a better one?

  4. I have the same issue as Robert. I have the miles I got when I signed up for the British Airways credit, which I wanted at the time for it’s lack of a foreign exchange fee. Now there are many more such cards and I’ve dumped it. I can’t figure out how to use these miles. I did look into flying from Jordan where we live at the moment to Dulles and I was appalled at the expense. It was almost as much as a regular ticket. Short direct flights would go through Heathrow, no? One would have this same issue of taxes and charges that jack up the so-called free ticket. Someone told me how her her father knew how to use the BA miles on AA but it doesn’t appear that easy. I don’t live in the US or if I am there, I take very short flights that aren’t worth these miles.

  5. Can I search on BA and use Asia Miles to book any of these awards or to Asia Miles not transfer. I live in HK and have a ton of Asia Miles but using them on CX is a nightmare and very expensive.

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