How to Search to Book British Airways and American Airlines Awards Like a Pro


One of the main reasons why people who don’t know how miles work think that miles are a scam is because they searched award space in the wrong place! For instance, they wanted to use American Airlines miles and searched While that sounds logical, that’s often the wrong place to search. is often the better place to search.

Knowing how to use is crucial for making award bookings with British Airways Avios and American Airlines AAdvantage miles. As I noted in Where to Search Award Space for All American Airlines Partners, there are many AA partners that are searchable on but not shows space on airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, S7, SriLankan, and TAM, which is all of Oneworld. Note that does not show its non-Oneworld partners like Aer Lingus and Alaska Airlines.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 8.23.23 PM

How Do You Search for Award Availability?

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

Next, you must log in.

After logging in, you will be taken to a page that displays your account information. Along the left side of the screen is a box with a drop down menu where you must select “Book with Avios.”

drop down british

Directly below this box is another box where you type in the details of your potential award trip. The Class dropdown doesn’t matter much because award space in three cabins is shown on the results screen. Segment-by-segment searching is often the best way to yield positive results.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 8.36.45 PM

If you’ve selected a route British Airways flies, a screen will pop up asking if you want a stopover. Always select “no.” Because of the way Avios awards price, there is never an advantage to booking a stopover.

no stopovers

Once you select “no” or if you’ve queried a route not served by British Airways, you’ll be brought directly to results.

british results

The results are displayed by airline. British Airways is at the top. Next are direct flights on any airlines. Finally, connecting itineraries are shown.

If your day comes back with no results, you can click on the nearby dates one at a time on the tab at the top of the results screen or move one week at a time.

week ba

To get more info on a flight, click the linked flight number, and a new window will open with pertinent info including the aircraft and flight duration.

ba pop up

To see the price of an award including taxes and fees, bubble in the class you want to fly in.

ba select

The price in Avios plus the cost of all taxes/fees/fuel surcharges will be displayed in red. Underneath will be a link to see more pricing options if you would like to pay fewer Avios in exchange for more cash.

pricing options

For more information and analysis on Cash & Avios options available on Avios award bookings, see Cash & Avios Analysis.

The old version of used to show you price breakdown of the dollar amount, but the updated site does not. You can put your desired award flight info into ITA Matrix for those details instead. Read this prior post to learn how to use ITA matrix to view and translate the price breakdown of a ticket.

If you want to book the award you found with Avios, enter your credit card info, and you are all set. If you want to book the itinerary with American Airlines miles, note the flight dates, numbers, cabins, and taxes. Call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 and feed the agents the flights you found.

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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  1. I don’t understand how this works because BA always shows up as being a lot more expensive. For example, when I search for 6/28 SAN-MIA on BA it shows options for 1st only for 50k miles. When I search the same flight on AA it shows 20k mile flights

  2. Is it ever the case that the AA agents is able to find award flights that didn’t show up on or

  3. I had a similar experience trying to book from DFW to Springfield Mo. for a short AA flight . All it would show was flights in 1st class, I closed the page , went incognito on my browser and BINGO , up popped economy seats on not all , but on several flights. MIght try that to see if it show differences in awards

  4. I am following the instructions from above for an LAS to MIA but I continue to get a “British Airlines do not fly that route” or something similar. I am not getting any other airlines flights for selection. I know that American flies that route. I am also trying with paying cash, with same results. (even incognito). What gives?

  5. I personally find search is better then – it shows the whole month instead of just one week which is very nice if you are very flexible in the dates. Yes it does not show all the partners but if you know that on your rout you do not have much choice anyway like to Caribbean for example then I prefer AA search and then go to BA for actually booking.

    • Of course is much better than when it shows the same partners. But when you need to search a partner that isn’t on, go to


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