What To Do When American Award Flights Don’t Display On British Airways Site

British Airways Executive Club has an extremely lucrative distance based award chart, which can be especially useful for travel within the US on American and US Airways. Assuming you’re looking at traveling nonstop with the lower 48, you’ll pay anywhere between 4,500 and 12,500 Avios one-way, which is a heck of a value. Here’s what their award chart looks like:

Distance in Air MilesAvios Cost in EconomyAvios Cost in BusinessAvios Cost in First
1-6504,5009,00013,500
651-11517,50015,00022,500
1152-200010,00020,00030,000
2001-300012,50025,00037,500
3001-400020,00040,00060,000
4001-550025,00050,00075,000
5501-650030,00060,00090,000
6501-700035,00070,000105,000
7001-1000050,000100,000150,000

British Airways has a useful award search tool on their website, and in a vast majority of cases it works well. That’s a good thing, since their call center is absolutely horrible, possibly the worst of any airline. Hold times for making an Avios booking are consistently over an hour.

One issue that’s becoming more and more common is that British Airways’ website isn’t displaying some American award space. When I want to make an Avios booking I always first search space on aa.com, and then once I’ve found it go to British Airways’ website to book. But in some cases British Airways doesn’t display all partner award space.

For example, take a look at award space from Chicago to New York for this coming Friday, August 15:

American-Award-Space-2

As you can see, at least seven flights have economy award space between Chicago and New York LGA, though British Airways’ website only shows four options:

American-Award-Space-1

Unfortunately this is a website glitch that happens most often on high-frequency routes and there’s no way to force that award space to show online. It is possible, however, to book that space over the phone, though it usually requires a long wait time.

Calling the US or UK Executive Club phone numbers is always a pain, so my recommendation is to call the Singapore Executive Club phone number instead, assuming the hours work for you. Their number is +65 6823 2095, and they’re open Monday through Friday from 9AM till 5:30PM. Assuming the hours work for you, that’s definitely the route to go. Their hold times are much shorter, and agents are much friendlier, than what you’d get with the US or UK call centers.

And since I’m a night owl, the hours actually work better for me than the US call center hours, in most cases.

So there’s no trick to forcing the space to display, though there is a trick to making calling more pleasant.

Comments

  1. Jeff R says

    This is a fantastic tip – thank you! (My usual reason to have to call is to book Avios tickets on Alaska – I assume these agents in Singapore can do that as well.)

  2. Steve says

    Called BAEC 2x today to try and get around the “glitch” which I am thinking is more reality now (BA has limited access to US/AA award space). Example: DCA-MSY RT on US is wide open in Y for the weekend I am trying to travel (four flights per day Friday and Sunday) but the BAEC call center availability was the same as the website.

  3. says

    Thanks for posting this! I literally asked my friend this question 5 minutes before you posted this. I am also going to ORD from NY tomorrow and had the same issue. Called the Singapore office (thanks!) and was ticketed in 6 minutes.

  4. says

    I’m having the opposite problems which happened twice this week, saw US Airways availability for a flight from ORD – PHL (and was bookable, confirmed with BA) but AA.com or USAirways.com wasn’t showing it and wasn’t bookable by AA agents.

    Frustrating because I planned out everything on BA and this last flight not being available screwed up everything.

  5. says

    What I usually do is book the space that is available on BA’s site, even on an earlier flight. Then, I’ll call up and ask to change within 24 hours. Saves the time of having to set up the whole booking over the phone. Instead, they just make the change and re-issue the ticket without a fee.

  6. stvr says

    I’ve had phone agents unable to see the space until you clearly describe the problem like you do here. Then a light bulb goes off in their heads and they figure out a workaround in their system. DO NOT book a different flight and then think the change flight screen will bail you out. It won’t.

  7. Nick M says

    What impeccable timing! Tried calling the US number today….got hold times of 45+, 65+, and then busy signals. Called the Singapore number and the agent picked up right after I pressed 1 to book a flight!!

    On another note….I tried booking an Alaska Airlines flight from LAX-SEA….operated by AS, not AA…..and there is availability on AA at the saver level, but BA is saying that it is completely booked. What gives? Any tips? Thanks!

  8. Erik says

    Does BA charge the award flights via segments? I just booked AUS-DRO (~900 air miles) and was charged 12,000 avios one-way – I assume his was 4,500 avios for AUS-DFW and 7,500 avios DFW-DRO, which is where the 12,000 avios comes from, I guess? Or should it be just the total mileage air mileage of the city pairs and only 7,500 avios total for each one-way?

  9. Herbertgzb says

    Wow, i literally am having this issue right now and i tried calling ba us line like 20 hours today. Not even going through!
    Thanks!

  10. James W says

    I was having a similar issue with qatar space from dxb-doh (connecting to 787 business class :D ) except it was showing up just wouldn’t book online. I am a night owl myself and ended up calling the hong kong call center. Not only were wait times not an issue their english was flawless (as you would expect from an ex-british holding). I wasn’t aware of the singapore call center so I will add that to my list.

  11. says

    Hi Ben,

    I think this may be more common on routes with many daily flights. I commonly it on BOS-LGA where US Airways has a bazillion daily flights. It is usually the flights towards the end of the day that get cropped off. It’s almost like the BA algorithm amasses a certain number of results and then call it quits. “Meh, good enough.”

    That said, I haven’t had any issue getting the BA phone agents to waive the fee it’s the phone call itself that I dread more than anything else.

    Good to know about the Singapore number…the last time I was in a jam with BA I think I called Tajikistan or something equally absurd!

    Cheers,
    Ryan

  12. 4Health says

    Do you know what is going on with the BA website? I am attempting to book SFO to LAX on an AA/US air flight and it is pricing out at 15k each way per person.

  13. Matt B says

    @4Health, you might want to try booking as separate one-ways rather than a round trip. I’ve run into problems where flights are AA non-stop one way and US non-stop the other, but the combination of different carriers seems to trigger higher cost. Have found that splitting into separate one-ways tends to solve the problem.

  14. herbertgzb says

    Worked like a charm. It’s singapore accent English and they had difficulties hearing me but they waived the booking fee since I am just booking a simple route…

  15. lucky says

    @ Nick M — They should have access to identical space. I’d suggest hanging up and calling again.

  16. lucky says

    @ byron — There is a phone booking fee, but they’ll usually waive it if you explain it can’t be booked online.

  17. lucky says

    @ Nick — American and US Airways? In my experience Qantas and JAL show them correctly, so not sure there are any others that have issues.

  18. lucky says

    @ Ryan K — Indeed, this issue happens when there are lots of frequencies, but also otherwise as well, unfortunately.

  19. lucky says

    @ 4Health — Hmmm, haven’t had that issue, and just tried making a booking and got the correct fare quote. When were you looking at?

  20. Ben says

    Lucky, slight correction, with Avios we pay on a distance basis for most, but not all routes. For example, BOS-DCA and BOS-PHL-DCA are both under 650 miles, but BA charges 4,500 miles for the former one-way in Y and 9,000 for the latter one-way in Y. Do you know if this is the result of additional routing rules on awards, a glitch, or otherwise?

  21. lucky says

    @ Ben — They charge you on a per segment basis. So since each segment is under 650 miles, they charge you 4,500 Avios per segment.

  22. Ben says

    @lucky – right. thanks for the correction. there are many Avios sweet spots but this definitely not one of them.

  23. Penny says

    Great post! Quick question to make sure I understand the tip about the Singapore call center. Is it permissible for US based BA members ( without status at BA) to use the Singapore call center to book flights on Alaska or Aer Lingus using avios for flights originating in US? I’ve been hesitant to use the us/uk call center because of the bad press and it would be nice to have a more pleasant alternative. Many thanks and have a nice trip in ICELAND.

  24. Stephen says

    Any tips for getting the BAEC reps to see saver award space available on USAirways.com or AA.com? HUCA did not work unfortunately: I got the same answer from BAEC of “no award availability” and “just because it is on AA.com or US.com, does not mean it is available for us to book.”

  25. lucky says

    @ Stephen — Very odd that they can’t see it. Maybe wait a day or two and call back? Otherwise might just be some weird glitch.

  26. Pat says

    Thanks for the advice. But how does one call Singapore without a large phone cost? I don’t normally call overseas so I’m not sure how to do that in the least expensive way.

  27. Ivan says

    there actually is a trick to display all of the space and I think you know it… lets not spill all the secrets : )

  28. Chris says

    @ Stephen @ lucky — Think this is an issue with AA.com showing “phantom award space.” If you actually try to book the DCA-MSY award ticket on AA.com you’ll get the following error:

    “The flight you selected is no longer available. Please modify your request.”

    So BA.com and Qantas aren’t displaying the award space because it isn’t actually available. I’m having the same issue searching for DCA-ALB. Maybe just an issue with USAirways flights from DCA?

    (lucky pardon me while I mention another blog). I’ve had good luck setting alerts using Wandering Aramean’s OneWorld Alerts tool. Yearly membership is well worth it to snag those seats without checking every day!!!

  29. Chris says

    @ Steve — Just saw milevalue’s post on this issue and your subsequent comment. Looks like not just phantom space going on here.

    … the plot thickens

  30. Bob says

    I am taking my son to Fenway Park for our first time on Sept 6 (BNA-BOS) and returning September 8th (BOS-BNA). When I checked AA.com I saw SEVERAL low level flights available that I SHOULD be able to use Avios points on, so I went ahead and bought Red Sox tickets. I had already seen that BA.com was not showing availability for any of these low level AA flights but thought it was just a glitch and that I would (regretfully) have to call BA’s phone center to book it. Well, I just called and they told me that not all low level AA flights are bookable through Avios points and that I was essentially out of luck :( I already have game tickets and hotel reservations and any help, thoughts, ideas, etc would be GREATLY appreciated, thanks!

  31. lucky says

    @ Bob — If the space is actually available with American it should also be available through British Airways. I’d recommend either waiting a day or so as there might be a system lag, or calling again.

  32. ben says

    @Bob I’d try calling BA again. Some of the flights are operated by US so you might specifically ask the BA agent to check US and US / AA combined itineraries.

  33. Ivan Y says

    As someone who doesn’t live in a AA/US hub, this issue is hugely annoying as it can mess up 1+ stop(s) routings. First reported it here when BA changed their system to include US Airways flights — all Houston (IAH or HOU)DFW flights disappeared completely (not just missing SOME — missing ALL flights) and only flights on US Airways would appears (e.g. IAH-CLT-DFW).

    Sent them a message and a month or two later it got fixed; was able to see space to DFW (and, at least for the dates I had been looking, BA.com availability matched AA.com).

    However, was searching for IAH-MIA flights on AA and nothing appears again even though AA.com shows a ton of availability for this nonstop route. Disappointing :( Perhaps too much space causes BA computers to fail :P

  34. Tom says

    Same problem here with Houston.. NOTHING on AA appears on the BA sight out of houston and only a fraction of the US space…. primarily F which is very expensive. VERY frustrating.

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