How To Easily Select American Seats On BA Avios Bookings

Filed Under: American, Awards

One of the best uses of British Airways Avios is for short-haul travel within the US on American and Alaska.


British Airways Executive Club has a distance based award chart, meaning the number of points required is directly correlated to the distance of your flight (which is awesome, since the shortest flights are often also the most expensive on a per mile basis).


The following number of Avios are required for short-haul flights on American (and these are redemption rates which didn’t even change with British Airways’ award chart devaluation earlier in the year):

  • 4,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1-650 miles
  • 7,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 651-1,151 miles
  • 10,000 Avios for a one-way economy flight of 1,152-2,000 miles

American bookings with Avios have long been bookable directly on, but then selecting seats and adding your AAdvantage number to the reservation has long been a bit of a pain. That’s because British Airways uses different record locators than American does, given that they work on different reservations systems.

Via Travel Codex, it looks like it’s now easier to “service” your American reservations booked with Avios, as now recognizes British Airways record locators.

So say you’re looking at making a booking for 4,500 Avios plus $5.60 (the standard cost using Avios for a one-way ticket of less than 650 miles):


On the booking page, remove the Executive Club number which auto-populates in the field below the passenger details. This way you’ll be able to add your AAdvantage number easily after confirming the booking.


Once booked, you’ll receive the British Airways confirmation code, which is different than the American confirmation code.


Previously you’d have to figure out the American confirmation code by either calling American or British Airways, or using a different website. However, now American’s website will recognize the British Airways confirmation code, so enter that on


This will bring you to the “My Trips” page, which will pull up the reservation and show you the American confirmation code.


At the bottom of the page click the “Add / edit information” button, which will allow you to enter your AAdvantage number as well as your Known Traveler Number (which will get you TSA Pre-Check).


And then you can select your seats directly with American, and if you’re an elite member you can even select exit row, Main Cabin Extra, etc.


Bottom line

Apparently this has been possible for a while now, though it’s the first time I’ve seen it. While this isn’t a game changer, it does save me a couple of minutes every time I make an Avios booking for travel on American, which is pretty awesome.

To recap:

  • Leave the frequent flyer field blank when making your Avios booking on British Airways’ website
  • Once you’ve completed the booking, enter the British Airways locator on American’s website to get the correct locator
  • Add your AAdvantage number and Known Traveler Number (if applicable) so you can select premium seats and get TSA Pre-Check
  1. Now only if AA award flights would show up on BA’s site. While random ones do, the majority don’t and it’s a pain to deal with. Especially knowing you’re about to spend an hour on the phone to explain the exact flight you want and then getting out of the booking fee. Once they fix that mess, I will be happier with BA.

  2. Lucky – The question is how to easily select BA seats on BA flights. I was able to get $700 business class tickets to Europe (after avios payment) and BA wants $100+ for me to select my seats. Is there a free way of getting my BA seats assigned?

  3. You’d want to do this if your elite status is with American. If it is with BA (as it is in my case), you’d want to leave your BAEC number in the booking. And then when you go MMB (Manage My Booking) on the BA site, it will let you select seats (by taking you to From there, it’s the same deal – if OneWorld Sapphire or above, those MCA seats are free for taking.

  4. Nice – I always pulled up the reservation on Fin Air’s website using the BA confirmation number, changed the frequent flyer number on the reservation to my AA number and then was able to see the reservation on

  5. I have a couple existing Avios reservations on AA metal, but I’m unable to choose seats. And AA doesn’t recognize the BA PNR. Do you know how I can find the AA PNR for these reservations?

  6. @ DJ — Hmmm, you might want to call up American and ask for their record locator. Just give them the flight number and dates.

  7. And how do you handle adding your Alaska FFN to your reservations? (Or getting the confirmation code if it is on AS air, other than calling AS)?

  8. I have to agree with Brian G, especially given that experience you had in Barcelona with someone finding your info. Usually you can look up a lot from knowing just the PNR and name.

  9. What if I’m making the booking for two other people and I won’t be traveling with them. I am EXP on AA, but they don’t have any status, they might not even have FF#s. Can I still make the booking and follow this procedure to select seats for them? This is for using Avios on a short haul AA flight.

  10. As for BA Alaska award bookings, has anyone had luck booking these lately? My last 8 or so attempts have yielded zero flights. Avios are basically worthless to me if I can’t book on Alaska metal.

  11. Lucky,

    Will you get free checked bags? I don’t have status but I have the aadvantage card, would that get me a free checked bag even though it’s a ba reward?

  12. Interesting conversation which has brought me to this question. I booked the BA flight deal but used my AA number on the website, it is a BA flight. I do have Ruby status, does that help at all for being able to book seats ahead of time?


  13. @dj & @laurapdx The way I always do it is use you just enter your ba pnr and last name and under “your flight selection” it will have a place that lists your as or aa pnr.

    @JMan I booked anc-otz on AS for a friend @ Sun, Oct 18, 2015 at 12:50 AM CDT. I had to call the dubai executive club number since they refuse to just stay open 24 hours a day.

  14. @Darlene – I am also OW Ruby so I’ve been chomping at the bit to select my seats. Unfortunately BA only let’s Ruby’s book seven days out from your flight departure so it’s a bit of a waiting game I’m afraid. I keep watching seats on the upper deck of my flight’s 744 disappear day by day. 🙁

  15. @Nick
    This post especially relevant for free checked bags on American (with the citi aa card) because T & Cs state that your Aadvantage number has to show on the boarding pass. Follow Lucky’s above steps and this will ensure that you get the free checked bags on aa metal.

  16. I had already booked my AA flight with Avios before coming across this so my reservation has my BA# on my reservation and I can’t change it to my AA number. Is there a way to fix this?

  17. This works to add the trip to your AA profile, however you can no longer select seats via online. I had to call in to get seats assigned, AA rep was unsure as to why I couldn’t see them when accessing online. I am a Gold member and should have access to preferred and regularly available seats or MCE seats at 50% off.

    AA Twitter Support was also no help and said due to the type of ticket you cannot select seats until 24 hours prior to travel (this was after AA phone support had already assigned me seats) and then when I pressed for documentation regarding that policy they stopped responding to me on Twitter DM.

  18. Yeah, exact same issue as well twice within the past few days. The entire seating chart is grayed out even when there is plenty of availability.

    First reservation the agent gave me the seats I requested. Second reservation the agent wanted $50 to assign seats since the reservation was not made through AA directly. After an extended hold she accommodated my request without charge since I was Platinum.

    Hopefully this “glitch” as the first agent put it goes away quickly.

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