One of the best uses of British Airways Avios is for short-haul travel on American. British Airways Executive Club has a distance based award chart, so the best values on the chart are for short-haul travel, and there are no carrier imposed surcharges for short-haul travel on American.
The icing on the cake is that while American AAdvantage charges a $75 close-in ticketing fee for non-elite members, you don’t have to pay that when redeeming Avios. So you can redeem Avios for travel on American a couple of days before departure and avoid that fee.
As a reminder, you’ll pay the following number of Avios for one-way economy short-haul awards:
- Segments of 1-1,150 miles cost 7,500 Avios
- Segments of 1,151-2,000 miles cost 10,000 Avios
- Segments of 2,000-3,000 miles cost 12,500 Avios
In the past there have been periods where British Airways’ website hasn’t displayed American award availability, for whatever reason. British Airways should have access to exactly the same saver level award availability as American shows directly, but sometimes British Airways’ website doesn’t show that.
This problem has once again surfaced over the past few weeks, and British Airways’ website isn’t displaying most American Airlines award availability. At least not with a simple search. For example, take the below flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, where saver level award availability is wide open.
However, British Airways’ website shows nothing.
There are two ways to deal with this website glitch. Regardless of which you choose, the best strategy is to always find saver level award availability on American’s website first, and then try to book through British Airways (given that American’s website is easier to use).
The first option is to call British Airways to book this space. During some past glitches, even phone representatives haven’t been able to see the space, so at least this time around the space continues to be bookable by phone. Calling British Airways is a test in patience, though. Their Executive Club contact center isn’t open 24/7, and hold times tend to be long. So they’ll really make you work for the ticket. If you do book by phone, ask them to waive the phone ticketing fee, given that this isn’t bookable online.
The other option is a bit more creative. Many report that if you refresh British Airways’ website over and over, that space will eventually show up. Once you do your search, just switch between dates (so in the above case, search September 17, then go back to September 18, and so on). For many people, the space will then show up after a couple of tries.
This will work sometimes, but not all the time. For example, I wasn’t able to get this work for the above itinerary, no matter how hard I try.
Hopefully British Airways gets this fixed soon, but at least the good news is that this space is still bookable, either by phone or by tricking the website.