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How to Use British Airways Miles: Post 10, Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability

by on May 2, 2011 · 57 comments

in British Airways, Points Guy Pointers

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Update: The current sign-up bonus offer for the British Airways Visa is 50,000 Avios. 25,000 upon first use, and another 25,000 when you spend $2,500 within 90 days.

This is the final installment of my series on maximizing British Airways miles. Since so many of you got in on the super-lucrative 100,000 mile BA Visa sign-up bonus (see details of the current 100K offer), it would be beneficial to check out: General tipsPost 1 – Booking BA Awards, Post 2 – Booking Partner Awards, Post 3 – Oneworld Alliance, Post 4 – Taxes and Fees, Post 5 – Household Accounts, Post 6 – Companion Ticket, Post 7 – Using ExpertFlyer for Partner Award Availability, Post 8 – The Art of the Stopover, Post 9 – Leveraging Miles and Cash Redemptions, and Post 10 - Using Qantas.com to Find Oneworld Award Availability. Also, be sure to look at my post on the credit card deal itself and the lengthy Q&A in the comments section.

As you’ve learned so far, there’s no 100% perfect way to check Oneworld award space. Britishairways.com is buggy and will automatically try to route you through London, even when other options exist. However, it will show true Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific availability, which other engines do not. Expertflyer.com is decent too, but only shows American, Alaska, Qantas and some Finn Air award space.

I personally use Qantas’ frequent flyer website to find European awards, since BA.com is maddening and skews results due to its preference for British Airways awards (and we try to avoid them since they have the highest amount of taxes and fuel surcharges).

First step, create a free account using this link. You will be assigned a temporary pin and once you login for the first time, you’ll be prompted to change it.

Once logged in, the search process is pretty painless. Simply click Frequent Flyer -> Using Points - Award flights
For this example, lets try to search Los Angeles to Madrid since AA, Iberia and British Airways all service that route with connections (or non-stop on Iberia).

Qantas Award Search- Check Flexible Dates Box for Max Results

Calendar will show dates, though the symbols for class availability are confusing and don’t actually correspond

Final Results

Notice that I selected flights that are all operated by the same carrier so that we can use the generous Oneworld Partner award chart. If you mix BA and American, for example, it will jack the award rates up exponentially. Once you have your final awards, you can try replicating the results on britishairways.com, though many times you can’t pull up the same results because the engine sometimes only shows British Airways flights, which is true for this scenario.
Only BA flights show up, even though there are options on American. In this situation, you’d have to call British Airways at 1 (800) 452-1201 and give them the American flight numbers and they will be able to book the award – and make sure to have them waive the fee since the award can’t be booked online.

Overall, I find the Qantas search engine to be pretty smart and easy to to use, but I don’t recommend using it for Asia awards, since it omits Japan Airlines and sometimes shows false Cathay results.

If you haven’t gotten a Chase British Airways Visa with the incredible 100,000 mile sign-on bonus, make sure you apply by Friday May 6, 2011!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Addison

    A wife with meh credit means I must accumulate enough points for both of us. It makes this game slightly more difficult. I’m sitting at 175k One Pass and 155k AAdvantage points. Chase and Citi both pull Equifax for me so I’m probably on thin ice for new cards with either of them.

    This offer is tempting, but ultimately I think holding out for a United card and AA biz card to add to my current accounts will provide more value. As someone who only takes one international trip per year, I’d rather focus on one or two main rewards accounts, versus maintaining balances in 3+.

    Great offer for many people though I am sure!

  • gpapadop

    In your specific example above, I see AA outbound and BA inbound. Isn’t that considered BA and partner award—>more miles? Or is the AA coded flight a BA flight and just missed it?

    Last night I realized something. I am great at earning miles and just darn awful on spending them. This has A LOT to do with the airlines making it increasingly more difficult to spend miles on the lower award levels. Case in point, last night I tried to book award flights for family to fly to Singapore using CO miles and CO was asking 120k miles instead of 60k. It just hit me I need to either get going on learning more or be like so many redeeming for toasters;-)

    I think it would be great if you can do a blog post and consolidate your great detailed posts on how to use miles and do it for each alliance! For example, for * Alliance, have links on how to best check for awards seat space and provide links, provide links to all participating airlines award charts, top 5 award values, etc.

    Of course, the holy grail is a consolidate award chart for all airlines….whoever can make that should be considered for a Nobel Prize!! We go on it, we type in where we want to fly from and to and click to get a list of how many and which airline miles it will cost….yeah, I know, we can still dream about it!!

    Ok, I think it is time to get a Quantas ff account and make that my starting choice to check award seats in * Alliance.

  • James

    I could be wrong but I was almost positive that BA doesn’t allow you to use their miles on transatlantic flights because I have always tried and they have always explicitly told me that it wasn’t possible. Sometimes they will allow BA 1 way and AA the other way. Am I right or is BA just making stuff up?

  • James

    Sorry meant transatlantic flights on other carriers besides BA. If your post is correct then that would be huge. You would be able to avoid the fuel fees.

  • The Points Guy

    @Gpapadop- if you split it into two one-way awards you could get it to price at the one Oneworld carrier price.

    @james- you can definitely redeem transatlantic awards on AA (if there is saaver availability) or FInn Air. Don’t let phone agents tell you any different! The only bad thing is that BA also tacks on hefty fuel surcharges on those carriers as well. Not quite as high as BA surcharges, but usually $400+, which isn’t insignificant.

  • gpapadop

    @Gpapadop- if you split it into two one-way awards you could get it to price at the one Oneworld carrier price.

    Bingo, thanks!!

  • http://voyageforever.com/ Pierre

    Great tip!
    I’m sill learning new tips with you although I thought I knew quite lot about Executive Club.
    Do you think it’s possible to ask for a LAN ticket between Europe and South America and to avoid the heavy surcharges on BA and Iberia?

  • John

    Do you know if there’s a page on the BA website that talks about routing restrictions? If I wanted to go to Perth from the US, could I fly Cathay from NYC-YVR-HKG-PER, or would that be considered too circuitous? Thanks!

  • thrashsoundly

    I’m looking for multiple options to spend my 100K BA miles on OW partners. I love the CX to Asia idea, but I’m also considering flying Finnair (AY) to Europe in J. I don’t think AY has F(?). I’ve always wanted to go to Helsinki, but looking at the award chart for “one BA partner airline,” North America to HEL would cost 130K in J. However flying to a Europe 1 city like FRA would only be 100K.

    Since AY hubs through HEL, do you know if would I be able to spend the lesser amount (100K) if I make my “destination” in Europe 1 and stopover in HEL on the way? Have you tried this? If it works, this would be a great mile saver!

    I’d probably try to also open jaw in Europe 1 to get a third city before returning. For my 100K BA miles, I think this would be a great trip.

  • The Points Guy

    @Thrash the award should price based on your origin and end point, so you can transit through HEL without getting dinged for the extra miles.

    Agree that it sounds like a great trip for 100k!

  • thrashsoundly

    I hoped so and have been wondering if this might be a good award trip option with my 100K BA miles. Thanks for the confirmation!

  • SgFm

    This is just what I was looking for. I have a fairly complex AA One World award in C for 2 people, but one long haul segment is only available on Iberia in Y at the moment. I will use the Qantas site daily until I hopefully see seats open up for our possible travel dates. Our travel dates are not until end of September, so I imagine if I am diligent and a little lucky that we’ll end up with business seats in the end.

  • RichO

    Great site. I’m just starting to go through all these very helpful posts. My endgame is a trip to Australia from NYC in 2012. Thanks to the Citi AA promo earlier this year and now this BA offer, my question is this: Is it possible to combine AA and BA miles to net a Qantas Biz Class seat? Or can I use only one or the other airline’s miles and not both at once? Thanks so much and I intend on snooping around some more for other terrific ways to utilize miles and points…

  • The Points Guy

    @RichO- You can’t physically combine AA and BA points, but both programs allow one-way awards so you could book one way using AA miles and the other using BA miles. Let me know if you need anything else!

  • RichO

    Brilliant workaround! Thx.

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  • Evan

    A OneWorld airline you omitted that EF shows is Air Tahiti Nui which flies CDG-LAX, a nice option. Also, beware that QF’s website accuracy for IB flights can be hit or miss. For example, currently QF’s site shows 2 seats in C for 10/3/11 from MAD-LAX on IB, but if you call AA, or go to IB’s website, there is no such availability. There is some discussion of this here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/american-aadvantage/1019937-discrepancy-between-qf-cx-award-search-aa-availability.html

    KVS Tool also uses QF’s website, so their results will be the same for IB flights.

  • The Points Guy

    Evan- Air Tahiti Nui isn’t a Oneworld carrier. Agree that IB availability across the board is screwy.

  • Evan

    I’m sorry, I was confusing AA codeshare partner.

  • MJLouise

    How do you put in a city not on Qantas’ pull down list? I don’t see DFW, isn’t that a major AA hub?

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  • SgFm

    Brian, do you find this is a reliable/accurate way to check for seats? I ask because I just got off the phone w/AAdvantage trying to book a single segment MAD-JFK that shows as an available seat on the Qantas site in business class for the day I want to travel, but AA doesn’t see the seat.

  • The Points Guy

    SGFM- For American Airlines availability, the best bet is to use aa.com or ExpertFlyer. If it shows on those sites, it will be bookable. Qantas’ search engine is not 100% perfect, especially when searching for Iberia awards.

  • SgFm

    Expert Flyer does not have Iberia, and when I look on AA I only see their flights, not any Iberia flights. I guess I will need to call AA, to keep checking.

  • The Points Guy

    @SG- sorry I thought you were talking about an AA flight MAD-JFK. As far as Qantas.com goes, it is not reliable for Iberia. The only way to check is to call AA or BA and if they don’t show availability, there isn’t much else you can do.

  • The Points Guy

    @MJ-Dallas pulls up for me without an issue.

  • Bob

    What is the best option to search for Cathay Pacific award seats? You’ve mentioned BA’s site for the Asian carriers, and I’ve found a few Cathay results on there while searching, but they aren’t always ideal.
    If I register at Cathay, do my searching on their site and find award seats Cathay itself is listing, do I then have the evidence necessary to call BA and say “I want award seats on flight A, B and C on Cathay Pacific, their site is showing award openings on those flights as we speak”?

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  • Jeff R

    Thanks for the great explanations of BA rewards. Trying to figure out how to spend my 100k from the Chase/BA deal. Qantas is a great tool to search for flights but am I correct to assume that their calculations of award points is meaningless? So how do I calculate the correct miles and fees for a reward trip? Or are these just a frame of reference to use when calling the BA agents? Thanks in advance TPG! I read our blog every day!

  • http://veerob.com veeRob

    Any idea why the Quantas tool doesn’t include cities that are available on OneWorld? Omaha, NE is missing, as is Tallinn, Estonia. Both are cities I’m looking for award availability in. Very disappointing.

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  • Arthur

    Thanks a lot for such a great site! This is very useful.

    I tried to book a flight through BA.com from NYC to HKG round trip in december, but the cathay option didn’t show up at all… How might I do so? Thanks in advance!

  • The Points Guy

    @Arthur- it should pull up, but BA.com has been broken lately. Was it giving you an error? If its actually working and you follow the steps to include partner availability, you should be able to book NYC to HKG on it

  • John C

    Hi There: I took advantage of the BA Credit card offer to give my parents a free trip to their dream of a lifetime destination – Brazil. I am trying to get them flights form LAX to Rio anytime between September and March, 2012 (espcially late February) but It seems like nothing on LAN is available. I do realize obviously that it is high season down there but what I wanted to know is when do award seats on LAN and AA typically become “bookable” through BA.com? I read on some forums that only 3 or 6 months out.. is this true?

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  • Anonymous

    How much was the fuel surcharge added to the cost of the reward ticket you built above?

  • Umimar

    What would be the best way to fly SFO (or SJC) to MAD around Dec. 16 to Jan. 9 using BA miles?

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  • Asiroka

    Trying to get to Israel or Jordan a little before Christmas from LAX (and return). I have 102,000 BA miles. Upon searching ba.com I found nothing to book with miles. Do you guys think this is possible?

  • yuliy
  • Guest

    Hi. Great blog!

    It costs 40,000 AA miles to fly ABQ->LON round trip on May 23 – Apr 3 and 72000 miles via Quantas using the same flights and times.

    Just wondering what you think about that large variance?

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