Reader Experience: Lessons Learned from a Misbooked Avios/American Award

by on July 25, 2013 · 48 comments

in American, Avios, British Airways

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TPG reader Eric wrote to me this week about a very frustrating experience he just had with British Airways and American Airlines.

As a background, Eric’s sister was visiting him in Miami and he had purchased her an award ticket home on American Airlines using 7,500 Avios. Once she arrived at the airport, however, American told her that there was no record of her flight and the only way she could fly that night is if she paid $400 for another ticket. Even though she showed the representative her confirmation from British Airways, they said they could not help her and weren’t budging.

Be aware the Executive Club closes at 8pm ET.

Be aware the Executive Club closes at 8pm ET.

Eric tried getting in touch with British Airways, but was directed to the Executive Club since it was award ticket. Since it was just after 8pm, the Executive Club line was closed until the morning so Eric and his sister were left with no other option than to just return home for the night and figure it out from there since there was no way they were going to pay over $400 for the same ticket.

The next morning Eric took up the issue with the Executive Club and calmly explained the situation. They responded telling him that there should have been a ticket number from American on the confirmation and since there wasn’t it was the fault of Eric. After pushing back on that and showing that he’s never had the ticket number on his BA confirmation in the past, the representative agreed to help Eric, though there was only one flight with one seat left which was First Class for 22,500 miles. Finally, after refusing to the redeem the extra miles and requesting to get a supervisor involved, the representative caved and booked Eric’s sister in the First Class seat for no additional miles.

Although I frequently book award tickets through British Airways and have never had an experience like Eric’s, there are three important things we should take away from this:

1. If you book with a flight using Avios on an airline other than British Airways, call the BA Executive Club line at 800-452-1201 to make sure you have been ticketed and ask for your ticket number and a confirmation number with the other airline. Other TPG readers also suggest that once you make your reservation, you should be sure to upload it to your account on and send yourself an e-ticket ticket as well as picking your seats on Once you have an AA confirmation number, ticket and seat assignment, you should have no issues like this.

2. Should you ever be in the same situation in which my Eric’s sister found herself, make sure you call the Executive Club line and be empowered by the knowledge that they are aware of their own system glitch. Don’t let them tell you that YOU did something wrong.

3. Phone agents CAN help you in this situation.  Do not shell out any additional Avios points if you miss a flight due to this glitch.

I had a similar situation last year with United and Swiss that is still unresolved after numerous attempts to contact United. Bottom line: always make sure that you have a ticket number and you can pull the reservations up online, especially when booking partner airlines with frequent flyer miles.

Has anyone else had a similar situation?

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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  • Johnny

    I have had this situation occur. What I do is upload my reservation on and send myself a ticket and pick my seats on There is no way that you can have an ticket w/ ticket number on AA.COM that is not valid! ;)

  • Angel

    I’ll chime in based on my recent experiences. I booked 2 tickets (DCA-JFK) online for 2 separate flights using Avios for AA flights and I had to call BA to get the tickets issued on both occasions. According to the 2 different BA agents I spoke with, AA expects the date of birth to be supplied (I guess it is a TSA or DOT requirement now) when they make the booking and there is some glitch on BA’s system preventing them to send that information. Keep in mind I received an email confirmation from BA, I also got a record locator and everything looked fine. I was also able to pull the reservation on my AA account and select seats. The only thing that caught my eye was the “On Request” status on AA instead of “Ticketed”. Very misleading and I think it is worth writing an article to explain and alert your readers about this issue.
    I hope this helps!


  • Bobby @ AwardBookingService

    This. You can log in with your AAdvantage number and pull up the BA reservation by name, date, and flight number. The confirmation number you get from BA is NOT the same as the one AA has. From there it’s status will say “Ticketed” on the AA website and all is well.

    If something is wrong the status will say “Unknown” and that is the red flag to call BA ASAP. I had to do this last week for a ticket I booked for myself this coming October.

    The issue is related to BA not relaying the date of birth info to AA correctly. The agents are very aware of this and can fix it manually while on the phone. You just have to call BA during their open hours for executive club.

    Also: If you use the search method above on your AAdvantage account it will show your BA reservation in your reservations list from now until the flight is completed and on the AA iPhone app too. Their site is smart enough to “save” so you don’t have to do the manual search each time.

  • arcsix

    Strange. When I look back at the flights I’ve bought with Avios, I see emails with the subject “BA e-ticket receipt” and a 125 ticket number. I’m curious if in this case there was no such email, or that field was blank?

  • Mike

    This happens nearly every time I book an AA award using BA miles. For some reason the ticket never gets issued. I always call to confirm, and to obtain the AA reference code.

  • Dexter

    The e-ticket I received from BA by booking my Avios miles do say that “if your itinerary includes an American Airlines flight, we recommend that you contact us to pre-assign seats” (highlight theirs).
    I did follow this and took the AA reference number and used this to check-in instead of the BA reference number.

  • Erik M

    Thanks! Just noticed my flight next month had the same issue. Fixed on the phone in 2 minutes…

    Must be a relatively new issue – didn’t have the problem on either of my flights last year.

  • Dillon

    Thank you. Your best post in a couple of years!

    Noticed a booking I made a month ago for x-mas was never ticketed. Hopefully they will straighten this out, although I’m worried, since the space originally “booked” is no longer available.

    Really piss poor on the part of BA. They undoubtedly are fully aware this is an issue, but provide zero warning.

  • Dillon

    I’m guessing no such email. Similar to Erik M, previous Avios flights I’ve booked have resulted in 1) a confirmation email, and 2) and e-ticket email with 125- number.

    I just noticed my booking from last month resulted in only a confirmation email, and not the 2nd ticketing email.

    Shame on BA.

  • andy

    Thanks! This post spurred me to check on an upcoming reservation, and yep, the status on AA indicated “Unknown”. On, it indicated it was missing the secure flight info, but it wouldn’t allow me to update that info. I called BA and the agent said they’ve been having problems on their website sending the birthdate to AA. I guess this must be a new problem since I’ve never had a problem in the past.

    If they know they have a problem, I wish they were more proactive about it and review those bookings to make sure they are ticketed.

  • Matt

    Don’t you check-in 24hours in advance? Wouldnt this issue be identified at that point when you can’t check-in online?

  • Dillon

    Got it ticketed.

    Shame, shame on BA.

  • Islandtime

    I use and get the AA reservation # and login to AA to upload it there

  • Jon

    I’ve had a similar issue not too long ago. They reserved a seat, but never ticketed it. However, my case was somewhat understandable. I booked the ticket 6 hours prior to flight.

  • anon

    This has happened to me once or twice booking LAN tickets in South America using BA Avios points… I get to the airport and they tell me my flight was not ticketed, and I look at my British airways print out which says “Confirmed” only… The flight happened to be sold out so I couldn’t pay to get on it (was a flight from Santiago to Calama airport in the north near San Pedro de Atacama). I turned around and went home, called them, and they magically got me on a flight out later on that night to Calama. I’m sure there wasn’t award availability left and I always wondered if they had paid full price for the ticket because of their mistake!

  • Eric

    United has similar issues. Booked a ticket on Singapore airline using United miles and the return ticket never got ticketed. Good thing I checked a week beforehand.

  • Matt B

    Yikes, thanks for this! I just booked a trip for my in-laws and went to double-check after reading this. Sure enough, on AA it shows as “Uknown” status. I guess I better call!

  • Jerry

    My friend had the exact same issue the other day. We waited on the phone for an hour for a BA rep and they were able to rebook him on the next flight.

  • saranjs

    Exact same problem for us when we flew internationally from Chicago to London on AA flight. I was so glad I caught it about a week ahead of time and finally got a real AA confirmation number for our flight. Didn’t know this was a systemic issue!

  • jdaking

    I think Avios should take full responsibility on this one. If you have requested a redemption and received a confirmation and booking number from them, points have been deducted from the account they should be the one to ensure the ticket is issued. Since when we are supposed to check if they are doing their job, should we get part of their paycheck as well?

  • Dov

    This is a known Issue when booking on BA’s website AA flights with AVIOS it’s has been like this for the past year or so first the problem was limited to fewer routes and lately its has become a systemwide issue the way to know if you will end up with a ticket before you even submit the payment is if you’r able to enter the Date Of Birth if it’s wont let you than there will be no ticket issued

    Another thing to mention is if BA has issued your ticket the email subject would show “BA e-ticket reciept” and in the email you would have your e-ticket # starting with 125- , if there is no ticket issued than the email subject would show “BA travel reservation”

    Also as others have mentioned you could pull up your AA record (via you get the AA record locator) and see if it’s says Ticketed

  • Greg

    BA ticketing system has a glitch. After booking a ticket on BA website I had to on three different occasions contact BA customer service and request the award reservation be ticketed. The glitch is the birthdate does not get properly recorded and the reservation will stay in limbo until BA is contacted to correct the error. I also key in the flight number, date, from and to in the ticket search on In these three cases the reservation reflected UNKNOWN on BA confided in me that they are aware of the glitch. It is in the passengers best interest to ensure the reservation states ticketed before arriving at the airport. Also when I contacted AA I was told I needed to contact the travel agent who prepared the itinerary – the AA agent could not correct the ticket for me.

  • Stranded

    Ive had this happen to my wife and I when flying back from Mauritius booked us airways miles flying on south African …the agents in Mauritius told us there was nothing they could do and that we eould have to call us airways in the states to sort it out …what’s worse is that they said we could not use their phones and would have to use a pay phone !!!…after an hour of long distance charges we were finally able to get routed home but with 4 connecting flights and 45 hrs of travel time …

  • Cherie

    Thanks for this ! I double checked after reading the article, and DITTO! Had to call and fix.

  • Ryan

    This is a known issue from the last few week only – regardless of what others have said. The issue is specifically that when entering the date of birth on BA for an AA ticket, the info is not properly saved and therefore AA is unable to ticket it. I’ve had to deal with this several times recently. BA admitted it is a glitch and are working to resolve.

    In the meantime, check on AA and if not showing as ticketed call BA to add the DOB and they will finalize the ticket.

    One one of my tickets, BA was kind enough to email me a few days before the trip alerting me that they still needed the DOB.

  • Dov

    AA does not issue the ticket it’s BA who issues the ticket,

    The issue is not from the last few weeks I’ve personally experienced this on several flights with AA on BA Avios tickets for the last year

  • Charlotte

    This may or may not be useful since I have booked on AA with BA Avios and had AA confirmation numbers, ticket numbers and assigned seats through AA site and was not able to check-in online. However, I had no issues at the airport with checking in and getting a boarding pass with AA.

  • Kelvin

    I also had an issue when booking a Swiss Air flight with United miles. When I showed up at the airport in Bangkok with my email confirmation from United, Swiss had no record of the ticket.

  • harry

    Dear all.

    I am a travel agent and I’ll expalin it with a drop more detail. When you book a ticket using your BA miles to fly on American or any other partner (o fly anywhere in the USA or Canada. TSA does not allow them to issue the ticket with your date of birth. For some how reason BA website sometimes doesn’t ask for the DOB and even when it does it sometimes doesn’t enter it into the ticket. So your ticket doesn’t issue. (Ticketing) you get a email of the reservation but without a ticket number. You have to call in to add the date of birth and then they will issue it. I have seen it by United airlines, Air Canada, and several other airlines. Just on every ticket even when you buy a ticket on expedia or any site. Always make sure you see a ticket # if not call to ask.

  • chicagostaralliance

    Happened to me as well. Showed up in Chicago yesterday at check in at 4am. Flight to Toronto was at 6am. AA check in agent informed me reservation wasn’t ticketed. She tried calling BA but they didn’t open until 7AM. Paid $1,000 to get on the flight. Wonder what BA will do with this one.

  • alessandriana

    omg, thank you SO much for posting this; I checked the reservation I made a few days ago to NYC and lo and behold, it had not been ticketed! Yikes. Thankfully, BA was able to fix it once I provided the birth dates for everyone traveling (again).

  • Eric

    TPG & Readers,

    This was my story. This was a flight booked last minute. Normally, I would call in advance to pick my seat since you can’t do that on BA’s website, but there was no time. So, we didn’t call American in advance and just showed up to the airport to get the boarding pass.

    I have flown AA using Avios no less than 8 times, and I never had this problem before. However, I was told this problem is “common.”

    If you are calling to make sure you were properly ticketed, make sure you call the Executive Club line given by TPG above. If you call the customer service line on the booking confirmation e-mail, they will NOT help you.

    Glad sharing this story seemed to help some of you.

  • James K

    Just booked a ticket on AA with Avios and got the same problem. Called BA and fixed birthday problem.

  • Patrick Mc

    We just booked a flight for my sister-in-law for next week on AA using Avios and I noticed that we had a BA booking ID number but we never got the second e-mail that their first e-mail references with the e-ticket number. We had to call BA twice to finally get an AA confirmation number. After verifying the confirmation number on the AA website, we should be good to go for her flight next week right? I always make sure we have a confirmation number that pulls up on the airline we will be flying before we travel to hopefully avoid any issues at the airport. This is not good that confirmations are not generating automatically though.

  • Jenny

    Just wanted to echo what most are saying, that it’s all about date of birth. I booked an AA flight last week with Avios, and the status on never changed from Unknown… so I called Executive Club the next morning and the agent immediately knew the problem and asked for the date of birth…then the ticket was issued immediately. But if I wasn’t so detail oriented I wouldn’t have noticed and I would have been stuck at the airport. The agent told me this problem has been ongoing for months, because of the Secure Flight info requirement.

    I didn’t find much online while googling to see if I was the only one, so I’m glad for everyone that you posted this blog today!

  • MikeyB

    I second Dov ‘s comment. Beware when going US->Canada because if they don’t get your DOB, they will not ticket you. A BA rep actually emailed me to ask for Date of Birth (because she said she called and I didn’t pick up).

    Once I emailed her back, she generated the “BA e-ticket receipt” email which is your e-ticket confirmation needed for travel.

  • MikeyB

    See my comment above. Probably because they didn’t have your DOB.


    I just had same thing happen booked a domestic US ticket on AA using Avios looked it up on AA after reading this showed status Unknown called BA said they didn’t have DOB so couldn’t ticket it gave them DOB it immediately showed as ticketed on AA

  • Jason

    Thank you for this post (and all of the comments)! I would have been in a big bind if I had not happened to come across this. I booked an Avios redemption ticket on AA for a relative that would have had this issue if I had not seen this and called BA. I am not flying on the ticket, and she would have been stuck at the airport. I had all kinds of confirmations that I thought meant it was ok, like PNRs for both BA and AA, seat assignments, and emails saying that the booking was confirmed. It never would have occurred to me that I could have seat assignments without it being ticketed. I called the BA exec club number and got it fixed quickly. Thanks!

  • Howard

    Great post. You saved my bacon for my upcoming trip.

  • Ken Paynter

    Good post. Better safe than sorry. Just added to upcoming itineraries from to Why risk it?

  • Pingback: Avios booking. ETicket not issued - FlyerTalk Forums()

  • Katye

    Can’t tell you how glad I came across this article. I just booked SFO-LAX (American Airline) with Avios for my parents, got the confirmation number and then call BA to find out that they are missing my Dad’s DOB and so the booking wasn’t ticketed. I swear I entered it when I make the booking! So glad I found out a few days in advance and was able to fix everything over the phone. Otherwise it would have ruined everyone’s weekend. Guess whose link will I use for my credit card app next time ;)

  • Juan Carlos Cuadrado

    I have a similar problem on july

  • Jcc

    On july 2nd at 6 45 am, i showed up at LGA to catch my american Eagle to DTW. Weeks before, i had booked the flight with British airways avios thru BA webpage as many instances before.

    To my surprise the AA representative told me that the ticket had not been issued and that i should buy a new ticket.

    After wasteless checking and argumentations, and since i had an important private business meeting in Ohio that i cold not postpone or delay, i was forced to buy on the spot a new AA one way LGA – DTW ticket IN THE SAME FLIGHT at a cost of USD 704 instead of 4500 avios and 1,73 euros.

    Once in detroit, i called BA USA helpdesk to complain and make sure that the american eagle flight MSP-LGA that i had booked for july 7 with avios thru the same BA webpage was right. She confirmed that the MSP-LGA booking was issued and she commented that my problem with the LGA- DTW flight was kind of common due to problems with the BA webpage and that i should complain when i came back to Europe.

    Back in Spain, i did make a written complain on july 10 thru BA webpage and i got an answer stating that since the LGA-DTW ticket was not issued, BA is not accountable and will not reimburse the USD 704.

    Yesterday had a phone conversation with BA Customer Relations and they committed to review the issue. Though i do not have much hope…

    Anyone has been compensated by BA on a similar case?

    Any recommendation on how to carry this claim process to a succesful end.?


  • sam_goh

    I had a bad experience with this too. Ended up missing the flight even though I was there 1 hour before departure. Initial phone rep tried to claim I booked it wrong. Caused some small inconvenience as I missed my meeting and had to stay a night in a hotel. After a tremendous about of b$tiching, they refunded 5k of the 7.5K avios points /twirl

  • Jason

    Absolutely had the same experience. Booked a BA award on American earlier this year for two of us. No issues. Booked three separate short-haul awards over the past month. None ticketed. I had to call in and get each one ticketed. Ridiculous.

  • shonuffharlem

    Great great post! Also make it a hard fast rule: any award booking (especially with a partner airline) confirm that it was TICKETED with the partner airline! Never make that exception (obviously, harder to follow with last minute bookings – probably after being made should immediately call airline your flying on to verify ticket).

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