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How Do I Use Avios for American Airlines Domestic Flights?

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TPG reader John messaged me to ask about redeeming British Airways Avios:

“I tried to check availability for flights within the United States using Avios on American Airlines, but I keep getting messages that British Airways has no flights between these cities (e.g., Newark-Los Angeles). What am I doing wrong?”

I’ve gotten this question many times before (in fact, almost on a daily basis), so John, you aren’t alone out there. People seem to do revenue flight searches instead of award searches, which is where things go wrong. You can’t just search on the main screen at BA.com; you have to first go to the Executive Club tab and click on Spending Avios; then click on Redeem, Use Avios, or Reward Flights.

You have to be in the reward flights section on BA.com to see any American Airlines flights.

Alternatively, on the left side of the screen you can see a sidebar that says Book With Cash, and instead choose Book With Avios. Then, when you enter your routing (like Newark to Los Angeles) it will show you award options. British Airways doesn’t fly within the US wholly, so make sure that you’re doing an award search.

The same goes for Alaska Airlines. If you try to book a flight from New York to Milan on Alaska Airlines in the main flight search, it may not come up. Once you click Use Miles or go into the Mileage Plan section to search for an award flight, flights on partner airlines such as Emirates will show up.

You can book AA award tickets using Avios on BA.com. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
You can book American Airlines award tickets using Avios on BA.com. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

In short, each airline has separate search functions for revenue tickets and award tickets. Whichever kind of miles you have, make sure to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the award search engine. For example, the British Airways award search won’t always show flights with multiple connections, so you may have to call to book. Technically, if there is MileSAAver availability on AA.com, you should be able to book it using British Airways Avios, and most Oneworld partners do show up on the British Airways website. I’ve written extensively about maximizing British Airways Avios, so read up to learn more.

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If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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