British Airways and American Airlines are both part of the OneWorld alliance which means they often share award space. If an award seat is open on American Airlines, chances are it can be booked using another OneWorld Alliance currency. The process is fairly simple and has improved since the first time I booked an American Airlines award using British Airways Avios.
Not too long ago the sweet spot for using British Airways Avios was when traveling domestically on American Airlines. Avios were based on distances traveled and could save you a few miles when taking short flights in North America on American Airlines. Today, the two airlines price award flights nearly identically so there is less opportunity to save miles, but it still represents a nice option for booking award travel.
The process is fairly simple:
- Search for award space on American Airlines website and see how many miles it will cost.
- Login to your British Airways account and select the “Book with Avios” option. Then search for the same flight. You will be able to select the flight and pay using Avios.
I understand that this might not be as lucrative as it once was, but considering American Express often has a promotion offering a 50% bonus when transferring to British Airways, it could help squeeze a little more value out of your Membership Rewards points.
It is important to note that Avios for international travel are not the best option. British Airways implements outrageous fuel surcharges on transatlantic flights so if you’re hoping to use miles for a trip to Europe you are better off stashing miles with a different airline. Avios however come in handy when trying to book short distance domestic flights in the United States on American Airlines. I often use Avios when traveling to St. Louis from Chicago as round trip prices are generally over $450 on American Airlines!
Once you have paid for the flight, British Airways will give you a British Airways record locator, but they should also give you an American Airlines record locater to add the flight to your AAdvantage account. I also recommend adding your American Airlines frequent flyer number to the ticket in order to receive any benefits you may have through status or credit cards.