Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
INSIDER SECRET: You can easily trick the American Airlines website into thinking your desktop browser is a smartphone. I’ll show you why that’s important!
As ever, I’d waited too long to book my flights.
I have a habit of waiting until the last minute, as my plans and ideas for upcoming trips are changing and evolving until I actually scan my boarding pass. My fiancee and I had chosen to visit Mexico, but there are plenty of other areas in the Caribbean we’d like to see, too (like the unbelievable bioluminescent waters of Puerto Rico).
When we finally committed to Mexico, the wide-open American Airlines business class cabin I’d seen just the day before had vanished. And that’s when, in desperation, I found a handy American Airlines quirk. Maybe it will help you, as well.
American Airlines Shows Different Award Seats for Mobile and Desktop
I’d been monitoring Business Class seats from Cincinnati to Cancun for weeks. Literally no business class seats were reserved on my desired flight, so I was in no hurry to book them.
Then, like a thief in the night, American Airlines pulled all available business class seats at once. I searched the website incognito, I searched while signed in to my account, while signed out of my account, with different browsers like Firefox and Microsoft Edge … anything I could think of to try and find the scads of seats I knew had to be available.
Days later, sitting dejected in my car waiting to meet a friend, I decided to check the American Airlines website on my phone to see if the seats were back. THEY WERE.
Back at my computer, I excitedly navigated to the American Airlines site only to find they had once again disappeared. That’s when I began to put the pieces together. I compared both the desktop and mobile American Airlines sites, and found a huge difference in their seat inventory.
Here’s a shot of the desktop site.
And here’s a shot from the mobile site.
As you can see, there are clearly different top results. Not only did the mobile site have the particular seats on the flights I wanted, but it displayed many more available flights than the desktop version.
It’s mildly annoying that American Airlines gives you mixed results based on the device with which you’re searching, but I’m at peace with it. It’s not the case for every date, but if you can’t find the seats you want, don’t give up hope until you’ve checked the mobile site.
Book From the Mobile Site on Your Desktop
If you’ve ever tried to search or book flights on your mobile device, you know it’s living hell. However, when you find the seats you want on mobile, there’s an easy trick to booking them with your computer: Download a free mobile platform emulator (I’ve got User-Agent Switcher for Chrome), and it will trick the American Airlines site into thinking your desktop browser is a phone.
Here’s a screenshot of the Chrome extension:
Just select the mobile device you want (I chose Android), and the website will display as though your computer is a giant phone. The hidden results will be there, and you can book them with ease.
NOTE: If you’re using the User-Agent Switcher for Chrome to search the American Airlines website and it yields no results, try making your browser window half-screen instead of full. That occasionally makes a difference for some reason.
Let me know if you’ve noticed the same quirks on other airline websites — as I’ve not yet experimented with them all. You can check out these posts to learn more about how to get the most from American Airlines miles:
- American Airlines Miles Review
- American Airlines Miles Value
- American Airlines Status
- Best Use of AA Miles
- How to Earn AA Miles
- How to Setup a American Airlines Account
- How to Use American Airlines Miles
- AA Award Chart
- Do American Airlines Miles Expire?
- AA Reduced Mileage Awards
And subscribe to our newsletter for more points and miles tips and tricks.