No American Airlines Business Class Seats Appearing on Your Computer? Switch to Mobile for Hidden Results

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.

Flights to Mexico are an excellent deal with American Airlines miles. (Photo by Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock)

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:

You can choose to emulate an Android device, an iPhone, Opera, and more.

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:

And subscribe to our newsletter for more points and miles tips and tricks.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Join the Discussion!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

This article is full of errors.

The distinction is not between the desktop and mobile sites. AA introduced a new award search engine – this is what you are using on your mobile device. This new search engine is also available on the desktop if you choose to use it, and shows the “extra” results.

The actual reason behind the difference in results is that the new award search is broken. It is not respecting married segment availability. American is making seats available CVG-PHL individually, and PHL-CUN individually, but not CVG-PHL-CUN. The old award search engine is respecting this. The new award search is improperly piecing together availability from the two segments individually, when American really does not intend to offer the seats.

Reply to  Greg
1 year ago

That sounds possible but I cannot get this new search unless I’m on my mobile so it kind of is a distinction between phone and the laptop. It seems to only activate with certain searches. How do you pull it up on computer?

Will K.
Reply to  Greg
1 year ago

I saw “mixed” class availability on new search engine. For example web site showed no Business saaver awards from Turks and Caicos back to NYC. On the new search I could business saaver one direction and milesaaver economy in reverse direction. But never business saaver in both directions. I got both ways 40000 (36000 after 10% back) points with business saaver on the return. Locked and booked. On old web version business saaver never came up. New search seems to have more sophisticated options. I was thinking they purposely did this as an “enticement” to get people on the new search engine. For the record over the phone I was told by an agent who was using web site that if the app has the itinerary an agent can’t find… grab it.

Ed. C
1 year ago

Great information! I wasn’t finding flights on my laptop that showed up on my phone. Installed the extension and there they are! Thank you!

Only problem I had was that I had to choose the IOS option to get the AA site to work. Wouldn’t let me choose between Round Trip and One Way with the Android option.

Andrew Wan
Reply to  Ed. C
1 year ago

Awesome! Glad it worked out for ya 🙂