When Can You Book Award Flights Using Partner Airline Miles?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Ray, commented:

When can you use British Airways Avios points to book an American Airlines award flight?

Are the rules similar for booking other partner award flights?

Excellent questions, Ray!

When using miles or points from a partner airline, you can only book an award flight if low-level award seats are available.

For example, with American Airlines there must be “MileSAAver” award seats available to use British Airways Avios points for the same flight.  And with United Airlines, available “Saver” award seats mean you can book using partner airline miles.

Keep in mind, it can be difficult to find award seats available at these levels.  It depends on the route and travel dates.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
You Can Use Miles From One Airline to Book an Award Flight on a Partner. But Low-Level Award Seats Must Be Available to Book This Way

I’ll share a few examples where you can use miles to book a partner award flight.

Book Award Flights With Partner Airline Miles

Link:   7 General Tips to Help You Book Award Flights

Link:   What to Look for BEFORE You Book an Award Seat on an Airline Partner

Most airlines offer award seats at multiple levels.  For example, with American Airlines, there are options to book an “AAnytime” or “MileSAAver” award seat in coach, Business Class, or First Class.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
There Are 6 Different Categories for American Airlines Award Seats

The trick is you can only book the “AAnytime” award seats with American Airlines miles.  But you can book the low-level “MileSAAver” award seats through a partner, like British Airways.

The same goes for an award flight on any airline when you want to use a partner airline’s miles.

Many readers have pointed out recently that it can be a challenge to find low-level award seats.  This is likely because airlines only offer a limited number of these seats, which are booked quickly.  And introducing basic economy fares has also removed available award seats.

That said, here are a few examples I found that work.

1.   American Airlines Flight Using British Airways Avios Points

I searched for a last-minute American Airlines award flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

There’s a round-trip MileSAAver award flight available for 45,000 American Airlines miles.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
Book a Round-Trip American Airlines Award Flight to Hawaii for 45,000 American Airlines Miles

Or you can book the same award flight using Oneworld partner British Airways Avios points.  And you’ll save lots of miles!  Because the flight costs 25,000 British Airways Avios points.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
Save Miles to Hawaii on Some Routes When You Find a Low-Level American Airlines Award Flight and Book Using British Airways Avios Points

Remember, you can earn British Airways Avios points directly with the British Airways Visa Signature Card.  Or you can transfer points from flexible points programs like AMEX Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest.

2.   United Airlines Flight Using Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

Link:   How to Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for United Airlines Award Tickets

I found a non-stop, round-trip coach Saver award flight from Houston to Denver on United Airlines for 25,000 miles.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
You Can Book a Domestic Saver Award Round-Trip Flight Using 25,000 United Airlines Miles

You can book the same flight using the same number of Air Canada Aeroplan miles.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
You Can Redeem Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for United Airlines Award Flights Because Both Are Part of the Star Alliance

This is a good way for folks with AMEX Membership Rewards points to book United Airlines award flights.  Because you can transfer AMEX points directly to Air Canada at 1:1 ratio.

3.   American Airlines Flight Using Etihad Miles

Link:   Save Miles! Book American Airlines Awards With Etihad Miles

You can save thousands of miles by booking American Airlines award flights using Etihad miles!  But again, available award seats can be hard to find.

To find award seats you can book with Etihad miles, search available “MileSAAver” award seats on the American Airlines website or call Etihad.

For example, I found an eligible Business Class award seat available for a one-way flight from New York (JFK) to London.  The flight costs 57,500 American Airlines miles if you book directly with the airline.

Award Flight With Partner Airline Miles
Search for “MileSAAver” Award Seats in Business Class to See If You Can Use Partner Airline Miles for the Same Flight

But Etihad uses their own award chart for American Airlines redemptions.

So the same flight costs 50,000 Etihad miles.  But you can’t book online.  You’ll have to call Etihad at 877-690-0767 to book your seat.

Bottom Line

You can only book an award flight using partner airline miles if you find low-level award seats available on the airline you want to fly.

For example, you can use British Airways Avios points to book American Airlines award flights when “MileSAAver” seats are available.  And you can use Air Canada Aeroplan miles when United Airlines “Saver” award seats are available.

Depending on your route and travel dates, award seats at the low levels can be difficult to find.  But when they are available, you can sometimes save thousands of miles by booking with partner airline miles.

Thanks for the question, Ray!

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