Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 9 – How to Find Award Availability
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I get a lot of questions on British Airways Avios points, and started a series on how to use British Airways Avios points 2 years ago and finally finished writing it.
You can use the British Airways website to find and book award tickets.
Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro:
- Part 1 – Love it or Hate it: An Introduction to British Airways Avios Points
- Part 2 – What Does a Distance Based Award Chart Mean?
- Part 3 – Taxes and Fees
- Part 4 – What Else Can I do with British Airways Avios Points?
- Part 5 – Using British Airways Avios Points to Upgrade Paid Tickets
- Part 6 – Using Cash and Points
- Part 7 – Household Accounts
- Part 8 – The British Airways Companion Pass
- Part 9 – How to Find Award Availability
- Part 10 – The Best International Awards Using British Airways Avios Points
- Part 11 – The Best Domestic Awards Using British Airways Avios Points
- Part 12 – The Best Short Distance Awards Using British Airways Avios Points
Airlines Where You Can Use British Airways Avios Points
Using the British Airways website (sign-in required), you can book award seats on the following airlines:
- American Airlines
- Air Berlin
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Finnair (only intra-Europe flights)
- Iberia (but you should book through Iberia’s program)
- Japan Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
- US Airways
However, you can NOT book the following airlines online:
How to Find Available Award Seats Using BritishAirways.com
Step 1 – Log In
Log into your British Airways Executive Club account.
Step 2 – Click “Spending Avios”
Once you are logged in, hover over the “Executive Club” area at the top and click “Spending Avios.”
Step 3 – Click “Book Flights With Avios”
Once on the next page, you can click “book flights with Avios” on the left side of the screen.
Step 4 – Search Each Segment Individually
We’ll look for a 1-way coach award ticket from New York to Rome, Italy, on April 9, 2015, using British Airways Avios points.
You will pay fuel surcharges for flights on American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia. But you do NOT pay fuel surcharges on Air Berlin, so let’s look for flights there!
You should search for each segment individually because the British Airways award search engine isn’t that smart.
A. New York to Dusseldorf, Germany
This means we should search for flights from New York to Dusseldorf, Germany, and from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Rome, Italy.
There’s 1 coach award seat available on April 9, 2015. You’ll pay 20,000 British Airways Avios points + ~$6 to fly 1-way in coach from New York to Dusseldorf, Germany.
If there weren’t coach award seats on April 9, 2015, you could click on the date tabs to search other days.
B. Dusseldorf, Germany to Rome, Italy
After finding the flight from New York to Dusseldorf, Germany, we can look for the flight from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Rome, Italy, on April 10, 2015.
There are coach award seats available on April 10, 2015. You’ll pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points + ~$38 to fly 1-way in coach from Dusseldorf, Germany, to Rome, Italy.
If there weren’t coach award seats, you could click on the date tabs to search other days.
Step 5 – Book Separately or Call British Airways
Although there are coach award seats on the New York to Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Dusseldorf, Germany, to Rome, Italy, flights, you can NOT book them together on the British Airways website.
You could book them separately, but if you have to make changes or cancellations, you’ll pay change or cancellation fees for both itineraries.
So you have to call British Airways at 800-247-9297. You’ll pay a $25 phone booking fee, but you can ask the agent to waive it because the award wasn’t available online.Note: If you pay for flights separately, you could stopover in Dusseldorf, Germany, for as long as you want and book a later flight to Rome!
How to Find Award Seats on Alaska Airlines
You can NOT book Alaska Airlines flights on the British Airways website. However, you can use the American Airlines website, the Delta Air Lines website, or ExpertFlyer to search for Alaska Airlines award tickets.
In addition, the British Airways website can NOT search for Finnair flights across the Atlantic, but you can use the American Airlines website to search for Finnair flights.
You can also use the American Airlines website to search for flights on:
- American Airlines (Saver level only)
- Air Berlin
- Alaska Airlines
- British Airways
- US Airways (Saver level only)
Step 1 – Enter Travel Information
Let’s search for 2 award seats from San Jose, California, and Honolulu on October 3, 2014, using the American Airlines website. Alaska Airlines flies this route nonstop.
Go to aa.com and enter your travel information. Make sure to select “Redeem miles.”
Step 2 – Uncheck Hawaiian Airlines
After clicking on October 3, 2014, you can choose from flights on several airlines.
You have to uncheck Hawaiian Airlines because while they are partners with American Airlines, they are NOT partners with British Airways! You can keep the results for American Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Airlines because they are British Airways partners.
Your results show connecting flights via Seattle.
Step 3 – Search for “Non-Stop Only” Flights
Because you have to pay for each flight separately with British Airways Avios points, you would pay ~ 17,000 to 20,000 British Airways Avios points per person. So you search again but search for “Non-stop only” flights.
Step 4 – Search for MileSAAver Award Seats
Because there weren’t any non-stop flights on October 3, 2014, you check the next day, October 4, 2014.
If there are MileSAAver award seats, you can book the flight using British Airways Avios points.
There are 2 coach award seats on the non-stop Alaska Airlines flight from San Jose to Honolulu. You should pay 12,500 British Airways Avios points per person.
Write down the flight number and call British Airways at 800-247-9297 to book.
You can also use ExpertFlyer, a paid subscription service, to search for award tickets. You can set up alerts if award seats become available. However, many features are reserved for those who pay for Premium Service.
You can use ExpertFlyer to search for award tickets on the following British Airways partners:
- Aer Lingus (although it may not always match what British Airways has available)
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Iberia (only Business Class)
Here’s how to use ExpertFlyer to search for Alaska Airlines space.
Step 1 – Click on “Awards & Upgrades”
After signing into your ExpertFlyer account, click “Awards & Upgrades.”
Step 2 – Enter Your Travel Information
Using your example from above, you search for flights from San Jose (SJC) to Honolulu (HNL). Enter your travel information to include:
- “Departing Airport”
- “Arriving Airport”
- “Depart Date”
- Flexibility (Exact Date, +/- 1 Day, +/- 2 Day, +/- 3 Day)
Then click “Search.”
Step 3 – Search for Saver Awards
Because you can only use British Airways Avios points on Saver awards, you have to search for Saver Awards. So you search for “First – Saver Award (A)” for First Class seats, and “Coach – Saver Award (W)” for coach seats.
There are 2 First Class award seats but no coach seats on October 3, 2014.
On October 4, 2014, there are no First Class award seats and 2 coach seats.
Step 4 – Click to Set Award Alert
You can also set award alerts if award seats become available.
Because you want 2 coach seats on October 3, 2014, you set an award alert to notify you if Alaska Airlines releases more award seats. ExpertFlyer keeps track of these changes for you!
Click the “!” icon to set an award alert.
A “Create Flight Alert” pop-up box will appear. You can set an alert for coach or First Class, and you will get an email when award seats become available.
You have to call British Airways at 800-247-9297 to book flights on Alaska Airlines.
You can set an award alert on ExpertFlyer to let you know when award seats become available for your travel dates.
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