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You pay high taxes and fees when you redeem American Airline miles for travel on British Airways. These taxes and fees are usually $250+ per segment on long distance flights, and make redeeming American Airlines (or British Airways) miles for coach seats on British Airways a poor value.
A reader wrote in to say that British Airways was asking for ~$800 in taxes and fees for her economy award, but that she could buy a similar seat on Expedia for the same price!
But British Airways has terrific availability for business class and first class flights. You can get from the US to Europe quite easily and from London the award availability to Africa, the Middle East, and India is great.
And the British Airways First Class experience is very, very good. Check out our trip report in British Airways First Class to see just how good it is!
In fact, you could argue that the high taxes and fees act as a sort of “award congestion tax” and ensures the terrific award availability on British Airways (albeit at a higher price).
Earn miles for British Airways award travel booked using American Airline miles
But you may be able to earn miles for award travel on British Airways booked with American Airline miles.
This is important because earning miles may reduce the sting of the high taxes and fees and even get you elite status through award travel on British Airways!
I remember reading a post on View from the Wing where Gary had received miles for his award travel on British Airways using American Airline miles. For an added bonus, Gary also shares the “sneaky” way to get British Airways lounge access at Heathrow!
S0 when Emily and I traveled to India, I entered Emily’s American Airlines AAdvantage number into her British Airways award reservation on the British Airways website, and I entered my British Airways Executive Club number into my British Airways award reservation for our flight from London to Bombay. I wanted to see whether we would both earn miles.
We BOTH earned miles in our accounts!
Emily earned ~6,000 American Airline miles (not sure how they calculated this) and I earned 180 British Airways Tier Points (Tier Points count towards elite status) and ~9,000 miles (4,500 base miles + 100% First Class bonus).
I value one British Airway mile at 0.9 cents each so 9,000 British Airways miles was worth $81 to me and somewhat sweetened the high taxes and fees which I paid.
Why does this matter?:
British Airways just introduced a new Bronze level elite status (comparable to American Airlines Gold status) which requires earning 300 British Airways Tier Points + travel on 2 British Airways flights or 25 flights.
But 2 long haul award first class flights on British Airways using American Airline miles could get you Bronze level status and ~16,000 British Airways miles!
And 4 long haul first class segments on British Airways using American Airline miles could get you Silver level status and ~32,000 British Airways miles.
How to add a frequent flyer number to a British Airways award reservation:
Log-in to your British Airways account and click on “Manage my booking”
Click on “Passenger information”
Enter your frequent flyer numbers
Alternatively, you can also add your British Airways Executive Club number to your reservation at the airport.
If you’ve booked a British Airways flight using American Airline miles, you’ve got nothing to lose by adding your British Airways or American Airlines number to your award reservation on the British Airways website.
You just may end up with elite status and quite a lot of extra miles!
Please share your experience earning miles on British Airways awards using American Airline miles in the comments!