How to Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search for Award Seats

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Million Mile Secrets reader, airgypsy, commented:

Thanks for the reminder about how to save American Airlines miles to Europe during the off-peak period.  Can you recommend what city pairings I can search from the West Coast to Europe, so I don’t get too many British Airways search results on the American Airlines website?

Thanks for the question!

Airgypsy wants to avoid British Airways flights to Europe because of the huge fuel surcharges they add to their flights (including award tickets!).

I’ll show you how to do this no matter which part of the country you’re flying from.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Want to Visit Europe Using American Airlines Miles? Here’s How to Avoid British Airways to Get the Best Deal!

I’ll show you a couple of tricks to get the best flights in your search results!

What Are the Best American Airlines Partners to Europe?

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Partner Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Off-Peak Award Dates

Link:   Book American Airline Award Flights Like a Pro

Through May 15, 2016, you can fly to Europe with American Airlines miles for 10,000 fewer miles each way, including on partner airlines!

American Airlines partners that fly to Europe are:
  • Air Berlin
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia

But, you’ll want to avoid British Airways because they include fuel surcharges which can add hundreds of dollars to your award flights!

So that leaves us with Air Berlin, Finnair, and Iberia.

How to Search the Best Partners

The easiest way to begin putting your award ticket together is to find the longest flight 1st, then build your trip around that flight.  I’ll show you how!

1.   Air Berlin

Link:   Air Berlin Destinations

You can search Air Berlin flights directly on the American Airlines website.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Fly Non-Stop to Berlin From 5 US Cities (Plus Vancouver)!

You can fly direct to Berlin or Dusseldorf from:

  • Chicago
  • Fort Myers
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Vancouver

So folks on the West Coast can fly from Los Angeles to Berlin.  Or, you can find award seats from another US city, like Miami.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
I Found Coach Award Seats From Miami to Berlin on the American Airlines Website for 40,000 American Airlines Miles Round-Trip

I was able to find plenty of seats from Miami direct to Berlin.  The round-trip flights cost 40,000 American Airlines miles plus ~$94.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Click “Non-Stop Only” to Focus Your Search

And here’s a tip when you’re searching a route that you know has non-stop service on a partner airline.  Select “Non-stop only” to increase your chances of finding the best flight.

This will require more flexibility with your dates, but it’s worth it because there’s less to sort through!

2.   Finnair

Link:   Finnair Destinations

Though Finnair doesn’t have any West Coast destinations, you can always plan a connecting flight, and then fly over the Atlantic, to save money on fuel surcharges.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Fly Direct to Helsinki, Finland, From Chicago, Miami, New York, or Toronto

You can fly non-stop to Helsinki from:

  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Toronto
How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
I Found Lots of Flights From New York to Helsinki Available on Finnair!

I found non-stop round-trip coach award flights from New York to Helsinki for 40,000 American Airlines miles plus ~$40.  When I checked, lots of award seats were still available!

If you’re willing to add a connecting flight on either side of these flights, this could be a great way to save miles AND money flying to Europe!

3.   Iberia

Link:   Iberia Destinations

Madrid is a terrific destination all by itself, and non-stop award flights on Iberia make it easier to get there!

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Fly From Several US Cities and Mexico Non-Stop to Madrid on Iberia

You can fly direct to Madrid from:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • San Juan

You can also fly from cities in Mexico.

But, unlike the other American Airlines travel partners, you can NOT search for Iberia award flights on the American Airlines website.  Instead, the best way is to search from  Here’s how to find Iberia award flights with Qantas.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
There Are Lots of Award Seats on Iberia, but You Have to Search on the Qantas Website, and Then Call to Book

I found lots of award seats on several non-stop flights each day I looked from Miami to Madrid.  Don’t pay any attention to the award prices you see on the Qantas website.

Once you find the flights you want to book, call American Airlines at 800-433-7300 to book the ticket, and ask them to waive the telephone award booking fee because it’s NOT possible to book this award on their website.

Keep in mind though, there’s always a $75 fee to book an award flight less than 21 days from departure (unless you have elite status).

Connect the Flights

Link:   American Airlines Multi-City Award Search

Once you find the overwater flight you want, you can build the rest of your trip from there.  Because you’ve already selected flights, you already know to avoid any search results on British Airways.

For example, with the Miami to Berlin example from before, I can plug in the same dates, but I’ll add my home airport and where I want to fly in Europe.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Folks in Phoenix Can Use American Airlines Miles to Fly to Paris. Just Run Another Search and Plug In the Other Cities Before and After the Flights You Found

The fuel surcharges on this award are the same price as before, and it’s still only 40,000 American Airlines miles round-trip.

If you have trouble piecing the flights together, try to use the multi-city award search tool.  If the award seats you want display a different price than what you found before, call American Airlines to book and ask them to waive the phone booking fee.  Because all round-trip flights to Europe cost 40,000 American Airlines miles in coach, regardless of where you connect.

If you have any more trouble, you can always contact an award booking service for help.

Don’t Forget American Airlines!

Link:   American Airlines Route Map

One last tip!  Remember American Airlines has their fair share of international flights, too.

How To Avoid British Airways Flights When You Search For Award Seats
Fly From Phoenix Non-Stop to London, Paris, and Rome

For example, folks in Phoenix can fly on American Airlines flights non-stop to London, Paris, or Rome.  And American Airlines has direct flights between Seattle and London or Paris.

So sometimes the easiest way to use your American Airlines miles to Europe might be on American Airlines!

How to Earn American Airlines Miles

Remember, you can earn American Airlines with their credit cards.  Or by transferring Starwood points.  When you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles for a total of 25,000 airline miles.

Bottom Line

It takes an added step to avoid British Airways flights to Europe when you want to use your American Airlines miles for an award ticket.

Search for routes flown by Air Berlin, Finnair, or Iberia to see what’s available on your dates.  And then add your home airport, and where you want to visit in Europe.  If you have trouble getting the correct results, try the multi-city award booking tool.

Or, you might consider an award booking service to book the ticket for you.

It’s worth it to focus on these 3 partners, because British Airways adds hundreds of dollars in extra fees to their award tickets.  And don’t forget, American Airlines has lots of international routes, too!

Airgypsy, good luck using your American Airlines miles and have a fantastic trip, wherever you decide to go!

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