People have different opinions when it comes to booking award tickets with frequent flyer miles. I, for one, love booking award tickets and enjoy the challenge that comes with doing so. Booking award tickets are like puzzles to me and I love solving them. Other people hate booking award tickets, consider them too much of a hassle, or even go so far as to believing their frequent flyer miles are completely worthless. I’ve decided to put a guide together for those of you who fall in between – people who want to book award tickets themselves but feel like they need some pointers. This guide will assume some basic knowledge, namely, that you know how to log in to your frequent flyer account and check your mileage balance. Other than that, the guide is here to help you through the process – hope you find it useful! Feel free to refer to the index at the bottom of the page for other entries.
We’ve already reviewed how to search for Star Alliance space, so now it’s time to look at your options when it comes to booking Oneworld award space. This might be old hat for some of you but hopefully you can find something useful in it (or contribute useful information I missed in the comments!). Before we start – remember, you can use miles in any Oneworld partner to book award travel on any other partner; e.g., you could use AA miles to book on British Airways and vice versa. Just make sure you know your alliances and partners. Then you just gotta figure out how to search for space!
I generally use two websites when searching for Oneworld award space (for free) – aa.com and britishairways.com. Qantas has the most comprehensive search engine, but I really don’t like it so I’m not going to talk about it here, but know that it is an option.
American Airline’s website shows availability for the following Oneworld airlines – American, Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and US Airways. It will also show you availability for Alaska and Hawaiian although those are not Oneworld (but Alaska and British Airways are partners). Searching for award space on aa.com is fairly straightforward – you don’t even have to leave the homepage.
Everything from there is pretty straightforward, though I would note two things in particular. First, in like 90% of cases, you only want to look for sAAver space. There will always be AAnytime space if there is a seat available on the flight but generally the value is AAwful. It might help out in a pinch, but after AA introduced tiered AAnytime awards the value proposition is even worse, since during peak times its likely AAnytime awards will be priced at the most expensive tier. I can only see AAnytime awards saving money MAYBE if you need to fly last minute for an emergency.
Secondly, though it’s right there, just in case you’re unaware there’s a feature where you can see a whole month of award space at once. Pretty useful.
aa.com is super straightforward and easy to use. The problem – and it’s a big one – is that it doesn’t cover all of Oneworld. That stinks for two reasons.
1) The best online search engine won’t find all the flights available to you
2) You can’t book flights you can’t find online with AA, and it’ll cost you money to book it over the phone
That’s really too bad. To search for award space on the Oneworld partners not searchable on aa.com, I like to use britishairways.com. It’s clunky, but I still think it’s the best option. We’ll take a look at that next time. Until then, if you’re serious about booking your own awards, I recommend trying to put some dummy awards together: practice makes perfect!