AAward Flight Options are Filled with BA Flights - Are There Other Options to Find?

knick1959

Level 2 Member
Wasn't sure where to put this or how to title it. However, in a PM I just finished, I mentioned that I need to research how to work around this problem, if even possible. Here's the start, and by "research" I mean ask around! :).

I mentioned elsewhere that I was recently screwed (pardon my French) by Iceland Air. They dumped CLE as a US destination airport even after advertising locally that it's a great way to get to Europe. Anyway ... the partial flight I was left with was unworkable; they offered no realistic alternatives. I had time to wait, but I canceled completely and "recalculated". My search for new flights home began! And it wasn't hard to find options ... but I was fooled by my first finding and I should have known better.

I have a decent amount of AA miles and a way to acquire more over short times. So my first preference is usually to spend from this pool. Bingo! A convenient flight from GLA to Boston popped up; I could work with that. Not too many hours, a workable layover and easy miles. You know what I'm going to say, right? I gave it away in the title. The flights we on BA and when I clicked through, fees were a hair under $1200. I will admit, since this flight is leaving the UK anyway, even UA awards had ~$600 in fees. Still, seeing what BA wants for an award flight is always a shock. To me.

In this recent listing of seemingly dozens of offerings, all of them were on BA (for J Saver Awards). Unchecking that box and the list was empty.

Are there other AA miles-based options to Europe to be aware of? How are these found and what is the technique (if they exist) of booking them? I assume I find them and call into AA to see if they can book them? I guess the second part is rhetorical, but what about non-BA options? Are they out there to book with AA miles. I think even the AS award offerings had BA flights ... well, Iceland Air was mysteriously missing!

Thanks in advance.
 

Josh F

Level 2 Member
Charity Forum Mod
I haven't looked recently, in the past other popular options included Finnair, Air Berlin, and Iberia.

Air Berlin is out (they don't exist anymore)
I did a test search on AA and Finnair (AY) shows up just fine as well as Iberia (IB)

The key is to avoid UK (which basically means avoiding BA) due to their crazy surcharges. In the past, I'd find segment by segment space and then call in to have it booked. E.g. I found JFK-MAD and MAD-FCO and it priced out correctly when booked on the phone (they'd even waive the fee since you couldn't do it online). Not sure if this still is permitted (it's been 2+ years since I've done that). Other people who have found the long-haul space they wanted (e.g. JFK-MAD), but couldn't find the intra-US or intra-Europe hop they wanted would then mix in a cash ticket, but beware the risks (missed flight/connection, re-checking bags, etc.) At the time, you had some protection if the other hop was at least on a One-World Partner, but not sure if that applies anymore.
 

knick1959

Level 2 Member
The key is to avoid UK (which basically means avoiding BA) due to their crazy surcharges.
Well, that was the problem with my searching ... leaving Glasgow I had no choice but to involve the UK. The only positioning flight I dug deep into was DUB and that was only slightly better with options. I should have widened the net. As it is, I found a UA award that does an extra ricochet but it isn't bad and for only 5 months out I was happy to have options.

So it seems the best strategy for the UK is to target some other European hub and puddle-jump from there? Sounds like it. I'll poke with some prototype AA searches today. Thanks for the input!
 

Josh F

Level 2 Member
Charity Forum Mod
Well, that was the problem with my searching ... leaving Glasgow I had no choice but to involve the UK. The only positioning flight I dug deep into was DUB and that was only slightly better with options. I should have widened the net. As it is, I found a UA award that does an extra ricochet but it isn't bad and for only 5 months out I was happy to have options.

So it seems the best strategy for the UK is to target some other European hub and puddle-jump from there? Sounds like it. I'll poke with some prototype AA searches today. Thanks for the input!
If you want to keep the cost down, then yes, you really need to focus on avoiding UK. If you want to fly directly to the UK then other miles aside from AA should be much better on fees (like UA as you found). You can also further keep the cost down, by doing shorter hops leaving UK. For example, it's cheaper (in fees) to fly YYZ-LHR-DUB-YYZ than YYZ-DUB-LHR-YYZ (at least that was true a few years ago when I was doing UA/AC for that)
 

MickiSue

Level 2 Member
Supporter
We used AA miles a couple years ago to fly MSP to ATH. Downside was the cost of flying through LHR. But at that time, first was doable at a reasonable number of miles, and the total cost for two one ways in F was under $800. As Husband had yet to fly international F, it was a worthwhile choice.

An important upside to flying BA F, at least from the US, is the dinner in the Concorde Room at JFK. considering airport prices for mediocre food, a four course dinner with wine and other alcoholic beverages, beautifully prepared and served, with the only cost being the tip, is very nice. The daytime first class BA lounge at JFK is much more pleasant than the business class lounge there, quieter, better offerings and more comfortable seating.

As our layover was already long, and our flight was delayed four hours, we made full use of the lounge.
 
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