When AA.com and indeed the Qantas Frequent Flyer website shows American AAdvantage award space, but the British Airways site doesn’t, odds on the problem is the British Airways website and not a new regime where American blocks their joint venture partner from having access to their (very limited amount of) award space.
So while you couldn’t book American Airlines award travel on the British Airways website for awhile, you could get the seats if you called. And indeed plenty of British Airways agents were willing to waive the telephone booking fee. (The problem is that not all would, and you could always hang up and call back but British Airways hold times can be annoying long.)
American has problems booking Etihad first class awards it should be no surprise that it’s probably a temporary IT glitch and not the new normal.
The Occam’s Razor approach is always your best bet until demonstrated otherwise (with the possible exception of programs that have repeatedly demonstrated a lack of trustworthiness, already accounting for the fact that they are frequent flyer programs).
[A]mong competing hypotheses that predict equally well, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove to provide better predictions, but—in the absence of differences in predictive ability—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.
Once you figure out, of course, that British Airways can still book American Airlines award space online, you assume that these joint venture partners haven’t intentionally decided to remove access to American Airlines inventory on its website (the way that United did with Singapore and then lied about it).
So it then comes as no surprise whatsoever that the British Airways website can again book American Airlines award space.
That’s great because British Airways awards for short haul economy are super cheap. This DC-Chicago flight is just 4500 points and %5.60 in taxes. That’s far better than spending $300+ for the ticket. And it’s far better than spending 12,500 American miles (and the same taxes) for the same award.
And BA has no close-in booking fees. The cancel/redeposit fee is cheaper and indeed for online cancels is in practice capped at the taxes paid.