American Makes 4 More Partners Available for Online Award Booking

The biggest mistake the average member of a frequent flyer program makes when it comes to using their miles for travel is believing that you just go to your airline’s website, enter the city you’re traveling from and where you want to go, and the website will spit out your options.

It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation in 2018, but it’s not how it works. Different airlines do better and worse jobs at this, of course. Some don’t have all their partners online. Some won’t show all possible combinations of flights.

American Airlines has been a laggard even compared to United and Delta. AAdvantage started talking about adding booking of partner airline awards to their website back in fall 2011.

American’s website is also notorious for failing to show award space that’s available (e.g. Iberia, Qantas), and for showing space available that isn’t really there (e.g. Finnair, Qantas).

Now American appears to have at least partially added the ability to book awards online with four more partners: Cathay Pacific, Qatar, SriLankan, and Malaysia Airlines.

Here you’ll see award space on Cathay Pacific show up as part of a larger award search:

Qatar Airways — which American has has nasty words for and with whom they severed codesharing — now has flight awards coming up at AA.com.

So does Malaysia Airlines, in fact here’s an itinerary with both Malaysia and Cathay:

And here’s SriLankan:

What’s super strange is that though American’s website now shows partner award space, it doesn’t seem to bring up the space if the route you’re searching for has availability on the partner non-stop, and isn’t seeming to bring up the space for long haul travel departing the U.S.

So for instance when Boston – Hong Kong is available non-stop on Cathay Pacific, that space won’t come up. Although Cathay space intra-Asia will. I searched Tokyo – Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Airlines when space was available non-stop. The non-stop space wouldn’t show up.

When I searched Los Angeles – Colombo, Sri Lanka award space from London to Colombo showed as part of the itinerary. But search just for London – Colombo and the non-stop doesn’t come up.

Put another way AA.com just seems to want to include these partners as a small piece of a larger award and not on a standalone basis. Perhaps that will change — AA.com still doesn’t list these airlines among those supported for online booking.

This is an improvement for members generally, or at least will be once they work out the kinks. It’s not better for those of us that are savvy about searching for award space, because it will mean more competition for those seats once they’re easier for the average member to book.

(HT: blueeyes_austin)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Could you explain a little more precisely what you mean by “non – stop is available”. Do you available to book with AA miles, but you have to call in, or available using other miles.

  2. Of course they are blocking the non-stops out of the US over the water. They want you burning your miles on AA metal not on Partner Metal which provides a much more premium level of service.

  3. exactly what ORD Flyer said: it is cheaper for AA to use partner metal on shorter connecting flights.

    You still have to use the BA or QF site to search for the longer trans pacific flights then call AA to book.

  4. True. The over the water segments out of US (e.g. JFK-HKG on Cathay) hasn’t shown up in searches even though there’s availability. Might still have to call those in for now or maybe available later..

  5. For months, US to AU on QF has only shown up in coach, not business on aa.com. Once in a while, first will show up on those routes, but could be phantom.

  6. Just tried booking ORD-MNL (Cathay Pacific) for next March and…. NOTHING.

    I tried a variety of dates, and still…. NOTHING

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