Earlier this year American Airlines taunted us by showing online award bookings for Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, and SriLankan Airlines. AA quickly dropped the availability hours after it appeared and issued the following statement.
“Late yesterday (August 14), we incorrectly displayed award bookings for several of our partners on aa.com and they have since been removed. Making more award partners bookable on aa.com is something that our customers continually ask for, so please rest assured that we are working towards this.”
Since then we have continually seen American Airlines add these partners back into the rewards availability. On September 18 we saw Fiji Airways and Malaysia Airlines get added into the system. As of late last night it is now possible to book awards online with Air Tahiti Nui, Qatar Airways, and SriLankan Airlines.
|AA/BA Partners||OneWorld Partner||Award Bookable Via AA.com||Award Bookable via BA.com|
|Air Tahiti Nui||X||✓*||X|
|Fiji Airways||Sort Of||✓||✓|
|Royal Jordanian Airlines||✓||✓||✓|
*Indicates awards are bookable only via that airlines program
Is AA the new go-to to search for award availability?
No. When you are searching for award availability I would still use British Airways as they have access to some of the more valuable partner award space such as Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. I will say that American Airlines has a much easier way to see award availability for a 4 week period over how British Airways displays their availability.
As you can see in the chart above, the only time you really should be looking for award space using AA.com is with Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines as British Airways doesn’t partner with any of them.
How enhanced search availability is a bad thing
The immediate overreaction that many people are having is that with the enhanced online availability there will be more competition leading to less award space. While I generally agree with this sentiment, I think that we wont know what will happen until we have been living in the system for a little while.
How enhanced search availability is a good thing
Air Tahiti Nui has been notoriously difficult to book via phone AAgents and that is no longer a problem. This was a typically a problem because Air Tahiti Nui has been constantly changing their booking codes for award space.
Timeline for remaining partners to be added to AA online search
We don’t know. American Airlines has kept this information under wrap for the time being. They have managed to add 5 airlines over the past 2 months, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect LATAM and Cathay Pacific awards to be available soon.
It has long been my goal to create a tool that makes it easier for customers to see award availability between every airline. I am glad to see AA taking steps in the right direction. It isn’t right of the airlines to allow you to use your miles for select enhanced offerings, but only if you know how to do it. For example, you can currently book into China Eastern first class using Delta SkyMiles but only if fare code A is available and fare code O isn’t. While my goal isn’t currently attainable, I hope that airlines follow AA’s lead and beat me to the punch as it will lead to happier customers all around.