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There are a lot of frustrating things about using American AAdvantage® miles, and one of the most maddening is the fact that American won’t display the award space of many partners when you search AA.com.
You won’t find any of American’s Asian or Latin American partners on AA.com, nor will you find Iberia or Qatar Airways, among others.
You could call AAdvantage on 1-800-882-8880 to have them search, but by doing that you’re at the mercy of a phone agent who may or may not be in the mood to do a thorough search, and you may have to wait on hold for a half hour or more.
Otherwise you have two free options:
- Set up an account on the British Airways website and do an award search there which will display almost all of the OneWorld partners
- Set up an account on the Qantas website and do an award search there for most of the OneWorld partners, plus some other shared with American
Most of the award flights you see on those two sites are bookable with your American AAdvantage® miles at the American AAdvantage® award prices by calling American to request the flights.
The British Airways site is slow and clunky for searching more than a couple of days at a time. And it won’t show you options with more than one connecting city, which forces you to do tedious segment by segment searches.
While the Qantas website displays results in a clean calendar:
And it will display options with more than one connection, like this one, so it can be a more powerful tool than the British Airways site:
Here are the airlines whose award space you’ll find on the Qantas website, but you won’t find on AA.com:
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Sri Lankan
But the Qantas site is not perfect – sometimes you’ll find award space that doesn’t still exist, especially with LAN/TAM, and less often with Cathay Pacific.
And you won’t find the Qantas site useful for these American AAdvantage® partners:
- Japan Airlines (use the British Airways site)
- Qatar Airways (while you’ll see Qatar flights on the Qantas site, it often doesn’t show flights that do have space available in Business or First class, so use the British Airways site instead, though it sometimes shows flights that don’t have space available)
- Etihad Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, Gulf Air (these are not partners of Qantas, and you can see what sites to use for these airlines on our AAdvantage cheat sheet)
- Jet Airways (no award space shows)
The Qantas site will also show flights on some airlines you can’t book with AAdvantage miles like:
- Aer Lingus
- El Al
There are other things to be aware of…
To do a search, you’ll need to select the ‘Classic Award’ box, otherwise you’ll see some Qantas flights that aren’t bookable by partners.
The calendar will often show space available in Business or First Class, but it might only be available for part of the trip. These are called ‘Mixed Cabin’ awards, and you’ll see them flagged with an ‘i’ mark when you click on a date to see all the detail. Getting Economy Class on the longest leg of your trip is no fun, so make sure you click on the ‘i’ mark to see what’s up with your trip.
And be careful with dates.
You can book awards with AAdvantage miles 331 days in advance, but Qantas members can book awards 350 days in advance (an extra 3 weeks), so you’ll see space on the Qantas site that isn’t yet bookable with AAdvantage miles if you’re searching beyond 331 days in advance.
Other than that, the Qantas website can be a powerful tool to get the most out of your AAdvantage miles and enjoy Business or First Class on long trips to Europe, Asia, South America, and beyond.