The many vagaries of award searches: Avios edition

It is almost like the airlines want to make life more difficult for passengers when it comes to booking award travel. And in ways which often do not make much sense. Here’s a version of that tale built around the Avios program.

A friend of mine asked me back in mid-October about trying to book flights using Avios for travel from NYC to Los Angeles in March. I didn’t see much available at the time but wasn’t too worried; things have a habit of changing and on that route the inventory should appear if you pay a bit of attention over time. Fortunately she was paying attention because I mostly forgot. And when she reached out to me this week noting that seats on an alternate date were available I checked a few other things again.


I actually started on the AA site, knowing that if it wasn’t showing anything then there is no way Avios redemptions would be possible. Still no non-stop options but the connections weren’t all bad.


And from there I went over to the BA site to see what could be done. I saw a few options straight away and suggested them to my friend who still couldn’t find them. Even running what I thought was the same search. It is amazing what tweaking the query can do some times.


Turns out that the BA site doesn’t really think that “NYC” represents all three New York City airports, at least not in all queries. Oopsie. Forcing the search to LGA pulled up a number of options, though not all the choices available from AA. Still, something is better than nothing.

Also, if you’re using Avios to redeem for an award to or from a city with multiple airports this is a pretty good reminder that the search results might not really be what you expected.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Don’t mistake malice for programmer laziness 🙂

    Is it just on the Avios side or also when booking normal tickets on the BA site?

  2. Any advice for booking tickets from west coast to OGG or LIH? I see saver availability on AA and for the same dates and airports I don’t see any on BA. TIA

    1. You can try calling the BA folks and see if they have the space but the reality is that many AA seats do not seem to be available to partners, including Avios. It is the same across most programs IME. 🙁

    2. Check Alaska airline’s web site for seat availability at the 20k point level. BA can access those seats. I just returned from a vacation in Maui that I booked on Alaska using Avios (OAK – OGG and OGG – PDX).

    3. Also, includes Alaska Airlines in award searches, but doesn’t. You need to call the Avios award line to book those tickets. I think also includes some Hawaiian Airlines tickets in award searches, but BA doesn’t let you use Avios for Hawaiian Air tickets.

  3. Does American have non-stops LGA-LAX? If the trip involves a layover then you don’t get the trip for 12,500 miles.

    1. No one has non-stops LGA-LAX; the perimeter rule prohibits such flights from operating except on Saturdays. But paying for the connecting itinerary is much better than not getting to take the trip.

  4. Layover trip on Avios is 25K miles, non-stop on AA miles is 25K miles (standard award), Biz class on AA miles non-stop is 25k miles. Assuming you’re gold or higher, no close-in fee.

    But you know all this!

    1. The connecting itinerary on Avios varies in price based on where the connection is. The rates range from 17-20k; none are 25k.

      In this particular case the friend has Avios and not AAdvantage points. And the award was 17.5k versus not going. The small premium was well worth it.

  5. Try booking AA operated flights on the BA Avios website. I can’t seem to get any of the flights that AA says are available on the saver level on the Avios reward booking site. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Any advice (besides the obvious–Call BA) would be appreciated.

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