Looks Like American Airlines Is Blocking Most Partner Award Tickets
American Airlines partner award travel should be simple. You go to the website of any AA partner and search, then book what you want. It USED TO BE that simple. More data points will help, but it looks like American Airlines isn’t sharing partner award tickets. Here’s what an airline told me after I couldn’t find anything.
American Airlines Partner Award Travel
AA has a ton of partners, both inside and outside the oneworld alliance.
Theoretically, I should be able to book a ticket using miles through any of these partners. However, that only works if AA shares the award space.
Is AA Not Sharing?
Over the past few days, I could not find American Airlines flights through any of their partners. The problem is, I know the flights exist. Not flight. FlightS. In fact, look how many options AA returns for an award search on this route from Chicago to Phoenix.
58 different options!
Problem is, I don’t have American Airlines miles after they shut down my account previously. When I search on their partners, I find nothing.
Day of, day before & day after, British Airways can’t find anything at all.
Asia Miles got confused and can’t find anything with less than 6 flights in the route!
Alaska Airlines at least found something, but they only have first class availability. I value my Alaska miles higher than this and don’t want to use 50k MileagePlan miles for one-way flights within the U.S. for my wife and I.
Etihad Says Something Interesting
People often forget that you can use Etihad Guest to redeem miles for an American Airlines partner award. You can book Etihad via AA and can book flights on AA via Etihad. You can’t book these partners online with Etihad, so I called them.
The phone rep told me he couldn’t find anything at all, business or coach. In fact, he said they can’t see anything from American Airlines past May 30. In his understanding, American Airlines is only sharing 10% of its partner award availability that it used to share.
Why? He said they were told that AA isn’t sure what’s on the horizon with travel, so they don’t want partners gobbling up all the seats on their flights. Thus, American Airlines is, in most cases, only sharing seats to partners for flight awards that are less than 30 days away. This applies to popular routes, expensive routes, or to peak travel dates–according to the phone rep. He told me to call back when it’s less than 3 weeks to my intended travel date.
I know airlines tend to hold more of their seats for themselves. They don’t share 100% of the seats with “the other guys”, but nothing? Across multiple days and multiple different partners? What the Etihad rep said sounds believable. And searching closer to date is showing results.
More data will flesh this out. Have you booked an award flight on American Airlines recently using miles from a partner program? What was it? Did you get what you wanted? Or did you have a hard time finding availability, which could mean AA is limiting what it shares to partners?
Let us know, so we can help everyone build a bigger picture.