Noob contributor, Jonas shares with us tips on searching for OneWorld availability.
The Noobtraveler relies on three main tools to search for OneWorld award space: Qantas, British Airways, and American Airlines.
We’ll review the quirks in each airline’s award search engines and how you can maximize them to build your OneWorld itinerary.
You’ll need to join their program in order to search for award space. The great thing about Qantas’ award engine is the ability to display an entire month at a time. I like using the Qantas engine to search for LAN and Cathay Pacific bookings, South America and Asia respectively. The American Airlines engine is a bit easier to use and to find award space on the other partners.
I’ve decided to use a search for two seats on the San Francisco to Hong Kong route as an example for this post, because the Qantas engine is great for searching Cathay Pacific award space. If you’re looking to snag two first class seats, be sure to book as early as possible – they go away quick but are readily available if you’re able to plan in advance.
According to our search, there are lots of available dates in February for travel. The Qantas engine displays availability for the entire month, with economy, business, and first class available. As you can see first class is quite tough to book, with your choices being limited to the 28th and 30th of January. Simply click on the date you want to travel and you’ll be sent off to your next page with flight details.
Step three shows flight details of the day you’ve chosen. According to the search matrix, CX873 from San Francisco to Hong Kong is available only in first class, while CX879 is available, but only in economy and business.
You’ll need an account to begin searching on Qantas, but once you’re set up, it’s relatively easy to use and to search for availability on carriers like Cathay Pacific. Once you pin down your flights, write them down and spoon feed them to phone agents when you’re calling in to book. If you’re using American Airlines miles, you’ll need to call. If you’re using British Airways Avios, you can search using the BA website.
Using British Airways
British Airways has a robust and easy to use search engine. So that we won’t drive you crazy with examples, we’ll stick with the San Francisco to Hong Kong route. In this case, I’ve selected the criteria: a specific date – February 26, 2014, one-way in economy, and for three passengers.
As the search results show, there is a Cathay Pacific flight with three economy seats available on the date I’ve selected. You can toggle with the other days to show availability as well. It’s a bit cumbersome, but it’ll give you more options. The Qantas search engine is a great alternative as it displays the entire month.
The great thing about the British Airways search engine, is that you’ll be able to search for all OneWorld partner availability and you’ll have the ability to book on the spot – if you want to use your British Airways Avios miles. You can toggle around with days on the bar above your search results if you want to search with a bit of flexibility.
Using American Airlines
As of a few months ago, American Airlines enabled the ability to search and book award tickets on Air Berlin, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas, and their own metal.
Why is this good? Because you’ll be able to avoid the $25 phone award booking fee! Unfortunately, they haven’t added the functionality to book Cathay Pacific yet, but I’m hoping that with these recent changes that it will happen eventually.
The great thing about the American Airlines search engine is the ability to book complex, multi-city itineraries all on the website. In this post, we’ll be searching for award space for two people on stopover and open-jaw award tickets from San Francisco to Auckland, New Zealand, with a stopover in Honolulu (at no additional miles cost).
Success! We’ve located award space on all preferred dates with stopovers included. As you can see from the screenshots, this international award allows a stopover in Honolulu for no additional miles.
Stopover in Honolulu on the way there AND back.
AA.com has quickly become my favorite for OneWorld awards, with the exception of trying to find Cathay Pacific award space. The full potential of the search engine can be put to good use if you know the routing rules for stopovers too!
— Noob MasterRead More
Since my “Falling in Love With British Airways Avios” post last week, I received a s#@% load of emails asking me about how I searched for award availability for my Aer Lingus flights to Dublin. Like whoa.
[Lucky was the first to break this early last year]
Good question. I explained how I called into British Airways to book the flight, but I didn’t go into detail about how I did the basic searching.
If you’re a member of ExpertFlyer, you can search for award availability there. However, I did my searching on the Qantas website. Qantas is an Australian airline that isn’t in the same alliance as Aer Lingus, but they are partners. Qantas is a OneWorld alliance member, and their award search engine is worth getting to know.
You can also search United.com for Aer Lingus availability, but I choose to stay away.
You must have a Qantas membership to search for award flights on their site. You can sign up here for a Qantas account. Easy. Now, it’s time to search.
After signing into your Qantas account – scroll down the page, and you will see the “Award Bookings” search function.
Just enter your dates, destination, and click, “go.”
The little shamrock clover is Aer Lingus’ moniker thats helps you quickly identify an Aer Lingus flight. As you can see, there are economy seats available, but not business class seats.
I did a couple more searches, and couldn’t find any business class availability for Aer Lingus on the dates I was searching. But, there was plenty of availability in economy.
However, when I booked our Boston – Dublin flights, there wasn’t any business class availability showing on the Qantas website. When I called British Airways (1-800-452-1201), the agent was able to see business class availability for both of the Aer Lingus flights for that day.
I instantly booked a one-way ticket for Jordan and myself in business class for only 50,000 Avios and $61.14 in taxes. It would’ve only cost us 25,000 Avios if we wanted to rough-it-out in economy for 6 hours. Ehh, Avios are too easy to earn, so I burn ‘em.
And when the agent told me there was a phone booking fee, I politely told him that it wasn’t available to book on the British Airways website. He put me on a brief hold and came back with, “you’re right,” and then proceeded to waive the fee. Winning.
This is a great deal, because normally you wouldn’t be able to use Avios to cross the transatlantic without a hefty surcharge and fee. Going through Aer Lingus negates the annoying British Airways fees. Many people route through Dublin on their way to Europe to avoid London and their hefty airport fees as well.
Since I’m flying out of Boston, I will have to find a positioning flight, but that shouldn’t be an issue – I have options.
Avios isn’t my favorite subject, but I certainly have a very soft spot for them. I’ve flown cheaply domestically many times, and they are just so darn easy to accumulate.
British Airways and Chase have their co-branded
British Airways Visa Signature® Card (This offer is expired). British Airways is also a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards programs. There are usually transfer bonuses when you transfer Membership Rewards out to British Airways, but none at the moment.
I hope this helps and best of luck as you search!
— Noob MasterRead More