Frequent flyer hack to find oneworld award travel
By George Hobica
Athough much smaller than its Star Alliance competitor, the oneworld airline alliance includes many award-winning partners, such as British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific. However, finding award travel on partner airlines can be a challenge for American AAdvantage members because American's web site aa.com will not show partner award availability for Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and many other oneworld partners.
But here's a tip that savvy frequent flyers already know: there are two oneworld alliance member airlines that do a good job of showing flights with available oneworld alliance award seats on their web sites. This is important because it allows you research available flights, make a note of their dates/flight numbers/routes, and then call up your airline program (the one with which you have collected the miles) to make the reservation. Airline telephone service center agents are not as likely to search all of oneworld's award booking possibilities. So it's time to take matters into your own hands.
First, get a frequent flyer number with British Airways and Qantas Airways (if you don't already have one). Once signed up with British Airways, you can scour their award booking engine for the seats you want on their own flights. The web site shows BA availability first, but by then going through its partner search option you can uncover Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev Hungarian, Royal Jordanian, and S7 Airlines award seats. One caveat with the BA search tool is that if the route is served by American, British Airways or Iberia, it only shows those flights and not those of partners. That’s where the Qantas web site comes into play.
Qantas is equally helpful in showing award availability on its own flights and that of several partner carriers including American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, LAN, Malev Hungarian, and others. Simply log in to the site, and search your city pairs to see which partners are available. It also helps to know the route networks of your partners.
These two partner award sites are useful research tools and will allow you to explain to American's Aadvantage agents which flights have open award inventory.