Issues choosing seats when using Avios for American flights

Using Avios for domestic American Airlines flights can be a great use of points as British Airways has a distance based award chart. However, for some reason, it always seems to be a challenge to select seats, or often even just book online. The most recent issue for me has been choosing seats when using British Airways Avios for American flights.

At one point it wasn’t possible to enter your American frequent flyer number when using Avios to book seats. That is now possible – find out different methods here or here). Or you can do it on the British Airways website, theoretically, but it often doesn’t “stick”. Just make sure to remove your British Airways number when making bookings to use any of the above methods.

Can’t select seats when using Avios for American Airlines flights

Alright, now let’s say you can get your American frequent flyer number to “stick” on the reservation. I was able to after about 10 tries to save it. And when I went to American’s website and into my account indeed saw the reservation:

Issues selecting seats using Avios
Ok, getting somewhere…

You know what’s coming next though. When viewing the reservation and trying to select seats I got the following:

Selecting seats Avios on American
Looks sold out…

Of course I was aware that it was quite unlikely a Thursday morning non-holiday flight was sold out. And sure enough when doing a dummy booking the seat map actually looked more like this:

Choosing seats Avios on American

Once you can tell the seat map is an error it is time to call American. Like anytime you call an airline this part isn’t great. I called and got the following:

  1. Agent at first said I was eligible for preferred seats due to my status as American Gold even though I used Avios (yes, I know!)
  2. I confirmed that I was aware of that but stated I couldn’t see any seats
  3. She put me on hold for 28 minutes until she finally returned to assign me seats
  4. The agent had to escalate it to a high tier help desk who had to go into the back end of the system to assign seats

There was no explanation for why this happened and the agent claimed that this isn’t a known issue. But I find it hard to believe only I personally, a relatively tech savvy person, consistently has these sort of issues with British Airways bookings.

Bottom Line

Avios are incredibly valuable for short haul flights. These flights from PHX-SFO are only 15k miles roundtrip per person. But, and maybe it’s just me, I consistently have issues booking flights. Here is one example where I had to call to book because the airport code wouldn’t show up as well. Once I had that sorted out I also had to call and have American assign seats.

Anyone else constantly have issues redeeming Avios for American flights? Or am I actually just cursed?

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2 thoughts on “Issues choosing seats when using Avios for American flights

    1. John – I wish I knew of another way because it was worse than even regular calling since the agent had to escalate it to a help desk. If you discover anything let me know!

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