Unfortunately AA.com is a terrible resource for finding flights with which to use your AA miles. Similarly, British Airways doesn’t have a lot of the major OneWorld partners.
So when looking for seats for our upcoming trip to SE Asia, neither AA or British Airways had award seats showing for Cathay or JAL. Cathay, one of my favorite airlines, is definitely worth searching for.
My number one award search tool for OneWorld is now Qantas (an Australian airline of the OneWorld Alliance).
How to use Qantas’ search engine…
Click here to join Qantas’ frequent flyer program and save your frequent flyer number, if only to search for OneWorld award space.
2) Log in Here
You must be logged in to search for award flights.
3) Go to the “Search Airfares” box
(or from the home page = Click Frequent Flyer -> Using Points – Award Flights
Click “Qantas and Partner Classic Awards”)
4) Check “Show Qantas & Partner Classic Award cities”
This is only necessary if your airport code isn’t found. But click the box to type in the airport code and check “Show Qantas & Partner Classic Award cities” in the top right.
This basically allows you to choose airports that are OneWorld destinations, even if they’re not Qantas destinations.
However, for some reason it doesn’t let me search from my home airport, Charlottesville (CHO). So I would have to use AA.com’s search engine to look at AA routes to a hub, or use another site in this case. But it’s rare that it doesn’t have an airport.
I usually use the “Flexible with dates” option. From there you’ll see a couple of options. Well, really you’ll see dates that are available (as symbolized by… a sitting person), and empty dates with no available awards.
From there you can choose the date you want and see the specific routes and what classes (economy, business, or first class) are available.
Having a calendar is a step up for flexible people like me. But I’m sure for most, the precision of ExpertFlyer (a paid search tool), that shows things like the number of seats, would be preferred. But this interface is much more user friendly. So for a number of reasons I really like Qantas.
A Couple things to know
Sometimes Qantas may partner with an airline that is outside of the OneWorld Alliance. So if you’re intending to use AA miles, for example, know that they don’t partner with Aer Lingus like Qantas does. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a valid option for AA miles, despite it being shown on Qantas’ search results.
The other thing to know is that it’s not complete partly because it will not show routes that other airlines might allow. And that goes both ways. Maybe AA wouldn’t allow a route that Qantas shows available. And maybe British Airways would allow a route that Qantas doesn’t show.
It’s not perfect, but it’s better than calling AA.