If you’ve ever booked an award reservation, you probably know about the different ways to search for award availability. We wrote the ultimate guide to searching for award space, but we often get tons of requests to break it down by different alliances.
When planning a trip, you may already have an idea of which flights you want to take. Once you know which airlines you’re taking, you can quickly find out via a Google search whether or not the airline belongs to an alliance.
For the Oneworld Alliance, there are several ways to search via various airlines to find the award availability you need. Here, we’ll talk about how to use each search engine, followed by the pros and cons of each method.
Let’s get started exploring the best ways to search for Oneworld award availability.
Table of contents
Table of Contents
What Is the Oneworld Alliance?
Oneworld’s member airlines are:
|American Airlines||Malaysia Airlines|
|Cathay Pacific||Qatar Airways|
|Japan Airlines||SriLankan Airlines|
Though these are the main members, there are affiliate members too, which are typically regional airlines that are subsidiaries of the main airlines above.
Each of these airlines has different information systems used for award searches. Some are better, and some are worse. Ideally, you want a place that serves as a one-stop shop for all Oneworld award flights. Let’s look at some options that get pretty close to the ideal situation.
British Airways Executive Club
On the whole, British Airways has the most robust award search engine for Oneworld airlines — it’s the most user-friendly and is one of the most reliable.
Here are the steps to search BA for your award flights:
- Visit BA.com
- Log in with your British Airways Executive Club number and password
- On the top of the landing page, put your mouse over the button that says Book
- Under Flights, click Book a flight with Avios
- Type in your origin city, destination city, departure date, return date, class of service, and number of passengers
- If you’re booking a one-way flight, check the box to the right of the departure date that says One way only
- Click Get flights
- You will be asked to break your journey with stopovers. This functionality is only available for British Airways-operated flights. Most of us will choose No, I want to continue without stopovers
- Click Continue
- Browse for your desired flights in the appropriate class of service
- Write down the flight numbers, travel dates, and any other flight information
- Book the award flight using your preferred frequent flyer program
Pros of using BA for award searches:
- Straightforward interface and intuitive website
- One of the most accurate search engines for award flights
- When flying on straightforward routes, BA shows pretty much all your options.
Cons of using BA for award searches:
- Connecting flights can show phantom award availability
- To overcome this, search each segment individually
- Site only shows 3 cabins, not all 4 cabin classes (economy, premium economy, business, first)
- To overcome this, double-check the class of service you’re looking for.
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, is one of the most iconic airlines in the world. As a Oneworld partner, Qantas is an incredibly underrated way to search for award availability.
In addition to Oneworld partners, you can leverage the Qantas search engine to look for their non-alliance partners, such as China Eastern.
Here’s how to search for award availability on Qantas:
- Go to the Qantas website
- Click inside the flight cities search box as shown above; an expanded search will appear
- Choose Use points – Classic Flight Rewards only
- Click either Return, One way, Multi-City, or Round the World
- Type in your city pairs, return and departure dates, and number of passengers
- Type in your Qantas Frequent Flyer Membership number, last name, and PIN
- Click Log in and search flights
- You’ll see that your booking will be subject to US Dollars; click Continue
- In the area that says Search Travel Class, select one or multiple travel classes; click Go
- A calendar view will show up — click on the dates where there are ribbon icons shown for your desired flight classes
- Click Continue
- Select the flights you want to take — write down the flight numbers, dates, and times
- Use your preferred award currency to book
Pros of using Qantas to search for award availability:
- Calendar view shows award availability for all cabins
- Generally accurate award availability
Cons of using Qantas to search for award availability:
- Does not show all Oneworld award availability
- Double-check with another search engine, such as British Airways
- Availability view can be misleading due to mixed cabins being categorized the same (e.g. first class availability shown from DFW – SYD, but the flight is actually 2 legs: DFW – LAX in first class and LAX – SYD in economy)
- Play around with dates to find an itinerary that is not a mixed cabin award
- Can’t search some cities/airport codes
- Use another search engine such as British Airways
American Airlines AAdvantage
American Airlines AAdvantage miles are some of the most valuable in the industry and certainly one of the most valuable in Oneworld.
There are a ton of best ways to redeem American Airlines miles for maximum value, and American Airlines is continuing to add more airline search functionality to their website.
Using this search engine is most advantageous for booking American Airlines flights, especially if you’re looking for premium cabin award space on AA.
Here’s the process you’ll have to follow to search for award availability with AA:
- Go to the American Airlines website
- Select either Round trip or One way
- Click on the checkbox that says Redeem miles
- Type in your origin and destination cities; select the number of passengers and choose your departure and return dates
- Click Search
- You can utilize their flexible search, which allows you to view availability on different dates with the click of a button
- AA recently updated their interface, and calendar view is a functionality that will be restored soon
- American Airlines flights will probably be displayed first if there are AA flights on the routes and dates searched
- Write down the flight numbers, dates, and times
- Book using your preferred method for Oneworld redemptions
At the moment, these are the partners you can search for when using American Airlines:
- SriLankan Airlines
- S7 Airlines
- Royal Jordanian Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Qantas Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Fiji Airways
- Cape Air
- British Airways
- Alaska Airways
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Cathay Pacific (partially)
- LATAM (partially) (leaving Oneworld on 10/1/20)
Unfortunately, the list of airlines that currently can’t be searched online is quite large:
- Seaborne Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Gulf Air
- Japan Airlines
- China Southern Airlines
Furthermore, this list includes quite popular/aspirational airlines such as Japan Airlines, which we’ve reviewed extensively.
Pros of using American Airlines AAdvantage to search for Oneworld award space:
- Best award availability for American Airlines flights
- Increasing number of partners bookable online
- Award search functionality using the AA app
Cons of using AA to search for award space:
- AA is known for purposely hiding competitor award flights
- Does not search all airlines for award space
Overall, we would recommend using American Airlines to search for their own flights. Because AA is reputed to have some shady practices regarding partner availability, we would not use AA as our first choice to find flights on other airlines. Still, this is gradually improving, so it may be a viable option in the future.
ExpertFlyer is the last method we’ll be talking about. While this isn’t a complete guide and tutorial for ExpertFlyer, it will demonstrate how useful this tool can be for planning award travel on Oneworld partners.
With this web-based search platform, you can find award availability for almost all major airlines. It’s a paid subscription service with 2 tiers of membership: Basic ($4.99/month) and Premium ($9.99/month or $99.99/year).
With ExpertFlyer Premium, you can get alerts for award availability when it arises, so you don’t need to search for an award on a daily basis. Here are the other differences between Basic and Premium:
The most useful aspects of the Premium tier are the unlimited queries, flight availability alerts, flexible searching of +/- 3 days, and mobile functionality.
After you’ve purchased a subscription, here’s how to use ExpertFlyer:
- Visit ExpertFlyer
- Log in with your ExpertFlyer e-mail and password
- If you created an account with Facebook, click Log-in with Facebook
- On the left side, click the blue button that says Awards & Upgrades
- Type in your departing and arriving airports, and departure/return dates
- If your dates are flexible, change the dropdown box choice from Exact Date to +/- 3 Days
- Choose your airline
- Depending on what airline you choose, you may be prompted to select the number of passengers
- Choose one or multiple fare classes to search, such as first awards or economy awards
- If you want to search nonstop flights only, switch the Connection Preference to Direct/Non-Stop Only
- Click Search
Here’s what a populated search might look like:
In addition to searching for flight awards and upgrades, you can create flight alerts for any flights that don’t currently have award space in the cabin you want. That way, you’ll immediately get notified as soon as award space opens up on your desired flight.
You can also view the open/reserved/blocked seats by clicking the Seat Map icon.
Here are the Oneworld airlines you cannot search award availability for using ExpertFlyer:
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Japan Airlines
- LATAM (leaving Oneworld on 10/1/20)
- Qatar Airways
That said, there are some major pros of using ExpertFlyer to plan your award travel with Oneworld airlines:
- Extremely powerful search engine that can serve as a one-stop shop for award searches
- Can search flexible dates with premium subscriptions
- Can set up flight alerts so you don’t need to obsessively search for award space
- Can search both upgrade and award space
- Can view seat map and cross-reference with optimal seat choices (which you can find out about in our definitive guide to Singapore Airlines U.S. routes to Singapore, for example)
But there are some cons associated with using ExpertFlyer:
- Too many results. If you don’t narrow down your results by selecting a time of day, you can get too many results and not show all the possible choices.
- Not free. This one is pretty self-explanatory — the service isn’t free, though you can trial Premium for 5 days.
- Can’t search all airlines, including some major options like British Airways and Cathay Pacific.
All in all, Oneworld is an extremely useful airline alliance. Its members offer a generous amount of award space in premium cabins, ranging from Japan Airlines to Cathay Pacific to Qantas. American Airlines is the most familiar Oneworld partner for most of us, but there are many other ways to search for award travel with the alliance.
Remember that these methods for searching award availability are just that: for searching. The point is to find award space, and then to use the most advantageous airline program to book your flights (such as American Airlines AAdvantage, for example).
Keep in mind that searching for award flights using the airline’s own search engine will provide additional availability. For example, if you are using Qantas to search for Qantas flights, you’ll see extra award availability since Qantas releases more seats for redemption using their own miles. To check if these seats are available to partners for redemptions, use an alternate site (like British Airways to confirm Qantas availability).
When booking, remember that the mileage price you pay will depend on the frequent flyer program you use, not the award search engine you use. For example, if you find Cathay Pacific space on British Airways’ site and are using American Airlines miles to book the flight, you’ll pay the price that American Airlines charges.
Now, you know the best ways to search for Oneworld award flights, as well as the pros and cons of each method. None of these are perfect, but some are certainly better than others.
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