While the AAdvantage program catches a continuous and mostly (well-deserved) flogging from the miles and points community due to lack of award seats on many routes, AAdvantage miles still hold exceptional value for partner awards. One of these partners is Qatar Airways.
Qatar (pronunciation debated) is one of the big three Middle Eastern carriers known for its exceptional product. In particular, it’s known for having one of the best business class products and also an amazing bar and lounge on board its A380. It also recently announced the launch of its new Q-Suites in business class that many are fawning over.
Qatar flies to a lot of places as you can tell by the map below.
- To play around Qatar routing and destinations on the map click here.
What I really like about Qatar is that I’ve never really struggled to find open award seats when searching far out in advance. And I haven’t had experiences with phantom awards or anything of that nature — It’s always been a (mostly) smooth searching and booking process for me.
Search for awards on British Airways
To find open award seats search on British Airways’s (BA) website. If you’re not familiar with the website, go to BritishAirways.com. Click on Executive Club and then spend Avios. Scroll down to book an award flight and it should take you to the following screen after you log-in (so make sure you have an account with British Airways).
If there’s availability, you’ll see the Qatar logo along with the number of open seats left.
As always, with BA you want to search for flights by segment (no connections) because the BA search results either won’t show you open seats or you increase the odds for showing the dreaded “phantom availability” (or award seats that aren’t actually open).
This means that your searches will almost always be to or from the main Qatar hub DOH in Doha, Qatar.
Once you locate open award seats it’s time to call AAdvantage to book. Sometimes this can get tricky since different call centers sometimes have access to different awards.
For example, I’ve had to call the AA Australian center to book Etihad awards since the American agents couldn’t find it. At the same time, the Australian agents could not spot the open Qatar seats I found on BA’s website but the American agents could see them and book them. So be sure to check with both centers if one tells you they can’t see anything.
Note: When booking AA partners with an overseas call center, be sure they are processing your payment in the local currency. If they don’t do that, they might cancel your booking later on!
Fees should be pretty reasonable often only around $100-$150 even for a premium seat flying out of an airport like CDG.
The AA agents were able to select my seats for me so that’s probably easiest (although you’re also given a Qatar reference number).
In my searches for Qatar seats, I’ve found awards show up after a bit of patience. Thus, if you had to book one segment in business or first and another segment in economy, I’d check availability on BA’s website everyday because you never know what might pop up. I recently checked a route every day for about 10 days and then finally 6 seats opened up one morning — so don’t give up!
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.