Ugh. I’m normally a calm person and understand if there is no availability, but recently I haven’t had any luck and have experienced some major award booking frustration. Yesterday’s situation just pushed me too far, involving AS and BA.

I needed to fly today on a short, ~700 mile, Alaska Airlines flight and wanted to redeem 7.5k British Airways Avios for the flight – the flight alone cost $300+ USD, so clearly 7.5k Avios and $5.60 was a great deal. The only problem was that there was no availability.

The flight was leaving today morning and I set up an ExpertFlyer alert on Monday so that I could be notified when space in “W” class opened up (Alaska’s lowest Economy mileage class). Finally I got an alert of W1 (one seat available for Economy mileage redemption) yesterday at ~16:00 PST and immediately called British Airways Executive Club. I figured I would be able to get this seat since their call centre closes at 17:00 PST in the United States and I still had an hour.

Well, I spent the first thirty minutes trying to actually get on the phone with them since their phone number wasn’t working for Executive Club, I was getting a “busy” signal after selecting the “Avios Award Availability” option on the phone. I literally tried four different phones and called like ten times from each phone and got the “busy” signal every time.

Then at ~16:40 I finally got through to an agent and quickly explained the urgent matter and then they began to (slowly) search for the space and of course couldn’t find it… because someone literally booked the award between 16:35 and 16:45. I checked last at 16:35 and ExpertFlyer was still showing W1. I’ve also noticed that some BA agents aren’t competent enough to find the Alaska flights even though they have space, you have to literally feed them the flight number and departure times and tell them to look in “W” class.


Alaska Airlines - Award Booking Frustration using BA Avios

Alaska Airlines – Award Booking Frustration using BA Avios

So I set another alert for the flight and what happens? I get an email alert with W2 (!!) at 17:01. FML. By this time the call centre had been closed.. and you know what else? Those seats were there for another two hours before someone finally bought them. FML. FML. FML. I of course tried calling BA’s regular phone number and they told me they can’t handle mileage bookings (though BA’s Twitter team thinks otherwise).

So I’m angry at both airlines here – at Alaska for not releasing award space sooner (they seriously have a flight every hour and they waited until literally the last minute to release award seats) and British Airways for having such $#!t hours for their call centre AND for not making Alaska awards bookable online. FML. FML. FML.

You know what else? The flight was showing W4 two hours before departure. Seriously?! And the day before it was showing Y9. I didn’t have time at that point to call BA, pack, get to the airport, etc. so I let it go…

They would’ve had my business… but no… and so my award booking frustration continues…