Why & How to Add Your American Airlines Number to British Airways Award Flights

I recently booked American Airlines award flights from Dallas to Albuquerque with British Airways Avios points. I booked it pretty fast and let my British Airways loyalty number auto-populate in the spot for “Membership Number.”

british airways american number

So easy to let this slide

It’s a “blink and you’ll miss it” type thing and easy to overlook.

But, if you have elite status on American Airlines, or certain AAdvantage credit cards with Barclaycard or Citi, you’ll want to change it.

Why to add your American Airlines number

Priority boarding

If you have any type of elite status with American, you’ll get Priority boarding. And if you have certain AAdvantage cards with Barclaycard or Citi, you’ll get Group 1 boarding.

This is essentially meaningless as it’s all a cattle call anyway. But, it does provide one ancillary benefit: overhead bin space. If you board near the end, you’ll be hunting for a place to put your bag. I never check a bag, so I try to board as early as possible.

Adding your American number will get you this – even on an award ticket.

Free checked bag

As mentioned, I don’t check bags unless absolutely necessary. I might actually check a bag for my upcoming trip to Hawaii. Reason being: sunscreen.

I can get it cheap here in the mainland, but they really price gouge certain items in Hawaii. Sunscreen is pretty much a necessity – and believe me, they know it ($$$$).

If you have a co-branded credit card that gives you a free checked bag domestically, be sure to add your American number at least 7 days before your flight to make sure it all links up correctly. Otherwise, you may get stuck paying.

If you have status, it doesn’t matter when you add your number – so long as you do it before you fly.

Flight tracking and boarding pass

I use the American app to alert me to flight delays. I don’t know what’s going on lately, but my past, say, 10 flights have ALL been delayed.

No reason going to the airport to hurry up and wait. You can track flight status through your British Airways number, but it’s a roundabout process. It’s much easier to add your American number and track it on the app.

I like having access to all my flight info on my phone through the American app

I like having access to all my flight info on my phone through the American app

Look at that delay! ^^^

I also like having access to my boarding pass. This lets me walk directly to security when I get to the airport. So so easy.

Seat selection

If you have status, you can also select “Main Cabin Extra” seats at no additional cost. The seat isn’t really all that different, other than it’s nearer to the exit. Quick escape once you land!

I always always pick these seats. It’s nothing life-changing, but better than being stuck in the back of the plane if you don’t have to be.

You might accidentally earn miles!

Short story for ya!

So yesterday, my original flight was at 6:18pm. I got to the airport super early, planning to sit and get some work done for a few hours.

On the departures board, I noticed 2 earlier flights were going out non-stop to DFW from the same gate as mine (B1).

I mean, I wanted that seat but not that price

I mean, I wanted that seat but not that price

So I went down to see if I could get bumped. Tickets were selling for $778!

I explained to the gate agent that I was traveling with a carry-on and that Dallas was my final destination – no connections. And that, if it would help operations, I was ready to hop on an earlier flight.

She pulled it up and said, “Your flight is oversold. So I’ll bump you to the next one – there are still open seats.”



Then she handed me a new boarding pass. I noticed I was now in the “Y” fare class, which is often the fare class they rebook you into at the gate.

I had a stray thought. “Hmm. Maybe I’ll earn miles for it.



This morning, I noticed my AA balance had gone up a little. I ended up earning 911 miles for the flight. I value that around $18. Nothing crazy, but I’ll take it! I also earned some more EQMs in the process.

Now, I’m not saying to expect this. But it does happen from time to time. And it wouldn’t have happened at all had I not simply switched the number.

How to add your American number

I’ve written how to use the Royal Jordanian site to manage Oneworld bookings.

You can manage your bookings with these airlines on the site:

  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian (duh)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia

And with it, you can:

  • Change frequent flyer number
  • Obtain other airline’s record locator
  • Verify fare buckets
  • Easily check flight duration and aircraft type
  • Email yourself a receipt
  • Get a ticket number

These are all helpful functions with, obviously, a variety of uses. There are many reasons why you’d want to check or alter your reservations. I tend to prefer the Royal Jordanian website for no reason other than old habits die hard. But you can do all of this via Finnair, too.

Open your reservation with your British Airways booking reference.

On the Royal Jordanian site, scroll down to “Traveller details”:

Click "Modify

Click “Modify passengers”

Add your AA number, press Save and you’re done. Then, you can use your AA reference number to change your seat, track your flight, get a boarding pass, and all that good stuff on the AA website or app.

Same thing for Finnair

Same thing for Finnair

On the Finnair site, click “Update details” and you can easily save your AA number to your reservation.

Bottom line

If you book award flights on American Airlines with British Airways Avios points (like these 5th freedom flightsexpensive hopper flights, or connecting flights) – and you have any type of status or co-branded AA card – there are a lot of reasons you should go ahead and add your American number to the reservation.

It’s not hard, and you’ll end up saving time in the long run. You might even, on occasion, earn some unexpected miles (but don’t count on it).

It’s most useful for getting your boarding privileges, free checked bags, and premium seat selection. If you’re entitled to it anyway, don’t miss out by skipping this step.

All these little things add up and can help improve your overall experience when you get ready to fly your award flight.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. So here’s a question: have u ever tried to cancel an avios reservation after switching your ff account? Cause I tried today and it wouldn’t recognize my confirmation # in my BA account. Its no big deal so I didn’t bother calling or pursuing it further, but my next step would have been to go back to the RJ site and change the # back to BA.

    • Yes, that would be the right course of action. And then cancel through the BA website. I’ve never done it myself, but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

  2. I booked a flight on LAN with AA miles and I tried accessing it on both the Finn Air and RJ sites with both the AA and the LAN record locators, but had no success. Any suggestions? I have been able to access Avios bookings on LAN flights through the RJ site using the BA record locator before. I also tried finding a way to search by ticket number and also had no success. What am I doing wrong??

    • Hmmm, I’ve never been in that situation. Are you able to access the reservation via LAN?

      The only other suggestion is to call American and have them make changes manually. It’s an added step, but might be worth it. Are you trying to add a different loyalty number to the reservation?

      • Yea, I’m able to access it via LAN and AA. The reason I want to access it on the RJ site is because, on my last LAN flight I booked with Avios, I was able to change my seat into an exit row for free on the RJ site…..they’re blocked out on the LAN site. The problem may be that there is one segment on AA on this itinerary. I was able to change the seat via RJ on a domestic flight from EZE to COR, but now I’m tryhing to it on a more complex itinerary: COR-SCL-LAX-SAN. LAX to SAN is on AA, obviously.

        • Sounds like something is glitching out the site. Maybe that AA leg you mentioned. Could you call RJ and see if they can do anything?

          It might not work, shot in the dark and all, but you never know. There must be SOME way to access seat selection for those flights.

          • Haha, alright thanks, I’ll keep thinking about how I can get into an exit row for that 11 hour flight. I had to add the detail because some troll would have defiinitely chimed in and reminded us that LAN doesn’t run that route.

  3. Spent some time trying to find exactly where to add my AA number and have reread this several times. I have a huge number of Avios from flying internationally and am now retired in the USA and would like to use them flying American. Are you saying that a. you must have a BA booked awards flight in hand (already booked) and then (and only then) you can add the AA number to the account?

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