While attempting to book two business class tickets returning from Thailand with AAdvantage miles this past week, I came across an interesting hack to force open Cathay Pacific award space. Knowing I wanted to fly Cathay, I began my search for Oneworld availability at BritishAirways.com. BA showed 3 open seats in business class, but knowing they have a tendency to show phantom award space, I decided to check elsewhere.
Qantas, the more reliable source, showed no availability in Business Class on the same day, however, I thought it may still may be worth a shot to call American and try to book anyway, citing BritishAirways.com had shown availibility.
Oddly enough, the agent said that they had one award seat left on this route. Since I needed two seats, I told her what BA was showing and she quickly reiterated what was on her screen. As I was about to say thank you and start looking at JAL and American routes, something awesome happened. She said, “Wait a minute, let me try something before you go.” I asked what she was attempting to do and she said that she has had success tricking Cathay Pacific and Qantas’ systems into ticketing two passengers when only one award seat was available. As you can imagine, my interest was piqued.
After giving the rep some room to work, I asked how she was doing this. I was told that if she opens up two tabs on her booking site and inputs each passenger’s information into a separate tab and hitting submit at the same time, she can get Cathay to ticket both passengers! Now obviously, this would mean assigning different reference numbers to each person, but who cares if it means you can essentially create award space out of thin air! After we finished, I stared at my iPhone for the next hour refreshing my email every five seconds to see if the ticket had come through yet. Sure enough, there it was. Two tickets ready to be assigned seats and meal choices.
I believe this process can be replicated as long as you can find an American Airlines rep willing to try it. When I asked the agent that I spoke with if this was a known work around, she said that it wasn’t, but rather something that she tried a few times and had success with, specifically on Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Give this trick a try and let me know how it works out for you in the comments below. Be especially nice to the representative and you may find someone willing to help you out.