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Getting Boarding Pass On-Line--American Airlines/British Airways

Perhaps I am doing something wrong, so if anyone has any info or can possibly set me straight.....great. I am flying Europe on BA, however the first leg, from Portland to Dallas is by American. When I go onto the BA site to get my boarding pass it kicks me over to American. A couple of things happen: 1) I have tried this several times and every time I enter my "Contact Phone Number" on the day of Departure, it holds up when I try and check in (as in no little triangle next to it) but when I try again (an hour later or so) it has the little triangle and has not kept my number 2) I have Global Entry but I know BA does not take it. However, in the trusted traveler portion of the "Traveler Data" section I did put in my number. As I was looking at my passport and global entry card, I am reasonably sure both numbers are correct. When I hit "check in online" I get a message which states: Please check in at the airport, we are unable to check you in online." Anyone have any ideas? TIA

Posted by
21650 posts

Sure, they want to see that your passport is valid before giving you a boarding pass so you cannot print a boarding pass at home. Some have posted here that they were able to print a boarding pass at home but that has never been our situation.

Global entry has absolutely nothing to do with leaving the country. Only useful when you come back. The TSA Pre-check that comes with Global entry is only valid if the airline is participating in the Pre-check program. Most foreign based airlines, including BA, do not participate. So you will not get the pre-check mark on the boarding pass.

Posted by
1068 posts

Thanks for the response. I understand the point of of Global Entry/Pre Check part of my (probably poorly worded) question was whether that would mess them up given BA doesn't use it. According to the BA website (and I have flown them a number of times) the final stage is:
Issue your boarding pass
You are now checked in.
To save time at the airport, you can:
Download your boarding pass on your mobile
Print, fax, save or email your boarding pass
Collect your boarding pass from an airport kiosk or desk
Please do any of the above at least one hour before your flight departs.
You can make any of these changes up to an hour before your flight departs.
Choose an option and select "Go"

So I thought, unless I am wrong, you can get your boarding pass from your home, but in the past I had to show my passport before actually getting on the plane.

Posted by
21650 posts

That has never been our experience. We have completed the check in process, information wise, on-line but always had to go to a check in point, show the passport, get the boarding pass. We also show the passport at the boarding gate. I know others have claimed otherwise but that has been our experience with United, Lufthansa, and Delta as as recent as last year.

Posted by
1068 posts

It may be that things have changed. I pretty clearly (for me) remember about 2-3 years ago I was in the gate waiting area and was called up on the little loudspeaker. When I asked what they wanted, the gate-person said someone actually had to see my passport as no one had physically laid eyes on it yet. So I had to have had a boarding pass to get into the gate waiting area. Normally I am pretty unconscious and just follow lines show people papers and don't have much problems. This is mainly an issue at this time because I cannot select my seat for the BA portions of the flight without checking in. Anyway, the quote comes from the "demo" on how to check in online by BA.

Posted by
16883 posts

I would guess this is more an issue of which airline created the booking and whether their computers are communicating fully with each other. It might not be possible to do online. But what if you start at American's site instead of getting transferred there? Do you have the equivalent (co-branded) flight numbers that start with AA? Or sometimes you'll get separate record locator numbers specific to each airline (but covering the whole booking).

Posted by
1068 posts

Thanks for the thought. I tried starting at AA 2 ways. My only booking number is with BA however. So I started at AA tried my BA number and tried the flight number but with no booking number, nothing. I also have a frequent flyer account with AA (although I have not flown with them in years) and logged into that before I tried the above again, nothing (after I logged in I hit check in and it told me I had no trips but did not give me anyplace to enter booking numbers or flight numbers.) I also stayed logged into AA while I tried to check in on the BA site and figured it would kick me into my logged in account at AA, but that did not work. Just plain puzzling. The only 2 pieces of data I had to enter (whether I logged into my AA account or tried the AA website I was kicked into) were my passport numbers (including expiration--I renewed it this year so had to change them) and my Global Entry number (which I put in for the Trusted Traveler number and did not have when I created the AA account years ago.) Otherwise the old data on my AA account was up to date. That's why I wondered if I did something wrong.

Posted by
7463 posts

I recently flew several international flights on American and was surpised at always being asked to wait until arriving at the airport to show passports and receive boarding passes. United has always let me print me boarding passes for internarional travel at home. There is nothing mhsterious about this, just their policy.

Posted by
2882 posts

As I've said ad nauseam, we fly BA almost exclusively. However, when we are unlucky they put us on an American flight as they are some type of partner arrangement, at least out of Boston. Nonetheless, we have always printed our boarding pass at home. What we do need to do is once we are at the gate and a person shows up, we show them our passport. That's all it takes. Maybe they have a different phone number than you put in or perhaps you should just skip that step? Maybe you should join BA's frequent flyer club first? Otherwise, I have no idea so I'm probably no help...

Posted by
1068 posts

Well thank you for the thoughts. I am in BAs frequent flyer club as I use them much more frequently than other airlines. I seem to vaguely recall not being able to print my boarding pass out maybe 8 years or so ago....but I can't remember the airline or anything. Appreciate the effort, but am hanging it up until tomorrow when I'll get the boarding pass at the airport. Take care.

Posted by
10953 posts

Here's a suggestion from problems I had. I booked a series of flights through American. On some of those flights they put me on British Airways.

To check in with British Airways, the record locater from American didn't work. I had to call BA and get the record locator they use. Then everything worked.

Since you have a BA record locater, call American and ask for the one to use for their flights. Once you have that, you should be able to check in for your first flight with American and probably get your boarding pass for the international portion of the flight. You should also be able to check in with BA, on their website, for the BA portion of the trip. (AA record locaters are usually all letters; BA record locaters are letters and numbers.)

At some point you will have to physically show your passport. The other day at Heathrow, with a pre-printed boarding pass, I was stopped at security when I scanned it. I had to go the "Passport check" desk for them to see it and enter the "ok" into the system. Then I could enter security.

With the phone number, are you entering it as one number or including dashes? If you have done one way, try the other.

If your trusted traveler number is in your AA reservation, then you should get Pre-check for that portion.

Posted by
1068 posts

Well we'll never know what happened, although I would certainly have tried the remaining suggestions. Last night the middle flight of my itinerary was cancelled. I call BA and they were not super helpful offering either a horrible substitute flight (I would leave earlier, wait longer and the killer, have a 1 hour connection time at Heathrow.) The other alternative was flights a day later. As I was on the line the call was dropped or something. I immediately called back and was informed the help center would not be open again until 7am the next day (EST, I'm on PST). I then tried several BA rebooking or customer service numbers with no affect. When I went to the web, I was told there was an error and to try back later. So I booked on a different airline (paid too much for the ticket) and now (long before leaving for the airport) have my boarding passes. This morning when I tried to get the first part of my itinerary (USA-Europe) refunded by the website I was told to enter the credit card number I used. I did that and was rejected....told it was the wrong card. So I opened my credit card statement and checked....nope, right trip, right card. Entered it again.... rejected....and then tried my other cards.....was locked out of the webpage for too many failed attempts. Finally got customer relations on the phone and had that part of the trip refunded. I must say, I was surprised at how very inefficient and unhelpful BA was (I don't remember this from previous trips.) When I told them there was a problem with entering the credit card number on the website, they said they knew and we going to fix it. So the bottom line: they cancel my flight at 9:30pm the night before, then leave me with no way to rebook or get a refund until 4am (PST) when I am supposed to be flying out at 7:05am. Hmmmmmm. Not a good start, or maybe I got most of the usual travel mishaps out of the way early. Sorry for the rant, have been up and on the phone/computer much of the night.

Posted by
3487 posts

At least you got the refund for the part of the trip you couldn't take. Better than most people's experiences! Still no excuse for the annoying situation they left you in.

Posted by
1068 posts

I am not sure how they could have not given me a refund given they cancelled the largest leg of my trip (however, I don't doubt they would like to keep it.) The thing which worried me was I wasn't sure if I could get a refund or rebook through BA or if they would help me rebook through a different airline (which they did not seem very inclined to do) because everything was closed and the web page was inoperative. So I just went ahead a booked for myself. Well, (I think) it worked out in the long run.

Posted by
6513 posts

I have flown United, Delta and American to Europe (with connecting flights) in recent years, and in every case they would not issue a boarding pass for the international leg until I showed up at the first airport and showed a passport. They do not want someone going right to the gate and getting on board without a valid passport. The gate agents at boarding time people are trying to move things along, so it would be too easy to slip by.

Posted by
5697 posts

Glad you finally got something settled! The problem may have been the new passport number -- but airlines are being more vigilant about wanting to see a physical passport before issuing a boarding pass, so since the new number had not been verified in their system ... United required a photo of my passport (which United had verified on the prior trip) before issuing an online boarding pass in April.

Posted by
2916 posts

I recently flew Icelandair to Paris from Boston, and got boarding passes on-line for both outbound legs before leaving for the airport. It wasn't until I got to security that I had to show a passport. That's always been my experience for many years. So maybe it depends on the airline, or maybe things are changing.

Posted by
1068 posts

As I said, I am often slightly unconscious and have checked in with agents, kiosks, online etc. It seems I got boarding passes in the past (although at least once I did not....maybe more.) I also remember that I had gotten through security and was sitting by the gate when the attendant called my name. She said someone from the airline had to see my passport. So who knows? I rebooked this trip on Icelandair and they let me print boarding passes. Unfortunately, they are also an airline which does not take Trusted Traveler so that will slow me down a bit. But hey, I'll get where I'm going on time and even though it cost me more than if I had booked 6 months ago, I'm grateful it worked out. Initially, I thought it was the weather which caused BA to cancel the flight, but I checked this morning and there were American/BA flights out of Dallas (just not mine!) Appreciate everyone's assistance, interest and support.

Posted by
3487 posts

I have always for every flight to Europe in the past 10 years on United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and now Iceland Air, been able to print my boarding passes when going to Europe without issue. I fly from Denver or Houston in the US. It is coming back where I have (almost) always had check in at a counter in the European airport and have everything scrutinized before I get my boarding pass. I can usually check in online for the return to the US, it's just getting the actual boarding pass that is not possible until arriving at the airport. United usually lets me print the boarding pass for the return flight, but then it must be turned in for a boarding passes printed on their card stock.

In every case, I am a member of the airline's frequent flyer program and have provided my current passport information to them online through my account information which might help. Also, I have always had my passport checked before boarding the plane, either at the gate or at the checkin counter (or both). There does not appear to be a way to simply walk onto the plane without getting it checked.

Just my experience, your experience will vary.

Posted by
8268 posts

I read your predicament to my husband at breakfast today. He had two gems of knowlege: maybe you couldn't check in because the flight had already been cancelled, and second, he marveled at how you took all this with nerves of steel. What an incredible story, and we wish you bon voyage.

Posted by
2818 posts

Was the cancelled BA flight from Dallas to Heathrow? They have been having terrible weather in Texas. Probably lots of flights cancelled---not BA's fault, but they should have notified you sooner that the flight was cancelled and offered alternatives.