How to alter your frequent flyer number in Oneworld bookings as many times as you want

If you have membership in multiple loyalty programmes, or have status in one that's not your primary, then you may encounter the situation where you need to be able to change the Frequent Flyer Number in your booking. For example, the three Oneworld programmes I tend to use are my Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold (Oneworld Sapphire), British Airways Executive Club Blue (no Oneworld status) and American Airlines AAdvantage member (no Oneworld status).

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Finnair has the solution. Their online reservation system appears directly linked to the Amadeus Global Distribution System (GDS), as any changes made there are notified by no-reply@amadeus.com rather than *@finnair.com. You can edit your reservation in Finnair regardless of whoever else you booked it under, so long as you have the Amadeus record locator. 

Tip: Some airlines, including American Airlines, book under the Sabre GDS so you need to find the equivalent record locator. To do this you can go to virtuallythere.com and it should display the Amadeus equivalent. Unfortunately I don't have any Sabre reservations to demonstrate this so if a reader can ‘donate' a screenshot that would be brilliant! [Edit: I'll update this post by Sunday 13th April 2014 to include the information from the commenters at the bottom about troubles with Sabre reservations.]

One of the most common situations to require changing numbers is for seat selection. Choosing your seat is free at any time if you have Oneworld Sapphire, whereas it's only free 24hrs before your flight if you don't hold any status. So I usually put my Cathay Pacific number in during booking, switching to either BA or AA later on to get my mileage. Most Oneworld carrier websites don't allow you to change numbers after you submit it for the first time.

To change your frequent flyer number, go to www.finnair.com and click on ‘manage my booking':

AY front page

Type in your details and log in. You should be get a screen like this afterwards. Click on “Update your details in the bottom right”:

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You can edit your number using the dropdown list and click confirm.

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You can change the frequent flyer number as many times as you like before you fly using this method. You can even put someone else's number in to the field! I've only tried it once (out of curiosity) and I was able to select the seat free of charge for the person using my status before changing it back to their original number. You won't be able to get flight credit sadly!

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  1. Hi Tim. I do have an upcoming AA trip. It is on an AA ticket booked with AA directky, and only includes AA marketed & operated flights. However, when I go to virtuallythere and put in the Sabre PNR I get an error message saying “Itinerary view is not allowed for this Airline, please contact your travel arranger”. I had a search on FT and others have experienced the same. Short of calling AA I can’t see a way to get the Amadeus PNR.

      • Alexis, can you try going to Manage my booking on ba.com, then use your Sabre reservation number but add “/AA” at the end? Otherwise try here, as it can read Sabre too

        • Thanks! The first option did not work, because the “booking reference” field on the regular Manage My Booking screen will only accept six characters. But the link you provided as the second option worked like a charm! I was able to get in and select seats for BA segments booked through AA.

  2. When I type in my AA record locater I get the following:

    “Itinerary view is not allowed for this Airline, please contact your travel arranger”

    What am I doing wrong?

  3. Good tip. I read about this a while back and have used it numerous times when booking awards on AA using BA Avios. Since I have the AA credit card for free bags, after booking using Avios I’ll go to Finnair to change to AAdvantage number.

  4. I was able to log into Virtually There with my AA code, but couldn’t see an alternate code anywhere in the display. It just listed my AA confirmation number throughout.

      • On Avios redemption tickets, I’ve had no problem using aa.com to input my AAdvantage number (to get my AA elite benefits). Just get the AA locator from your BA confirmation (or from finnair.com or from the “Find a Reservation” page of aa.com). Then open the reservation on aa.com and scroll down to “Add/Edit Passenger Information.” It will let you change the frequent flyer information.

  5. Can’t seem to change my number. I have a weird RT from DC to Sydney- first leg from DC to LAX is United, all the rest including the return trip is Qantas. I want to use my AA# for the Qantas segments. For whatever reason only my United number went through. I can see the booking through Finnair, but if I try to change the number I get “The connection to the booking system is broken. Please try again later. (9102)” Well, I’ll just call Qantas.

    • Called Qantas and had them add my AA FF#. Still doesn’t show my AA# in either Qantas or Finnair’s system (only the United Number) BUT QATAR’s system shows both my AA# and UA#. Qatar also allows you to change your flyer number, though only the first one. So I’d suggest using Qatar instead of Finnair for making/checking FF# changes. Interestingly, United’s system appears to think I’m eligible for miles on ALL segments! Wouldn’t mind it double-counting me for 19,000 UA miles and getting 17,000 AA miles for the Qantas segments!!

      • Your case is very interesting because of the cross-alliance ticketing! Would you mind sending me a screenshot, with necessary personal details blanked out? Maybe I can learn from your case too!

        • Sure. I put together a dropbox of screenshots from United, Finnair, Qantas and Qatar. Interesting to note how United thinks the oneworld confirmation number is from an old Continental booking. It seems to think I’m flying First on Qantas because Qantas’s economy ticket code O is First on United (and Continental) and that I qualify for United miles on all legs of the flight. It suggests to me the United system hasn’t been properly built to handle oneworld reservations and is instead interpreting it as a Continental-type flight, eligible for miles. The Oneworld sites also aren’t too sure exactly what’s going on either, but at least Qatar can show me both FF#s, so they must be in the system somewhere. Maybe something interesting will happen when I fly, wait and see!

          https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r01b9cn40689pd9/5EMi3G9Zd1

          • Everything went smoothly. United got the United miles, American got the Qantas, just as should have happened.

  6. Don’t you have to leave your frequent flyer number in past checkin in case you try and change seats at airport to get free bags and such?

    • Sometimes you can ask the agent at the lounge or gate to change your number. You can only hope they don’t notice things like free checked in bag. For access to lounges, I’ve never had a problem just showing the card of another programme to the one that’s attached to my booking.

  7. I’m trying to change my FF number for an award flight on AA booked with BA avios. I keep getting a “generic error” message on finnair.com. Any suggestions?

  8. I login to my AY account and I can see the reservation, but there is no button like the one in the blog so I can’t modify my frequent flyer number.

    • Greg, unfortunately Finnair have changed their systems so you cannot alter the number anymore. However you can use Royal Jordanian’s websites to do the same thing

  9. Can no longer use your AA number for someone else, called BA websupport after putting the number in and they said there was a name mismatch… so this is new and unfortunate.

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