Newcomers information to discovering award house with ExpertFlyer

In case your plan for locating airline award house entails solely counting on airline web sites and telephone brokers, you’re setting your self up for failure.

Many airline web sites lack the performance and adaptability to indicate you each obtainable award flight routing. And whereas telephone brokers work exhausting, many lack the required coaching on award reserving guidelines, fare courses and airline partnerships mandatory to seek out all obtainable award flights. This could make reserving complicated itineraries with profitable companions and maximizing stopover guidelines powerful.

Nonetheless, further instruments may be indispensable as you seek for that elusive ticket. On this information, I’ll present you easy methods to use one such useful resource — ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s guardian firm, Purple Ventures) — to seek out obtainable award house and increase your possibilities of scoring your dream journey.

I’ll begin by discussing the fundamentals of ExpertFlyer after which stroll you thru easy methods to use the device to seek out award house and set alerts.

ExpertFlyer fundamentals


ExpertFlyer presently provides three plans starting from a free account to 2 premium accounts. Every account has entry to completely different options — right here’s a fast overview:

  1. Free: Set an alert to inform you when a extra fascinating seat opens up in your flight. You’re restricted to 1 free alert at a time, although you may add extra for $0.99 every.
  2. Primary ($4.99 monthly): Gives further options, comparable to award and improve stock search and flight availability (together with fare buckets). You may set 4 seat alerts concurrently, however you are restricted to 250 queries monthly.
  3. Premium ($9.99 monthly, or $99.99 per yr): Consists of versatile search choices, limitless queries, 200 seat alerts at a time, plane change alerts and the flexibility to create flight alerts when stock opens up.

Yow will discover nearly something you want about airline schedules, seat maps, flight statuses and award availability utilizing ExpertFlyer. These are necessary instruments to maintain in your frequent flyer toolbox, particularly should you’re reserving final minute and must discover a particular flight. Right now, we’ll cowl easy methods to seek for awards and improve house utilizing ExpertFlyer.

The platform presently lets you seek for this stock on 87 airways. Fastidiously overview the checklist to see what stock is obtainable in your desired airline — American, for instance, reveals each award and improve house for its flights. In the meantime, United has award, however not improve, information on ExpertFlyer. Fortunately, yow will discover award house for many main airways, together with all main U.S. carriers apart from Delta.

Associated: How ExpertFlyer helped me rating a first-class expertise of a lifetime

Discovering award seats and setting award alerts

ExpertFlyer commonly helps me discover award house on American Airways. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY

So, let’s dive proper into discovering award house. Earlier than beginning, guarantee you’ve got a Primary or Premium account, as free accounts can not run award searches. In case you’re a brand new member, you may join a free five-day Premium trial on ExpertFlyer’s web site.

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Organising your ExpertFlyer searches

After logging in to your account, search for the “Awards & Upgrades” device by clicking its label on the left-hand sidebar. You’ll be instantly greeted with search fields. Fill within the fundamentals, like your departure and arrival airports and departure and return dates. In case you’re on the lookout for a one-way flight, you may preserve the return date empty.

The Premium subscription turns out to be useful right here with the flexibility to look plus or minus three days out of your desired journey date. This lets you view every week at a time and seek for a number of fare courses. I like to recommend utilizing this in case your dates are versatile, as it would yield probably the most award house.


When you choose the airline you’d prefer to fly, you’ll see the fare courses that ExpertFlyer can search alongside an outline. For United Airways, you’ll see financial system and enterprise saver awards.

Additionally, for this search, I will verify each cabins and look for only one seat — indicated by the “Amount” subject.


You too can inform ExpertFlyer to solely seek for nonstop flights by choosing the “Direct/Non-Cease Solely” choice on the backside of the search type. You might also see an choice for excluding codeshare flights out of your search outcomes. This may be useful should you’re solely occupied with flying the airline you’re looking for, not codeshare companions. I like to recommend enabling this for many searches if the choice is given.

Lastly, you may tick the “Present all dates on 1 display” choice on the backside when looking throughout a number of dates. It is going to make it simpler to scroll by means of all the outcomes concurrently.


Associated: E-book this, not that: Star Alliance award tickets

Studying ExpertFlyer search outcomes

Click on the search button on the backside of the display, and ExpertFlyer will current you with an inventory of the obtainable flights damaged down by date. Every flight choice will present the fare courses you looked for as properly. Some airways — like American — will present the variety of seats obtainable in that class. Different airways will merely present “Sure” or “No” — Sure reveals if the flight has at the very least the variety of seats you looked for obtainable.

The outcomes web page may also present you connecting choices (so long as you don’t restrict it to nonstop flights) obtainable in your itinerary. That stated, each leg of a connecting itinerary should have award availability within the desired class of service to e book all the journey with miles.


After you have the date, flight quantity and fare class, you may e book your flight on-line or name an airline telephone agent and provides them the precise details about the flight you discovered.

If the flight you are trying to e book would not have award house within the fare class you would like, you may choose the highest sq. with an exclamation level (!) to set an alert. In case you set an alert, ExpertFlyer will notify you by electronic mail if a seat is launched. This manner, you may keep away from needing to commonly run award searches.


You will have to present the alert a title. On this case, I’ve named the alert primarily based on the flight route and date. In principle, I may e book an economy-class award seat now, and if business-class award house turns into obtainable, ExpertFlyer will electronic mail me.

Organising ExpertFlyer seat alerts

With ExpertFlyer’s seat alert function, you will be notified if seats in your flight change into obtainable. For instance, if somebody cancels their flight or adjustments their seat, ExpertFlyer will electronic mail you should you arrange an alert.

Enter the flight particulars within the fields after choosing “Seat Map” from the homepage to open a seat map and set an alert.


On this case, I solely chosen financial system class as a result of my reservation was booked in financial system class. First-class seat alerts aren’t useful for me right here as a result of even when a first-class seat grew to become obtainable, I would not be capable to choose that seat with out paying for it.


As I had feared, all of the Financial system Plus (rows 7 to 21) aisle and window seats are presently occupied.

I made a decision to set a seat alert by clicking on “Create Seat Alert” and utilizing the “Choose Particular Seats” function. Doing so allowed me to click on on all of the window and aisle Financial system Plus seats that I might like electronic mail alerts for if seats change into obtainable.


One other useful choice is to click on “Any Aisle Seat,” which might alert me if an economy-class aisle seat (in any row) turns into obtainable, as all the aisle seats on this flight are both occupied or blocked.

Associated: How one can increase your possibilities of getting a greater seat by 91% or extra

An actual-world instance of utilizing ExpertFlyer to e book an award


Etihad Visitor is one among my favourite loyalty applications — largely due to Etihad’s large checklist of airline companions.

Sadly, you may’t e book associate flights on the Etihad Visitor web site. It’s a must to name the airline to e book all these awards, and it may be time-consuming should you go into the decision with out realizing which award house to e book. It’s lots simpler if yow will discover a flight with award house on the day you wish to e book earlier than you name. Then, you may merely inform the agent the award you wish to e book and be certain there’s award house obtainable earlier than calling in.

Say I wish to e book a business-class flight from New York to Brussels (which I can do for simply 44,000 miles utilizing Etihad Visitor).

I’ll begin the search by logging in to ExpertFlyer and heading to the “Awards & Upgrades” web page. As soon as there, I’ll enter my search standards and choose “Enterprise – Award & Improve (I)” as the category I’m occupied with reserving. I’ll additionally seek for availability the three days earlier than and after my departure date since my plans aren’t solidified. And I’ll solely seek for nonstop flights.


Whereas enterprise class is not obtainable daily, seats can be found on Oct. 28, indicated by the phrase “Sure” within the “Seats” column.


At this level, I’ll be aware of the flight quantity and dates and name Etihad Visitor to e book. As soon as on the road, I’ll inform the agent to look particularly for the flight I discovered on ExpertFlyer. Some Etihad Visitor telephone brokers might not be conscious of the airline’s partnership with Brussels Airways, so it could possibly typically assist to inform the agent the airline’s two-character IATA code (“SN” for Brussels Airways) and the fare class. Each of those can be found within the ExpertFlyer search outcomes.

On this instance, slightly than asking an agent to seek for an award ticket from New York to Brussels on October 28, I’d say one thing like this:

“Are you able to please assist me e book a associate award ticket? I’m trying to e book one seat on SN Flight 502 from JFK to BRU on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. I see seats open within the I enterprise award fare class.”

The agent can rapidly e book my ticket if all goes in accordance with plan. By utilizing ExpertFlyer to seek out award house, I can save a whole lot of time on the telephone and make the reserving course of simpler.

ExpertFlyer restrictions


Fortunately, most award seat availability proven on ExpertFlyer might be on the saver stage for all applications. That is good as a result of it needs to be bookable utilizing any associate program’s forex, nevertheless it gained’t present you the expanded award stock that’s typically obtainable by means of sure applications.

ExpertFlyer can’t discover expanded availability for United elite members and cardholders

As you might need famous within the first instance, United flights on ExpertFlyer solely present “I” (enterprise class) and “X” (financial system) fare availability. These award courses are standardized throughout all Star Alliance companions. Nonetheless, in case you have an eligible United bank card or maintain United Premier elite standing, you may entry further award stock that doesn’t seem on ExpertFlyer.

For instance, this United flight from Dulles Worldwide Airport (IAD) to San Francisco Worldwide Airport (SFO) solely has “XN” award house obtainable. That is the award house that’s solely bookable by cobranded bank card holders and United elite members, so it gained’t present on ExpertFlyer and can’t be booked with Star Alliance companions.


Fortunately, it is a small limitation. If you wish to use a Star Alliance associate program like Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles to e book United flights, any I or X award house on ExpertFlyer needs to be bookable utilizing these applications.

It’s lacking award house for necessary airways

Maybe the most important draw back to ExpertFlyer is the airways it lacks. Earlier, we talked about the service may seek for award and improve house for 87 airways. Fortunately, this consists of most main U.S. and European carriers. Nevertheless it would not embody some main airways elsewhere. For instance, you may’t search award house for Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Strains, Japan Airways and Qatar Airways (in equity, Qatar Airways is on ExpertFlyer, however searches have been unavailable for months.).

This can be a massive deal, as award house on these carriers may be exhausting to seek out. I’d love to have the ability to set an award alert for Qatar Airways’ well-known Qsuite business-class product, however this is not potential since ExpertFlyer can’t search Qatar’s award house. You’ll want to look by means of the checklist of airways earlier than taking out a subscription.

Regardless, I feel ExpertFlyer works nice for many on a regular basis searches and can make your journey life a lot simpler.

Associated: ExpertFlyer simply grew to become much more beneficial to American Airways’ flyers

ExpertFlyer fast ideas


Now that you know the way to make use of ExpertFlyer to seek for award house and arrange alerts, I’ll go away you with a number of fast tips about easy methods to get probably the most from the device. Maintain these in thoughts, and also you’ll save a ton of time as you employ the device to seek out nice award tickets:

  1. Choose the time of day you wish to depart should you see the choice. ExpertFlyer reveals a restricted variety of search outcomes, so if a well-liked route has a number of flights, it’s possible you’ll assume it’s unavailable simply because it isn’t displayed. However you will solely see this feature when looking for awards on choose airways.
  2. For premium subscribers, use the “Saved Question” function to simply return to on the lookout for a particular flight with improve house or enterprise availability with out re-typing all the things.
  3. If a fare class is unavailable on some airways, the flight is not going to seem.
  4. Use the “Refine Search” button slightly than the again button when switching your search dates. It will preserve all of the search fields intact.
  5. Learn the ExpertFlyer EduGuide and Consumer Information. I’ve been utilizing ExpertFlyer for years and nonetheless discovered some new issues from these sources.

Associated: Final information to looking award availability for the main airways

Backside line

Discovering airline award house, particularly in premium courses, may be an artwork type (and a difficult one at that). These days, there are lots of partnerships inside and throughout airline alliances, and a few web sites and telephone brokers are higher at discovering obtainable seats than others. That being stated, information is energy on the earth of factors and miles, and that’s what ExpertFlyer offers.

Plus, studying easy methods to set seat alerts by means of ExpertFlyer will help you escape a less-than-ideal seat or discover two seats collectively. Briefly, ExpertFlyer is a strong device that needs to be inside each traveler’s device belt.

Further reporting by Kyle Olsen.

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