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Introducing – another way to search for airline award availability

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Most people, when it comes to searching for award space for their frequent flier redemptions, use the website of that same frequent flyer programme. Logical, innit?

However, in general airline websites vary from unusable to biased when it comes to showing award availability on partner airlines inside the same alliance. For this reason, a number of tools have sprung up to help people spend their miles. Among the best known are the KVS Tool, ExpertFlyer and Award Nexus.

All of these have some weaknesses, though – either they do not cover all airlines (BA is usually excluded because BA award availability is not visible in the global airline reservation systems) or they charge for their services.

A relatively new entrant is AwardTravelr.   Whilst it is still running with a ‘beta’ tag attached to it, the service has now been operating – for free – for over a year.  Over 1 million searches have now been conducted on the site!

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

There is a lot to like about this service. It’s free, for a start. It also covers all three of the global airline alliances – oneworld, Skyteam and Star Alliance. It works by scraping data from relevant airline websites and the global distribution systems (for airlines where reward seats show in GDS) and then sorting it in a very easy to manage format.

Now, it has to be said that has taken some big steps forward in the last year.  You can now search for all oneworld airlines online, and BA now shows the results alongside its own flights.  More importantly, is now showing availability for multiple classes on the same results screen – a major new development in 2013.

AwardTravelr may do a couple of things that cannot, however.  It may throw up different flight alternatives that ignores, especially where connections are involved.  It also lets you search over a number of dates in the same search.

AwardTravelr really comes into its own with Star Alliance and Skyteam airlines, though.  Very few of the airlines in these alliances have a booking engine that is as good as the one uses, and AwardTravelr lets you get access to some of the same functionality.  Lufthansa, for example, only shows availability online for Miles & More airlines, and not the other Star carriers.

AwardTravelr is not perfect, of course.  You cannot (obviously) book your seat via AwardTravelr. You are also limited to a 7-day view of availability, whilst can (for BA flights) show you a month at a time.  It is also only designed to handle Economy, Business and First redemptions, so World Traveller Plus or Premium Economy searches are not possible.

It also does not show availability on partner airlines which are not alliance members. You can use Avios, for example, to book Aer Lingus flights. However, as Aer Lingus is not a member of oneworld, it does not come up in searches using this tool. It will also not show ‘premium’ availability, such as the extra Economy seats that BA offers to its Gold members, or the extra availability Miles & More makes available to its own elites but not to partner airlines.

All in all, though, it is a useful addition to any armoury of tools to use when looking for those often elusive award seats.

Comments (11)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Boi says:

    I see SAS and singapore airlines are MR partner airlines. Can I transfer to one of these and book on other miles and more airlines like lufthansa or egypt air (i.e., airlines that fly to JNB and have reward seat availability) ?

    • Phillip says:

      Yes you can (as long as they are members of Star Alliance) but it’s worth checking how many miles you will need for your route, as it varies between Eurobonus and Krisflyer and similarly, so will the taxes.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, no problem. However, for both SAS and Singapore, you should check first:

      a) whether they do one-way awards (if important)
      b) if they allow stopovers (if important)
      c) cancellation fees and change fees
      d) what their reward chart wants for the particular redemption you want

  • Phillip says:

    I have been using AwardTravelr for a while and it is certainly very useful but can sometimes be a bit clunky on certain browsers, which I guess is part of the reason why it’s still in beta!

  • Lady London says:

    A year ago this tool was finding award seats on EI on searches. The only problem was, EI seats were being categorized as Star Alliance. I reported this as a bug, which I would never have done if I had known EI seats can be hard to search for by other means.

  • Neil says:

    I can’t seem to ever to get it to show any Oneworld availability, even when there is availability showing on Plenty of Star Alliance options. Am I doing something wrong? (I am selecting oneworld in the drop down box and I’ve tried on a couple of different browsers)

  • littlefish says:

    Finally got round to trying this, today. Using Safari.
    What a let down!!
    It is hopeless. Always returned 0 seats, even when I test fed BA flights I know have seats.
    Will give it another go in a month or two … but it needs waaaay more development than where it is now.

  • andreas says:

    Thanks for the post..
    I vaguely remember reading united and delta not allowing such websites to scrape data.. do you know which tool still works to keep an eye on award availability for *A?

    • Rob says:

      No, not really. The only tool I have ever trialled is KVS and that doesn’t do screens scraping, it simply automates your own searches.

    • Louie says:

      ANA. But Awardtravelr is really very good for *A if you can get it to work on your browser.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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