If you know where you want to go and when you want to go, the process for booking Avios redemptions is good. Compared to other airlines and other alliances, the Avios seat booking system on ba.com works well in terms of the number of airlines it shows online (virtually all of them) and how you search.
If your plans are fluid, however, it is not as good.
A year ago, Head for Points reader Tim launched “BA Redemption Finder”. This sits at www.baredemptionfinder.com. (BA, for clarity, is supportive of Tim’s efforts and is happy to see the site operate.)
“BA Redemption Finder” is the quickest way of checking Avios availability for British Airways flights.
The best bit is that the site is free. It is a website not an app, but is optimised for both mobile and desktop. It is simplicity itself. Type in where you want to fly from, where you want to fly to, how many seats and what cabin and you will see – instantly – full availability for the next 355 days. On mobile it looks like this:
Here are some results for two Club World seats from Heathrow to Tokyo – on the actual site, you get the full year on one scrolling screen. Dark blue means it is a peak date, light blue means it is off-peak pricing. The left column is outbound, the right is return – click to enlarge:
It gets even better. You can set up email alerts for a fee of £3 per month. Set a date range, route, class and number of passengers and you will be notified when seats become available! Free email alerts are also available if you happy with less frequent notifications – although you may lose the seats.
The site is so smart that it even shows the extra economy Avios seats made available to BA Gold members.
There are a few issues:
It cannot handle connections, only direct point to point searches
It does not show oneworld partner airlines – so it is best used to check availability when you want to use an Amex 2-4-1 voucher. If you are not using a 2-4-1 voucher you should use ba.com instead as it will show you Qatar, Finnair, Royal Jordanian, American etc as well.
There is still a slight delay on the data feed compared to real time availability, but very modest
These are mainly trivial points, however, in the context of what is an amazingly fast and usable site.
BA Redemption Finder has now got even better!
Tim has just launched a new feature which turns the app on its head.
You can now search BY DATE. The site will show you EVERY BA route which has Avios availability in the class of your choice for those dates.
Let’s look at half-term next February, which for us is Saturday 16th February to Sunday 24th February.
Step 1: Go to baredemptionfinder.com and select “I don’t know where I want to go” from the home page
Step 2: Select your dates, number of seats and travel class (I want 4 people in Business) and run the search
Step 3: Sort the results as you wish – if you want to go long-haul, reorder the results by “Distance (most to least)” or “Avios required (most to least)” and vice versa for short haul
And then you get a screen of results:
Obviously you still need to do some work. As well as searching Saturday to Sunday, I would also want to check Saturday to Saturday, or possibly Friday (after school in the evening) to Sunday. I would also want to look at First Class.
There is no option to mix classes, so if you would be happy with that you’d need to do separate one-way searches and try to match places where you can get, say, Business outbound and First back.
This is a real breakthrough for everyone who complains “I can’t find anywhere to go”. If you are restricted on when you can travel, this service will solve your problems.
This new feature is currently free!
Tim is planning to make this a paid-for feature at some point, not surprisingly. For now, however, it is totally free. Give it a try.
PS. I was talking to Tim about this new feature last week and he said that he wrote the code over a weekend, whilst his wife was away with friends. Let’s put this in perspective. British Airways has a massive IT team and a massive budget and cannot deliver a feature like this. One guy, working alone, is able to develop it over a weekend ……
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