NEW: Find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reward flight availability using SeatSpy

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It’s no news to anyone that trying to find reward flight availability on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic can be a bit of a nightmare.  Neither airline makes it particularly easy to see when they have redemption availability, and you often have to search day-by-day which can be a painful (and slow) process.

For the last couple of years, Reward Flight Finder has been the de facto way of searching for British Airways reward seats.  However, Reward Flight Finder no longer has access to Virgin Atlantic reward availability which blunts its usefulness.  It also has a fee for certain features.

Welcome SeatSpy ….

SeatSpy is a new entrant to the ‘reward availability search’ market.  It is the easiest way of checking redemption availability on both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

It is currently in a beta-testing phase and the whole suite of features is free to use. At some point this will transition to a free and paid model letting you set up more granular alerts and other ‘premium’ features.

For now, however, you can obtain hourly checking of reward availability on your preferred routes for free.  This saves you the £3 fee charged by Reward Flight Finder for its premium service.

You can see the SeatSpy website here.

How to find BA and Virgin Atlantic reward availability

One of the unique perks of SeatSpy is the ability to search Virgin Atlantic flights as well as British Airways.

(Despite the recent ability to book Air France, Delta and KLM flights through Virgin Flying Club, SeatSpy can only search Virgin operated flights.  Similarly, it can currently only find British Airways availability rather than all oneworld partners.)

All you have do is put in your departure and destination point, as well as number of tickets you are looking for.  There are separate forms for BA and Virgin Atlantic to reflect the different cabin classes and routes networks.  Here is the Virgin form:

Seatspy Find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic air miles seats

… and this is how the results are displayed, with outbound availability in the left column and inbound on the right:

Seatspy Find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic air miles seats

You’ll notice that – if you wish – SeatSpy displays availability in every cabin class at the same time, although you can easily toggle which cabins you would like to see. Red is Economy, silver is Premium and purple is Upper Class.

This makes life easier than Reward Flight Finder if you are ambivalent between classes or are willing to split your family across classes.  With British Airways, you may be ambivalent between First and Club World given that both have flat beds.  In this case, select First and Business and you’ll see dates when either have availability.

If you need four seats and would split 2+2 across First and Club World, select First and Club World with a minimum of two seats.  You can easily see dates which allow a split trip at the same time as seeing dates which can get you all into the same cabin.

The results show availability on all 330 days (Virgin) or 355 days (British Airways) that tickets are bookable. You do not have to select specific dates for your flights, which gives you an excellent overview of availability for the year ahead.

There is another interesting feature with SeatSpy.  Reward Flight Finder does not show the exact number of reward seats available.  This doesn’t matter if you will only travel on points, but it is a bit inflexible if you are willing to mix cash and reward tickets.

If you are happy to mix and match, search SeatSpy for just one award seat.  When you hover over each date, you see a pop-up showing the exact number of seats (1-9) in that class.  You can then see quickly which dates have four seats, which have three seats, which have two seats etc.

The same process applies for British Airways.

Don’t know where you want to go?

If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, but are restricted to certain dates, you can use the ‘Where Can I Go’ tool. In this case, you plug in your departure airport, the dates you want to fly and how many tickets you are looking for.

You are then shown a full list of destinations for your dates with the required seats available for redemption:

Seatspy Find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic air miles seats

Underneath the map you’ll also find a list view.

Reward Flight Finder also has this feature, but only for British Airways and only as part of its ‘£3 per month’ premium tier.  For now, until SeatSpy launches a premium tier, it is free for everyone.

Get alerts when reward seats open up

If there isn’t award availability on the flights you are looking at you can set up email and text alerts:

Seatspy Find British Airways and Virgin Atlantic air miles seats

To create alerts you need to sign up for an account. You can then set up an unlimited number of alerts for specific flights and dates and receive a text message or email if and when reward seats are made available. This is a great tool for very popular flights as – whilst initial reward availability can be snapped up quickly – BA and Virgin both ‘drip feed’ additional capacity throughout the booking window.

We’ve also integrated SeatSpy into Head for Points

You can now trigger a reward flight search without leaving Head for Points!  We thought this would be a useful extra benefit for HFP readers.

If you are reading this on a desktop computer or tablet, look in the sidebar on the right about half way down.

If you are reading this on mobile, scroll to the bottom of any article and look under the first advert.

You will see a SeatSpy ‘widget’ box which looks like this (the image below is just an image, don’t try to use it!):

Type in the cities you are thinking about (it accepts city names OR airport codes), select the number of seats, select British Airways or Virgin Atlantic and hit search.  You will be taken to a special page on the SeatSpy website showing the results of your search.

Conclusion

SeatSpy is an impressive new tool if you’re looking for a comprehensive way to search both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways redemption availability.

All the features are currently in beta and free to use so it is well worth having a play with it to see what it can do.

You can see more on the SeatSpy website here.

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Comments

  1. Nicholas says:

    It seems that seatspy doesn’t have the same ability to see the extra economy reward seats that a Gold membership opens up to you?

    • I thought that was available on any flight that wasn’t completely sold out?

      • Lady London says:

        the extra seats visible to Gold are in certain fare classes – but they must still be available in those classes for Golds to see and book.

        If all seats in all award classes are gone, Gold has a separate thing called a “joker” which lets them ask BA for a revenue seat to be made available (so from a revenue-only fare class and not from one of the award fare classes) in exchange for being charged 2x the relevant award number of avios.

        Separate things.

        We moan about BA on here, but actually if you know how it works like every program there are sweet spots like this.

        Another thing that sees extra award classes in On Business members. Used to be even more classes available than to Golds, but in recent years that’s been cut back a bit. On Business will still see award seats that normal Exec Club members don’t though.

  2. Not just HfP, Seatspy is on FlyerTalk and they posted a thread about this last week, so probably a lot of new exposure.
    I feel sympathy to RFF, seems like someone took the idea and somehow has access to more data. But since my reward requirements are very simple, neither others me much.

  3. O/T. Does anyone know how long it takes BA to refund money onto the AMEX BA card? I cancelled my Barbados-Miami 2-4-1 flights and rebooked as Miami return 2-4-1. The new amount is on the card but there is no refund (less the £70 cancellation fees) showing up nearly a week later? They were having trouble that day with their systems and it took about one and a half hours to sort this.

    • Refunds normally take 2-3 working days IME so I would get back in touch with BA. Take care that refund does not cost you 3000/5000 avios under the BA amex spend offers.

    • Spurs Debs says:

      I’m in same situation, I had to call them to get points and 241 back, no sign of money yet and until I get email with charges on it I can’t claim back the cancellation charges. For clarity the cruise company Celebrity are paying up to $ 300 pp in change and fees as they cancelled our cruise around Japan.
      The agent I spoke to said if you cancel a 241 on line it’s not instantly returned to account where’s if you call and cancel it is. She didn’t know why.

      • I did mine on the phone. The Agent kept apologising and speaking to his manager as he said there were issues on the system that day. I’ll try ringing them again. I’ve had the new email through with the new details and costs, just nothing regarding the flights I cancelled.

        • Lady London says:

          It should be 7 days for money, and any avios if an avios booking, to come back separately.
          Don’t put up with any longer for this to happen and keep chasing.

      • Always cancelled ours on line, avios and money bk very quickly.

        • Spurs Debs says:

          It’s me Polly if something can go wrong it will lol But saying that cancelled non refundable pre paid hotel room with Conrad on Saturday, money refund back on my card today, and I seem to have made £10 in exchange rate …. maybe my luck is turning!

  4. Sebastian says:

    It would seem that SeatSpy is showing a lot of First availability that doesn’t actually exist. Example of this is LHR-YYC on 11/09/20. Anyone else having this problem?

    • There has even a note on RFF for some time indicating that there are errors with First availability.

    • The First feeds from BA are currently displaying the wrong info. Same on RFF.

  5. WARNING: I would advise against using hotmail/outlook email addresses for RFF and SS alerts because Microsoft doesn’t always deliver emails promptly (possibly because they want people to pay for their premium service?). For example, I recently received an email the day after the alert was generated by RFF. I changed to a gmail address and have had no problems since.

    • Lady London says:

      Yahoo also has a nasty habit of deciding anyone that sends a lot of emails is a spammer and not even putting them into your junk mail – emails from that sender will never reach you.

      Can start (not) happening to things you’ve signed up for at any time. When you realise it you’ve missed out on things youve signed up for, Yahoo will deny and say you blocked that sender and will never fix it.

      I’ve decided to sell my personal data by shifting all new stuff I do to Gmail. Letting Yahoo either on the vine.

      • Lady London says:

        either=wither on the vine

      • +1, that was my plan too but I need to be more disciplined and get everything changed to gmail. Yahoo not so bad appearance-wise but the last few iterations of Outlook have been real shockers. How a company that contributed so much to personal computing could come up with such crap beggars belief.

        • Lady London says:

          Outlook has been fine – for Business use where you have a company running big servers when it’s fantastic and very versatile – not personal.

          I had an employer who “nicked” my own personal Outlook (long story) never got it back. I cant use my own Outlook now as they “stole” it and wouldn’t give it back. Still not. “Long story” but that is actually what they did!!! and it is still disabled. Must remember getting round to suing them for loss of use.

          I don;t miss Outlook’s message handling at all but I really miss the Outlook calendar. I have purchased licences for Outlook 2019 and may try to implement just the calendar on my own laptop.

          • I’m surprised neither of you have your own domain name. This would give you complete flexibility over where your email gets delivered to, if you use email forwarding. The cost is insignificant and you could change email provider quite easily if you start disliking their service!

          • If my calendar is to be believed I’d be earning 100k more avios per year and having much more fun.
            @EwanG, my partber does so I might discuss witn him.

  6. Been using this for weeks.

    Nothing new.

  7. Good morning everyone

    Seams like another helpful way of searching.

    I am still going to support Tim at Redemption Finder with my monthly subscription. I like the service and the updates have always been accurate.

    The real benefit will come when one of the above or some other firm, manages to actually do a working search for all oneworld flights.

    Ronster

  8. Mohammed Khan says:

    Is the First availability on BA website itself also incorrect? Or is it just RFF and SeatSpy who have issues?

  9. Think they may be overwhelmed with extra interest at present, not responding. Will look later.

  10. EvilGazebo says:

    I think you broke it 😀

    “SeatSpy Maintenance Mode
    The SeatSpy Site is currently down for maintenance.”

  11. Feels like the shout out has caused the site to crash!

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