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SeatSpy claims it is the victim of screen scraping – and has very novel evidence

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An intriguing claim of espionage has been made in the normally sedate world of airline reward flight availability tools.

SeatSpy is a very useful website for anyone searching for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reward flights. It allows you to see availability for any route for a full year in one click. More interestingly, you can set email alerts so that you will be contacted when seats open up on routes you want.

Tracking British Airways Avios availability is more complicated than it needs to be. Most airlines put their reward seats into a specific ‘ticket bucket’ which anyone with Amadeus or Sabre access can see. Avios does not work like this, so there is no easy way of tracking availability.

Seatspy logo

It was possible to access this data via a feed that BA produced for its own use. This is what enable Reward Flight Finder to launch in 2017, followed by SeatSpy in 2019.

At some point, British Airways decided to block third party access to this data. This caused serious issues for both SeatSpy and Reward Flight Finder.

SeatSpy has managed to resolve the issue and claims that its data is now updated at least once per hour.

Yesterday, SeatSpy published a blog post on its website claiming that its data was being screen scraped. It found ‘hundreds’ of fake SeatSpy accounts which were running automated searches on behalf of a third party.

What is interesting is how SeatSpy found its evidence.

It removed ‘real’ reward data for the BA Southampton to Nice route in Business Class, which was a route no SeatSpy users were actively tracking.

SeatSpy replaced it with fake data, showing false seats on certain dates.

This is what appeared on the Reward Flight Finder site a while later:

Reward Flight Finder screenshot

If you don’t imediately see the joke, turn your computer or phone sideways …..

Unfortunately the data has now been removed from Reward Flight Finder, although I can confirm that I saw it there.

(EDIT: the data is back! Click the link in the SeatSpy blog article.)

You can read more on the SeatSpy website here.

Comments (61)

  • Mrs_Fussy says:

    Seatspy is actually great and I personally pay for it ! Good on them for exposing this

  • DZOO says:

    Wow, good on SeatSpy!!

  • CarpalTravel says:

    Bravo seat spy. They’re now my choice website. RFF need to have a long hard look in a mirror…. (Preferably their own).

  • Nick says:

    When did time sell his website. Bet he gave you the go ahead to publish this

    They were your original partners

  • Ian says:

    Are you still promoting RFF.

    They still show your logo.

    Incidentally the results are still on their website.

    I guess all their data is copied. A site to avoid.

    • Rob says:

      RFF has never paid us for any advertising or for sending them customers. It did sponsor a dinner we held in 2019 – this was just before Tim sold it. Tim bought me lunch once too.

  • xcalx says:

    This is what Loyalty Lobby was doing when he published the 5000 point IHG hotel deals. He would for instance place a random Mexican hotel under the Middle East list of hotels to see which other bloggers were doing a C & P job of his work.

    • Rob says:

      This was an odd one. People were not stripping the data (which was freely available on the IHG website), they were stripping the formatting. If you did a cut and paste from ihg.com it came out a complete mess and need quite a bit of time to tidy up.

      • Tim says:

        Haha… ‘…an odd one’ 🙂 🙂 🙂 What’s that word again, plagiarism? Or maybe it should be pagiarism? 😉 😉

  • Roger Cormack says:

    I cancelled my RFF subscription a couple of months ago because I was not receiving alerts for new seat availability. I felt over time that I was not getting alerts from RFF, so I set up “parallel” alerts for routes I wanted on both RFF and SS and only received valid alerts from SS over a period of a few months.

  • KBuffett says:

    This is interesting, but quite common.

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