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Wandering Aramean: Using Technology To Help Find Award Seats

By September 24, 2012 December 10th, 2013 No Comments

Bonjour à Cannes!

Sorry about the lack of daily updates. Needless to say, the beaches and boats are getting in the way of me blogging…

Below is a photo from the beach right across from the Radisson Blu. More pictures can be found on Facebook & Twitter.

Today’s guest post comes from The Wandering Aramean, a/k/a Seth Miller. Seth is an aerophile and travel addict based in New York City. Seth writes his own travel blog, The Wandering Aramean, is a part of the PointsHoarder podcast focused on maximizing the value of loyalty points and is also a contributor for Fodors.com. He can be reached at @WanderngAramean on Twitter.


Collecting points is great. I do a lot of that and, like many, I’ve earned millions over the years. But that’s not the fun part for me. The fun part for me is redeeming the points on ridiculously complicated or challenging routings. Of course, that’s not so easy to do but that’s part of why I love it so much. And to make it just a bit easier I built some tools to help me find award seats. Once the effort to actually make them work was done adding a few extra features to make them useful for others wasn’t so hard. The end result is a suite of award search tools available on my web site, The Wandering Aramean Travel Tools.

In today’s post I want to highlight two specific tools which focus on providing not just searches but also email or SMS alerts should award seats open up at some point in the future. First up is the oneworld award alerts tool. Here are some screen shots of what the alert setup interface looks like: 

 

Each of the icons there is clickable button to allow for easy adjusting of search parameters once the alert is created. For more specific edit options click the pencil icon on the left for the full edit page.

  

Should an alert be triggered you will receive an email that looks something like this one:

In the inventory column the travel classes are Y/W/C/F and only those with availability will be shown. A + symbol indicates that the cabin is available on all flights in the itinerary and a * symbol means the itinerary is a mixed cabin award. In cases of a mixed cabin award the details of which flights are in a lesser cabin are shown below. Finally, a ** indicator in the time column indicates arrival or departure on a date other than the originally searched one (e.g. a redeye arrival +1).

The system is based on the award search interface from Qantas. You’ll have to provide your Qantas account credentials for searches to work; there is a reminder at the top of the alerts page if you haven’t yet set the credentials for your account.

And if oneworld isn’t your thing, perhaps similar functionality with the Star Alliance Search and Alerts tools would be more useful? Yeah, I’ve got that, too. For the Star Alliance awards there is both a real time query and an alert function. The direct search looks something like this:

Fill in the appropriate information, click the magic button and then sit back and let the good news roll in:

With the “Saver Only” box checked it will only show itineraries that have availability in the discounted award levels. Those are also generally the same awards available to partner programs, though it may vary on United Airlines metal based on whether the MP number used in the query has status associated with it.

Alerts, too!

But what if the route doesn’t have awards available and you don’t want to keep checking back all the time to see if the award space opens up? Well, there’s a tool for that, too. Just click on the My Alerts link and you can configure the system to check for you and email you when it finds seats available. By default all members can have up to 10 active alerts which will be queried daily. First Class members can have up to 50 active award alerts and they will be queried at least 4x daily.


The Alert tool lets you specify specific cabins of service as part of the query. You can easily manage the alerts through the interface:

Should the award be available during the scheduled search time you’ll receive an email similar to that from the oneworld system.

Hopefully these two tools can help you find the award seats you’re looking for to redeem all these points you’ve accrued. Remember: the points don’t appreciate in value and there is no prize for holding the most when you die. Get out there and start redeeming!

-Seth

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