In the current month’s Wise Flyer, a regular feature in Inside Flyer (subscription required.), Randy Petersen answers a reader question about services that help you search for frequent flyer award tickets.
AwardPlanner by MileageManager .. is part of a paid mileage manager service so you actually get far more for your investment since MileageManager manages your frequent flyer accounts–including help with expiring miles. AwardPlanner, a dedicated award tool, allows you to search for award seats from all the programs in which you have miles–making it a one-stop shop for watching for award seats. If the tool is unable to find your award seats at the time of your request, it will put your request into a queue and re-check daily for you until it finds an award seat and will then notify you via email. If planning in advance, you can let this tool run daily for you for several months. It has a really good track record of actually finding award seats (for when airlines change award inventory or other members change their plans). It is often preferred over the Yapta.com solution because it is looking at the actual awards you may be eligible for. For example, most programs set aside a differing and more generous selection of awards based upon your status with the airline. The cost is $14.95 annually and the list of programs includes most if not all major U.S. programs and several European and Asian programs.
So, these services can greatly assist you with watching for award seats, particularly at the lowest levels as they search daily for award inventory.
And the final part of your question I think refers to other types of services. Yes, I did at one time offer a service for a fee to assist members with award redemption. It was popular and operated for many years with great results. But I discontinued it about two years ago to concentrate on technology solutions.
The good news is that at least two enterprising groups now offer similar services. Both are run by knowledgeable individuals who are up to the task of securing the award seats you want. Typically these services are best used when searching for multiple business and first class seats internationally. Not inexpensive, but neither is having to purchase a ticket to wherever you may be going.
The first is BookyourAward.com and the second is available as part of the MileageManager.com service as one of two options of the AwardPlanner service. The good thing about this is that with the tool included in your AwardPlanner membership, you can use the AwardPlanner tool first to find and waitlist your award searches and if that doesn’t work, you can choose to use the paid service. If I were not able to find my own awards, I would not hesitate to use either service.
Randy’s MileageManager service is pretty neat in that you can set it to search for award seats on the websites of major North American programs, and it will keep on checking. It’ll only find those seats that are discoverable online, but that’s still huge in that it’ll e-mail you when seats become available.
I do book international first class awards, such as on Cathay Pacific and All Nippon, Lufthansa and Asiana, most every day!
For the “I would not hesitate to use either service” endorsement, Randy, of my service right alongside yours.. I do much appreciate!