Is Pex the Best New Way to Search Award Space? Site’s Founder Responds

Pex+ is a new site coming out of Beta that allows you to search for award space across a number of different airlines and data sources all at once, quickly. It offers hotel searches (points and revenue prices, so you can compare). And it even offers to email you when award prices drop (saver space opens).

It doesn’t just tell you whether saver awards are available — it shows you the mileage cost of each award so you can compare up front and it includes taxes and fuel surcharges.

This functionality is free though there’s a premium service as well (for instance that searches for price drops more than once a day).

For searching hotels they show you properties on a map, let you filter by star rating, price (revenue and points), hotel chain, amenities, and… whether there’s reported Pokemon Go activity. You can see results in a list of hotels (though they don’t show points and room rates side by side for each property) or lowest price by chain.

I wrote about this new tool over the weekend. Readers loved it, but also found a few challenges. Here’s a sample of differing reactions:

This site is a great idea for those of us who have struggled with airlines’ increasingly unfriendly award redemption apps. Let’s hope these folks succeed.

…does not recognize “SFO” as an airport; neither “San Francisco”

…I’m not able to access the site. Page doesn’t load.

…I think all of your referrals caused the site to crash.

…Wow! I’m loving this?? Do we know the creative team?

…How long before the airline sites cut them off?

I flagged the airport entry issue (e.g. “SFO”) in my original post. You can’t just quickly type an airport code in the search box and move on. I need to wait a couple of seconds for the code to populate the name of the airport before searching.

And the site isn’t (yet?) a silver bullet for all my needs. You won’t see partner Singapore Airlines award space. You won’t see Iberia, LAN, Japan Airlines, or Qatar space. You won’t see Kenya Airways or Emirates.

You’ll see most space with this tool, it’s fast, the display with pricing is awesome, and they offer email notification for airlines and hotels. But I’ll still use other sites because of the gaps in its coverage — not everyone needs access to Iberia and JAL inventory, but I do.

Jessica, the site’s founder, replied in the comments to reader questions and concerns. I wanted to highlight key pieces of her answers.

  • On site speed. They’re just coming out of beta, hadn’t told the world about the tool yet, and the day after I wrote about it they were seeing a couple thousand simultaneous sessions. They hadn’t scaled the hardware yet, but they’re already doing that.

    We have significantly increased our server capacity to help keep the site accessible to you. We are also working on application optimizations that will increase the site speed.

  • Will this site be sustainable? Airlines have given some award booking sites a hard time over displaying their data. Although ExpertFlyer manages to do it with many airlines, AwardNexus hasn’t been shut down, and the KVS Tool continues.

    Some for you have expressed concern about airlines stopping us. Despite there being a long history of search engines grappling with airline inventory distribution, the industry is slowly heading in a new direction. We’re actively pursuing discussions with many airlines with reciprocating interest from them considering our unique offering. It may or may not happen with one or more airlines, but we’re ready and fully determined to make it work.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how this site develops, especially as most of their functionality is available for free — including email alerts about price drops. It’s definitely worth checking out Pex+ (and read my longer overview of the site).

[W]e strongly suggest checking back to search PEX+ every-so-often, as we’re constantly making changes, and subscribing to PEX+ updates in order to stay in the know on what’s next for us. We’re only getting better from here. If you have any questions for us, please feel free to connect with us on social media or send us an email at info (at) pexportal (dot) com.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Slow – very slow. Took minutes to load, did not recognize MIA as a valid airport. After more minutes reloading finally was able to do a search. It has been searching for literally more than 10 minutes. Seems to be searching the same airlines over and over. Needs a lot of work.

  2. Finally Signed up after the page took forever to load!

    I Tried multiple searched on two different Browsers, and never ONCE received any results on 8-10 tries. Not Ready for Prime-TIme at this point, if ever!!

  3. Not close to being ready for prime-time. Very slow to load and to search. When I changed my search from OSL to PHL to OSL to NYC, it kept reverting to PHL. I had to quit the browser window and start all over. And then the search produced no hits when searching directly on airline sites produced plenty of possibilities. I had also selected flexinle dates and still got the message that no flights were a ailanle. Really an exercise in frustration.

  4. Another site started without sufficient resources. I can’t even get it to load, so I don’t know if it worth it but I do know that based on the comments here it is not worth the effort of more than the three tries I have made!

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