This information flow can be incredibly helpful when trying to book award seats not available online or with programs that have challenging phone agents. If you wanted to redeem Etihad miles for a business class flight from Prague (PRG) to Seoul (ICN) on Czech Airlines for the amazing price of 25,610 Etihad miles, don’t rely on hit-or-miss Etihad phone agents to find space; use ExpertFlyer and have the flight number and date in hand for this one-of-a-kind award flight:
Here’s where the power of ExpertFlyer comes into play. Let’s say that I wasn’t interested in crossing the Atlantic in economy. Instead of coming back to the site multiple times in the weeks and days leading up to my desired flight, I can actually set up a flight alert by clicking on the exclamation point icon (red arrow in the above screenshot). That would open up a window like this:

Your flight may only have one or two upgrade places available, so maximise your chances of bagging them by rocking up at check-in ten hours before the scheduled departure. If it backfires, you’ll have to kill a murderous amount of time in Starbucks, but it worked for Product Manager David Low: “My wife and I were flying to the Dominican Republic. We’d got to Glasgow Airport far too early but at least there was no queue. The check-in lady told us that they had two spare seats in first class, and since we were first to arrive, we could have them for free. So we happily accepted.”


Kindness pays, so pay it forward with interest and you could be in first class in the blink of a smile. Andrew Phillips, Senior Technical Manager, recounts his lucky American flight upgrade: “Flying to the US a few years ago, I boarded the plane late (as usual) and there was an old chap sitting down in my seat. The stewardess (who I’d chatted to on the way in) was nearby and heard the guy saying he just wanted to sit next to his wife. I told her I didn’t mind sitting in his seat (it was the row behind I think) and off she went, only to return five minutes later. She asked me to follow her…all the way up to business class!”
For eligible customers travelling on International flights with a Latitude (booking classes Y and B) or Premium Economy Flexible (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “P” booking class at time of request. For eligible customers travelling on North American and Caribbean flights with a Latitude (booking class Y, B) or Premium Economy Flexible fare (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “Z” booking class at time of request.
With your chosen route selected, look to the left of your screen. You should see a button with a bell icon that says “get price alerts”. This is what you want to click. If you are already signed in, you are good to go. If not, it will ask you for your email. Enter your email address then click ‘Create Alert’. You will now be notified of any price changes for this route.
If your plan for finding airline award space involves only relying on airline websites and phone agents, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Many sites lack the functionality and flexibility to show you every available award flight routing, and while phone agents work hard, many lack the required training on award booking rules, fare classes and airline partnerships necessary to find all available award flights. This can put an end to your quest to book flights with points and miles before it ever begins.
For eligible customers travelling on International flights with a Latitude (booking classes Y and B) or Premium Economy Flexible (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “P” booking class at time of request. For eligible customers travelling on North American and Caribbean flights with a Latitude (booking class Y, B) or Premium Economy Flexible fare (booking class O) fare, upgrades are based on the availability of “Z” booking class at time of request.
For international flights, you are talking about an entirely different situation. Much more critically than better food and drinks, first- and business-class seats in most international aircraft convert into beds that are actually pretty darn comfortable. On a flight back from Tokyo in first class a few years ago, I was actually disappointed when we began our final descent; when is the last time that happened in coach?
Brandon was thrust into the world of points and premium travel as a university student, and has made the most of it since. Now graduated, working from Launceston and somehow a Velocity Platinum frequent flyer, he eagerly awaits for more opportunities to explore the world from the pointy end of the plane.You can find him on Instagram as @bloo.per, as well as running a food/travel account @flightandbites with his partner.
And it is not just a combination of luck and automation that will shut you out of upgrades — at some airlines, it may be a matter of policy. “Most airlines state, in no uncertain terms, that their policies prohibit arbitrary upgrading, both at check-in and onboard,” says Randy Petersen of InsideFlyer. “It’s a firm rule, with no room for negotiation or interpretation.” Petersen agrees about the root cause: “This becomes understandable when you consider that upgrading is now often done electronically, rather than by queuing up at the check-in counter.”

And no, we don’t mean turning up at Stansted as the Blues Brothers. Leave the tracksuit at home and dress as if you’ve just been browsing the FT in the exec lounge – either full-on formal or business casual (pink herringbone shirt, beige chinos, tan brogues) does the job. Having gained a business class upgrade with her boyfriend to South Africa, Talent Acquisition Coordinator Fiona Nimmo advises “looking good, wearing your Sunday best and smiling”. For more holiday fashion tips, follow our guide on what to pack for every kind of trip.
Airfarewatchdog.com: This is the only site in the group that lists and compares fares on Southwest Airlines (now the largest domestic carrier based on passengers boarded, but one that refuses to pay sites to send it traffic), as well as those on low cost carriers such as Allegiant and Skybus, which sell fares only on their own Web sites. Whereas the other sites listed here use computer programs to evaluate fares, Airfarewatchdog uses people, who actually test if seats are available at the fares listed (sometimes airlines file fares for which very few or no seats at all are available, which is very naughty of them).
Service surcharge levied on a booking or booking change (flight date) in line with Article 5.2.3 of the GCC, as booked via the call centre, at our airport sales desk or through a commercial agent ADD €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 (per booking, not per person and per journey) €20 / £18 / CHF 23 / $23 / CZK 514 / SEK 205 / NOK 191 / PLN 86 / HUF 6,381 / AED 94 / THB 900 plus difference in current flight price
Share on Facebook – Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific, Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific Tweet This – Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific, Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific Email, Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific LinkedIn, Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific WhatsApp, Link opens in a new window operated by external parties and may not conform to the same accessibility policies as Cathay Pacific
If I want to use American miles to book a flight on Air Tahiti Nui — a partner some AA agents aren’t aware of — I’ll look up the flight availability on ExpertFlyer first. Once I find an available seat, I’ll call and ask an American agent for the specific flight and fare class I see on ExpertFlyer. If they cannot locate it, I’ll even use the airline’s two-character IATA code to help the agent find the flight I’m trying to book with miles (if you don’t know this code, see below; it’s included in the ExpertFlyer results).
A price alert tracks the price of a specific route or flight. When the price changes, you’ll be notified via email or push notification if the price went up or down (and by how much). Price alerts are completely free, can be stopped at any moment and you can have multiple set up at once. They are hands-down one of the best ways to find cheap flights, fast.
Another important thing to remember is that you do not need to print your boarding pass at the time of online check-in. Many travelers make the mistake of waiting to check-in online until they have access to a printer. Check-in as close to the allowable time and pick up your boarding pass at the airport. With nearly every airline offering several electronic kiosks, gaining a boarding pass will take only a few minutes.
It’s worth a shot, right? According to the Telegraph, a MoneySavingExpert.com poll showed that 4 percent of participants said they received a free upgrade just by asking someone at the check-in desk. When you do ask, have a good reason: There’s a better chance you’ll get your request if you have a valid excuse, such as being pregnant, celebrating a special occasion, or being exceptionally tall.
You can find almost anything you need to know about airline schedules, seat maps, flight statuses and more using ExpertFlyer, but today’s guide is focused on one functionality: searching for award and upgrade space. The platform currently allows you to search for this inventory on nearly 90 different airlines, though the exact fare classes vary from carrier to carrier. Carefully review the list to see what inventory is available for your desired airline — American, for example, shows both award and upgrade space for its flights, whereas Delta upgrade space was removed several years ago.

Yapta.com: The newest entrant in this burgeoning field. There are two things you can do here: first, if you've already bought a fare, you can enter the flight locator number and then you'll get an alert if the fare has gone down. (Some airlines will refund the entire fare difference in the form of a voucher good for future travel within a year; others deduct $25 to over $300, depending on the fare and route.) But there's also a "Tagger" feature where you can track fares on individual flights, not just routes between two cities.
×