How To Search For oneworld Award Availability

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anat0l

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Unlike in Star Alliance, there was no one strong tool that could be used to search for availability, like ANA or United. With the demise of Awardtravlr, that is also not available as a one-stop shop.

In oneworld, searching for availability requires the use of a few tools. This is mainly because some tools search for particular airlines' seats better than the other, or some are more convenient than others. Fortunately, with the exception of two that requires tricks, all of them are free.

You could use the KVS tool in place of the individual tools. This will speed up the process of searching for availability by not having to go through all the various websites. However, KVS is not free - it is a subscription based service. Use of KVS will not be discussed here. If you're a heavy award searcher and also find some use in other KVS features like routing rules, fare rules, minimum connecting times etc., you may want to consider a KVS subscription.

The most commonly used tools to search for award availability in oneworld are:
  • BA British Airways (Executive Club, or Avios)
  • QF Qantas Airways (Frequent Flyer)
  • AA American Airlines (AAdvantage)
  • JL Japan Airlines (Mileage Bank)
Which Tool Should I Use?

Generally, each tool has advantages and disadvantages, but you will end up using a combination or all of them. In one case, the use of the tool is rather specialised. Getting familiar with these tools is a good idea. But don't be surprised that in your search, you will end up using all of the tools in one sitting. If you're a computer power user, opening up separate browser windows or tabs is not a bad idea (but keep in mind website timeouts).


Either way, fetch a pen and paper (or the electronic version) so you can note your progress as you go on individual segments.


Mods note: I'm not sure whether this belongs here, or the AAdvantage forum, or even the Qantas forum (or so on)! Seems the craze and "inexperience" is mainly here so I decided to set this thread up here.

Table of Contents
 
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anat0l

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Using British Airways Executive Club To Search For oneworld Availability

The advantages of using BA is that it has very good coverage of all the oneworld airlines in terms of seat availability. Of the four tools discussed, it is likely the most versatile and likely the one to get the most use.

The disadvantage of using BA is that you need to sign up for an Executive Club account to be able to search for availability. That in itself is not a disadvantage, of course, but Executive Club membership is not available to those who live in Australia or New Zealand. You can get around this by signing up for an Executive Club membership with an address in another part of the world, e.g. if you have a friend or relative who lives in Europe, UK or USA. They'll receive your membership pack with membership card in it, but all you really need is your Executive Club membership number.

To search for availability on BA, first on the BA homepage, log into your Executive Club account via the top right of the page (red circle).

BA_01_Login_001.jpg


When you get to your Executive Club account homepage, you'll need to scroll down the page until you see the Book with Avios or money panel on the left hand side. From here, change the Payment type to Book with Avios (red rectangle), then fill in the details for your search. You can search by return or one-way, up to you. Click on the red Find flights button when you're ready to proceed (not shown in picture, scroll a little down).

BA_02_Searching_001.jpg


You may be asked an intermediate screen whether you want a stopover or not. Ensure No is selected then continue. (This feature is mostly useful if you want a stopover in a BA hub, but when searching for availability for point to point it usually gets in the way).

BA_03_Stopover_001.jpg


When you get to the results page with the seat availability, BA will organise them firstly by direct or indirect, followed by BA flights then partner airline flights. A handy +/- 3 days tabs near the top (red rectangle C) allows you to check availability on another day by clicking it.

BA_04a_Results_001.jpg


BA_04b_Results_001.jpg


If you're interested in BA flights, you can click on the BA Calendar Availability (red rectangle B in the first of the two pictures just above) to get a full month view of when BA flights have seats available on a particular route.

BA_05_BAAvailCal_001.jpg


You can select a date and click on Continue to return to a similar results screen, where you can see the flights available.

BA_05a_BAAvailCalResult_001.jpg


When you want to change to another search combination, simply click on the Change button (red rectangle, A in the first results picture) in the results page and re-enter your search details, and away you go.
 

anat0l

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Using Qantas Frequent Flyer To Search For oneworld Availability

Most people here are members of Qantas Frequent Flyer, so using the Qantas tool to search for availability is not completely lost on some. I won't go into any detail about it here.

For those who are not members of the programme, as you know, membership to Qantas Frequent Flyer for Australian or New Zealand residents is infamously not free of charge. However, there are easy ways to get around this; the most prominent is signing up for Woolworths Everyday Rewards (which is free), and then signing up for a complimentary Qantas Frequent Flyer membership at the same time.

The advantage of using Qantas Frequent Flyer to search for availability is the monthly calendar search which you can use to quickly glance at award seat availability. But beware: because Jetstar and Emirates are partners of Qantas, you can use Qantas Points for those airlines, however they are not oneworld partners, but they will still show up on calendar searches. There are a couple of other infamous bugs too, including the "long sector in Economy" bug which can cloud real premium availability. Finally, not all seating which may be available to be booked on a oneworld partner is not shown by Qantas; in particular, you may have trouble seeing some partners, including JL. In all, the tool may be familiar to many and that is an advantage, plus until you can get an Executive Club account, is readily accessible.
 

anat0l

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Using American Airlines AAdvantage To Search For oneworld Availability

AAdvantage awards for AA, BA, US and IB can be searched for handily on the AA website. The main advantage is again a calendar view which allows you to see at a glance where the availability is, a month at a time. Unfortunately, searching for availability on the AA website is confined to these airlines. On the plus side, you don't need an AAdvantage account to search for availability. Just head straight to the home page and fill in the details in the Find Flights panel, ensuring you enable Redeem Miles (red rectangle, make sure the square is filled, not empty). Then, click Search to continue.

AA_01_Details_001.jpg


The next page will show you the availability at a glance for a week, but by clicking on Show Full Calendar, you can get it for a month. Use the arrow heads on either side of the calendar panel to scroll through previous or next weeks or months.

AA_02a_WeekSearch_001.jpg


AA_02b_MonthSearch_001.jpg


Use the class buttons above the calendar to see the availability in other classes. For oneworld awards, you are only interested in the MileSAAver availability (not the AAnytime availability - see the first picture just above - the AAnytime buttons are darker in colour and crossed out). A greyed out date shows that there is no availability for that class on that date.

AA_03a_JSearch_001.jpg


AA_03b_FSearch_001.jpg


By clicking on a date of your choice then the red Continue button, you'll be able to see what flight choices you have on that day.

AA_04_Results_001.jpg


To start a new search, click on the American Airlines logo in the top left to return to the homepage, then refill in your details and start again.
 

anat0l

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Using Japan Mileage Bank To Search For oneworld Availability

The use of JMB to search for availability became only necessary after people started noticing the "Cathay phantom seat bug". Basically, Cathay Pacific availability was being reported on partner websites (e.g. BA, QF) which could not be booked by certain partners, e.g. AA, AS (non-oneworld but CX partner) and US. Cathay members and even some other partners could book these seats, of course, but the problem then arose as to which seats were actually bookable by some of the partners. It was found that JMB gave the most accurate depiction of CX seats that could be booked by partners like US, AA and AS.

You can also use JMB to search for JL award seat availability, though keep in mind that these seats are not necessarily bookable by partners (i.e. some seats may only be open to JMB members using JMB currency). Your best bet may be to use JMB to conveniently look for seats, then confirm them using another tool, e.g. BA.

Signing up for Mileage Bank is simple. A card will come your way within a month or so, but all you really need is the nine (or seven) digit membership number.

Go to the JAL website, making sure you select the region corresponding to where you have registered your JMB account (e.g. Australia), then log in on the right hand side with your JAL Mileage Bank membership number and PIN (red rectangle).

JL_01_Login_001.jpg


When you get to the JMB account homepage, under Award Redemption on the left, select JMB Partner Airlines Award Ticket Reservation.

JL_02_JMBHome.jpg


From the Partner Airlines box, select Cathay Pacific Airways / Dragonair (in this case, as we are usually searching for them). Choose the Class of Service, then fill out the Departure and Destination point boxes (Sector 1 and Sector 2). Searches on JMB must be for return flights or open jaws rather than one-way. If you normally search one-way, enter in the same departure point in the Final Returning Point box, then select any flight date for Sector 2 which is after that of Sector 1 (this is dummy information).

JL_03_SearchDetails_001.jpg


You may get a pop-up message about the billing of taxes and so on. Just click OK.

JL_03a_SearchDetailsPopup_001.jpg


When you get to the results page, section 2 will show the seat availability. If a flight is greyed out with an X, this means there are no seats available for the given class (F for First, C for Business and Y for Economy).

JL_04a_ResultsNoJ_001.jpg


You can use the Prior Day and Next Day buttons to shuffle to another day, one day at a time, to check the availability on those days.

If there are seats available on a flight, the entry will not be greyed out and the X will be replaced with a number from 1 to 9. This nominally is an indication of how many award seats of that class are available on that flight.

JL_04b_ResultsIsJ_001.jpg
 

anat0l

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Tips On How To Look For Routings

Note that as you search for oneworld availability, it is much more effective to search for point to point availability. For example, say you are looking for availability to travel between Brisbane and Tokyo. In this case, putting in Brisbane as your origin and Tokyo as your destination in any of these tools is not necessarily the best way to go about it. Instead, it is better to search for the availability on individual segments, e.g. Brisbane to Hong Kong, then Hong Kong to Tokyo. (Of course, if your route has a non-stop flight, then go right ahead in searching, e.g. Sydney to Tokyo).

Keep the oneworld airlines' hubs in mind. Luckily, most oneworld airlines only have one or two hubs! More than likely, your travel must be via one of those points, depending on which airline you want to travel with (and/or where there is availability). Knowing which airlines fly to your airport will determine the likely routings available to you. For example, Brisbane to Shanghai - there are no non-stop flights on oneworld carriers, so you will need to go indirect. Cathay Pacific and Malaysia Airlines both fly to Brisbane, so your routing may be via Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur. Similarly, Qantas fly Sydney to Shanghai, so another alternative is to go via Sydney. Think of where you're trying to get to and from, then plan your travel around the hubs.

The oneworld airlines' world route map can be accessed here (requires Flash).

Check for availability on the long haul segments first. Long haul segments are most likely to be limiting on availability, especially in First Class, so check them first. Shorter segments, like regional or domestic segments, are most likely going to have plenty of availability because there are likely two or more flights per day on such segments. Seasonality can affect this to a large degree, but heuristically the principle is the same.

Finally, there's an adage which goes around the traps along the lines of, "You never plan your premium award travel around your holiday; you plan your holiday around the dates of your premium award travel." As perverted as that sounds, there's a good deal of truth to it.

Happy hunting!
 
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anat0l

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List of oneworld Airline Hubs

List ripped from Wikipedia. Correct to 14 April 2014.

  • Air Berlin (AB)
    • Berlin Tegel (TXL)
    • Dusseldorf (DUS)
  • American Airlines (AA)
    • Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
    • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
    • Los Angeles (LAX)
    • Miami (MIA)
    • New York JFK (JFK)
  • British Airways (BA)
    • London Gatwick (LGW)
    • London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) and Dragonair (KA)
    • Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok (HKG)
  • Finnair (AY)
    • Helsinki Vantaa (HEL)
  • Iberia (IB)
    • Madrid Barajas (MAD)
  • Japan Airlines (JL)
    • Osaka Itami (ITM)
    • Osaka Kansai (KIX)
    • Tokyo Haneda (HND)
    • Tokyo Narita (NRT)
  • LAN (LA)
    • Santiago de Chile (SCL)
    • Guayaquil José Joaquín de Olmedo (GYE) (secondary hub)
    • Lima Jorge Chavez (LIM) (secondary hub)
  • Malaysia Airlines (MH)
    • Kota Kinabalu (BKI)
    • Kuala Lumpur KLIA (KUL)
  • Qantas Airways (QF)
    • Brisbane (BNE)
    • Melbourne Tullamarine (MEL)
    • Sydney (SYD)
  • Qatar Airways (QR)
    • Doha (DOH)
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ)
    • Amman Queen Alia (AMM)
  • SriLankan Airlines (UL)
    • Colombo Bandaranaike (CMB)
  • S7 Airlines (S7)
    • Moscow Dodomedovo (DME)
    • Novosibirsk Tolmachevo (OVB)
  • TAM Airlines (JJ)
    • Brasilia (BSB)
    • Rio de Janeiro Galeão (GIG)
    • São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU)
  • US Airways (US)
    • Charlotte/Douglas (CLT)
    • Philadelphia (PHL)
    • Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)
    • Washington Ronald Reagan (DCA)

 

ms1

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Thanks for taking the time to do this. I will read over it this evening.
 

asg29e

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Anat0l, thanks so much for this. An awesome summary.

This is really what the spirit of AFF is about.
 

kpc

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Quiet day ;)? Thanks for summarising my understanding of searching for OW awards!
 

anat0l

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Quiet day ;)? Thanks for summarising my understanding of searching for OW awards!

I assume you're just ribbing, not sarcastic. ("Slow news day" or similar remark usually carries a derogatory connotation).

The target audience of this article is mainly those who have just started with US DM in ow or have been used to US DM in *A and now moving to ow.

Not to mention that if I had a dollar for every time "how do you search for oneworld availability" was asked in either of the two new oneworld threads... well, you know the rest.

I should qualify that of course I didn't find these out by myself. There are blogs and what not out there which have discussed these tools. Only thing I've done here is collect it and localise it.
 

kpc

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Quiet day ;)? Thanks for summarising my understanding of searching for OW awards!

I assume you're just ribbing, not sarcastic. ("Slow news day" or similar remark usually carries a derogatory connotation).
The former as my wink was trying to convey :).
Serious Q: What is the best tool for Lan availability? QF search engine? Lan's search engine?
Maybe you should also mention a paid service like award nexus for those that are a bit lazy?
 
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anat0l

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Serious Q: What is the best tool for Lan availability? QF search engine? Lan's search engine?

For SYD/SCL I'd likely use the QF tool only because it's likely faster (month availability). Otherwise, BA is better. Sometimes, QF's tool will completely give up if it cannot find availability at all on a route for some days or weeks. At least BA doesn't give up easily - it'll just tell you there's nothing.

BA_99a_LASearch.jpg


Maybe you should also mention a paid service like award nexus for those that are a bit lazy?

Perhaps, but I have no experience with them (nor KVS for that matter; it's a vicarious thing because there are a few members here who have a KVS subscription). Perhaps you can share some experience here?
 
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This is a fantastic post, but I have to ask a real novice question. If my points are all with QFF, how does it help if I can see seat availability on another airline's booking system that isn't showing on QFF? Don't my points need to be held with the booking airline?
 

drron

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Thanks.This really is a great help.I had given up on BA because of the address issue but I feel like I am going to be a new BA executive Club member from Manhattan now just to do searches.
I am sure my neice wont steal my card!
 

anat0l

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This is a fantastic post, but I have to ask a real novice question. If my points are all with QFF, how does it help if I can see seat availability on another airline's booking system that isn't showing on QFF? Don't my points need to be held with the booking airline?

In this case, it probably doesn't help too much. Your last statement is correct, and this is advice is probably more suited for those in AA or US, where bookings on many oneworld partners must be done on the phone rather than online.

For using QF points, it probably doesn't help much to use other tools apart from QF to check for availability. If you can't see the availability on QF and you really want a particular seat, if you are a Platinum it may be worth calling the Premium line to see if they can find any seats not shown online, or otherwise request to open a seat for you.
 

jgm

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Thanks.This really is a great help.I had given up on BA because of the address issue but I feel like I am going to be a new BA executive Club member from Manhattan now just to do searches.
I am sure my neice wont steal my card!
The easiest way to sign up for BA is just use your Australian address, but change the country to Austria. This works as long as you don't want status (where you need the card).
 
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