How to catch those elusive long haul redemptions

Some of the better award flight redemptions to be had for any frequent flyer program can be found in the long haul options on offer. Using those hard earned points and a little cash to replace potentially thousands can be very good value. But you do need to put some effort into catching those redemptions, as they can disappear as quickly as they appear.

I have been watching Qantas Business Class Classic Award availability for November 2015 – Brisbane to London.

This morning Qantas seats for the 8th November 2015 dropped in on the website around 10 am Qld time but all QF business class was gone in an instant. I was checking every couple of minutes. One minute there were no QF flights only CX and the next the QF flights were there but all taken. How do people manage to get these seats so quickly?

The Cathay Pacific seats seem to operate on a different timetable being released about a week sooner than Qantas and seem to be easier to secure..

The first step to take when it comes to grabbing those great seats is to work out when an airline is going to release them. Not all airlines are the same, some release seats at a preset time, such as Qantas. Others seem to have a more ad hoc nature to their release, with no set schedule. It’s also important to note that it may not be a single release that occurs, an airline may release them at different times leading up to the flight.

Most airlines do staged releases of seats. It doesn’t make financial sense to release all award seats straight up 365 days out when you will likely sell those seats for cash. Also keep in mind you’re against 10million members + tens of millions of oneworld members. There are companies out there that can snipe seats for you as soon as they are released.

Once you know when a release is likely to occur, you can focus on how to find the award seats at release. Some of our more savvy members use internet browser robots to help facilitate the booking. Others prefer tools such as Expert Flyer, which can alert you via email when a seat is on offer. However, you do run the risk of the seat going by the time the alert comes through.

I’ve found there to be a significant delay in Expert Flyer seat alerts and I personally wouldn’t rely on them for a Qantas award seat, other than within (rather than at) 353 days.

With more and more people becoming frequent flyer members, and earning points through activities outside of flying, competition for awards has never been higher. Getting good value from your hard earned points is increasingly going to require more work, or help from some internet robots. Have you got a wining strategy on how to snaffle those hard to get seats? Why not share it with our members HERE.

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