Yesterday I encouraged you to lock in an award ticket now if you want one for travel next summer. And I suggested calling the airline or a travel agent directly rather than trying to book on line. Here’s more advice.
One of my weekend show’s regular guests, Scott McCartney from the Wall Street Journal, also reminds you to remember partner airlines when you’re shopping with miles; they may offer the same route for fewer miles.
Just because award seats aren’t available the first time you shop doesn’t mean they won’t be the next day or week or month. Keep asking—inventory seems to fluctuate without apparent reason, says Scott. For $4.99 a month, you can sign up with ExpertFlyer.com. Tell the site where you want an award ticket to, and it’ll notify you the instant one pops up.
ExpertFlyer is best at identifying award seats on about a dozen international airlines and American and United. It doesn’t cover every airline. For example, it can search for upgrade awards on Delta, but not regular award tickets. The site claims about a 60% success rate and says the average amount of time before an award seat opens up is 27 days.