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Searching for One World award space can be quite time consuming. It can be done through the airlines’ websites, but you’ll run into problems with each one.
American Airlines’ site won’t show you many partners, Qantas does a little bit better on that front, but the British Airways site is the holy grail for finding space on the most partners.
There are two major problems with searching on the British Airways site.
The first is that you can only search one day at a time, which is problematic if you have flexible travel dates as you will need to run a separate search for each day you are willing to travel.
The second problem compounds on the first – British Airways’ site doesn’t handle multi-segment journeys very well. If you are only looking to make one connection you are probably going to be able to pull up itineraries, but if you are making more than one connection British Airways’ site will not pull up any itineraries, so you will need to search segment by segment for your flight.
This means that if you are looking to fly from St. Louis, MO to Munich, Germany, you will not be able to select those cities as your departure and destination cities on the British Airways site, so you will instead need to search every possible segment separately to determine if award space is available.
Enter Award Finder, a free Chrome browser application that makes searching for British Airways space so much easier.
Let’s take a walkthrough of using this tool to see how well it works, using the example of finding Qatar Airways space in business class from the U.S.
The first thing we will need to do is look up where in the U.S. Qatar Airways flies.
By viewing the Qatar Airways route map, we can see that Qatar flies to Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
Now that we know all of the flights that we can potentially fly on, we can take this information over to Award Finder.
Before you can begin using Award Finder, you must first give it access to your frequent flyer accounts.
This is very easy to do, all you will need is to enter your frequent flyer number and password for each different search engine you will be wanting to use. To search for One World space, you will likely want to have access to British Airways (BA) and Qantas (QF). If you do not have accounts with the frequent flyer programs, you will first need to create an account through the airlines’ websites.
Once you have set up your frequent flyer accounts within Award Finder, you can begin your search.
Award Finder can take multiple inputs for the ‘From’ and ‘To’ fields, so you can search all of the routes you are interested in at the same time. See below, where we input BOS, JFK, ATL, IAD, and more in the ‘From’ field.
You also have the ability to search multiple dates at the same time. Just use the ‘+ Days’ field.
Let’s assume that you are interested in traveling in the middle of September for this exercise. You are willing to depart as early as September 9th, or any of the next 10 days, and you are traveling alone.
Next, we need to know where we want to search.
When searching for One World space, use both British Airways’ (BA) search engine and Qantas’ (QF) search engine to compare available space. Both of those boxes should be checked, as well as the business class box, before beginning the search.
Even when selecting ‘Business’ as your cabin, flights in other classes of service will show up when searching Qantas, but there is a way to filter these out.
You can also filter out flights on certain airlines or certain connections. While the search is running, you can click on ‘Show/Hide Filters’ and filter out certain connections, carriers, and cabins.
Since in this case we are looking at flying Qatar in business class, we will filter out everything else from our search results.
We are also looking at only non-stop flights in this case, so we can ignore any results that have a connection.
When searching many dates and routes, the search can take a while to complete.
In this case, we were searching 10 different routes across 11 dates. When doing this many searches on the British Airways site, you will be required to verify that you are not a robot searching by completing a Captcha input.
Your search is done by Award Finder for each route and date combination that you have specified, you just don’t have to do it yourself.
It is, in this case, still 110 searches that need to be performed, so it takes a while. When this specific search was completed it had taken a total of about 35 minutes. While this is still a long search, at least you can be doing something else with your time!
Though this search checked for availability on 110 different routes (10 routes over 11 days), it only found three flights that had availability.
This is where the power of Award Finder shows through because it can search for so many different flights without you providing additional inputs. If you were traveling alone, any of these flights would work, but if you were traveling with another person, only the flight from Atlanta to Doha on 9/19 has more than one seat available in business class.
Now that you have found a longhaul flight that will work for your trip, you can work on piecing together the domestic segments if they are needed.
Award Finder is also a good tool for this, though you will not have as many dates as you are looking at anymore nor will you need to see a bunch of partner availability as American Airlines will be your primary option.
Using Award Finder to search is far superior to searching for award space on either BA.com or Qantas because of the time component.
You would have been able to perform those 110 searches on BA.com and come up with the exact same availability, but it would have taken longer than 35 minutes. Not only does the Award Finder search tool take less time, but it is mostly automated which will allow you to do other work while the search runs.