Continental Makes Upgrades to Online Award Booking Engine

by on May 9, 2011 · 14 comments

in Continental, Travel Technology, United

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. is one of the better airline sites for booking awards – it shows a decent amount of partner availability and it can put together some pretty robust, complicated trips. Historically, my three biggest gripes with it were 1) That it will sneakily book you into the wrong cabin of service 2) That international first class is not searchable and 3) Not all Star Alliance partners are shown.

Well, this past weekend two of those concerns were addressed by some pretty nifty updates to the award booking tool at Issues with the “sneaky” award pricing are now resolved by a “Mixed Cabin” icon that alerts the user to double-check that their cabins requested are indeed what’s included. The second change is the addition of international first class, which on one hand will make award searches easier, but harder because I’m sure more people will book these awards, thus reducing availability for those of us who are “in the know.” However, I think these changes are a big step forward for frequent flyers and I hope the other airlines take notice. American and US Airways are awful at showing partner award availability (in fact, they pretty much don’t at all) and Delta has a lot of things to work out from an IT perspective as well as with showing more partner availability online (I would LOVE to get back the functionality of booking Korean Airline awards!).

New International First Class Award Listings

While Continental definitely leads the pack, they still could improve the Star Alliance availability by adding Swiss, Turkish, TAM, Singapore and South African availability. And for those of you with US Airways, United or any other Star Alliance miles – you can use to search for Star Alliance awards and then call your carrier to get them booked. All Saver Pass awards should be bookable using any Star Alliance miles. And for anyone with United miles, you can switch them to your Continental account instantly (and vice versa) for free using this method.

What are your thoughts on these enhancements? Is it selfish of me to be upset that first class awards are now showing online for all to book?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Beth

    As someone that’s been caught by the mixed cabin thing before, and who didn’t know about the first class options, I think it’s all great. Of course if I were in your shoes my feelings would definitely be more mixed.
    This actually raises a question I’ve got for you – I’m going to be traveling to South Africa in a few months and would like to look up rewards availability using Continental miles. Since they don’t show up on the search, how would you check that? (The phone agents I’ve spoken to have been spectacularly unhelpful.)

  • The Points Guy

    Beth- for South African, you’ll have to use the ANA search tool, which I highlighted in my other post today. Note: South African award availability is extremely scarce- if you are lucky enough to find space from one of their US gateways (JFK and IAD), you will usually only find one seat. Using Continental miles you may want to consider going through Europe or even Sao Paulo using partners.

    Virgin flies LHR-JNB, Lufthansa MUC/FRA-JNB, Turkish IST-JNB, EgyptAir CAI-JNB, Swiss ZRH-JNB

    Good luck!

  • Michael

    I’ve got 50K One Pass pts and wondering what is the best use of them? I’m based in LA — so LAX-NYC in business? or LAX-LHR/Some European Destination one way in biz on a great airline (like an A380?)

  • Ryan

    I’ve only recently been playing around with the CO award booking website and agre it’s reallt nice – these updates make it better. Does CO show NZ availability? I’ve never been able to find it so far, even when I can see NZ via other tools.

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  • Charles

    This is indeed a wonderful tool. By transferring United points to Continental, now I can book a business/first class roundtrip between US and China for only 130K Continental miles – one leg on UA, the other on ANA. Thank you The Points Guy!

    Since this new feature came up at a time when UA and Continental are merging, do you think it will be available in the future United system?

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  • Mike Hoeffner

    South African is in there as of July. Some of the others listed might be by now too.

  • Anonymous

    Is there a complete list of airlines that searches?

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  • Pincastle5

    can i use my mileage plus award on continental

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