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.

Airline websites are notoriously horrible for award searches – especially when it comes to partner availability. Even ANA’s site, which is revered as possibly the most accurate search engine for Star Alliance availability, has a frustrating and time-consuming interface that only searches simple routes day-by-day.

While not perfect, I religiously use to identify accurate award space, which is a paid service that costs either $4.99 or $9.99 a month (and comes with a free 5 day trial). However, ExpertFlyer requires a bit of inside knowledge as well and it does not have award space for every airline – most notably excluding British Airways, Delta and US Airways.

Another thing to be mindful of is that you are searching for the appropriate types of awards. Many airlines offer premium or elite-only awards that have restricted availability. In general, only “classic” or “saver” level awards are bookable with alliance partners. ExpertFlyer has lists of what each fare code means for each airline, so you can hover the mouse over a code if you are unfamiliar.

Once you are ready to search log-in to and choose the Awards & Upgrades feature on the left, fill in the route you are looking for and the dates +/- 3 days.

Once you select an airline, the award bucket choices will populate – remember to choose saver/classic awards if you want to book the cheapest award possible.

Once you search, all possible flights will load and it will show you the number of seats per award bucket. In the instance below, you could book up to 6 first class low level tickets on the 7:09am flight. Since this is a saver award, you could book this ticket using any Star Alliance member airline miles, like US Airways.

In general, it takes the guesswork out of finding award availability on a buggy online search engine or risk getting a clueless phone rep that gives you bad information. ExpertFlyer is extremely accurate and links into airline systems, though you still may run into issues from time to time. For example, not all availability is released to partners – especially when dealing with non-alliance partners. For example, Air Tahiti Nui is a non-alliance partner with American Airlines. However, even when Air Tahiti Nui shows first class award availability, most American phone reps will claim no first class Air Tahiti Nui awards can be booked using AA miles. In the end, you are at the mercy of the phone rep. Likewise, Korean Air may show First class availability, but Delta does not allow International first class award bookings, so I’d recommend brushing up on the rules of your airlines partner awards before picking a fight with a phone rep.

Here is an updated list of currently supported airlines on ExpertFlyer:
Star Alliance:
Air Canada
Air China
Air New Zealand
Brussels Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
Swiss- note this availability is for Miles & More members- Star Alliance partner award availability should be cross checked with ANA.

Aerolineas Argentinas (coming soon to SkyTeam)
Air Europa
Air France
China Airlines
China Eastern
China Southern
CSA/Czech Airlines
Delta (upgrades only)
KLM (business class only)
Korean (first class only)

Finnair (Economy only)

Aer Lingus
Air Tahiti Nui
El Al

Here’s a quick video tutorial, though once again for those who are better visual learners (though apologize in advance for quality of the video).

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at Terms apply.
  • There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply. See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $195.
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.