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Until now, the best ways to search for Star Alliance award availability have been to check the best search engines of member airlines like ANA and United. You could also have used Expertflyer to search availability on Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa, LOT, Swiss (though ExpertFlyer shows the availability of awards that they release to their own members, which is more than what they release to Star Alliance partners), TAM and Turkish Airlines.
However, starting last week, ExpertFlyer added award inventory from 20 more airlines so that award availability on all Star Alliance carriers is now searchable and making ExpertFlyer that much better a tool for finding those precious award seats. The new airlines include, Adria Airways (JP), ANA (NH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), Austrian (OS), Blue1 (KF), Croatia Airlines (OU), Egyptair (MS), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), Island Air (WP), LACSA (LR), Lufthansa (LH), SAS (SK), Singapore Airlines (SQ), South African Airways (SA), TACA (TA), TAM Linhas Aereas (JJ), TAM Paraguay (PZ), TAP-Air Portugal (TP), Thai Airways International (TG) and US Airways (US).
To be able to search ExpertFlyer, you do need a paid membership (they start at $4.99 a month for the most basic).
When you log in, click on “Awards and Upgrades”.
That will take you to a page where you can search award availability between city pairs (you will need to do multiple searches if you are constructing a complicated itinerary) for certain dates or date ranges and by carrier and class of ticket.
Now when you click on the “Airline” tab, you’ll see a lot more airlines and all the Star Alliance ones including Singapore, Thai, United and US Airways.
As with other carriers, you can search the Star Alliance airlines individually for award availability.
However, now, you can also do a general Star Alliance search.
When you choose that, you must specify the number of seats you are searching for, and you can only search for Economy (X), Business (I) and First Class (O) outright saver award availability – no saver versus standard level awards, though these fare classes also usually encompass upgrade awards as well. There is no way to tell how many award seats remain available – just whether the number of seats in the award fare class you want are. You could do a general Star Alliance search first with the number of seats you need, and then once the results are pulled up, you can search the individual airlines from the results to get the exact numbers.
While this non-stop United flight only had economy awards available…
A non-stop Lufthansa flight had award seats available in all three classes.
It’s great to have all this info in one place – although ANA and United both offer the same information for free, even if their award searches can be a bit clunky from time to time.
What sets ExpertFlyer apart and makes this development so important is that it has a feature where you can set a Flight Alert so that even if an award seat isn’t available on the flights or dates you want, you can set an alert and the system will email you if one opens up and you can snap it up immediately. That’s especially important because many Star Alliance carriers release award seats to partners just weeks ahead of time, so every moment counts.