Continental adds functionality to their online award search tool

Continental actually has a surprisingly good online award search tool, probably the best of any Star Alliance program that searches more than a single day at a time. This past weekend it got even better, as they added a couple of useful features. First of all, in the past, they only showed international business class and coach class award space. Now they display international first class award space.

On a slightly unrelated note, why are they displaying “EasyPass” award space for travel on a Lufthansa flight? EasyPass is for award space on Continental flights; they have no reason to be charging a premium for travel on Lufthansa, since they release only one kind of award seat, which is at the saver level.

The second improvement is that they’re now transparent about when you’re booking an itinerary where not all segments are in the same cabin. So for example, if you searched award space from Munich to Johannesburg, you’d probably be very excited when every day on the calendar showed as having business class award space. However, only Munich to Frankfurt had business class award space, while Frankfurt to Johannesburg would only have coach award space. You wouldn’t see that until you got to the booking page. Now the website clearly displays when an itinerary is a mixed cabin award from the beginning.

On the whole, anything that empowers the traveler is a good thing. At the same time, of course this is slightly negative for the savvy traveler, to the extent that international first class awards can be more easily found by the “average Joe,” which means there’s less space for the rest of us. Still, the more transparency, the better, so I consider this a positive change.

Comments

  1. How many “average Joes” do you know of that book international first class awards?

  2. No pun intended…it is my real name. Do you think they will use this search engine over United’s when they merge?

  3. Well they’re not, and that’s the “problem.” A lot of routes have amazing first class award availability, while they have virtually no coach or business award availability. “Average Joe” will search for space online, and would have previously given up. Now they’ll say “look, we can fly international first class, there’s space,” and book those tickets instead. More power to them!

  4. I don’t know many average joes that have 140,000+ miles sitting in their accounts. They will have blown it on 25K domestic Y tickets a long time ago.

  5. This is all nice and dandy but what has also changed is that now when you search for flights from “NYC” it only searches JFK and LGA… it used to include Newark too, now I have to search for EWR flights separately… not so convenient after all.

  6. A lot of the average Joes I know don’t have the miles required for international first — and they’re typically looking for domestic coach awards to begin with.

  7. On United award searches, for domestic itineraries on standard awards, you can get every last Y or F seat for 25,000/50,000 miles each way.

    Does CO capacity control its “EasyPass” which is the equivalent?

  8. Sorry folks, I should have been more accurate. When I said “average Joe” I didn’t mean “average Joe” off the street, but rather “average Joe” road warrior that flies a hundred thousand miles a year and doesn’t have any idea how to use their miles.

    @ Carl — Continental’s EasyPass availability is not “last seat,” like United’s. The EasyPass is a bit better for elites than non-elites, but is still far from “last seat.”

  9. That is not a change I like. So United award miles are more valuable on UA metal for standard awards – since they give you last seat, and CO awards at the same mileage cost don’t.

    I haven’t seen this discussed on the boards.

  10. I guess that’s the end of that glitch where a 50k mileage redemption would book you into UA PS F instead of C

  11. i think they’ve also improved the back engine. i can’t verify this, but i feel like the new tool is finding more connections using alternative routings. I.e. When searching for LAX to FRA the website now seems more prone to also turn up routings via DFW and MIA and not just major hubs like EWR.

  12. I realize this is an old thread, but any chance you know what will happen to this awesome search engine in the fall when the merger is finalized? I am never able to find the flights I want on United whereas CO always delivers. Example: DC-Bangkok. United doesn’t show any award flights when Continental has dozens of available routes. Any idea why this may be?

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