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.