ExpertFlyer Pulls British Airways Award Space

In life you win some, you lose some. Or as of late in the case of ExpertFlyer, you temporarily win some and then lose them faster than Kanye West can finish a Jimmy Kimmel interview.

Earlier in the month I posted about how ExpertFlyer began displaying British Airways award space. While I don’t value the ability to search British Airways award space on ExpertFlyer all that much (given that American’s website is rather useful for doing that for an entire month at a time), I did value the ability to set availability alerts. As I explained in that post, you could use ExpertFlyer to set alerts for award space, so if/when award space opened up in a particular cabin on a particular flight, they would send you an email alert letting you know. That’s hugely valuable, and actually for the airlines ExpertFlyer supports, the greatest thing I derive from the service.

Well today ExpertFlyer posted the following message on FlyerTalk:

Sorry folks, it looks like BA have once again hidden their award inventory from the reservation systems. We have been hearing from customers about the benefit they have derived from the information during the brief time it was available, so we would suggest that you contact BA and express your interest in the information again being made public.

Unfortunately this seems to be a continuing trend. Last month Delta pulled elite upgrade space from ExpertFlyer, while a couple of weeks ago a majority of Star Alliance airlines pulled out as well. Anyway, these are extremely frustrating developments as a consumer. It’s getting tougher to justify an ExpertFlyer membership when these benefits are being taken away (not that it’s ExpertFlyer’s fault), and I’m certainly not a fan of the airlines being less transparent.

But to some small degree I can also see the airlines’ perspective. Are they making it too easy on consumers when you just receive an email when award space opens up?

What do you guys think?

Comments

  1. Expertflyer (EF) needs to negotiate with those guys if it wants to stay in business. If it continues in this way, EF is going to lose customers faster than it is losing visibility to those spaces. Anybody with some knowledge about searching for award space can go to a few sites and get the info that EF provides. It is the ability to alert members when space opens up giving them the edge over other non-EF members, which (in my opinion) warrants paying them a fee.

  2. I canceled my renewal as soon as the DL upgrade space and US award space were pulled. Given that EF hasn’t been very forthcoming with details as the why they now longer have access (and won’t admit to screen scraping the information), I won’t renew again until they lower the price to adjust for the diminished value of the subscription.

  3. The problem is not ExpertFlyer. The problem is the airlines who are making it increasingly difficult to use award miles for award flights.

    I remember the good old days when I could make a Continental reservation on any flight at the best available rate and use 5K miles to upgrade it. I remember when I could use award miles on Alaska or USAir on any flight to get a 50% discount on any rate. I remember when upgrade availability was easy to come by for domestic flights.

    I’ve got loads of miles, but it’s virtually impossible to use them to get worthwhile first class upgrades (which is what I care about) if I want to fly from A to B at a certain time on a pre-determined set of dates.

    I’m sort of addicted to earning miles, but it may be better to choose “cash back” rewards, as cash is much easier to spend 🙂

  4. David – you’re right but that is exactly what the airlines want us to do. Like you, I have lots of miles. And I’ve been able to fly First Class on a host of airlines. First Class may be a dream now but don’t give up! I’ll keep reading the blogs and boards and plan my trips accordingly.

  5. Canceled mine 3 days ago when I found I couldn’t book many *A carriers that I use for USdm redemption. Now I only use KVS. I liked EF a lot but I don’t fly any of those remaining airlines and *A carriers are far and few.

  6. Man, I can’t believe how lucky we were. Hit the WINDOW perfectly. Got four First seats next sept/oct timeframe USA LHR CPT JNB LHR USA.. all First, days we wanted. Technically, I think this WHOLE thing was a glitch.

  7. Too easy on consumers? How is it ever bad for an airline if loyal customers can actually use their award miles for the travel that these programs promise? Awards are already capacity controlled so they are just frustrating customers if they can never book what/when they want.

  8. The airlines just want to keep their information to themselves to that no one can ever use their miles for anything worthwhile. Why shouldn’t you be able to get an alert when the seat you want becomes available?

    I do appreciate EF’s other tools besides the award availability searching. But I’m not sure they’re worth $100 a year.

  9. Canceled my EF subscription when their airline availability started dropping like flies. Not even the 20% off deal with Milepoint can bring me back now.

  10. @Gary — I disagree with you when you say, “Are they making it too easy on consumers when you just receive an email when award space opens up?”

    The underlying premise behind airlines opening a seat for award redemption is that they are willing to let that seat go for slightly less than a paid seat (they’re still getting revenue for an award seat, be it in money from a partner or reducing their own liability). Otherwise, nothing is forcing them to open it up in the first place. So it makes no difference who gets it, when, or how.

  11. Well, I’ve still got an alert posted for an AA flight next summer that I’ve got all the other legs/people booked into. I wonder if AA will pull their access too before I get it done… Can’t imagine paying EF again…

  12. It sucks, but in general anything that increases transparency on award inventory is bad for power users. There are only a finite number of seats, especially premium redemptions, and the easier they are to book, the more rare they will become. The proliferation of award booking services (sorry Lucky!) also has the same effect.

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