Frustrating: FlyingBlue Award Calendar Eliminates Flexible Date Search

I love a loyalty program that makes it easy to search and book award flights online. What are the characteristics of a perfect award search tool?

  • The ability to search award availability for weeks at a time with the click of a button
  • The ability to specify that you just want nonstop flights, or want to fly a particular airline
  • Actually showing award availability for all partner airlines online, rather than just a subset of them
  • Having accurate information displayed (which is one of the biggest challenges websites seem to have)

For example, I think American’s website is great for the airlines they show availability on. The interface is easy, you can search availability for a month at a time, and you can specify that you just want to fly American (which is useful on transatlantic flights, where you want to avoid British Airways due to the fuel surcharges).


American’s website makes it easy to see how little award space they have!

But aa.com also has a lot of problems. They don’t show availability on all partners, they sometimes show phantom availability, and they also sometimes don’t show accurate availability (for example, don’t tell me there’s first class available from Sydney to Los Angeles when it’s a flight from Sydney to Dallas in economy, and a flight from Dallas to Ontario in first class — that’s utterly useless).


Yeah, no thanks

United’s website is good as well. It has the benefit of showing availability on lots of partners, you can search availability for a month at a time, and you can specify that you just want nonstop flights. My issue with the site is that I find it’s a bit clunky in terms of the number of times you have to click things to get the results you want (for example, even when searching business class availability, the calendar always defaults to economy).


Okay, I guess I’m not flying EVA Air then…

Then there are websites that are horrible for searching award availability. Singapore Airlines’ website is probably the worst, as it only lets you search availability for a day at a time. Grrrr…


Please let me search availability for more than a day at a time

Air France FlyingBlue’s website isn’t much better, and they’ve just made a very negative change to their award search tool. While I tend to think FlyingBlue’s website is clunky to begin with (there are lots of error messages and no options to search just nonstop flights), at least they did have a flexible search option, which was at least somewhat useful.

For whatever reason, late last week FlyingBlue eliminated the option to do a flexible date search on their website. It used to be that on the search page you could specify you wanted flexible dates, but that has been eliminated.

Now you literally have to search award availability on their website day by day.

At first I assumed this was some sort of a glitch, though it has been around for several days now, and given that they actively removed an option, I feel like this was quite intentional.

What could their incentive be to eliminate a flexible date search? I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist here, but it’s an odd coincidence that this change happened to their website just days before they’re officially rolling out their new loyalty program, which features dynamic pricing.

Could it be that they’d rather people don’t do too much price shopping on award tickets under the new program? Similarly, there’s not a calendar functionality where you search a month of revenue fares at a time, so maybe this is just an extension of that?

I’m trying to see if I can figure out what their (official) intentions are here, but in the meantime this is a frustrating update, since it makes it significantly harder to search award availability through FlyingBlue.

What do you make of this FlyingBlue update — is it intentional and intended to make it more difficult to search award space, or…? 

(Tip of the hat to David)

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for posting this, I was going to post about it on FT today. I noticed this last week too, and thought I was going crazy for not being able to find the flexible date option. Such a bummer…their site definitely has its flaws, but being able to see a month’s worth of avail was a big benefit.

  2. That was about the most useful feature. This sucks.

    Totally agree that the SQ website is very poorly designed. I always get the sense they have some IT freaks doing the design without actually understanding what customers want/need.

  3. Yeah that is annoying.

    I find United the best site. But agree with the extra buttons. Last week for me searching lax, Iah and sfo to Sydney was click on 30 day calendar. Click on business. Click on non stop. Over and over haha. Yikes.

    I’ve found qantas reasonably useful as it largely seems to eliminate the silly results like the syd Dfw in first. If BA had a flexible search it would be brilliant.

    Ironically I find lifemiles useful to search sometimes!! Shows all classes in one spot. Obviously shows less results but generally picks up the main stuff I want eg Ord tyo syd or Iah syd. Clicking additional dates and running the search over five days helps.

  4. “Purchase Tickets” option is also missing “flexible dates”… so even when spending money, your search is limited to one-day-at-a-time. You can sort of trick it by selecting the “view on the map” – that will give a monthly view of fares for selected destination.

  5. I just used lifemiles and remembered one thing that is painful. When you enter your cities and then go back to change it from return to one way it eliminates the cities. Surely that would be an easy fix???!!

  6. Is there a possibility that they are rolling out a new award search tool/website on Friday?

    Also @lucky, I noticed that they have already removed labels from a lot of awards. For example, I have been looking at flying JFK-AMS on August 30 and the Business Class awards no longer say “Flex” but are pricing still at 187,500. Could they just be moving all of their awards to Flex pricing levels while eliminating “Flex” flexibility re: changes?

  7. Yep Flying Blue is driving me to drink lately. I had it where the iOS app was showing more award space than the web browser on my PC (partners). Also there’s a monster amount of Air Europa partner space popping up ahead of the Delta award space. I hope this is just because of the changes.

  8. If I understand correctly, Expert Flyer . com would be very useful in this case.
    I plan to spend the hundred bucks for it next year when I plan to use all my Freq Flyer Miles.
    It will do the searching for you for the best award tickets, and has notification capabilities.
    Just set up your parameters and it will notify you when tickets come up that match your needs.

  9. Searching for award should be outsourced to the alliance. Why have multiple mediocre search engines looking at the same space. For the same spending just have one one that does a really good job.

    Reminds me about the democrats. They say they are anti trump. But they don’t seem to be trying too hard to win or rollback the tax cuts or whatever else. Or the blacks that create drama about civil rights and equality but won’t show up to vote or whites that say they are post racists but can’t convince anyone that they are.

    The airlines don’t want you to find the award space. See what they do, not what they say.

  10. I noticed this too. I also noticed that i need 300000 miles for a business class ticket from geneva to osaka. Those prices are going up without an award chart just like with skypesos.
    Just last week flying blue wanted 27000 for an upgrade. I was on an economy ticket. 27000 miles for a 50 minute flight Paris-Gva. Can’t believe people accept this type of offers.

  11. I just searched and got the full month view, had to change dates a couple times and then it displayed the full month

  12. I was booking my award flight from CDG-TNR last Friday so I was definitely impacted by the lack of calendar view. The FlyingBlue website already sucks to begin with navigating around that thing, then to not have the only useful thing (the calendar view) just makes it useless.

  13. Tried a couple times, if I price out flights on AF in $ and then click “See fares in miles” it displays the calendar view

  14. In the race to the bottom, Flying Blue is way out in front. Almost unchallenged. I’m not going to credit a single flight to them this year; playing to have 193 points left in my FB account. Hopeless.

  15. We hate FB-terrible service and intentional delivery ducky website with bs corporate us style gimmicks

  16. I noticed this change last week as well, and I’m really ticked off because I’m trying to plan a trip to Italy for 4, using Delta Skymiles outbound and FB miles returning. I was previously able to search calendar availability with Delta in one window, and FB in another window. Not anymore! Now I have no way of easily matching up outbound and return date availability. I chatted with Air France online and asked why the calendar search was removed. All they said is “We have made some changes to our website. If you need further assistance please call FB.” Really??? I can’t even imagine how busy their customer service is now. Hold time is probably an hour or more. I feel that this change was intentional. I’m so irritated.

  17. I agree with everyone that this is very frustrating. But from my experience the flexible days option was not reliable anyway. I have often found flights on a specific day that would not show up with a flexible day search, even when the target date was the same. So perhaps they figured out the search engine behind the flexible date option was flawed and decided to pull it while they work on it. Or maybe that’s just optimistic thinking and hoping!

  18. Anyone figure out a away around to view the calendar? Searching by day is impossible. I also have 3 viable airports around me which I have to search each since Delta flies out of everyone of them. SMH. Come on FB

  19. I feel defrauded by Flying Blue. I transferred 250,000 miles back in November. Now no more hope of 62,500 miles business class to Europe. Elimination of the non-exact date feature adds to the evil. Hello small claims?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* I consent to the collection of my name, email address, and content so that One Mile at a Time may manage comments placed on this site.