The tool ExpertFlyer will mainly make our life easier and do the availability research for us when we come up against flights that are already full.
Why use ExpertFlyer?
Airlines rarely put all their vacant award seats on rewards programs. On Aeroplan, seats on partner flights are limited, while all available seats on Air Canada flights are posted, but the latter is at dynamic fares.
Knowing the best time to book is crucial; if you miss that time, ExpertFlyer can come to the rescue!
Aeroplan points can be used to book a seat on Lufthansa, an Air Canada partner. However, partner seats go fast, and some seats are only made available close to the flight date when they cannot be sold within their program; for example, Lufthansa’s first class is only released 14 days before departure.
This is how ExpertFlyer comes into play; its primary function is to find the seats we want and to send us an email alert so that we can proceed with the reservation as soon as possible.
In addition to the availability alerts, ExpertFlyer offers much more!
ExpertFlyer's subscription packages
ExpertFlyer is a handy tool for Points and Miles Enthusiasts. On the other hand, it is a paid platform to unlock the desired features. You can try it for five days before paying for the subscription.
Three packages are available to you: the free package, the basic package and the premium package.
The simplistic version ExpertFlyer is free, and you can create seat alerts. However, you are limited to one alert at a time, although you can pay for additional seat alerts at US$0.99 each. You can’t search for availability without a paid subscription.
With the basic package of ExpertFlyerBasic Package, you can search availability on hundreds of airlines, access detailed cabin maps, create alerts for specific seats, and more. However, there is a monthly limit of 250 searches, and these are restricted to direct flights.
ExpertFlyer’s basic package costs US$4.99 per month.
The Premium subscription to ExpertFlyer gives you access to many exciting features, including the possibility to create flight availability alerts. This will ensure that you receive an email when seats become available in your desired fare class and on your selected flight or aircraft.
There is no limit to the number of searches that can be done over a week (so you avoid searching for flights date by date), and you also unlock the freedom to create other types of alerts. This can be an asset for the AvGeek who would like to choose his plane or simply for the person who hopes for a schedule change to modify his itinerary for free.
ExpertFlyer’s Premium package costs US$9.99 per month or US$99.99 if you take the annual subscription. Don’t forget to use a credit card with no conversion fee, such as the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® or the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, to save 2.5% on your purchase!
Airlines on ExpertFlyer
On ExpertFlyer, not all airlines are displayed; ensure you have access to the airlines you are targeting before subscribing.
Indeed, it is not possible to search for availability on Bangkok Airways, Condor, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM and Qatar Airways. Inventory results are often in error for these airlines.
Although we cannot rely on ExpertFlyer to search for availability in Qsuites, we can find information such as the cabin plan on Qatar Airways. Then, the tool is still helpful for nearly a hundred airlines.
The airlines that appear well on the ExpertFlyer search engine are the following:
How do I find availability and upgrades on ExpertFlyer?
Booking award tickets is usually the main objective when doing travel hacking. The points are easy to earn, but we sometimes come up against inconclusive research results, especially since the emergence of Revenge Travel. ExpertFlyer helps us when we can’t find seats on the flights we want; it saves us from having to constantly refresh your search engine.
Also, one can rely on the information fromExpertFlyer information when considering transferring points to an airline program. For example, HSBC Rewards points transfer to Singapore Krisflyer. Therefore, we can make sure of the availability with ExpertFlyer before proceeding with the transfer since the reverse transfer is not possible.
For example, Singapore Airlines’ coveted A-380 First Class Suites can only be booked through its Krisflyer program, while business and economy class tickets are generally available to partner frequent flyer programs.
Availability search and alert creation on ExpertFlyer
To search for award flight availability with ExpertFlyer, click “Awards & Upgrades” on the left of the screen.
Actually, all of ExpertFlyer’s features are easily found on the left side of the main screen.
Then you will be directed to another page where you can enter the data to make your search:
- Dates (flexible or not)
- Number of passengers
- Fare class
- Type of flight (direct or with connection)
Here we can see thatExpertFlyer can save us a lot of time since the search can be done with several dates and several fare classes, and it is possible to filter the results to consult the direct flights only with the tool.
This is very convenient if you want to avoid connections with the current airport situation that causes frustration and the rise of Revenge Travel which disrupts flight schedules.
For example, here we will search for availability on Austrian Airlines between Montreal and Vienna. The advantage of this route is that it is subject to a fixed fare to Europe, unlike award flights on Air Canada. On the other hand, availability is rare, hence the usefulness ofExpertFlyer.
The search results show only award flights available on July 25, 2022.
Then, we can easily confirm on the Air Canada website that there is indeed the possibility to book a flight between Montreal and Vienna on Austrian Airlines on July 25, 2022.
Then, under a date constraint, you have to create an email alert; ExpertFlyer will notify you if a seat becomes available. What are the chances that seats will become available? There is always cabin reschedules right up to the last minute; passengers cancel, and others change their flights. So you have to be quick to get your hands on these seats!
Finally, on the same page, you can find a lot of information about the flight in question: type of aircraft, flight frequency, flight information, cabin plans, delay reliability, etc.
I like to know the flight frequency with ExpertFlyer to know my options when planning my vacation.
ExpertFlyer availability alerts
Alerts can be used in two ways
- You want to find award availability on a particular flight
- You want to be notified if award availability on a flight decreases
To create an alert with ExpertFlyer, click on the exclamation mark icon. A new window will open. Next, you need to choose the class of service for the alert. For premium subscribers, you can create as many alerts as possible on several dates and classes.
The second way is practical when you are waiting to make a reservation because there are free seats, but you want to receive an alert if the situation changes to decide whether or not to make the reservation.
Then, the options may change for the search from one airline to another. For example, when you select Air Canada as your carrier, the class options are different. In addition to researching the availability of award tickets, ExpertFlyer ExpertFlyer can help us find the famous “R” seats on Air Canada.
For eUpgrade credit users, ExpertFlyer makes it easy for you to get immediate confirmation of your business class upgrade when “R” seats are available. More details on this subject in the next section.
The different fare classes
When we travel, we often hear the words “economy,” “premium economy,” “business class,” and “first-class.” Indeed, these are the different cabins available on the aircraft. On the other hand, the four classes are not on all planes and all airlines; for example, Air Canada does not have “first class,” and there is no “premium economy” on an Airbus 320.
Then, the seats in each cabin are subdivided into several fares; the economy class can have a dozen fares!
These fares are represented by letters; each has its price and particularities.
Here is a table of Air Canada fare subdivisions
|Class of the cabin||Fare class of the reservation|
|Business class||J, C, D, Z, P, R, I|
|Premium Economy||O, E, N, A|
|Economy||Y, B, M, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, X|
These letters indicate all the details of the ticket you purchased and determine your benefits. For example, Y Economy fare is the full Latitude fare where you can cancel at no charge or take advantage of a same-day Air Canada hold with no route constraints.
The famous “R code” is what you look for when you hope to get immediate confirmation in business class using eUpgrade credits. Business class can be empty, but you can be added to the upgrade waiting list due to a lack of availability for R seats.
So ExpertFlyer can help you determine the number of “low cost” tickets in economy. This way, those who want to travel as cheaply as possible can find out if they need to book now or if there are still many tickets available at this fare.
In general, we can assume that there are plenty of seats when there are at least 9 seats available; on this flight from Montreal to Vienna on Austrian Airlines, there are still plenty of seats. However, it should be remembered that not all available seats on partner airlines can be reserved. This can be seen in the following screenshot.
Finally, I had a situation where I found a reasonable rate by researching with one passenger. However, when I searched again for four passengers, the price per ticket was not equivalent to the first fare I found. This is due to the fare classes; only one low-fare ticket was left.
Finding availability in general
We just detailed the availability search function for award tickets. However, ExpertFlyer can help you find availability on all flights and routes between your departure and arrival points.
Therefore, if your flight is cancelled, you can find alternative flights yourself to make it easier. In fact, according to the APPR, the carrier must reassign you to another flight if a delay of more than 9 hours occurs; this other flight may also be on another airline.
For example, suppose your return flight from Italy was on Air Transat, and it is cancelled. In that case, Air Transat is obliged to put you on another flight (including a competitor) if the delay exceeds 9 hours, according to the APPR.
By searching on ExpertFlyeryou can see that there is space on the flight between Rome and Montreal on Air Canada in all fare classes. Thus, you will be able to reach your final destination, here Quebec, without being subject to a delay of more than 9 hours.
Missing the first flight segment would have caused a significant delay (only one flight between FCO and YUL per day, therefore + 24 hours) which entitles you to the protections of the APPR. Then, a delay that causes you to miss your connection and results in a delay of more than 9 hours is an eligible situation for the APPR.
Then, if you want to use the Air Canada Same Day Standby feature, ExpertFlyer can tell you whether or not flights leaving earlier have space. This way, you can know in advance instead of waiting for the check-in opening.
Finally, when we take a look at the availability of our flight, we can also have an idea on details like :
- The flight is empty: you may be able to lie down on several seats
- The flight is full: you may running out of space for carry-on luggage
For example, if the flight is full, applying for a credit card that gives you priority boarding may be wiser.
Indeed, a card like the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Credit Card or the American Express® Aeroplan®* Reserve Card offers Zone 2 boarding no matter where you are seated on the plane. In times of more than full flights, the baggage compartments fill up quickly, and you won’t always have room for your carry-on bag.
These cards are premium cards, so they offer generous welcome bonuses and many benefits to justify the annual fee. In addition, they are often sent by courier, so you can receive them quickly to take advantage if you have seen that your flight is full on ExpertFlyer !
How to create alerts for specific seats with ExpertFlyer?
Another use ofExpertFlyer is to find availability on specific seats. This feature can be beneficial when travelling in a group, if you prefer a seat with a baby crib, if you want to be seated at the emergency exit, etc.
It is possible to access the seat maps:
- from the main menu
- on the search results page
Just like the availability alerts, ExpertFlyer will send you an email as soon as it becomes available. So you can quickly get your hands on it. Don’t forget to use your travel credits from the National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® and the annual credit from the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® to get a refund on your seat selection fee!
You can select the coveted seats one by one and do it with all the seats that can be accepted with the seat alerts with ExpertFlyer. Qatar Airways may unblock these seats or some passengers may change their flight, so you want to be notified as soon as possible.
How do you stay on top of equipment changes?
For several reasons, the aircraft you fly can be essential, and you take care to choose your plane. So it cannot be enjoyable if the aircraft is replaced without being notified! With the information, one can decide to adjust (or not) with a separate itinerary or another date.
Indeed, one example where a change of equipment can be very frustrating is with the Qsuite and Qatar Airways’ outdated business class. Same class of service, but a totally different experience.
It is possible to create the device change alert from the seat alert page or from the home page ofExpertFlyer.
The secondary functions of ExpertFlyer
The primary use of ExpertFlyer is to search for flight availability and book tickets with points. On the other hand, ExpertFlyer is full of additional information; these are more technical and advanced, but it is worth knowing whether it is for your curiosity, planning your visits to shows or helping you present a claim for compensation to the APPR.
Flight status search
With this function, you can consult a tide of information about your flight before and after your departure; you can use your flight number or you can manually enter your route.
Before departure, you can use this feature for logistical planning such as lounge access, terminal changes or your arrival terminal for your family to pick you up at the airport, for example.
It is the information after departure that can be very useful in the event of a claim to the APPR or EU261. Indeed, airlines must record all flight details from departure/arrival times to the cause of a delay or cancellation. The information given to passengers can sometimes differ from reality; ExpertFlyer allows us to check if everything matches.
This data is also helpful for flight delay insurance claims since most coverage is triggered only after 4 hours of delay. With ExpertFlyeryou have the numbers to the minute.
Notice of a change in flight schedule
Flight schedule changes have become normal these days. It is almost certain that your flight schedule will be adjusted, especially if you have booked your ticket months and months in advance.
Usually the airline notifies us of these changes… sometimes we only find out when we log into our account. So to make sure you get the information as soon as possible, ExpertFlyer can send you an alert about it.
This allows you to make decisions, if any, about the change. ExpertFlyer can choose between “any change” or your preference.
This section ofExpertFlyer section contains general travel information such as minimum connection times from airports to details about entry and exit requirements.
Since this information can easily be found elsewhere than on ExpertFlyer we won’t dwell on it too much.
The information categories are:
- Ratings & Delays: the percentage of delays or reliability of this flight
- Minimum Connection Times: the minimum legal time for a connection
- Maximum Permitted Mileage: the maximum distance travelled to get from one place to another on a ticket (very useful for Mini Round-The-World or for sweetspots)
- Connecting Cities: all possible stopovers (1 or 2) between two airports
- Interline Agreements: the list of partners of an airline including those who are not part of the same alliance (e.g. Air Canada and Emirates)
- Visa, Health & Passport: information on entry requirements, vaccination, etc.
I like to use the “Connecting Cities” tool from ExpertFlyer to view my options when planning an Aeroplan stopover quickly.
ExpertFlyer is extremely relevant for any traveller wishing to optimize their points. Indeed, it is sometimes impossible to find award availability without ExpertFlyer in your arsenal.
If you don’t have this tool, you’ll have to search for your award flight availability manually; I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you want to value your time, but at the price of $9.99 US per month, I’d much instead let the machine do the work while I idle away at my hobbies.
Plus, I can even earn points with this subscription by paying with my HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® and save on the conversion fee!
What is the ExpertFlyer tool?
ExpertFlyer is a website that lists a lot of information about flights. Its tool primarily determines the upgradeability and number of seats available with reward points.
How much does the ExpertFlyer tool cost?
ExpertFlyer works with a subscription. For the basic package, the rate is US$4.99 per month; for the premium package, the cost is US$9.99 per month or US$99.99 annually.
Are there any differences between the ExpertFlyer packages?
The features are significantly different between the basic package and the premium package; you need the premium package to create availability alerts for seats that can be booked with reward points.
Is it worth paying for ExpertFlyer?
It depends on how you value your time. ExpertFlyer does the research for you and saves you from manually searching for results.
What can we do with ExpertFlyer?
There are a multitude of features on ExpertFlyer. These include:
- Look for flight award availability
- Create alerts to be notified when a seat or award flight becomes available
- Look at the cabin configuration, determine if it is the right type of aircraft and choose the optimal seat
- See what was recorded as the reason when a flight is cancelled or delayed
- Find information on entry requirements for various countries
- Perform advanced price searches