ExpertFlyer review – why you need it!

expert flyer British Airways tier point run quickest cheapest

The slogan is “Empowering the Frequent Flyer”, but how?  ExpertFlyer is a great website for finding out details about not just flights and seats but travel information too.

Let’s have a look in some more detail.

ExpertFlyer (EF) features

So what do you get for your money?  There are two levels of subscription, but for this article we will look at the premium one.  The cost is $9.99USD/month or $99.99USD a year.

For that, you will have access to the following –

Airline Awards & Upgrades
• Shows the Award & Upgrade availability for flights for different airlines between a pair of cities on a specific day
• An optional return date may also be specified for flights back to the departing airport
• Ability to search only for non-stop or direct flights and not connecting flights

Flight Availability
• Shows flights, times, reliability ratings, fare buckets and available connections for different airlines between a pair of cities on a specific day
• An optional return date may also be specified for flights back to the departing airport
• Up to three specific airlines may be specified, or none
• Ability to search only for non-stop or direct flights and not connecting flights
• Advanced filtering options by availability and fare class

Flight Timetables
• Shows flights timetable information, both for direct flights and connections, for different airlines between a pair of cities on a specific day or range of days
• Can also search for all flights to or from a specific airport on a given day
• Ability to search only for non-stop/direct flights or include connecting flights
• Advanced filtering options by airports, airlines, and type of flight

Flight Status
• Shows the departure and arrival times as well as reliability ratings for a particular flight on a particular day
• Shows terminal, gate and baggage claim information when available
• Shows detailed flight comment information from the airline

Flight Details
• Shows details about a flight such as scheduled departure time, total elapsed time and meal service

Airline Seat Maps
• Shows available and occupied seat locations for a particular flight on a particular day for 120+ airlines
• Shows detailed seat information about Premium, Blocked and Paid seats
• Includes SeatGuru seat reviews and ratings

Travel Information and Reference Data
• Shows in-depth on-time and reliability information for most flights worldwide as well as US domestic airport delay information and TSA Security Line Historical Wait Times
• Additional Reference Tools – Minimum Connect Times (MCT), Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM), Connecting Cities, Interline Agreements and Visa, Health & Passport information

Fare Information
• Shows all published fare pricing between a city pair for one-way, round-trip and Around The World (RTW) fares
• Shows both fare class and booking class
• Specify up to three particular airlines or see all airline fares
• Specify a particular booking code fare or see all fares
• Shows detailed Fare Rules and Routing Rules for a particular fare
• Specify a particular currency to display the fare
• Option to search for fares based on seasonality and advance purchase requirements

Seat Alerts
• Specify which seats you would like to search for
• Can search by type of seat (Window, Aisle, etc) or any specific seat
• ExpertFlyer will periodically check for availability and notify you by email when availability is found
• Up to three email addresses may be specified
• Supports email to cell phones, PDAs and other portable devices
• Basic accounts include 4 Seat Alerts at a time, Premium accounts include 30 combined Flight & Seat Alerts at a time

Flight Availability Alerts
• Monitor for Award, Upgrade, or even regular fare inventory for changes and new availability for up to 30 flight segments
• No more missed upgrades or award tickets, ExpertFlyer will periodically check for availability and notify you by email when availability is found
• Up to three email addresses may be specified
• Supports email to cell phones, PDAs and other portable devices

Flight Schedule Alerts
• Monitor for changes in the published city pair or time of departure/arrival of a flight
• No more unexpected schedule changes or missed connections, ExpertFlyer will periodically check for any schedule change and notify you if a change is made
• Up to three email addresses may be specified
• Supports email to cell phones and smartphones

Aircraft Change Alerts
• Monitor for changes to the aircraft equipment code for up to 30 flight segments
• No more unexpected seat reassignments, ExpertFlyer will periodically check for an equipment change and notify you if a change is made
• Up to three email addresses may be specified
• Supports email to cell phones and smartphones

 

Wow – a lot of information at your fingertips!  So let’s break down the important one’s and how they can be invaluable….

Awards and Upgrades

I have to confess to not using this much.  As a near always OneWorld flyer I prefer to simply trawl through the BA/AA or Qantas websites.  However, it is there none the less and a useful feature to automate searches and alerts.

If searching as an example for BA rewards, I would be able to select from the following –

Like I said – this can be useful when you want a specific award and don’t want to keep searching for it.

This is an example output from a quick first class reward search –

I’ll come onto award alerts later when we discuss flight alerts.

Flight Availability

This is probably my most used part of Expert Flyer.  It’s very useful especially when planning upgrades and even trying to proactively find busy services where chances of an operational upgrade might be higher.

So this is the screen you will be presented with –

The top three are self-explanatory.  As are the dates and airlines…it’s all usual stuff!  The class option refers to the actual booking fare bucket.  So if you just wanted to see discount business on BA you would use “I” as an example.  If left blank, you would be able to see them all.

For reference here is the full list of classes used by BA –

Economy lowest (Q, O, G)

Economy low (K, L, M, N, S, V)

Economy flexible (Y, B, H)

Premium economy lowest (E, T)

Premium economy flexible (W)

Business lowest (R, I)

Business flexible (J, C, D)

First lowest (A)

First flexible (F)

Lets take a look at Malaysia Airlines this Sunday to Kuala Lumpur from Heathrow (I’m on MH3!)

So what does this tell me?

It’s “sold out” in First, they are willing to sell two more business class seats, and over 9 in economy.  I can also see they have it scheduled on an Airbus A350-900.

Next to the available classes we have buttons for creating alerts, more details – and handily – the seat map for that flight.

The details will show meal options on the flight, time and mileage for the sector.  Useful when planning redemptions!

The Seat Maps

The seat map can be very useful – especially after you have checked in and can’t change seats, for example on BA.

I won’t go to much into detail about BA theoretical seating, needless to say at around T-72 BA will block any free seats next to Gold/Silver status passengers to allow better seating selection in general.

Let’s have a look.  This is the seat map for a flight in a few hours time from London – Madrid.

From this I can take an educated guess that 1F is a Gold/OWE and the other taken seats next to the blocks will be status passengers.  Golds/Silvers will still be able to sit in a blocked seat generally but lower status/no status passengers will only be able to sit in open (white) seats until the cabin is full.

Now we saw earlier that MH3 on Sunday is sold out in first, but –

I’m in 1A and there are two blocked seats in the middle – stay tuned to see why, because I’m confused!

Alerts

This is probably the best part of Expert Flyer in my opinion. Let’s have a look at the flight alerts first –

Why would I want an alert on a specific booking class for a flight?  Well, put simply – revenue management!

Just because BA stop selling discounted business tickets on a flight doesn’t mean more seats in that class won’t be released later.

Want to use a GUF (Gold Upgrade Voucher) via a Travel Agent to upgrade from Business to First?  You will need A class seats, and again just because they don’t exist one day doesn’t mean they won’t the next.

This is the email EF will send you when it finds seats –



From:           PRG to LHR
Date:           01/02/18 11:10 AM
——————————————————————————-
Please log in (https://www.expertflyer.com) to view further information regarding this flight.Thank you,
The ExpertFlyer.com Team
Simple but effective!  EF told me there was a Business Class seat available for points, without me constantly having to check on BA.com
Note – it doesn’t check constantly so when you get there, the seat may be gone.

Now to seat alerts –

If I click the “create seat alert” button, I am presented with –

Fairly self-explanatory – this will quickly tell me if those two middle seats become unblocked!

The last alert is probably the most useful with the demise of MyFlights!  MyFlights was great for notifying you of aircraft changes amongst other things.  Thankfully EF can help with some of it.  If you use a seat alert with an aircraft change alert you will quickly know if you’re 747 becomes a 777 for example.

Fare Information

Combined with the information from ITA Matrix this can also be very helpful and powerful.  Lets have a look at the well-known Amsterdam to Bangkok fare on BA.  Now the rules can be viewed on ITA, but what EF gives you is also possible routings without you working it out manually!

Using this search allows me to quickly find all the published business class fares from Amsterdam to Bangkok filed by BA.

I can quickly see booking classes, fare price (excluding tax), minimum stay requirements if there are any, and how long in advance the fare needs to be purchased to be valid.  Clicking the “View Rules” button will give me the information from ITA, but the view routing button is the interesting one.

Bingo!  I can quickly see my options are clearly shown.  Direct via London, or via Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.  And also the allowed airlines between each point.

EF is an amazingly powerful tool and one every frequent flyer should at least have a look over.  I can’t possible cover it all here, but hopefully the above gave you a good example of how and why I use it daily!

Note – ExpertFlyer has now been purchased by Red Ventures.  Now whilst this doesn’t mean anything right now, it should be noted that one of the biggest brands under RV is none other than ThePointsGuy…… interesting times?!

You can find more information about Expert Flyer and sign up here.

 

3 Comments on "ExpertFlyer review – why you need it!"

  1. Good article. Small correction is that since the recent acquisition by RV, Premium subscribers now get 200 active alerts instead of 30. Handy for someone who flies as often as you!

  2. Looks like a powerful site for someone travelling frequently to numerous locations. My needs are more modest and I subscribe to BARedemption.com for hourly alerts on BA reward seat availability. Just waiting for Sin-Lon to come up for early Nov 2019.

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