Getting Help Booking Mileage Awards

In the current month’s Wise Flyer, a regular feature in Inside Flyer (subscription required.), Randy Petersen answers a reader question about services that help you search for frequent flyer award tickets.

AwardPlanner by MileageManager .. is part of a paid mileage manager service so you actually get far more for your investment since MileageManager manages your frequent flyer accounts–including help with expiring miles. AwardPlanner, a dedicated award tool, allows you to search for award seats from all the programs in which you have miles–making it a one-stop shop for watching for award seats. If the tool is unable to find your award seats at the time of your request, it will put your request into a queue and re-check daily for you until it finds an award seat and will then notify you via email. If planning in advance, you can let this tool run daily for you for several months. It has a really good track record of actually finding award seats (for when airlines change award inventory or other members change their plans). It is often preferred over the solution because it is looking at the actual awards you may be eligible for. For example, most programs set aside a differing and more generous selection of awards based upon your status with the airline. The cost is $14.95 annually and the list of programs includes most if not all major U.S. programs and several European and Asian programs.

So, these services can greatly assist you with watching for award seats, particularly at the lowest levels as they search daily for award inventory.

And the final part of your question I think refers to other types of services. Yes, I did at one time offer a service for a fee to assist members with award redemption. It was popular and operated for many years with great results. But I discontinued it about two years ago to concentrate on technology solutions.

The good news is that at least two enterprising groups now offer similar services. Both are run by knowledgeable individuals who are up to the task of securing the award seats you want. Typically these services are best used when searching for multiple business and first class seats internationally. Not inexpensive, but neither is having to purchase a ticket to wherever you may be going.

The first is and the second is available as part of the service as one of two options of the AwardPlanner service. The good thing about this is that with the tool included in your AwardPlanner membership, you can use the AwardPlanner tool first to find and waitlist your award searches and if that doesn’t work, you can choose to use the paid service. If I were not able to find my own awards, I would not hesitate to use either service.

Randy’s MileageManager service is pretty neat in that you can set it to search for award seats on the websites of major North American programs, and it will keep on checking. It’ll only find those seats that are discoverable online, but that’s still huge in that it’ll e-mail you when seats become available.

And for paid, live help the MileageManager premium service is offered in conjunction with One Mile at a Time blogger Lucky. And is of course my offering.

I do book international first class awards, such as on Cathay Pacific and All Nippon, Lufthansa and Asiana, most every day!

For the “I would not hesitate to use either service” endorsement, Randy, of my service right alongside yours.. I do much appreciate!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I know it’s something that isnt a chore for you, but stil, how do you have time to book awards almost every day? 😉

  2. What about ExpertFlyer? They have data about awards/upgrades that the airline websites (where the above mentioned services get their data) don’t have (AA/DL upgrades).

  3. Noble post about a “competitor” service. Clever that you never actually link to the mileage manager site in the post…

  4. @Funny, strange .. I linked to the person doing the bookings and anyone who reads this blog knows that I frequently offer tip of the hats to him. (And I don’t think it’s hard to either Google mileage manager or type, and besides I’ve written about this service as a standalone post in the past.) I’m confident that Randy and Lucky will not feel I’ve given him short shrift here!

    @Mark I find KVS much more useful than Expertflyer, it certainly has much more coverage.

  5. @Mark. I have both Expertflyer & KVS and would agree with Gary that KVS does seem to be able to search award availabilty for many more airlines (ex. Cathay Pacific, Continental, US Airways, British Airways, etc.). You can also search an alliance such as OneWorld, Star Alliance, Sky Team all at once – although I would caution that this is not fully conclusive. For instance it does not include JAL (neither does EF to my knowledge) so I just use their website directly.

    I will say ExpertFlyer is much more polished though and let’s you do things such as search a date range (+/- 3 days) rather than one day at a time. You can also create an alert if availability opens up. When I’m searching for an award on a specific airline supported by ExpertFlyer that is generally my first choice but overall I still find myself using KVS 80% of the time for the reasons mentioned above. If someone knows how to search these other airlines or alliances for award availability on ExpertFlyer please post here.

  6. The only reason KVS has that availability is because it screen scrapes publicly available, and free, websites. There is nothing on KVS that you can’t for free on the airlines own website.

Leave a Reply

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