I FLY FLAT - When should I start searching for points seats? (Business Class)
This is a short guide for using points to find available Business Class seat/s.
Finding Business Class award seats are often synonymous with:
Finding a needle in a haystack
Playing ‘Where’s Wally’
Or winning the lottery
Jokes aside, there is the hope of finding a seat if you plan ahead, know where to look and you’re willing to be patient.
Just for full disclosure: If you don’t have the time/expertise/patience and you just want the job done, and done properly: learn more our Flights Concierge.
The first thing to do before searching is to ensure you have enough points to fly. Explore the iFLYflat App to see how many points you’ll need to fly Business Class one-way to different destinations on different airlines. We designed this app purely to help you understand the best ways to fly.
Before we cover the basics of availability, it’s worth remembering that airline systems can often play tricks with you. While the airlines want you to fly, they are also fully aware that they don’t have enough seats for everyone. So expect some hurdles to hump, including:
False availability showing (the seats show online, but don’t actually exist due to an IT fault. You’ll need to call the airline to find out the truth)
Misleading multi-leg trips (where it is a combo of part-Business and part-Economy)
Points+Pay type seats (don’t fall for this trick and squander your points)
When can I start searching?
Each airline has their own rules around the release of points seats. Generally speaking, you can start searching for one year in advance, with minor exceptions on some airlines regarding loyalty tiers.
Qantas Frequent Flyer - 353 days ahead for Platinum & Gold QFF members, 297 days for Bronze & Silver.
Velocity Frequent Flyer - 330 days ahead
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles - 353 days ahead
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer - 355 days ahead
When does it become difficult to find seats?
The difficulty of finding a rewards seat depends on a number of factors, including:
The route popularity (peak season = lower chance)
The route frequency (how many flights are there per day)
The size of the travelling party (eg: 3 seats together is a lot harder than 3 x single seats)
The date in advance (closer to the date, generally seats are filled/sold)
Which airlines generally have the best availability?
This depends on the strength of the airlines' operations in each region of the world. For example Qantas has a stronger international network than Virgin Australia, however, more planes in the air does not necessarily mean more reward seats available.
Things change all the time, because the airline’s main business is to sell their seats for the best price - they will prioritise selling more seats for money than seats for points. Secondly, as they are constantly monitoring available seats - they will constantly re-align seats in different categories to get a full plane.
Qantas is notoriously difficult to find seats on popular routes to the US and Europe. i.e Sydney to Los Angeles, Sydney to London.
Tips to searching for reward seats (from Steve Hui)
Use the right points: Say you want to fly to London with Qantas points… Did you know there are 6+ other major airlines you could fly with? ‘Flexible point programs’ like American Express Membership reward points give you more options to choose from, so you have the freedom to choose which airline you want to transfer and book flights with.
Find the flights first - then transfer your points from your credit card: Don’t jump the gun and transfer your points too soon and get stuck with airline points that you might not be able to use. Beware of the attractive points bonus offers, as this could get your locked into this trap.
Know your airline: Play to your airlines' unique strengths. Some airlines use partners to fly to destinations which they don’t fly their own aircraft. This means the points required are typically higher, and there are fewer seats readily available. All airlines will look after their own members (ie: those who hold their own points) before giving seats to their alliance or bi-lateral partners.
Plan ahead and be patient: Don’t gamble at the last minute. Think about your travel plans in advance so you have time to search for seats. Like fishing, there are always seats out there, you just have to keep showing up and casting your net. If you don’t find a seat on the first go, try again the next day, or every few days time.
Forget about an upgrade: Unless you are a Platinum flyer, getting an upgrade is like winning the lottery. (read our upgrade guide here…). Using points to upgrade is no longer the bargain that it once was, If you take a look at our points app, you will also discover that the difference in the number of points to upgrade vs outright business class is only about 15% gap.
Remember, using points is the cheapest way to fly Business Class. When you get it right, you can fly for half the normal price - saving thousands $$$ each time (an average of $5,100 per ticket from iFLYflat clients).
Why should I engage someone to help book my reward flight?
Finding reward seats is complex, time-consuming and frustrating unless you score it lucky on just one or two searches. So how do you get ahead of the rest and get into your comfy seat smarter/easier/quicker? The key is to leverage expertise.
That’s why you need a team: to deliver the combined expertise and search-power to find the right seats, with the right points, at the right time. = more savings, less stress and time wasted.
iFLYflat the leading team in Australia at booking reward flights - but why? Here’s a few reasons why/how we get the best result for our clients:
Practical Experience: Our team have redeemed over 401 million points on over 4,500 points flight bookings. Experience matters.
Proven Process: Our team runs custom daily searches to find seats for you. Searching often multiple route/s and airlines. Often we guide the airline agent to get bookings across the line, even when they initially object. We know it can be done - because we’ve done it.
Powerful Teamwork: Our team collaborates so we are abreast of booking issues, seat availability, false seats etc. As a team we can stay in front, avoiding the pitfalls that waste time with unlikely outcomes.
Connections with the airline’s frequent flyer division: We are proactive in reporting problems and suggestions to the airlines so that they can fix it before it impacts on everyone else since we are often the first to find it and the team who are using their system every-day.
The difference of having an expert team on your side is the same reason we’re overflowing with 5-star reviews. iFLYflat truly cares about helping our clients travel well with their points, we are on a mission to help people travel more, and travel further - smarter.
Your next flight is waiting...in Business class.