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Airlines seem to be constantly updating their websites and dumbing down their search engines. Supposedly this is done to be more mobile friendly but there’s no reason to reduce functionality to accomplish that.
Luckily, there are still workarounds to bring back old functionality, though it can be buggy at times. You may have to clear your cache/cookies, browse incognito, or change your IP address if the system locks you out from using workarounds.
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United’s new award calendar is a hot mess that can’t be easily toggled between classes of service or nonstop flights and can’t easily be sorted.
Luckily you can still access the old far more functional calendar by starting your search via this link and clicking yes next to “Do you want to book a MileagePlus® award ticket?”
You can easily toggle between nonstop or connecting flights, between class of service, and sort flights by price, though the sorting can be buggy.
This is getting beyond the scope of this post, but if you’re an advanced Chrome desktop user, you can also bookmark the following as a URL to add excellent filter options to United’s old award calendar. Just search for an award and then click on the bookmarklet to apply it to the search. You can read more about bookmarklets on DDF.
Clicking on the bookmarklet will enable these filters:
Virgin Atlantic miles can be incredibly valuable for use on partner airlines like Delta or ANA, though you still need to call them up to book ANA flights.
The website can be tough to navigate and that’s been made worse by the decision to remove the month-long award calendar, leaving just a week-long calendar.
It’s worth pointing out that Virgin’s website is often a buggy mess. If you try to search for a flight from JFK to Milan, it doesn’t even display the option under advanced search to check points availability:
The trick for this is to click on the destination, and then click on full airport list:
You can use your browser’s find in page function to search for the airport that you want, so I used the ctrl-f shortcut and then typed in MXP:
And then you can switch to points. You can search for upper class to find business class availability:
You’ll get a 1 week calendar, but take a look at the URL and locate where it says flexible-dates. Just change the word dates to calendar (without leaving any spaces) and press enter:
You’ll be treated to the full month-long calendar view that Virgin used to offer!
Just want to see nonstop flights? Click on the Filter drop-down menu:
And select direct flights:
You’ll now have the month-long calendar of nonstop flights only:
And you can book a nonstop Delta business class flight for just 50,000 miles+$5! Not a bad deal compared to the 215,000 Skypesos that Delta charges directly for the same flight…
Note that if you open a new account, you’ll have to wait a couple days before you can book, but you can call Virgin to hold award space so you don’t lose it.
Air France/Flying Blue:
Frequent devaluations have removed some of the luster of this program, but there are still bargains that can be found.
Login to AirFrance.us, click on Book with Miles, type in where you want to go, select your class of service, but don’t fill in your travel dates.
You’ll get the old flex calendar that used to show up when you searched for dates!
Best of all, Air France offers a 25% mileage discount for kids 2-11.
Turkish Airlines has truly incredible award rates on Star Alliance airlines, but people often can’t figure out how to search for Star Alliance awards. You first have to open a Turkish Airlines mileage account online (Hint: Your password must be exactly 6 numbers or else it will give an error).
Then you need to login to your account.
And then you can book Star Alliance awards with Turkish miles here. You can’t search for partner awards from their home page. Search for one-way at a time for best results.
You can search on AirCanada.com to see if they are showing partner award space on an airline like United, which should also be bookable by Turkish.
It’s worth noting that the Turkish website doesn’t show all Star Alliance availability, so if you see a partner Star Alliance flight showing as available on AirCanada.com, try calling Turkish and give them the exact date and flight number to book, rather than giving them a route to search for.
Don’t like the new buggy and more confusing JetBlue booking system?
Use this link to use the old booking system!
This is my favorite search engine for paid airfare, but the new format is an eyesore and is missing functionality. I wrote about the new format here along with links to what the engine can do.
The good news is that the old version can still be accessed here.
As with all of these workarounds, at least for now.
Which workarounds do you use?