The Free Flight Primer is a series of posts which will show, step by step, how to earn and then redeem frequent flyer miles. We’ll start at the very beginning of the process and work our way through every step, from picking a destination all the way up to booking the ticket. In between we’ll talk about tips for figuring out how many miles are needed for a certain flight, how to earn those miles, how to find seat availability, and much more. I’ll be providing links to tools and websites that are helpful, tons of screenshots of various steps that may prove confusing, and of course, my own thoughts and opinions on the process. It will be broken in to multiple sections and multiple posts, which will make it easier to read and easier to use as a reference at a later date. I’ll also be providing a real-life case study using an actual client to better illustrate the process.
Using Award Nexus to Find Award Availability
Award Nexus is one of a few paid subscriptions tools (KVS and Expert Flyer are the other two main ones) that many frequent flyers will use to search for award availability. For most people, using the tools I showed you in Parts 3 and 4 are enough (and they are free). However, if you plan on earning a good amount of miles and redeeming them fairly often, it might make sense to look in to paying the small fee for one of these sites. While it does the same thing as the airline’s websites, it allows you to search ALOT quicker and ALOT more efficiently, as you’ll be able to see both OneWorld and Star Alliance flights at the same time, and compare and contrast them on the same screen.
While I’ve dabbled a little bit with the other two, and found them useful, I use Award Nexus most often. Best of all, it is free for a certain amount of searches and your points can be replenished, so if you aren’t using it heavily, you’ll never have to pay.
The video below shows you exactly what you have to do to use Award Nexus. I’ve also provided some written instructions, and as always, if you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to comment below.
Step 1: Sign up for an Award Nexus Account
In order to sign up for an Award Nexus account you must be a member of Flyertalk. If you are not already a member of Flyertalk, you probably should be anyway, so go there first to sign up. You’ll then have to enter your exact Flyertalk handle (screename) in the box and your email. Your Award Nexus account may not be active right away (I can’t remember the steps that occur) but if it isn’t, it should be shortly.
Step 2: Find Awards Now
There are a lot of tools to dabble around with on Award Nexus, so when you get a chance, have a look around. For searching availability, click on “Find Awards Now”.
Step 3: Enter Your Information
Most of it is straightforward except for the boxes that you have to check. Whichever box you check determines which airline’s search function Award Nexus uses. To understand which ones you should choose, you can click on “Help & Info” and then the “tips” link. For Star Alliance, I have found that CO (which is Continental) and ANA work the best. However, don’t check both, as this will just give you duplicate results but cost you more points. For OneWorld, I only use QF (Qantas).
Step 4: Tailor the Results to Your Liking
Other than saving tons of time, Award Nexus is also great for allowing you to tailor the results exactly how you want. If you only want to see Star Alliance flights, then unclick QF box and it takes away all the Qantas (OneWorld) flights. If you want to sort the flights by departure time, click on the Depart heading and it resorts it. Want to see the results in a calendar view, then click on any of the numerous tabs at the top of the page. I usually like to use list or list (detailed) but anything is fine.
Step 5: Write Down All Your Details
If you find a flight you like, click on it and it will bring up a box with all the flight details, including total time, layover time, cities in and out of, etc. Remember, you can’t book on Award Nexus, it is only for searching, so write down all the details of the flight you like and call up the airline you have points with to book your ticket.