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.
Finding OneWorld Award Availability
Today, I’ll be trying out a new format and I’d love reader feedback. Instead of simply including screenshots of the entire process, I’ve decided to make a short 5 minute video that will show my computer screen as I walk you through the entire process of searching for OneWorld award availability. I’ll also provide a write up as a supplement to the video, emphasizing important points I may have glossed over during the video. I’m assuming that this video format is much more beneficial for readers, and that is why I’ve decided to give it a whirl. But hey, I could be totally wrong (I was certainly wrong in assuming that making a video would take less time than a posting screenshots)! Watch the video below and let me know what you prefer for future installations of The Free Flight Primer.
Step 1: Go to Qantas.com
Important point: You need to be a member of Qantas’s frequent flyer program in order to search for award availability. If you are not already a member, sign up. It is free and takes less than 5 minutes, a small price to pay to search all OneWorld partners. Also, you DO NOT need to have Qantas frequent flyer miles in your account to search for availability (hooray!).
Step 2: Enter Your Preferred Itinerary
Make sure to have the tab titled “Award Bookings” highlighted and also to have selected “Qantas and Partner Classic Awards”. This will search all OneWorld alliance members.
Insiders’ Tip: I’ve found it easier not to select “flexible dates” even if mine are. If you choose flexible dates it bounces you back out to the calendar screen to change the date each time you want to search another date. If you don’t choose flexible dates, you can change dates after you have a flight list up and not bounce all the way back to the calendar screen.
Case Study: Looking for flights from Philadelphia to Rome on September 28th and from Rome to Philadelphia on October 13th gives us all British Airways tickets, not what we want at all (remember, high fuel surcharges). Ick!
Step 3: Enter Other Possible Itineraries
In Part Two, we already looked at possible routings for both our flight origin and destination. Hit “start again” on the left side column and enter the other itineraries you’ve felt could work for your trip.
Case Study: Rome is the only airport we can feasibly fly in to but instead of flying out of Philadelphia, we can fly out of New York. There is the Iberia flight we found in Part 2 that flies from JFK to Rome via Madrid, but it has not economy availability on the 28th. However, when I change the date to the 29th, we find an economy ticket on Iberia leaving at 6 p.m. This is a possibility, and the only real option we’ve found so far for OneWorld.
Coming home, there are no economy flights available on Iberia on either Sat Oct. 13th or Sun Oct 14th but there is some availability on Friday Oct 12th. Not the best option, but it is an option.
Step 4 (if necessary): Call and Book Your Ticket
If you find the flights that you want, awesome! Call and book your ticket. REMEMBER, WE ARE USING QANTAS AS A SEARCH ENGINE, NOT TO ACTUALLY BOOK OUR TICKET. Unless you are actually planning on using Qantas miles, you can not book this ticket online. You will have to call up the airline whose miles you are planning to use and book it through them. For our case study, it is American Airlines. Make sure to write down all the information about the flights you want, such as all the flight numbers, the times, and the cities you’ll be flying to and from. Then, you’ll call the airline you want to book with, tell them the information, and they should be able to pull it up and book for you.
Case study: We did not find tickets that worked perfect for us, so for now, I’ll write down the options I’ve decided are decent (the Iberia flights) and next try searching for Star Alliance availability.