Dec 2, 08, 4:41 pm
Is there any set pattern as to when airlines make freq flier seats available? Certain day of week, time of day?
(This is probably a FAQ, but I'm a newbie....)
Dec 2, 08, 5:03 pm
No. Usually you'll find one or two available at the initial time (330>352 days in advance for most lines) and then they'll add more if they have a lot unsold during the next 9-10 months. No pattern that I can see.
Edited to add my welcome too. :)
Dec 2, 08, 5:14 pm
Welcome to Flyer Talk bobhberg :)
There is no date or time common to all airlines.
There are generally 2 dates that are relevant.
(1) The date the airline operating or marketing the flight releases seats for the flight.
(2) The date the frequent flyer program can see those seats.
While date (2) is often the same as date (1), it is not always. For example Qantas makes their awards available at about 355 days before departure. However, AAdvantage (American Airlines frequent flyer program) can only look 330 days ahead. Naturally on the more popular routes this can lead to AAdvantage members missing out as awards may already be taken.
Airlines typically release some award seats when each flight is loaded into the system. This varies by airline but commonly is between 330 and 364 days ahead of departure. Awards may then be claimed, and from time to time returned to inventory (eg when a held booking lapses or someone changes their plans). Airlines periodically review how tickets are selling and may change the award inventory (release more or take some off the market) over time until departure.
Some of these dates may be predictable/anticipated. Eg if a major event is announced with less than a year's notice, an airline flying there may decide to take awards away as they can sell more high fare tickets. Conversely a cancellation of a major event may lead to extra award seats being released. Similarly when an airline makes major schedule changes some effects on award inventory may be anticipated.
However, most of the time it is less predictable. You can sometimes guess that more awards may be made available closer to departure based on previous patterns by the airline, and keeping an eye on availability of cheap paid fares (more cheap fares available close to departure means more likely extra award seats could be released).
There are a number of publicly available tools to monitor award and paid availability, each with pros and cons. There is no perfect tool. The UA and NW forum (or *A and ST) should be able to assist with specific tips for your programs.
I hope this helps.