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Old Jul 10, 10, 12:25 pm   #1
 
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Lightbulb Star Alliance/Oneworld Award Planning with Award Nexus

I created a tool designed to speed up complex award planning. It's called Award Nexus and you can find it at awardnexus.com

Here are some highlights:

  • Supports all 27+ Star Alliance airlines and all 12+ Oneworld airlines, plus 11 major SkyTeam airlines
  • Additional support for non-alliance airlines, such as AS and FJ
  • Awards found by the site can generally be redeemed using any partner mileage program
  • The search engine performs week-long searches across multiple routes, airline sites, and cabins
  • Results found are displayed in an easy-to-use list or calendar listing
  • All searches are cached/saved for you to review later, saving you time from repeatedly calling airline phone agents / hitting airline sites

Also, additional tools for award searches are available, including:

Automated Search: Set up an automated search on your target routes, and receive an email alert when an award seat open up (premium only feature).

Distance Pricer: Compare the mileage prices of your trip in the 20+ combinations of distance-based award charts + AMEX/SPG transfers.

Route Explorer: Explore the hundreds of ways that you can travel on your trips, and get ideas on which route to focus your award searches on.

Search Builder: Build a powerful search that could include multi-origins, multi-destinations, or specific connections, with just one-click.

Trip Calculator: Easily calculate the distance of your trip, along with any fractional or bonus mileage.

Feature Examples (old, but should give you some ideas):
  1. Real-time award search (Star Alliance or Oneworld)
  2. Award Result Calendar (Star Alliance or Oneworld)
  3. Search Builder (setup and result)

Status: This service is currently in stable condition. The core search features are stable and there is a premium service level available.

Registered FTers are invited to sign up under the community membership program. This program is a mutual cooperation. Members get access to advanced tools that can significantly speed up award planning, and in return, help test out both the core engines and the new features.

How to sign up: Go to the sign up page and sign up using your FT username. You can receive 200 free points on sign up, which can be used to search for about 28 weeks of availability. Additional 100 free points can also be requested every 90 days.

Please use this thread to discuss feature improvements or share usage tips. For questions on membership accounts or payment, please email peter@awardnexus.com for direct assistance.

Last edited by ckpeter; Mar 8, 12 at 1:13 am.. Reason: Added SkyTeam support
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Old Jul 10, 10, 12:26 pm   #2
 
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Old Jul 10, 10, 5:33 pm   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckpeter View Post
(hint: I have seen extra CX awards not available to other Oneworld programs).
I suspect this is a problem with the data systems rather than actual availability being better for one point of sale over another. The Qantas site was showing quite of a bit of phantom CX availability that wasn't bookable for awhile (and that wasn't available to CX members). Meanwhile, I've found CX flights available that BA couldn't see, wait a few hours and their systems could book it.

FWIW.
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Old Jul 11, 10, 2:00 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by gleff View Post
I suspect this is a problem with the data systems rather than actual availability being better for one point of sale over another. The Qantas site was showing quite of a bit of phantom CX availability that wasn't bookable for awhile (and that wasn't available to CX members). Meanwhile, I've found CX flights available that BA couldn't see, wait a few hours and their systems could book it.

FWIW.
It's interesting. A few months ago I was looking at HKG-JFK Y, and there were many occasions where I see awards on CX, but neither BA.com, nor BA/AA phone agents could see it. The discrepancy sometimes lasted days before showing up in partner's system, but often never showed up at all before it is gone from CX.

It's possible that this is the data link issue you mentioned, but it may also be CX having expanded availability for its members. Hard to tell.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 2:32 pm   #5
 
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I've just started playing with this and it looks terrific. I don't think I will miss the experience of banging my head against the wall as I try to get the BA search engine to answer a simple query (dear BA: no, I do not wish to travel from SFO to HKG via London!)

Does anyone have any good ideas about how to check LX availability? EF shows some seats available that are not currently shown on ANA (and thus don't show up on Award Nexus). I understand that EF is showing availability to M&M members, but I sort of doubt that LX availability for partners is as minimal as ANA currently shows.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 3:20 pm   #6
 
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Originally Posted by Rom Sac View Post
I've just started playing with this and it looks terrific. I don't think I will miss the experience of banging my head against the wall as I try to get the BA search engine to answer a simple query (dear BA: no, I do not wish to travel from SFO to HKG via London!)

Does anyone have any good ideas about how to check LX availability? EF shows some seats available that are not currently shown on ANA (and thus don't show up on Award Nexus). I understand that EF is showing availability to M&M members, but I sort of doubt that LX availability for partners is as minimal as ANA currently shows.
LX should be covered by both ANA/NH and AC. Are you looking at connecting flights?

For non-stop flights, everything should be visible by ANA. For connecting flights, sometimes ANA or AC will miss some connection possibilities. Try doing a segment-by-segment search to see if you can see it.

I know that EF seems to have some different ways of constructing routes (perhaps someone from EF can chime in), so that may explain why EF shows route that is not shown by ANX.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 6:26 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by ckpeter View Post
LX should be covered by both ANA/NH and AC. Are you looking at connecting flights?

For non-stop flights, everything should be visible by ANA. For connecting flights, sometimes ANA or AC will miss some connection possibilities. Try doing a segment-by-segment search to see if you can see it.

I know that EF seems to have some different ways of constructing routes (perhaps someone from EF can chime in), so that may explain why EF shows route that is not shown by ANX.
Try looking BOS-ZRH on August 7. LX53 shows 2 seats in F according to EF. ANA doesn't see this.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 6:57 pm   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckpeter View Post
LX should be covered by both ANA/NH and AC. Are you looking at connecting flights?

For non-stop flights, everything should be visible by ANA. For connecting flights, sometimes ANA or AC will miss some connection possibilities. Try doing a segment-by-segment search to see if you can see it.

I know that EF seems to have some different ways of constructing routes (perhaps someone from EF can chime in), so that may explain why EF shows route that is not shown by ANX.
EF doesn't actually construct routes, we send the search criteria to the reservation system (sometimes a GDS, sometimes an airline directly) and show all the routings that are returned to us. In the case of LX, we talk directly to the LX host for the award results, which may be more inventory then what is offered to *A partner airlines. It should match M&M results vs ANA results.

One reason we don’t and won’t try to construct our own routes is because we’re finding more and more that married segment logic (also called Journey Control) is being applied by airlines for award and upgrade inventory in addition to regular fare inventory. So be careful when searching for award inventory on separate legs of an itinerary.

That aside, we’re glad to see a new free tool that allows easy access to these free data sources. Welcome to the club.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 7:08 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by ExpertFlyer Voice View Post
EF doesn't actually construct routes, we send the search criteria to the reservation system (sometimes a GDS, sometimes an airline directly) and show all the routings that are returned to us. In the case of LX, we talk directly to the LX host for the award results, which may be more inventory then what is offered to *A partner airlines. It should match M&M results vs ANA results.

One reason we don’t and won’t try to construct our own routes is because we’re finding more and more that married segment logic (also called Journey Control) is being applied by airlines for award and upgrade inventory in addition to regular fare inventory. So be careful when searching for award inventory on separate legs of an itinerary.

That aside, we’re glad to see a new free tool that allows easy access to these free data sources. Welcome to the club.
Thanks for the clarification, EFV. I also did searches on AC, NH, and called Continential phone agent, and none of them have access to the LX 53 flight that Rom Sac saw on EF, so it looks like EF has access to LX's expanded availability for its own members.

Thanks for the welcome. I have been a user of EF for a while and find the deep access that it has unparalleled.
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Old Jul 12, 10, 7:33 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by ckpeter View Post
Thanks for the clarification, EFV. I also did searches on AC, NH, and called Continental phone agent, and none of them have access to the LX 53 flight that Rom Sac saw on EF, so it looks like EF has access to LX's expanded availability for its own members.
This leads to an obvious EF question. Since so many of us book with miles from a different airline, is there a reasonable way to figure out the availability for alliance members?
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Old Jul 12, 10, 8:39 pm   #11
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Originally Posted by Rom Sac View Post
This leads to an obvious EF question. Since so many of us book with miles from a different airline, is there a reasonable way to figure out the availability for alliance members?
If an airline returns partner airlines when we query them for awards then maybe, other then that no. That's why you need to confirm with your airlines website or a phone call to them. If there was a reasonable way to do it, we would have done it a long time ago. The problem is that StarNet (and the equivalent for other alliances) are basically seperate and private from the airlines award/upgrade/fare class inventory that is available via or thru a GDS.
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Last edited by ExpertFlyer Voice; Jul 12, 10 at 8:47 pm..
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Old Jul 12, 10, 8:58 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by Rom Sac View Post
This leads to an obvious EF question. Since so many of us book with miles from a different airline, is there a reasonable way to figure out the availability for alliance members?
As EFV pointed out, there is no reasonable way to show, definitively, what other partners can access. However, in general, it is reasonable to assume that awards for one airlines would be mostly available to all its partners (including non-alliance partners). There are, of course, lots of exceptions, but it is practical to plan awards with the assumption that all partners have the same availability.

For those edge cases, you will have to read through the trove of information on FT. Airlines are not going to publicize availability differentials, so mostly we will have to rely on user reports.

To help, I do have a tips page in ANX that tries to summarize some of my own observations about the quirks of each mileage programs.
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Old Jul 13, 10, 5:11 am   #13
 
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Have signed to to take a look at it tonight, and it does look very promising.

Plain jane look aside (and looks don't matter too much anyway), it's very functional, simple and easy to understand control interfaces, and clean results screen. Also, huge props for clean, semantic and accessible coding techniques - I know the odd blind flyer who is seeking out awards would love you for this.

I also like how previous searches can be easily retrieved, and the table layout is quite reasonable. I would suggest you look at changing the style for your A tags in the table heading on the list page so you don't have blue links atop gray text. THEAD & TBODY tags here for accessibility would also be a plus.

Some initial suggestions for your consideration:
  • Switch the Javascript alert dialogue used for bringing up the routing/timing information for something a little less abrupt: Suggest using a lightbox or similar, as users would be more likely to understand they can copy/paste text from there and can degrade gracefully. The lightbox could also be designed to go back and forward to details on the next possible
    option for that day.
  • Split feedback/help, move tips into the help page: This explains itself, your tips page is essentially help for using the service - yet when people access the help page, this information isn't there.

I've left this next one out of my main list, as it might be a bridge too far - but is it possible or already part of your development plan to be able to see how many points each possible routing would cost with the respective program?

This would require some additional knowledge, such as what programs the person is a member of or which one they intend to use. Doing so if anything would remove one additional user step, by allowing them to define in a profile preferred alliances/carriers on the search/build screen for them without having to select these each time.

Other than that, a brilliant effort - well done. Look forward to seeing how this evolves in the future.
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Old Jul 13, 10, 10:25 am   #14
 
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great first effort, just running some cursory searches (simple ones) and i'm liking it already. I like how you've incorporated more complex routing mechanisms as well.
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Old Jul 13, 10, 2:45 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by thewinchester View Post
Have signed to to take a look at it tonight, and it does look very promising.

Plain jane look aside (and looks don't matter too much anyway), it's very functional, simple and easy to understand control interfaces, and clean results screen. Also, huge props for clean, semantic and accessible coding techniques - I know the odd blind flyer who is seeking out awards would love you for this.

I also like how previous searches can be easily retrieved, and the table layout is quite reasonable. I would suggest you look at changing the style for your A tags in the table heading on the list page so you don't have blue links atop gray text. THEAD & TBODY tags here for accessibility would also be a plus.

Some initial suggestions for your consideration:
  • Switch the Javascript alert dialogue used for bringing up the routing/timing information for something a little less abrupt: Suggest using a lightbox or similar, as users would be more likely to understand they can copy/paste text from there and can degrade gracefully. The lightbox could also be designed to go back and forward to details on the next possible
    option for that day.
  • Split feedback/help, move tips into the help page: This explains itself, your tips page is essentially help for using the service - yet when people access the help page, this information isn't there.

I've left this next one out of my main list, as it might be a bridge too far - but is it possible or already part of your development plan to be able to see how many points each possible routing would cost with the respective program?

This would require some additional knowledge, such as what programs the person is a member of or which one they intend to use. Doing so if anything would remove one additional user step, by allowing them to define in a profile preferred alliances/carriers on the search/build screen for them without having to select these each time.

Other than that, a brilliant effort - well done. Look forward to seeing how this evolves in the future.
thewinchester, thanks for the notes on sign up - it is an honor to have you stop by.

Your observations are right to the point and ANX has been updated to address many of them. Some of them are just vestiges from a previous version, such as the inelegant flight info alert box, strange absence of tips on the help page, or the poor table header background color.

There are some major enhancements to the viewer coming up, so I am holding on the rest of your suggestions, but the eventual changes should address them.

There are too many components involved to make programming a pricing engine feasible. However, part of the future plans is to have more interactive reference, so perhaps I could include links to award charts that can be consulted quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btravel112 View Post
great first effort, just running some cursory searches (simple ones) and i'm liking it already. I like how you've incorporated more complex routing mechanisms as well.
Thanks for trying it out, btravel112. I hope you find it useful.
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