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[SHUT DOWN] Unofficial Advanced AC Reward Search Tool (cowtool)

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Old Jul 19, 2021, 9:34 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: Adam Smith
SADLY, AS OF OCTOBER 5, THIS TOOL HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN INDEFINITELY AND LIKELY PERMANENTLY, AS DESCRIBED IN THIS POST.

Other cowtools remain available at cowtool.com

ACCESS RULES ARE CLEARLY DESCRIBED BELOW. READ THEM. DO NOT POST OR PM ADAM SMITH ABOUT ACCESS, OR YOU WILL BE BANNED FROM EVER GETTING ACCESS TO THE TOOL.


[PSA from forum moderator Adam Smith: since it doesn't seem obvious to everyone, please note that the cowtool was created by cowtool. He has invested hundreds of hours in creating this very useful tool and making it available to the FT community. I, Adam Smith, have had nothing to do with creation of the cowtool. I can do nothing to get you access to the cowtool. Please do not ask me to give you access - I can't and won't, and will suggest that you be blocked from the tool for this waste of time, and lack of appreciation for cowtool's efforts, as described in more detail in this post. Also note that, other than this section and a clearly indicated moderator note below, the author of this wiki, writing in first person, is canadiancow, on behalf of [cowtool].


Please do not PM other Flyertalk users to try and gain access to cowtool, for the same reasons Adam's laid out above. - YOWgary

https://acrewardsearcher.cowtool.com/

Due to abuse, you must now first register (see https://www.cowtool.com, and read the rest of this wiki) and sign in to use it. All access is logged (not what you're searching, but the complexity of the searches, and the number of searches). Abusers will be throttled or terminated. Continued abuse will lead to a more involved registration process, up to and including personal vetting by cowtool.

Access to this cowtool for new users is temporarily disabled due to anticipated ("I'm going to make a big blog post") publicity and actual increases in usage. This is not free for me, and I am concerned what will happen if all the US major blogs pick it up.

If anyone "new" needs an account here, as long as you have 25 posts and your account is at least 3 months old, please register for a cowtool account, and then PM me (please include your email address) and I'll set you up with reward search access.

YOU DO NOT NEED TO INCLUDE ANYTHING IN THE PM OTHER THAN YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. The PM interface shows me your posts and join date. A lot of people have explicitly included that information. It's unnecessary. I also don't need a paragraph of text, whether it's a please to bend the rules, or immense thanks. My life is immensely easier if the subject is "cowtool access" and the message is "[email protected]". I don't read the messages anyway.

However, I will read your posts, so don't spam FT with crap please. If you have a genuine interest in travel, points, and so on, it really isn't hard to make 25 contributive posts to FlyerTalk and be eligible for access. If you do not meet this threshold, I am not making an exception for you. Not because you live in SFO like me, not because you're really excited, and not because of any personal issues. In fact, if you PM me without meeting the requirements, you will be blocked from ever getting access. Moderator note: the rules for access are very clear. Please don't post in this thread, or anywhere else, asking how you can get access, offering to pay for access, or asking for the access rules to be changed. Those posts will be deleted.

I do not process PMs instantly. My goal is at least once per week, so it may take a few days.

Additionally, any Prince of Travel Platinum members may contact canadiancow over POT Discord for access.

Alerts
Basic price alerts were currently in available to all registered users. They have been turned off due to high load, until the system can be re-written to accommodate them.
Full search/availability alerts are in early alpha.
Each account is limited to 4 alerts* for now.

A price alert is set on a specific itinerary that includes AC metal (this may be expanded as we begin to see EK dynamic pricing). The general idea is that you making a booking at price X, set an alert, and then if the price drops, you'll get an email, and can rebook the itinerary at a lower price and cancel the old, more expensive, booking. This really only works well if you're SE or booked a fare with no cancellation fee. All results with AC flights will show a "Price alert" link on the right. Clicking this will add one. You can view all your alerts in the alerts section, where you can delete them, or select two one-way alerts to merge into a round-trip alert, which will determine the current round-trip price and reset the alert level (since round-trip pricing is not the sum of the two one-ways).

If you have at least 2500 FT posts and would like access to the price alert beta, send me a PM including the email you used to sign up for cowtool. There are currently no exceptions on the post count restriction. I am trying to slowly roll this out, and need an easy way to expand access, ideally to people who have contributed to FT a lot.

* Due to the fact that a round-trip alert requires making and then merging two alerts, the technical limit is 5, but I'm advertising it as 4.

Having Trouble? Hold "shift" and click the refresh button.

Feature Requests:
  • Allowing alerting by brand
  • Finish and release alerts
  • "Copy into round-trip alert" instead of "merge into" in case you want both
  • Option to launch AC.com in new tab should be saved to your account
  • Show more information about stops, such as the time
  • Save filters to profile
  • Historical prices
  • Colored background gradiated by %age of mixed cabin. Solid green if 100%, fading to white as percentage drops...
  • Option to enable a priority reward discount
  • Lie-flat filter (maybe with lie-flat % filter as well?) - Unsure if this data is easily accessible
  • +/- 1 or 2 days dropdown if entering a single value for date at top, grayed out if entering more than one date or range
  • Cities/Aircraft/Airlines should allow an OR condition in addition to the default/current AND


Bugs:
  • Annoying error dialog pops up far too regularly related to JS/Cognito crap
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[SHUT DOWN] Unofficial Advanced AC Reward Search Tool (cowtool)

Old Oct 8, 2023, 2:57 pm
  #1771  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,614
Originally Posted by billdokes
Web scraping is an extremely common and fully legal practice, especially where companies publish public facing pricing information. For example, Amazon's systems are constantly polling every Retailer's website on every common sku that they list to ensure they are prices 'market right' at all times. Other Retailers who have price match guarantees do the same. Do the Retailers like it? No, but there's nothing they can do about it and it's a commonly accepted business practice.
Amazon scrapes retailer prices and turns off the buy button on marketplace sellers that are above other retailers. I'm not sure why those other retailers wouldn't like this but if they didn't they could presumably block Amazon with a robots.txt file.

Like I said in the previous post, I would like nothing better than to see this tested in court.
Well you're in luck. There are several cases working their way through courts in the US and Europe.

e.g.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/business...m-1405831.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/alltech...up-to-facebook
zkzkz is offline  
Old Oct 8, 2023, 3:10 pm
  #1772  
Company Representative, Cowtool
 
Join Date: Jul 2023
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 134
Originally Posted by yyzspan
It will be more availability for average user, because if all these 3rd party tools are gone, then point brokers have to replace automation with manual work.
That assumes they don't have their own versions, which is a false assumption.

And it ignores the fact that I put a lot of effort into anti-abuse measures for the benefit of AC (it didn't make much difference to me).

Originally Posted by yyzspan
With these tools, a point broker can set alerts for all NH routes 365 days a year, and monitor 24/7 to snatch J/F right away when they are released. Now they have to search manually which gives me a better chance (even if just slightly better it's still better) to beat them for the only routes I am interested in.
cowtool never had availability alerts open to the public. There was some effort underway to make that possible, but it was never launched.

seats.aero does not do live, regular checks, so even if you have an alert, you're not monitoring 24/7. More like once a day.

But the systems they've built for themselves...
YUL, beltway, billdokes and 10 others like this.
cowtool is offline  
Old Oct 8, 2023, 3:16 pm
  #1773  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: BOS, YVR, ZRH
Programs: *G
Posts: 17,497
Originally Posted by cowtool
That assumes they don't have their own versions, which is a false assumption.

And it ignores the fact that I put a lot of effort into anti-abuse measures for the benefit of AC (it didn't make much difference to me).



cowtool never had availability alerts open to the public. There was some effort underway to make that possible, but it was never launched.

seats.aero does not do live, regular checks, so even if you have an alert, you're not monitoring 24/7. More like once a day.

But the systems they've built for themselves...
Right? Why are we assuming points brokers don't have their own tools? Or just use e.g. United's calendar search? Or points.me, which seems semi-endorsed by airlines?

This will likely just make it harder for us normies to search and redeem, while points brokers will keep doing what they're doing. If anything, they'll be more successful because competition will be way slower than them.
Smiley90 is offline  
Old Oct 9, 2023, 4:52 am
  #1774  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: YVR
Programs: Ice Cream Club, AC SE MM, Bonvoy Life Plat
Posts: 2,803
I'm not as eloquent as many upthread, but just wanted to post my thanks for the search tool while it lasted!
DrunkCargo is offline  
Old Oct 9, 2023, 4:07 pm
  #1775  
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Vancouver
Posts: 34
Thank you for your hard work.
Kafei is offline  
Old Oct 9, 2023, 7:41 pm
  #1776  
YUL
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Ottawa and Montreal
Programs: SPG Gold / IHG Spire / Emerald Executive Elite
Posts: 457
Merci pour ton superbe outil de recherche cowtool!!
habaryu likes this.
YUL is offline  
Old Oct 9, 2023, 10:09 pm
  #1777  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: YVR
Programs: AC*SE-MM, BA Bronze, Marriott Titanium & lifetime Plat
Posts: 1,820
So sorry to see this great resource go but very appreciative of all the hard work to create and maintain it. Thank you for helping so many people!
krayZpaving is offline  
Old Oct 10, 2023, 4:50 am
  #1778  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 3
All good things must come to an end

Originally Posted by cowtool
I have decided to shut down this cowtool indefinitely. I've been waffling over the idea for a while. That video reinforced the point. Pretty much everyone I talked to said I should keep it up, but I've made the decision.

I do not expect it will come back online ever.

I hope it was useful for you while it existed.
I have not had the privilege of using search tool but from what I understand, it was a valuable resource for many in the community. Cowtool, thank you for your generosity in creating and sharing this tool and the endless fixes that you needed to do in maintaining it.
tripsplanner is offline  
Old Oct 11, 2023, 2:55 am
  #1779  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: YYZ, DUB, OGG
Programs: *G (as are spouse and 2 kids), ACCOR ALL DIAMOND, Marriott - GE
Posts: 1,194
Thank you for all of your time and effort Cow! I have appreciated it so much
patty canuck is offline  
Old Oct 11, 2023, 2:32 pm
  #1780  
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Posts: 1
Thanks for the tool, Cow! It was fun using it, and it helped planned my honeymoon.
cfb_moose is offline  
Old Oct 11, 2023, 3:22 pm
  #1781  
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
Posts: 5
Thanks for all your efforts, it was a great tool while it was up. Much appreciated!
expertlevel is offline  
Old Oct 12, 2023, 7:08 am
  #1782  
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
Programs: Aeroplan, Airpoints
Posts: 2
Thanks for the awesome tool Cow! Only used it a few times but sure was better than spending endless hours on the AC site.
Jason77W likes this.
TravellingBilbury is offline  
Old Oct 12, 2023, 7:20 am
  #1783  
 
Join Date: Mar 2022
Posts: 20
Thanks for all your hard work on the tool, Cow. Was able to use it to help make bookings for my family of 4, which is not an easy task. I understand why you are shutting it down, but sad to see it go!
mcgella is offline  
Old Oct 12, 2023, 5:15 pm
  #1784  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 44
Thanks for the hard work, Cow. This was a great tool and it will be dearly missed.
shcboomer is offline  
Old Oct 19, 2023, 2:47 pm
  #1785  
Moderator, Air Canada; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: YYC
Programs: AC SE MM, FB Plat, WS Plat, BA Silver, DL GM, Marriott Plat, Hilton Gold, Accor Silver
Posts: 16,837
Since I expect some may come to this thread looking for information on AC's lawsuit against seats.aero, I'll post a link to that thread here, and as I think we've all had time to thank the cow and mourn the demise of this tool, I'll draw this thread to a close.

Adam Smith
AC Forum Moderator
beltway, Benner, canolakid and 9 others like this.
Adam Smith is offline  

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