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Unofficial Advanced AC Reward Search Tool with Calendar (aka cowtool)

Old Jul 19, 21, 10:34 pm
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Last edit by: Adam Smith
https://acrewardsearcher.cowtool.com/

Due to abuse, you must now first register (see link at top 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 canadiancow.

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. And 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 with 15 posts, and I ignore it, and then you PM me with 30 posts a few weeks later, don't expect a response. 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. Those posts will be deleted.

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

Alerts
Basic price alerts are currently in available to all registered users. Full search/availability alerts are in...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).

The following is crossed out pending a potential opening of availability alerts, which would likely have similar restrictions.
If you have at least 2500 FT posts and would like access to the 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. The threshold will be decreased over time.

* 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 filtering/alerting by brand
  • Option to launch AC.com in new tab should be saved to your account
  • Show more information about stops, such as the time
  • Finish and release alerts
  • "Copy into round-trip alert" instead of "merge into" in case you want both
  • 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
  • Populate filter checkboxes from deep links
  • 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
  • filter option to set latest arrival date & time (cow likes this)

Bugs:
  • Reset password doesn't seem to work (though this has definitely gotten much better - if I made an account for you manually right after I started doing that, it may not work because I didn't understand the limitations, so I can help with that on one-off cases... it should work if it's a more recent creation)
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Unofficial Advanced AC Reward Search Tool with Calendar (aka cowtool)

Old Jan 22, 23, 9:57 pm
  #736  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,028
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
I have tried for the first time in a few months- no results come up.
The form has been upgraded - so a few questions with the upgraded form.
(I had no issues with the previous version of the form in finding results).

I am trying YOW to GVA. For one particular date- no range.

Not sure what stopover locations or stop duration means. I tried no stopover location/no stopover duration - no results. I tried GVA as a "stopover location" - and I entered random numbers for the numbers for stopover duration (do those numbers represent hours or do they represent days)

I want to find the award for YOW to GVA- I do not care for the airlines nor for the routing, nor for the airplanes. Just want J class space.


So not sure why I getting no results after numerous search attempts.
Are you looking for a stopover somewhere? If not, then the stopover option is irrelevant. Just search using origin to destination.
canadiancow likes this.
ChrisA330 is online now  
Old Jan 22, 23, 10:47 pm
  #737  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Programs: Aeroplan SE AND 1MM, HHonors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum , L'Accor Platinum
Posts: 9,474
Yes, this time I defaulted on the stopover location and stopover duration. It worked.
So what does it mean that one leaves the stopover location and stopover duration, as is, in the boxes?

By the way, it seems that at least for the transatlantic flights - at least for PY or J, only AC flight options show up for dynamic pricing.
No options for UA or LH or LX in these cabins.
FlyerGoldII is offline  
Old Jan 23, 23, 6:41 am
  #738  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Toronto, ON
Programs: AC 75K
Posts: 6,028
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
Yes, this time I defaulted on the stopover location and stopover duration. It worked.
So what does it mean that one leaves the stopover location and stopover duration, as is, in the boxes?

By the way, it seems that at least for the transatlantic flights - at least for PY or J, only AC flight options show up for dynamic pricing.
No options for UA or LH or LX in these cabins.
If you want a Stopover is a certain city, for a certain length of time, you fill in those fields. If you dont, you leave them blank.

if theres no options on non-AC airlines, then theres likely no award availability.
canadiancow likes this.
ChrisA330 is online now  
Old Jan 23, 23, 8:38 am
  #739  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 1,446
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
Yes, this time I defaulted on the stopover location and stopover duration. It worked.
So what does it mean that one leaves the stopover location and stopover duration, as is, in the boxes?

By the way, it seems that at least for the transatlantic flights - at least for PY or J, only AC flight options show up for dynamic pricing.
No options for UA or LH or LX in these cabins.
You might have to call in to book it, but if you're looking for J to GVA going via NYC might be an option.
kalderlake is offline  
Old Jan 23, 23, 11:15 am
  #740  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: BOS, YVR, ZRH
Programs: *G
Posts: 14,413
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
I have tried for the first time in a few months- no results come up.
The form has been upgraded - so a few questions with the upgraded form.
(I had no issues with the previous version of the form in finding results).

I am trying YOW to GVA. For one particular date- no range.

Not sure what stopover locations or stop duration means. I tried no stopover location/no stopover duration - no results. I tried GVA as a "stopover location" - and I entered random numbers for the numbers for stopover duration (do those numbers represent hours or do they represent days)

I want to find the award for YOW to GVA- I do not care for the airlines nor for the routing, nor for the airplanes. Just want J class space.


So not sure why I getting no results after numerous search attempts.
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
Yes, this time I defaulted on the stopover location and stopover duration. It worked.
So what does it mean that one leaves the stopover location and stopover duration, as is, in the boxes?

By the way, it seems that at least for the transatlantic flights - at least for PY or J, only AC flight options show up for dynamic pricing.
No options for UA or LH or LX in these cabins.
Looking only at a single date is the perfect recipe for not finding any availability. Partners only make a small number of seats available for partner redemption, and most seats get booked a year out. For award redemptions, flexibility is key. "Why are there no seats on the one day I want to fly" has a sadly obvious answer - there aren't any available.
Smiley90 is offline  
Old Jan 23, 23, 8:19 pm
  #741  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Programs: Aeroplan SE AND 1MM, HHonors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum , L'Accor Platinum
Posts: 9,474
I have noticed that J class on transatlantic routes from YOW to CDG is cheaper in points than YOW to GVA,

What do I enter in the cowtool so that the routing will be from YOW to CDG and then to GVA - as part of the single search?
FlyerGoldII is offline  
Old Jan 23, 23, 8:26 pm
  #742  
 
Join Date: Oct 2022
Programs: Aeroplan SE; Marriott Bonvoy Platinum
Posts: 634
Originally Posted by Smiley90 View Post
Looking only at a single date is the perfect recipe for not finding any availability. Partners only make a small number of seats available for partner redemption, and most seats get booked a year out. For award redemptions, flexibility is key. "Why are there no seats on the one day I want to fly" has a sadly obvious answer - there aren't any available.
It should be also be argued that doing search on a single date defeats the purpose of cowtool. You may just do it at the AC website
Changeup2000 is offline  
Old Jan 23, 23, 9:36 pm
  #743  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: BOS, YVR, ZRH
Programs: *G
Posts: 14,413
Originally Posted by FlyerGoldII View Post
I have noticed that J class on transatlantic routes from YOW to CDG is cheaper in points than YOW to GVA,

What do I enter in the cowtool so that the routing will be from YOW to CDG and then to GVA - as part of the single search?
That's not how it works. The price is based on the whole itinerary - just because YOW to CDG is cheaper than YOW-GVA doesn't mean that YOW-CDG-GVA will be cheaper than YOW-GVA.

Similarly, connecting flights will often be cheaper than direct flights. And sometimes longer-distancs flights are cheaper than shorter-distance flights. If you want consistent pricing, you need to look at itineraries that don't involve AC at all - but those have, as I'm sure youve noticed by now, limited availability and you need to be flexible with dates and times.

(Does LX even fly CDG-GVA?)


TLDR: Pick 2:

-Cheap-Desided Destination-Desided Date
*A lot of luck and/or planning required to get all 3
​​​​​​
Originally Posted by Changeup2000 View Post
It should be also be argued that doing search on a single date defeats the purpose of cowtool. You may just do it at the AC website
True that. So many people read random blog posts that go "with this tool/credit card you can fly anywhere for free!" and then are surprises when it's not all rainbows and butterflies. Then they see "oh you need to use this cowtool to get the deals!" And it still doesn't magically create inventory for their Sakura flights in F two months before flight time... Not trying to be too snarky.
Smiley90 is offline  
Old Jan 24, 23, 6:45 am
  #744  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 504
Originally Posted by Smiley90 View Post
Then they see "oh you need to use this cowtool to get the deals!" And it still doesn't magically create inventory for their Sakura flights in F two months before flight time... Not trying to be too snarky.
Maybe V2 of the Cowtool can make inventory magically appear? No pressure though.
zappy312 is offline  
Old Jan 24, 23, 7:55 am
  #745  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: YYZ
Programs: AC*S100K ACMM / HH Diamond
Posts: 2,824
Huge appreciation to the price alert tool. An upcoming J TATL ticket just dropped from 226,000 to 66,000 (!!!) .... so with the PR I had assigned it was just 33K, which is a great price for a J TATL - and I got a refund of 80K all thanks to the alert tool. That's well over 120K that the alert tool has saved me in just the last three weeks alone. Thanks thanks thanks
canopus27 is offline  
Old Jan 24, 23, 5:34 pm
  #746  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Programs: Bonvoy Titanium (LT Silver), UA Premier Silver, AAdvantage Gold, AS MVP Gold
Posts: 38
I'm seeing results sporadically appear and disappear from second to second, as in running the same search a few seconds later will cause a result to disappear, and then running it again a few seconds later makes it appear again. Clicking the AC.com link does not show the seat on AC.com, and for what it's worth I can't find the seat on UA's website either, so it seems like it may be phantom space? Is this a known issue with the Air Canada backend or would you like more details to investigate?
mtxing is online now  
Old Jan 24, 23, 8:31 pm
  #747  
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 504
I'm not saying it's not an PEBKAC error, but when I'm trying to create a Price Alert, I'm getting an popup message that says:
For input string: "PaxInput(adult=2, youth=0, child=0, infantLap=0, infantSeat=0)"
It doesn't seem like it's saving anything as a price alert. I searched YYZ-CDG for 2 adults and am trying to save the nonstop AC J option on Aug 26th. Link to Search
zappy312 is offline  
Old Jan 24, 23, 8:37 pm
  #748  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Posts: 21
Allow me to write a thank you post here.
I discovered this tool around the end of November. The reason for this was that I wanted to find a flight from the east coast of the US to Europe at the right time. I will meet there with my family because of the epidemic and visa reasons. I haven't seen them for 3 years. I miss my family very much, especially my parents. I am their only child. But because my parents work, they only have free time in summer. We all know that flying from the United States to Europe in the summer is especially expensive. And I have some MRs that I want to use up. But have not been able to find a suitable ticket. It took me about a week to learn and research the knowledge of airplane mileage. But there is always no able to find a good award ticket for some reason. Like: too much points or no result at that date.
I'm one of the lucky ones, I got an account when signups reopened (whether it was Monday or last Friday, I can't remember) and it took me about 20 minutes to get familiar with the tool, and then I found an award ticket that not very expensive. Although I haven't booked a ticket (because my current points are not enough), but this gave me enough confidence to continue my search later. This really is the greatest tool! A real big thank you to the author for taking the time to help everyone. I wish everyone can find the mileage ticket that suits them.
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andiexu is offline  
Old Jan 24, 23, 8:50 pm
  #749  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: SFO
Programs: AC SE MM, UA Gold, Bonvoy Tit LT Sil, Hyatt Glob, HH Diamond, Accor Silver
Posts: 41,063
Originally Posted by zappy312 View Post
I'm not saying it's not an PEBKAC error, but when I'm trying to create a Price Alert, I'm getting an popup message that says:


It doesn't seem like it's saving anything as a price alert. I searched YYZ-CDG for 2 adults and am trying to save the nonstop AC J option on Aug 26th. Link to Search
Should be fixed now. Apparently I broke creating alerts when I added the ability to search for children/infants/etc. I made sure alerts would still work in general, but not that you could create new ones.

On that note, I've had to turn off creating new alerts for basically everyone until I can rewrite how alert processing is done, since there are simply too many alerts for the current mechanism.

Existing alerts will still work, and you can still delete alerts.
zappy312 likes this.
canadiancow is online now  
Old Jan 24, 23, 9:40 pm
  #750  
 
Join Date: Nov 2022
Location: YEG
Programs: Aeroplan
Posts: 79
Originally Posted by mtxing View Post
I'm seeing results sporadically appear and disappear from second to second, as in running the same search a few seconds later will cause a result to disappear, and then running it again a few seconds later makes it appear again. Clicking the AC.com link does not show the seat on AC.com, and for what it's worth I can't find the seat on UA's website either, so it seems like it may be phantom space? Is this a known issue with the Air Canada backend or would you like more details to investigate?
I noticed this too and double and triple checked against AC website to make sure and even tried booking one of them. Looks like AC had a technical glitch and showed tons of phantom space that appeared and disapeared within minutes.
mtxing likes this.
fysloc is offline  

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