Flight redemptions are amazing - I recently paid only 127,500 Miles and approximately S$450 for a return ticket in the Singapore Airlines' famous Suite Class from Singapore to Auckland (this would have costed me somewhere between S$11,000 to S$13,000 for the period of travel that I was interested in). Using a more conservative calculation approach (i.e. valuing the flight at S$11,000), a thousand miles on redemption has managed to offset S$82 from the fare of the flight - this is a compelling reason to pay for your annual fees (on some credit cards only) as you can purchase a thousand miles from just S$16. While the value you get out of flight redemptions are truly astonishing at times, it is sometimes difficult for beginners (or even seasoned travellers!) to find availability - especially when you are interested in more than one ticket and as such I knew I had to check out ExpertFlyer after being recommended to it by a friend.
While I am still trying to grasp all the amazing features on ExpertFlyer, I wanted to feature a small piece on searching for award and upgrade redemptions using this pretty impressive tool. I have to mention from the start that ExpertFlyer requires a paid subscription for more robust and advanced queries - there is however a free account where you can sign-up for seat alerts but you will require a Basic or Premium account to search for award redemptions (there is a free trial that you can sign-up for though!).
For the sake of illustration, let's say I want to spend Christmas (2017) in San Francisco and I am interested to get there a couple of days prior to Christmas (perhaps on 23 December 2017) - there is no way I am flying coach so let's look for an award redemption on Singapore Airlines in Business and First Class. All you have to do (and you do need a Basic or Premium account to do this) is to enter some basic information as shown in the screenshot below and let the magic happen - there is even a ±3 days option (on the Premium account only!) to help streamline your search a little.
Once you have entered all the required information, you will be presented with a list of flights which in this case, originate from Singapore to San Francisco on the airline, cabin class and dates of your choice.
Assuming I am interested in SQ600 only (there are obviously a lot more flights that will get you from Singapore to San Francisco), you can immediately tell that there is no award space in First and Business on redemption. However, if you have a Premium account, you would be able to toggle through the dates really quickly to check and in this case, there was availability for 24 December 2017 and in fact, I will still make it on time to celebrate Christmas since the flight will land at 10:00AM on Christmas Eve.
Flight Alert which you can toggle using the "!" button on the side is another feature that is extremely useful (especially for travellers who want to make a redemption for more than one ticket). You are able to create a monitoring alert to notify you when the quantity of award space reaches (or falls below) a certain number. Of course there is a waitlist function on Singapore Airlines but having this makes it so much more robust.
Once the Flight Alert has been created, you will receive an email whenever the conditions that you have specified have been met. In this case, I will receive an email notification when there are at least two award spaces for Business Class on SQ600 for 24 December 2017.
Once the award spaces have been located, you can simply proceed to Singapore Airlines to make a redemption and if you are interested (you should be!) in the actual plane that you will be flying in, sign-up for an Aircraft Change Alert - this is something that I will cover on a later date.
Traveling in an aspirational cabin class is not out of reach for the masses. All it requires is some planning, discipline and time to make it happen. Feel free to leave me a message below if you have any questions on redemptions and I will try my best to answer them.