I have to admit I've never really been a fan of ExpertFlyer, probably only due to the fact that I haven't had much use for it, or all the situations I have tried to use it I managed to catch an opening before they did. However no I think I'm really starting to get the use of ExpertFlyer and how it could make my travel easier.
What is ExpertFlyer?
Expertflyer.com is a collection of tools for finding award availability, open seats, and flight status. You can set alerts for various types of availability; if you're looking for a certain seat to open up you can monitor a specific set of seat. If you're searching for a certain type of award availability or fare class you can set an alert for that too. Or if you generally want to track the status of a flight, that's also an option.
The site could use a modern web design refresh, it looks like something out of the 2000s, but that aside it's an incredibly powerful tool. Let's say you're looking for saver availability for an upcoming United flight, or you're trying to track a Global Upgrade eligible flight for a Delta/SkyTeam flight, that can be done easily as well.
What I have been using it for lately is tracking seats on a few of my upcoming flights, I have a few long haul and an extra long haul flight coming up soon and while I have some good business class seats booked, they may not be the very best seats for me. So what I ended up doing was set seat alerts for certain seats like bulk head or aisle seats which will be more convenient for me.
Is ExpertFlyer free?
Certain functions of ExpertFlyer are free, but most of the good juicy features are hidden behind a subscription. You might groan that it's yet another monthly subscription to pay for, but I will argue that it's well worth it if you have a lot of travel upcoming and care about where you sit, or if you can find upgrade availability.
It's very easy to cancel and resubscribe on a month-to-month basis if you happen to have travel upcoming. And that's what I usually do, I subscribe when I need the service to track my seats, then I simply cancel when I finish my most cared about flights. I praise ExpertFlyer for making it easy to cancel with just a few clicks.
There are two levels of paid tiers, Basic and Premium. The Basic tier lets you look up things like timetables, award availability, and seat alerts. The Premium service adds on top of that by giving you extra alert options for plane changes, schedule changes, and expended searching with flexible days.
How did ExpertFlyer save me?
I have a large trip upcoming to New Zealand. Part of the reason I'm going on this flight is to attend Delta's inaugural service to Auckland and then branch off for a few days around the country. I will end up coming back the long way around by taking Singapore from Auckland to Singapore and then Singapore to JFK on the world's longest flight (by air miles) currently. Both my flight to Auckland and my return trip were all booked with air miles, and while I will be in Comfort+ inbound and Business Class outbound I didn't really get good seats.
My flight to Auckland I ended up in the only sensible Comfort+ seat which was a window seat near the center of the cabin, For a 12 hour flight I don't really like the idea of being blocked in and needed to call on my seat mates to move any time I want to get up to stretch my legs or use the restroom.
I decided to give ExpertFlyer another chance after being blocked into a window seat and setup a few seat alerts, I started tracking every aisle seat in the Comfort+ cabin along with the window seats in just the bulkhead row. I hadn't got much movement on the available seats until just about a week ago and I noticed an email came through late at night, a bulk head Comfort+ seat had just opened up, I managed to grab it before anyone else.
There's something about being able to sit in at least a bulkhead set for a long duration that isn't as draining as getting trapped into a seat towards the back of the plane.
Now my next challenge is to grab a bulkhead Business class seat on Singapore's A350ULR for a better foot well on a 17+ hour flight. My fingers are crossed!
Personally I have been turned around on my thoughts on ExpertFlyer, I can't thank them enough for giving me the tools to improve my travel experience. Personally I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what the service can do, but I'm getting better at it. My next challenge is to find some United Saver availability on the Island Hopper with a return through Narita. It's well worth the $5 or $10 depending on the plan you choose to give you a chance at a better flight experience.