Finding an award seat from here to anywhere


Ever find yourself thinking about a trip and not really caring about where you’re going, so long as you can get somewhere across the ocean? Me, too. Of course, finding that seat is often an iterative process, figuring out what routes to check and plugging them all in to your favorite award search engine, hoping to get back a hit. I figured there was probably a better way and, leveraging the data I’ve been compiling about what non-stop routes are available across the Atlantic, I’ve managed to put something together which I think is a pretty cool award alert option. In short, you pick one of the 60 Star Alliance TATL gateways and a date and it will search all the options for you.

Here’s what my search parameters look like (figure a couple weeks in Europe for Christmas/New Years):

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And here are the results I got for my query

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Not necessarily flights I’d go out of my way to book, but it definitely gets me closer to figuring out where to visit and what to check for the local positioning flights to make it happen.

To set up such a search you can use the new Star Alliance (ANA) search method I’ve added to the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools site this week. Just leave the to or from city blank for the wildcard search to work. Note that you must pick a gateway city and it will only search the routes served TATL from that gateway. If you pick a non-gateway city and leave the other half blank you’ll get an error.

You can also use it as an alert option for other routes by specifying both ends of the trip; that functionality is obviously a bit different but it should be working as well.

These new features are very much in beta right now and I know there are a couple things which aren’t 100%, mostly with respect to searching specific carriers or flight numbers. I hope to have that addressed in the next few days. In the meantime, however, I figured this was worth getting out there so people could start to play with it a bit.

One other thing about these new searches: They are much more resource-intensive versus the other Star Alliance searches/alerts. Because of that I have to limit the use. For regular subscribers that means a maximum of 2 ANA-based alerts active at any time. For First Class members the limit is 10. I’ll keep an eye on the system performance and see about upping the allowance if things are running OK but that’s where I’ve got to be for right now.

If you’ve got any questions feel free to ask. And if you find any bugs please do share.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

38 Comments

  1. I entered my ANA creds but I still have to enter my UA ones when searching…which ones are being used?

    1. UA credentials are used for the real-time search. ANA is only for alerts and only if you are using the page which has “(ANA)” in the title.

      @ZH: I’ll take a look at that; my guess is that it is a stylesheets issue with IE. Any chance you have a different browser you can try? If not, send me an email and I’ll load it for you manually while I work on the webpage issues.

  2. To answer you question about thinking about a trip w/o caring much of where I’ll be going, all the time!! Your new tool will really help minimized the frustration one gets in searching for award availability, so well done!

  3. Great thinking. Definitely toward a dream map. Possibly specific to me, but a parameter I use is >6 hours in a flat bed, departing after 8pm. I also try to keep my cost to <$80/hour transit (assuming my point values and assuming 500 mph). Therefore I value 50k miles @ about $900, and a 10 hour IAD-IST flight is about $90/hr. Works out with an additional stop though.

  4. This is very cool. Definitely going to have to play around with it. I think this is one thing that has definitely been missing in the space… I mean, it is so easy to fall into visiting the same places again and again, but, a tool like this gives you options without as intensive a search effort.

  5. Outstanding tool. I wish you had affiliate links from time to time so I could reward you by clicking on them(I already have a “gold” membership to your travel tools).

  6. This is really cool. Is it possible (technically) to tweak the query so that it isn’t necessary to enter in one day to search? For example, instead of just searching availability for 05/30/2013, you could search 05/30/2013 and the following 14 (or whatever) number of days.

  7. For me at least when the date choose box pops up the buttons to move between months are invisible. They work, but you have to guess they are there. 🙂

    Windows 7 using Chrome or a (likely rather dusty version of) FF.

  8. fantastic! yet again another super helpful tool from you! Thanks you!

    btw, when I go to update my ANA credentials I get a server error page.

    String or binary data would be truncated.
    The statement has been terminated.

    FYI, I am using Chrome.

    1. No live searching yet, Vince (and it probably won’t ever happen). As for the title being wrong, that’s my fault for just copying the other page and not fully editing it.

  9. I’m getting an error that EWR is not a valid TATL gateway.
    Parameters I used:
    From: blank
    To: EWR
    Departure 2013-7-7
    Class: C and F
    Passengers: 1

  10. TPAC is on the horizon. It will take some work to get p and running, but I’m thinking about it.

    For JFK or EWR use NYC right now. I’ll fix that later tonight.

  11. I set up an alert, but then what do i do to get something to return? Do I have to wait for it to alert me?

  12. Seth, if you set up aff links and kept your blog the way it is, i.e. no unnecessary whoring, I would happily click on the aff links. 🙂

  13. would love a video tutorial on how this thing works! It looks like it could save me a lot of headache searching, but I still don’t completely understand how the tool works.

  14. tried using but it wont allow me to insert a date past may. what am I doing wrong? is there a FAQ on how to use this site?

  15. The icons for next/previous month are in the top corners of the pop-up calendar. I need to figure out why they are not showing as they should. Just hover/click and it’ll switch.

  16. Do you have to have miles in your linked ANA account for these alerts to work?

  17. I can not seem to set an alert with no TO destination from LAX. I want to see what the “wild card” would pull up.
    What should I do?
    Thanks.

  18. Server Error in ‘/’ Application.
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    Index was outside the bounds of the array.
    Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

    Exception Details: System.IndexOutOfRangeException: Index was outside the bounds of the array.

    Source Error:

    An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

    Stack Trace:

    [IndexOutOfRangeException: Index was outside the bounds of the array.]
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataReader.ReadColumn(Int32 i, Boolean setTimeout) +4876286
    System.Data.SqlClient.SqlDataReader.GetInt32(Int32 i) +19
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.GetPasswordWithFormat(String username, Boolean updateLastLoginActivityDate, Int32& status, String& password, Int32& passwordFormat, String& passwordSalt, Int32& failedPasswordAttemptCount, Int32& failedPasswordAnswerAttemptCount, Boolean& isApproved, DateTime& lastLoginDate, DateTime& lastActivityDate) +815
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.CheckPassword(String username, String password, Boolean updateLastLoginActivityDate, Boolean failIfNotApproved, String& salt, Int32& passwordFormat) +105
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.CheckPassword(String username, String password, Boolean updateLastLoginActivityDate, Boolean failIfNotApproved) +42
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.ValidateUser(String username, String password) +78
    Tools2.AccountMembershipService.ValidateUser(String userName, String password) in C:UserssethDropboxApplicationsWATTTools2ControllersAccountController.vb:927
    Tools2.AccountController.ValidateLogOn(String userName, String password) in C:UserssethDropboxApplicationsWATTTools2ControllersAccountController.vb:792
    Tools2.AccountController.LogOn(String userName, String password, Boolean rememberMe, String returnUrl) in C:UserssethDropboxApplicationsWATTTools2ControllersAccountController.vb:352
    lambda_method(ExecutionScope , ControllerBase , Object[] ) +246
    System.Web.Mvc.ActionMethodDispatcher.Execute(ControllerBase controller, Object[] parameters) +17
    System.Web.Mvc.ReflectedActionDescriptor.Execute(ControllerContext controllerContext, IDictionary`2 parameters) +178
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethod(ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +24
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClassd.b__a() +52
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodFilter(IActionFilter filter, ActionExecutingContext preContext, Func`1 continuation) +254
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClassf.b__c() +19
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodWithFilters(ControllerContext controllerContext, IList`1 filters, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +192
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeAction(ControllerContext controllerContext, String actionName) +314
    System.Web.Mvc.Controller.ExecuteCore() +105
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +39
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.System.Web.Mvc.IController.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +7
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClass8.b__4() +34
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.c__DisplayClass1.b__0() +21
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.c__DisplayClass8`1.b__7(IAsyncResult _) +12
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.WrappedAsyncResult`1.End() +59
    System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult asyncResult) +44
    System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.System.Web.IHttpAsyncHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult result) +7
    System.Web.CallHandlerExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() +8699438
    System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +155

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