Making the anywhere search a bit better


And by "a bit" I really mean a whole lot.

A few weeks back I introduced the idea of the "anywhere" search alerts on the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools site. The idea is that you can search for flights from any gateway city without specifying a destination at the other end. If you’re flexible in your travel plans, either in destination or an extra connection en route, it can open up a lot of options that you might not otherwise think of. The initial release was only for alerts – emails sent if the seats are open when my systems poll on your behalf. Now I’ve made a similar feature available via a "live" search option so you can get results in real-time.

The search dialog is a bit different:

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You can specify either an origin or a destination, along with the travel date and number of passengers to seed the search. For the airports you are limited to only cities which have transatlantic non-stop routes (more routes hopefully coming soon); choosing a non-gateway city will get you an error. And when you submit the search it will query all the routes available from that gateway. Some airports (e.g. ATL, DFW) only have one route to search while others (e.g. NYC, FRA) have a whole bunch. Just sit back and relax while the results come streaming in.

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And when the results do show up there are often a whole bunch of them, as many as 25 per query. Filtering through those is useful so I’ve got options there, too. Only want non-stop flights? Just de-select the "Connecting Flights" option and it will filter down live to only show those non-stops:

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Similarly you can uncheck the Mixed Cabin option and flights where one segment is not in the class the award books in to will be hidden.

There are, as always, a few caveats to the new tool:

  1. It is very much in beta right now. I’ve beat on it a bit and had a few others do so as well but, quite frankly, I’m just a hack at this stuff so there’s a pretty good chance things will still be messed up. Leave a comment or send me an email if you discover problems.
  2. Because it is in beta I do not currently have a link to the page on the site. You can get to it here. Links will show up eventually, I’m sure.
  3. The new tool is quite a bit more resource-intensive than the regular searches based on the number of queries involved. Because of that I am limiting access only to paid subscribers of the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools. Everyone still has access to the free single searches but this one will require the paid option.
  4. You still have to go and actually book the awards yourself by calling or using the website of your favorite Star Alliance award program. And what they see might be different depending on which program it is.

Hopefully this is something you find useful. As always, let me know if you run in to trouble or have ideas to further improve it.

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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, and LinkedIn.

17 Comments

  1. Why is it necessary to enter a valid MP# in your search tool? I may not wish to disclose my MP#, considering you already have my e-mail address!

  2. It is currently TATL only, though I expect that to expand soon. Currently gateway cities in the USA, Canada or Europe are supported.

    And, yes, it doesn’t recognize the SQ FF#. That’s because it needs the UAMP#.

  3. This is fantastic stuff, Seth! I signed up for First Class membership to try out the “Anywhere” search and found some great ideas for re-routing existing award travel well-worth the $15 already.

  4. Hey Seth – exciting new tool. This pushed me over to become a FC member. My searches all get stuck at the “…Gathering Additional Data . . .” point though. Using a MP account number, 3 people, using either To or From as the wildcard and on both Chrome & IE. It just stays on that “… Gathering Additional Data . . .” step for hours until I close the window. Maybe just a Beta issue?

  5. The alert page has some serious issues. Whenever I set up an alert, once I click the save button, it goes to an error page. Then when I go back to “My Alerts” the alert shows up. In addition, when I change anything on the My Alert page, such as SMS notify, it directs me to the error page, but the change was actually made successfully. It’s really inconvenient having to refresh every time in order to make small changes.

  6. Oh, this is so sweet. THIS is the tool I’ve been wishing for. But: the three orange-outlined buttons under the green SEARCH button (non-stop, mixed cabin…) — I’m not seeing any effect at all when I click one, except that it toggles to not-orange.

    1. The buttons should toggle which types of itineraries are shown. It was working last I checked. If you have a specific set of parameters where it isn’t working for you let me know and I can look more closely.

      1. No, further poking reveals that I was just wrong. Somehow I thought that clicking on Non-stop Flights would bring up =only= them, whereas I was actually =deselecting= that option. Despite your clear explanation above.

        And because non-stops are a tiny portion of the results, their absence wasn’t immediately obvious. Ditto for Mixed Cabin.

        1. Phew!

          Glad it is working for you? Did you notice the “which ocean” option? That’s new (officially being announced later today). I’m pretty happy about that.

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