There’s an old theory which says it is important to start checking for award seats at midnight 330 days out because that is when schedules are loaded into the system and the seats first become available. The early bird gets the worm. Or, in this case, the early booker gets the award seat. And that was commonly accepted as the gospel for some time, right up until the airlines started getting smarter about revenue management and award seat inventory.
Once the airlines started aggressively managing their revenue inventory they also were able to better control award seats. That manipulating and tweaking of their systems made it a bit more challenging to find award seats in many cases. No longer could a consumer bet on the flights being opened for award booking at 330 days out. It was harder to figure out the patterns. Unless, of course, there was a larger volume of data to analyze. With lots of queries and lots of information some patterns start to emerge.
Take, for instance, Asiana’s flight from JFK to Seoul. Just how often are first class seats released for booking 300+ days out? Turns out the answer is nearly always.
There are a couple obvious “blackout periods” in the availability as shown in the two vertical columns of white. The few weeks leading up to Christmas is a no-go period as is the six weeks between mid-May and early July. But other than that it seems that getting a first class award seat on Asiana out of New York City isn’t all that hard.
But what if you didn’t book 300+ days out? Can you still find award seats? And what about those “blackout” windows? Turns out that they aren’t quite absolute.
The holiday periods mostly remain unbookable, but there are sporadic times where the inventory shows up. And within 30ish days of departure it seems that inventory starts to appear again, though not 100% reliably.
And, just for fun, I checked the data against the Los Angeles – Seoul route as well. The chart looks quite similar.
Certainly no guarantees there, but the numbers are strongly favorable, assuming you are able to book in advance.
Moral of the story: If you are confident in your plans it is a good idea to start looking as early as possible. But that’s not the only time the seats might show up.
n.b. I’m pretty sure the gash in the middle of that block of blue is a failure of the queries, not a lack of award space, though I suppose either is possible.
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