Is ExpertFlyer worth the membership cost?

Now that I’ve quit the day job and I’m blogging full-time (it still gives me the willies to write that), I’m really looking forward to diving deeper into my long list of useful travel products which has been growing out of control in the form of a super-geeky Excel spreadsheet for the past five years or so.

You see, I’ve got a really bad case of shiny object syndrome, and it doesn’t take much for me to get really excited about travel products that I see plastered everywhere on Instagram and the Internet in general. Whenever I see something cool that catces my eye (usually a clever app or a useful piece of software), I jot it down in my spreadsheet with the goal of trying out when I have more time. And you know what? For the first time in as many years as I can remember, I’ve actually got some extra time during the week to tinker with this kind of stuff. It feels weird as hell to have pockets of spare time again, but it’s as every bit as amazing as the way the first day of summer vacation felt back when I was in grade school.

The product that has been perched at the top of my list (for years) has been ExpertFlyer. If you’re reading this blog, it’s very likely that you are very familiar with ExpertFlyer and the service they offer. However, for those of you who don’t know, the best way to describe it is as a frequent flyer information portal which collects airline data from around the web in order to help users make informed decisions to better their personal travel experiences. That’s a mouthful, I know. But all you really need to know is that it’s a frequent-flyer’s secret weapon that will elevate your travel game to ninja-like status. In theory anyway.

Here’s why ExpertFlyer is so interesting to me:

  • It allows me to check award availability for a large number of airlines (across several different airline alliances) in one convenient place.
  • I can see seat maps for nearly any flight before I start the booking process. This is especially convenient since many airlines don’t allow this (I’m talking about you, Emirates and Hainan).
  • I can set price alerts that will automatically notify me when a price for a specific flight reaches my specific goal. This is a bargain hunters wet dream, right? It’s also super convenient for poor and malnourished travel bloggers like me.
  • Speaking of alerts, it will also notify me automatically when the exact seat I want for a specific flight becomes available. This is going to save me a ton of time since I won’t have to login to the airline website every day to check and see hope and pray that the seat I want has become available.

I signed up for a Pro membership immediately before writing this post, and I’m super anxious to start using it as I plan my travels for the rest of the year. I’ve got a lot of trips that need to booked over the coming months, so my fingers are crossed that ExpertFlyer will be the secret weapon that they claim to be and that my travel experiences will be greatly enhanced because of it.

ExpertFlyer award search

One of the features I’m looking forward to the most: award and upgrade availability searches! For example, a quick search of ANA business class award availability for random dates in July and August tells me what I already assumed: nothing available. Like, duh!

ExpertFlyer award search alert

But setting up alerts to notify me if an ANA miracle happens and something opens up is super easy. I can’t wait to try this out!

Most of the reviews I’ve read so far seem positive, and while it’s not a perfect service (for example, not all airlines participate), I think it’s going to be useful for me and the kind of travel that I typically do.

Anyway, it’s probably going to take a while for me to get to know the inns and outs of the system in order to get the most out of it, but my goal is to use it heavily over the next few months and report back to you my findings. Will it actually help me find the best award availability? Will it save me money by alerting me to the best prices for the flights I want? And most importantly, how well is it going to do when it comes to letting me know when the seat I want (the one that’ll make me feel the most like a smug rockstar) opens up?

Stay tuned, because all of that juicy info is coming to SANspotter.com soon…

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