Mobile Award Booking? There are apps for that!

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Mobile Award Booking? There are apps for that!

Category : Uncategorized

With everything we do going increasingly mobile, I find myself checking in for flights, changing seats and searching award and cash tickets on my mobile apps quite often. As this is a blog about miles and points (!), I’ll be taking a more critical look at the best apps for searching and booking award tickets. These reviews are based on the most current iOS version of the applications.

Here’s the summary.

A: Exceeds Expectations

  • United
  • Aeroplan
  • Southwest

B: Good

  • Delta
  • Alaska Airlines

C: Needs Improvement

  • jetBlue

D: Failed – Take the Class Again

  • British Airways
  • American Airlines

United Airlines

This newer and cleaner version of the United app was released with the launch of the new website a few months Not only does it look slick, it’s functionality is fluid. In my experience, it shows the same award space as the website does.

Pros:

  • Calendar feature which is similar to website, showing saver and non-saver economy and business/first class award space
  • One-way, multi-city, and roundtrip functionality
  • Flag/save flights
  • View seat-maps

Cons:

  • Sign-on required for search and booking
  • Full miles required in full for booking; no complete speculative bookings
Yes; it's a calendar! Just like the website.

Yes; it’s a calendar! Just like the website.

Air Canada’s Aeroplan

This is actually a new app that I think Air Canada nailed with its development. Even if you don’t redeem miles on Star Alliance partners, just take a look… I think this is almost tied with the United app. (Their airplane flying over instead of a typical rotational buffering search is pretty neat).

Pros:

  • Though there is a search calendar, it is not as clear what days have availability like United’s does.
  • Clear that it is a mixed parter award or operates on one carrier
  • Clearly shows if it’s a mixed class award
    IMG_6860

    Star Alliance airline icons!

IMG_6858

Cool flyer over search functionality!

Cons:

  • This is a con with the mobile app and the website. You cannot search city co-pairs/co-terminals. So you would have to search EWR/LGA/JFK separately. This is particularly frustrating with Star Alliance partners when originating or returning to the East Coast, as those airports have flights for non-United flights. United is dubbed at Newark; Lufthansa flies to both Newark and JFK, for example.
  • Sign-in required to search

Southwest

Southwest really upped its game with the launch of this new version of their app. Not only is is modern and slick, it features a nice top rolling bar to quickly scan dates. Sure, it could use a calendar but the trend is not to. That being said, here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Scrolling day search to easily change dates
  • Easy display of award prices
Notice the dates on top - that scrolls either direction to go up or down in dates.

Notice the dates on top – that scrolls either direction to go up or down in dates.

Cons:

  • None for award bookings!

Delta

Delta also has an great looking app, and loses to United because it’s lack of award calendar feature. It’s definitely my go-to for Skyteam award bookings. It has a lot of great features, so this is an excellent app, even without the calendar.

Pros:

  • No sign-on required for search
  • Easy day change search
  • Speculative award bookings
  • Swipe between coach and business/first
  • Shows in-flight features and amenities
  • Delta has dynamic award pricing; when clicking on flight details you can see the Delta fare class.
If this was a saver level flight the fare class would be (N); though you cannot see it, this flight would cost 47.5K Skymiles, as opposed to the saver price of 30K.

If this was a saver level flight the fare class would be (N); though you cannot see it, this flight would cost 47.5K Skymiles, as opposed to the saver price of 30K.

Cons:

  • No calendar

Alaska Airlines

The Alaska Airlines app also went through a refresh when Alaska had a brand refresh. It’s a sleek app that has all the basic requirements, but like the others, could tighten up its calendar search function. And though most people probably do not book multi-city award tickets via their mobile devices, it’s a fun feature to have when searching around and planning a trip. What I love above this app is something I love about Alaska: it shows the same award availability as it does online. Alaska is a non-alliance partners with many airlines, and it makes searching for American airlines flights easy (unlike the American app does not!)

Pros:

  • No sign-on required for search
  • Airport co-terminal reminder
  • ‘Change cabin for more options’ reminder
  • Easy display of award/fare rules and breakdown of price
One of the most unique of the in-app features I've seen.

One of the most unique of the in-app features I’ve seen.

Reminds you to change cabin for further award options.

Reminds you to change cabin for further award options.

Cons:

  • No multi city option
  • Clunky calendar search feature

jetBlue

It may be it ranks as “needs improvement” for me because I rarely fly jetBlue and rarely conduct award searches. But, in limited experience I was not overly impressed.

Pros:

  • Initial option to sign in or continue as guest
  • Ability to view and select seats
  • Shows options to buying up from basic economy fares to “blue plus”
Nice reminder!

Nice reminder!

Cons:

  • Often errors out when searching one-way itineraries that include a non-U.S. portion.
  • Calendar function similar to British Airways
  • Sign-in required to make speculative booking

British Airways

This app is in desperate need of a refresh. British Airways has long needed a functional calendar search, as opposed to day-by-day; this carries over to the app and hinders its functionality for the user. I’m not sure if there’s anything I actually like about the application, it’s just a necessary evil as no other application allows you to search OneWorld space effectively.

Cons:

  • Frustrating sign-on system; sign in required to proceed
  • No calendar; day-by-day search similar to BA website and slow to load each day (like the site).

American Airlines

The American Airlines app has lacked the ability to search award tickets. Their websites page is quite good, but this is shameful. For whatever reasons, even when booking revenue tickets, you’re sent to their mobile site (which is also clunky). Up your game, American.

Cons:

  • Cannot search award tickets. ‘Nuff said.
When booking a flight on their mobile app, you're redirected here. You cannot even do Award searches.

When booking a flight on their mobile app, you’re redirected here. You cannot even do Award searches.

I use them all, but my top choices for booking by alliance would be:

  • Star Alliance – United
  • SkyTeam – Delta (the only option to go with)
  • OneWorld – British, but when searching for American flights I use Alaska

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