If award space isn’t available on a flight you want, keep checking. Award space changes all the time. This is a truism, but I have never tracked one route and flight for a few days to show exactly how true the truism is until now.

I’ve tracked First Class availability on the brand new Asiana A380 this month and next for the past few days. There were changes every day.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.32 AM
Enclosed Suite for First Class on Asiana A380

I started tracking the award space for selfish reasons. I have a United award from Seoul to Los Angeles next month to return to the United States from the Asian vacation I’m taking with my brother.

The award goes the long way and features Asiana and Lufthansa First Class. Since booking the award, I’ve flown Lufthansa First Class and been to the Lufthansa First Class terminal, so I think I’d prefer to change the award to a direct flight to Los Angeles on Asiana’s stunning new product.

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.25.08 AM

I’ve started checking every day to see if award space opens up on a day that works for my schedule. I am also checking award space patterns right near departure to estimate the likelihood that award space will open up for me right before departure.

  • How much has award space changed daily?
  • What is the pattern near departure?
  • Can I automate my search?

Search Results

Everyday, I’ve gone to united.com and searched Seoul to Los Angeles direct for one passenger. There are three daily direct flights on Star Alliance airlines, two on Asiana and one on Thai. The 2:50 PM departure is the Asiana A380 flight.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 3.52.54 PM

United.com is great in that it shows a calendar of award space for all of August and September automatically when I search. I can force the calendar to show only direct award space on one of the three flights above.

Unfortunately I can’t get the calendar to only show Asiana A380 space. Nor can I get the calendar to differentiate between Business Class and First Class award space. That means I manually clicked all blue and green dates on the calendar to see if they had First Class award space on the Asiana A380.

8/19 Search

Asiana A380 First Class space:

August 27, 29, 30, 31

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 2.02.06 PM

8/20 Search

Asiana A380 First Class space:

August 27, 29, 30
September 1, 4

Change from previous day: We lost the space on August 31, but gained space on September 1 and 4.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.31.37 AM

8/21 Search

Asiana A380 First Class space:

August 27, 29, 30, 31
September 4

Change from previous day: We got back the space on August 31, but lost the space on September 1.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 3.48.43 PM

8/22

Asiana A380 First Class space:

August 26, 27, 29, 30, 31
September 4

Change from previous day: We gained award space on August 26.

Patterns

I can’t pick up anything definitive. New award space doesn’t seem to open a certain number of days before departure (say, 14 days.)

New award space doesn’t seem to appear in the last few days. The latest award space showed up in my sample was about three days before departure (taking into account the time difference between the USA and Korea.)

All I see is that some space disappears. Some space appears. Award space is available within two weeks of departure, but it doesn’t necessarily start appearing then.

Do you spot any patterns?

I’ll definitely keep checking this route for the next few weeks or until award space appears on the day I need to fly, whichever comes first.

Can I automate my search?

Not for free. The Wandering Aramean had an awesome tool to automate united.com searches, but United shut him down.

Award Nexus does allow you to set an automated search for once a day, but you have to pay for all searches on Award Nexus.

Bottom Line

Award space changes every day, especially close to departure. If you want space on a certain flight in a certain cabin, be persistent and keep searching.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all questions are answered.