I’ve seen you mention wikipedia a couple of times when talking about building awards and figuring out where airlines fly – what exactly do you use wikipedia for? Have you done a post about this?
I did write one post that touched on using wikipedia: Book Awards Like a Pro: Routing Ideas. But I’ll answer the question of how I use wikipedia more fully.
For me, the two best places to get routing ideas are kayak.com and wikipedia. If a client for my award booking service says he wants to go from LAX to Phuket, Thailand with United miles, I don’t instantly know all the routing possibilities.
My first thought would be that the last leg will probably be Bangkok to Phuket on Thai Airways, since I’m sure such a flight exists. But I want to know all the possibilities to figure out the best routing in terms of duration, layover quality, and airline quality.
So first I would search “phuket airport wiki.” Every wikipedia page for an airport contains a section entitled “Airlines and destinations,” which I scroll down to.
In this example, I’ve specified using United miles, so I’ll scan the list for all Star Alliance partners. If you’re not sure about an airline’s alliance, you can click on the airline’s name. Its wikipedia page will list its alliance on the quick-facts info box on the right of its page.
Once I’ve noted all the ways to get there on the Star Alliance–on Air China, Asiana, Austrian, and Thai– I’ll move on to kayak.com. At kayak.com, I’ll search LAX to HKT for one passenger in economy near the dates my client wants. I’ll make sure to search +/- 3 days, so I can catch routings that are only possible once a week because of non-daily flight schedules.
I sort the kayak.com results by alliance and duration.
Now ideally I’d then be able to go and book a short, comfortable itinerary. But if I run into trouble, I’ll go right back to wikipedia.
Say I can’t find any simple one stop itineraries between LA and Phuket. If I’ve found space from Seoul to Phuket, I would go look at the Seoul-Incheon page to see how I can get to Seoul.
Or I might go to the LAX page to see how I can get to Asia from LAX. Then I’d go search LAX to Asia flights or flights to Seoul for award space.
I constantly check wikipedia for information on where airlines fly–major airlines have an article listing all their destinations that is linked to the airline’s wiki page–and where it’s possible to fly from an airport. It’s an incredibly helpful weapon when booking awards.
Thanks for the question, Tom, and I hope everyone now understands how I use wikipedia to aid me in booking awards.