How to Use Wikipedia to Book Awards Like a Pro

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Tom writes:

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.

Such filtering allows me to see that the shortest itinerary bookable with United miles is LAX-ICN-HKT on Asiana.

I also note the information about what aircraft operates each segment, which I take to seatguru.com to figure out which itineraries have the best seats.

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.


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8 COMMENTS

  1. Another quick and dirty way is using google, if you know the airport codes, For example, if you want to know flights between HKG and DPS, type in “HKG to DPS flights” The resulting page will display flights numbers, days of the week, and departure and arrival times.

    There’s some limitations to this, in that, it doesn’t display U.S. domestic routings, rather it displays fare prices. Also if you type an airport code that departs from the U.S, it also displays flights.

    A few years ago, it displayed routings no matter what airport codes you typed in, but now that all changed presumable because google bought ITA software.

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