60 Seconds with Chris Lopinto, Co-founder and President of ExpertFlyer

60 Seconds with Chris Lopinto, Co-founder and President of ExpertFlyer

ExpertFlyer has been serving the frequent flyer community for almost seven years and the site recently opened up its Seat Alert system for free. Now, when you sign up at ExpertFlyer.com, you can set an alert on a flight that is completely booked and be alerted via text or email when a seat becomes available–all for no cost. We recently had a converstion with ExpertFlyer’s President and co-founder, Chris Lopinto.

InsideFlyer
Can you describe ExpertFlyer and explain why it’s a good tool for frequent flyers?
Chris Lopinto
ExpertFlyer.com is an air travel information and research service for frequent flyers to help take some of the pain out of travel. ExpertFlyer.com is the only website that offers many different pieces of information about flights, fares, availability and other airline data all in one place, with 24/7 access and in an easy to use, airline independent, graphical form. We also give you access to the information without the need to book a ticket or pretend to buy a ticket, to gain access to the information you want. ExpertFlyer.com can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection or from your smartphone using our mobile website.

IF
What are some of the first things a new user of ExpertFlyer should do when visiting the site?
Lopinto
First, Sign up! The first thing you will see is that we offer a five-day free trial of our Premium service for new users (click Sign Up, under “Pro” on the home page). This five-day free trial gives users the ability to try all of our features and services to see if ExpertFlyer is right for them. Second, the “FAQ/Help” link at the top of each page links to several resources that will give you a jump start in understanding ExpertFlyer including our FAQ and EduGuide. Third, new users should feel free to email us with questions at any time to customercare@expertflyer.com.

IF
You can search for flights through ExpertFlyer, but you can’t book from the site. Do you plan to add that functionality?
Lopinto
We do not have the ability to book directly from ExpertFlyer because our users already have their preferred method of booking. Whether it is the airline website or a corporate booking portal, users prefer or are required to book via an existing source. Also, there is little if any revenue to be made by becoming a travel agent. Most travel agents today derive their revenue via services and other sales aside from air tickets.

IF
Are there ever situations where someone may be able to find a flight on ExpertFlyer but not be able to book it?
Lopinto
Any flight that we show as having availability should be bookable as long as there is a valid applicable fare. The fare you pay is a combination of the fare class availability for a flight (our Flight Availability search) and the published fare tariffs for those classes (our Fare Information search). To book a ticket on a flight, there must both be a published fare for the city pair and availability in the fare class that the fare books into on that flight. This is explained in detail in our EduGuide.

IF
Can you speak a bit about how frequent flyers can use ExpertFlyer to build a mileage run?
Lopinto
Expertflyer is a great tool for planning mileage runs because we show detailed fares, with rules and routing information, as well as specific fare availability for every flight. Generally speaking, here are the basic steps:
1. Find a published fare with a low price per mile. FareCompare.com has a tool already setup to do exactly this here: http://www.farecompare.com/search/flyertalk.html
2. Once you have an idea of the fares and cities you want to look at, use the Fare Information search to look at the Fare Rules and Routing rules for the fare in question to make sure all restrictions and routing requirements are met. For distance based fares (most international fares), be sure to look at the MPM (Maximum Permitted Mileage) for the route via the MPM search tool under Travel Information.
3. Use the Flight Availability search to make sure that there is availability in the required fare class for flights on the desired dates you want to fly. The required fare class is noted in the Fare Information results.

IF
What are some benefits when signing up for the Premium services?
Lopinto
ExpertFlyer gives users detailed visibility and information about flights that previously only travel agents or airline call centers had access to. Having access to this in-depth information takes away some of the pain of travel planning because now you see exactly what the travel/phone agent sees and can make informed decisions before you go to book.

For example, ExpertFlyer has the ability to show travelers the number of awards and upgrades that are available on any particular flight, in real-time. This is especially important for travelers who wish to upgrade a coach ticket to business class. By knowing how many upgrades are available, travelers can book coach tickets on specific flights that they already know an upgrade is available on. No more guessing or long hours on the phone with a reservation agent to find out what is available.

Or, if you are already booked on a flight that doesn’t have the upgrade or even the specific seat you want available. ExpertFlyer’s Flight and Seat Alerts services can be used to be proactively notified when that seat, award or upgrade becomes available.

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