Issues with Interface and Auto Search

Discussion in 'Award Nexus' started by Explore, Sep 23, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Explore
    Original Member

    Explore Silver Member

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    Since the top level of Award Nexus is so expensive ($100 per x points), it ought to be flawless, intuitive, comprehensive and accurate. By and large, I haven't found it to be so.

    On the one hand, you can find different buckets of award availability, like LX award space made available to Star Alliance (NH engine) vs. the expanded and misleading Miles and More inventory reported by Expert Flyer.

    On the other hand, trying to isolate the flights you're interested in can be a chore with Award Nexus. You can't set up an auto search for direct flights operated by specific carriers until you get to a second step, then the actual results show connecting flights on other carriers! A search for LX direct from ZRH to various U.S. destinations pulls up connecting and transatlantic flights operated by CO and LH - no, I don't want those.

    Since LX award space for non-M&M programs is so hard to find, you want the auto search to check many times a day for that space. But the auto search function seems to be set up to run only once daily. That's not good enough. It needs to check many fewer flights, and do so much more often.

    Further, an immediate search for award space on my work computer causes the program to spin and spin, burning points without getting anywhere and without even offering an advisory - can't it handle firewalls? I can use my work computer to search for other things.

    Award Nexus doesn't do a great job of ferreting out all, or even most possible connecting routings between a given city pair. That's especially true when there are a vast number of possible routings between certain cities, like for U.S. domestic travel. But ITA Software can find those routings - why not Award Nexus? It couldn't find me award space between SFO and NYC when I tried recently, for more than a month out. Yet you can find that space by going to airline websites.

    I'm certainly not inclined to add paid search points to my account unless these issues can be resolved. A first step would be for the Award Nexus rep to address them in a reply.
     
  2. Award Nexus

    Award Nexus Z Representative

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    Explore, thanks for taking the time to write in. Allow me to address some of your questions.

    I agree. The automated search interface was confusing, and there was no way to specify direct flights on a specific airline.

    I have simplified the automated search interface and enhanced the Quick Select feature. You can now do "direct LX" to match only direct flights on LX.

    I also looked up your existing automated search and modified your Quick Select field. You should now be getting emails, only if a LX direct flight is found.

    Take a look at the new interface and let me know if you have any more concerns.

    https://awardnexus.com/collage/schedule (login required)

    I understand your desire to check for awards on a very frequent basis.

    Like most services, Award Nexus has to balance features with stability. At the moment, I offer a daily interval. As the backend becomes more stable, I may be able to offer more options for automated search.

    Note that there is an unofficial way to "over-clock" the automated search: You can set up two automated searches and having them run 12 hours from each other.

    Award Nexus is generally not affected by firewalls. What version of web browser are you using? Note that if your work computer has not upgraded its web browser in the last 2 years (IE 7 or below), Award Nexus may not work. I suggest IE 8 or Chrome.

    If you still have trouble, let me know what browser you are using, and I can assist further.

    One thing to remember is that ITA is returning paid tickets, so you will always find many flight options, even if some of them are full-fare. In contrast, Award Nexus is focused on finding low-level saver awards. If there is no awards available, there is nothing to show.

    Do you have a specific example? Every airline sites returns something different. Award Nexus is designed to faithfully return flight options from your selected airline sites (e.g. Oneworld BA or Oneworld QF), and if you find any omission, please let me know.

    Explore, thanks for your feedback. Like yourself, I have often been frustrated by the immerse complexity in award planning. I made Award Nexus to alleviate some of the frustrations, and with your help, I hope to improve it further.
     
  3. Explore
    Original Member

    Explore Silver Member

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    Thanks for the detailed response, and the improvements apparently implemented. I'll check it out again in the next several days. But I'm no longer getting the daily e-mail from the auto search that I was getting before - maybe that can be restored?

    Regarding "over-clocking" the auto search: can you do 4 searches for the same information, spaced 6 hours apart? Obviously this draws down points, however, which is a bad feature of AwardNexus compared with the unlimited queries you get on ExpertFlyer.

    When I have time to further investigate and illustrate a shortfall in routings for domestic award space, I'll point it out. To be comprehensive, the system would need to query thousands of possible routings including hub-spoke-hub which the airlines may offer on their website. Does AN really have that kind of capability?
     
  4. Award Nexus

    Award Nexus Z Representative

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    You previously checked the box that says "do not email me unless flights are found." Since no direct flights on LX has been found, the automated search system suppressed the sending of email.

    If what you want is "always email me, but highlight any direct LX flights in the email," then that can be arranged too. I can modify your existing search for you, or you can just create a new automated search and cancel the old one. Just let me know.

    Sure. If you want to do it 4x a day, you can schedule the searches 6 hours apart. As a further hint, try to schedule one of them to be a few hours after midnight in Europe. You may be able to catch the freshly-released seats quicker that way.

    It's important to understand that Expert Flyer and Award Nexus operate under different models. EF has very lightweight and specific access to the GDS. Award Nexus has broad but heavyweight access, hence the model is different.

    If you like unlimited search access, keep an eye out for the upcoming Fight Pass product, where for a fixed price, you can have unlimited search access, for up to 12 months, to plan a single trip.

    I think there is some confusing on what ANX does or does not do. ANX doesn't do any routing itself. It submits your search to your selected airline sites and presents the options in a unified format. The actual routing is doing by the underlying airline sites (e.g. Oneworld BA or Star Alliance AC).

    Since you touched on routing, one of my favorite subjects, I am going to go into more details:

    It turns out that there aren't thousands of routings for domestic routes. Even for a very long domestic route such as SFO-EWR, there are only about 30 actual one-stop routes on a single alliance. If you expand the allowance to two-stop, there are about 500 routes total (I know, I know, there are EWR, LGA, and JFK, but the point is that you are more likely restricted by fare rules than MPM for domestic routes).

    By the way, if you like routing, you are going to love the Route Explorer tool. If you haven't already, make sure you check it out. It gives you insight into how the airline networks are structured and how you can discover obscure routes to redeem an otherwise-difficult long-haul award.
     
  5. Explore
    Original Member

    Explore Silver Member

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    Thanks, I'll monitor the site going forward. Regarding U.S. domestic routes, I'm thinking the CO search may bring up more routings than the ANA tool.
     
  6. Award Nexus

    Award Nexus Z Representative

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    CO is one of the supported airline sites. If you want to do CO searches, you can select Star Alliance (CO) in your next search.

    In particular, Star Alliance (ANA) is known to only return flights that have no more than 1 published stop. Generally, Star Alliance (AC) and Star Alliance (CO) will offer itineraries with 2 or more stops.

    The Award Nexus Tips Page documents the limitations for each of the airline sites.

    If you notice any other difference, just post back here or email me, and I can investigate/explain further. In general, you can expect each airline site to return something different, this is why it is often wise to select all the sites when you are searching, to get a complete picture of availability.
     

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