One-on-One with Chris Lopinto, President & Co-founder, Expert Flyer

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  1. In this month’s One-on-One blog, ExpertFlyer talks with Chris Lopinto, President & Co-founder, ExpertFlyer, the premier air travel information tool that offers complete and efficient ways to access worldwide air travel information that can’t be found anywhere else. Access to real-time awards and upgrades, seat maps, and unpublished fair buckets, are only a few of the benefits ExpertFlyer brings to its subscribers.
    During this special edition of One-on-One with ExpertFlyer, Chris will share details about ExpertFlyer’s Award-Winning Seat Alerts® feature, which the company announced is now available free to anyone who flies. As an expert in air travel, Chris will also discuss other topics of interest to many airline travelers, including trends in frequent flier programs and how to maximize your travels.

    Chris-Lopinto, President & Co-founder, ExpertFlyer

    “ExpertFlyer’s Seat Alerts feature is the fastest and easiest way for travelers to get out of the dreaded middle seat or even find a seat on a flight that is completely booked.”

    – Chris Lopinto, president and co-founder of
    Seat Alerts has been a popular feature among ExpertFlyer (paid) subscribers who want to avoid the “middle seat” at all costs and find a “preferred seat” when they fly. Tell us about the Seat Alerts service and why you’re offering this feature to everyone for free?
    We realized that it really doesn’t matter how often or infrequent people travel; everyone hates the middle seat. While it’s true that our subscriber sweet spot has been the road warrior, business traveler, and frequent flier, we see an opportunity to cater to a larger piece of the air travel market. Offering free Seat Alerts allows us to “introduce” ourselves to the general consumer that may travel just a couple of times a year – students coming home from college; moms planning the family vacation; or grandparents visiting the grandkids.
    If you have a ticket for a flight, but there are no seats available, Expert Flyer can let you know when there is one, so you have a seating assignment before you get to the airport. Our Seat Alerts feature currently monitors more than 120 airline carriers worldwide.
    How many travelers annually are stuck in the middle seat?
    We calculated that on average, 19% of all passengers are stuck in a middle seat, which represents hundreds of millions of passengers per year. Traveler comfort is an issue that isn’t always a priority to be addressed. With Seat Alerts, we hope to solve the simple, yet important issue, of not sitting where you want for a multi-hour flight.
    How does the Seat Alerts feature work? Are their restrictions for the Free Version?
    Today, securing seating assignments for flights requires passengers to have a ticket and restricts seat selection to only unoccupied seats. Passengers hoping to find a different seat would typically wait until check-in at the airport and hope a more desirable seat is available. ExpertFlyer’s Seat Alerts changes all that.
    A free Seat Alerts account can be created at and will allow travelers to maintain one active Seat Alert at a time. Once a Seat Alert has found a better seat or the flight has departed, a new Seat Alert can be created. This is ideal for casual travelers who only have one flight in their itinerary and may be stuck in a bad seat at any given time. Additional (simultaneous) alerts can be purchased for $.99 and paid subscribers to ExpertFlyer will be able to set several alerts at one time at no additional cost.
    Seat Alerts now allows ticketed and non-ticketed passengers to set up an automatic alert that notifies them when occupied seats become available. Using ExpertFlyer’s free Seat Alerts feature, passengers can select “Any Aisle”, “Any Window”, or “Any Seat” options and will automatically be notified by email or text message when any aisle or window seat becomes available on their desired flight. Additional notification options are available for Any Exit Row seat, Any 2 Seats Together, or a list of specific seats that the traveler may want.
    How often does your Seat Alerts feature check for availability?
    We have a proprietary algorithm that increases the polling frequency not only as the departure date and time approaches, but also based on various factors about the flight and the user who created the alert. What matters is that it’s effective – we’ve had over a 70% success rate in getting our users into a Window or Aisle seat on their flight.

    What is unique about Isn’t the same information available elsewhere on the web?
    Yes, some of it is, but much of it isn’t. However, whether it is available in other places on the Internet, or only available through our Website, is the only website that offers all this information in one place, with 24/7 access and in an easy to use, airline independent, graphic 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, such as available seats on specific flights. can be accessed from any computer with Internet access or from your smartphone using our mobile application.
    ExpertFlyer also has the ability to show travelers the number of Award tickets 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 will drastically improve their ability to secure an Upgrade.
    Which airlines do you show award and upgrade classes for?
    We support searching for regular availability classes and fares for over 400 airlines. You can view the list of airlines we support the special award and upgrade classes for by clicking here.
    How do I purchase tickets based on the fares I see on
    You would purchase the fare by either contacting the airline directly or going through a travel agent as you normally would and asking for the specific Fare Basis or Fare Class. Remember to check the availability of the Fare Class in the Flight Availability tool on to make sure that the fare you wish to purchase is indeed available.
    What is a “seat map” and how many airline seat maps are available?
    Seat Maps show the live status of which seats are Occupied or Available on your specific flight. We also show detailed information, such as which seats are marked as Premium Only (elite status required) or “Paid,” by the airline. This is not simply a generic seat configuration guide. Presently, there are seat maps for over 120 different airlines that show what particular seats are occupied or vacant for a particular flight on a particular day. You can view the list of supported airlines here.
    What are some of the air travel and frequent flier program trends you are seeing and how are they affecting the travel industry?
    We’re seeing that frequent flyer miles are becoming easier to earn with things like credit card signup promotions, however they are also starting to lose some of their value. British Airways just launched their new Avios program, which requires more miles for many flights vs. their prior program. Also Aeroplan just instituted new fuel charges on many award redemptions, which makes it costlier to redeem miles in that program, as well. Generally, there are more people than ever going after fewer seats than ever, which results in increasing airfares. Don’t wait to book your next trip, airfares will probably only go up from here.

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