Navigating the world of points and miles is a complicated journey. Every talented frequent traveler has a list of tools they use to help find the perfect flights. I don’t pretend to be the preeminent expert on travel tools. I have a basket I use consistently that have served me well over the years. I’m a bit stuck in my ways but I’m always willing to look at a new tool.
Expert Flyer is one of those tools I’ve been using for as long as I can remember. And, while it’s not a big deal to log into their website, I was intrigued when they announced the launch of an iPhone app a few weeks ago (they announced an Android app as well but I haven’t tested it). The App Store lists the date of the app as September, 2012. So, either I’ve been living under a rock or the product has been in beta for a bit before they publicized it. At first blush, I found the product limited but useful.
The home screen reveals that the app doesn’t cover all the features that the full website has (namely finding seats in different fare classes, including award seats). But, it was pretty straight forward to create a seat alert.
The “Create Seat Alert” screen was pretty straightforward. I tested it with both American and United.
It pulls up a seat map that matched both the desktop version of Expert Flyer and the airlines’ own websites.
Similar to the website, you can select a variety of different options to search for. The seat map legend and seat reviews are just as useful as on the desktop version.
Summary screen was very straight forward.
And, that’s it. The alert is set up. The only glitch I found (admittedly only running 2 tests) was that the seat alerts I created in the App did not appear in my list of saved alerts in the desktop version. I did get properly notified a short time later that my seat was open, but the alert did not appear in “Active”, “Expired” or “Notified” online.
Conversely, when I created a seat alert online, it instantly popped up in the App without having to even reload.
Some of my profile data did move over from the full version to the mobile App. For instance, you can enter your frequent flyer numbers to get more accurate seat maps. This feature is only enabled for British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, United and Virgin Australia. No idea if they plan to add others. When I navigated to this screen, my United Airlines information was already saved there.
Expert Flyer does have a free option just for seat alerts that I haven’t tried. I assume you can use it with the mobile app which would be kinda nifty as a free resource.
Beginners will find Expert Flyer (in either the full version or mobile version) useful. It’s a bit like navigating the internet before there were search engines. If you want to search for a seat on a specific flight it won’t display a list of options in the App. For that feature you’ll have to head to the full version. But, if you’ve got your flight info handy or can pop into a browser to retrieve it real quick it’s likely you can create an alert your first time without a whole lot of trouble.
Bottom line, if you’re already an Expert Flyer member, downloading the free App will make your life easier. I use a great deal of the functionality of Expert Flyer on a regular basis so I’d love to see them adapt those features over to the iPhone and iPad apps.