An Impressive New Award Search Tool From Juicy Miles

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One of the trickiest things about redeeming miles is accurately searching award space. You have to know where to search for it, the foibles of each search engine, and that’s before you even get into the thick of what partners each airline has and the corresponding routing rules.

It can be a lot.

Of course, we all build that knowledge up over time, or can research for a particular trip, but even when you’re knowledgeable about all that stuff — the reality is that actually searching inventory can be incredibly time-consuming.

Many different people have tried to solve this problem over the years. There have been sites that scraped award space, but for the most part they have been very expensive to run (and thus to use). Other sites have built tools to cross-reference award charts so you can find the “cheapest” price, but they weren’t able to fully integrate routing rules and other limitations. I’ve been approached by probably five dozen different developers in the past ten years about building something to make it easier for people to use miles, but there was never a model that really made sense to invest in.

So when my friend Adam (who runs Juicy Miles, and writes Point Me to the Plane) mentioned a few years ago that he was starting work on an award search tool I was very intrigued. I absolutely trust Adam and his team when it comes to using miles and points (they have taken great care of our PointsPros clients when we’ve had folks on vacation or out sick), so I felt from the outset that it would have a lot of the functionality that was hard for people who didn’t have that knowledge to wrap their heads around.

What’s awesome about it is that he hasn’t built this as just a “helping” tool for his booking service, which he absolutely could have done. Speeding up his own operation would certainly be valuable, and I’m sure his team would have appreciated spending less time searching. Instead, the Juicy Miles award search tool is publicly available as a subscription serviceusers pay a flat fee, which gives them unlimited searches across unlimited programs.

The impressive thing about the Juicy Miles tool to me is not just that it searches space (which I of course love), but that it will also show you a variety of practical options for using your miles. The interface is simple, so you can quickly compare itineraries, and I think it will also help people get a better idea as to the possibilities with mileage redemptions, even if they aren’t researching for a particular trip.

If this is something that sounds interesting to you, you’ll want to consider getting in on the introductory pricing of $29.99 a month, but let’s go through the features first so you can see what you’d be getting.

Using the Juicy Miles award tool

One of the things that I like about this is that it’s very intuitive to use, so I think once you jump in you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. But I figure it’s helpful to go through it regardless, especially for those who aren’t sure if they’d really use something like this.

Let’s say you’re looking to go to Hong Kong — you can search for round-trips, one-ways, or basic multi-city options. I’m going to use one-way, because that’s how I search 99% of the time anyway.

Once you hit “Search” the results will start loading. You’ll see some things immediately, but depending on the airline or partner program others may trickle in. But you can click around and refine your search without impeding the search process.

You can filter your search to only include certain options — like if you don’t have Amex points you can choose to not show those redemption possibilities.

But I’m going to keep everything unfiltered for now, and suggest that if you’re using this tool to determine what might be possible that you do as well. After all, the best mileage currency for a future trip might be one you aren’t earning yet!

Earn Flexible Rewards Points

So as results fill in, you’ll see that the “cheapest” option is though Citi ThankYou, and if you click on it you’ll see it’s a mixed-cabin itinerary on China Eastern booked through Qantas, with the longest segment in economy.

Please don’t book this.

The cheapest Citi ThankYou option for a fully business class itinerary is 104,000 points — again on China Eastern, and again booked through Qantas.

That seems like a better option if you only have Citi points, but if you click up on the Membership Rewards panel, you can see that the same flight is available using 85,000 Delta SkyMiles.

Or, if you’re needing to pool points from multiple programs, 115,000 FlyingBlue points might make sense:

The FlyingBlue option for 115k would of course be available through Chase Ultimate Rewards as well, or the next-highest price option would be using Singapore KrisFlyer:

If you do decide to splurge on that Singapore KrisFlyer option, select the flight, and a tile will open up with some basic booking instructions, including points transfer options:

And that’s pretty much it!

An example to Europe

Let’s look at another example, this time from Seattle to Amsterdam, since West Coast to Europe awards are always annoying to search for.

A few results pop up right away, and this time the Juicy Miles tool shows a 55k mile option through Air Canada Aeroplan, which is tempting until you see that the long-haul segment is in economy.

An alternative shows using Ultimate Rewards points — a mixed cabin itinerary on United and LOT, though at least the long segment is in business this time.

It is worth noting that this is one of the limitations of the Juicy Miles tool. The above itinerary with United and LOT should also be bookable through Aeroplan if you call. But with the long layover and the airport change this doesn’t populate on the Aeroplan site, and they have historically had issues confirming LOT space (though it’s bookable at present).

So there is still an element of “knowing the tricks” involved to make this most successful, but it absolutely can make searching easier.

Anyway, if you don’t want to consider a mixed cabin itinerary, the lowest price on that date seems to be booking directly through FlyingBlue:

Again, selecting this flight would give you some general instructions as to how to book the award, and I appreciate that the Juicy Miles team has added lots of language about double-checking with the airline, putting awards on hold when possible, and exercising general caution.

Basic multi-city search

While you can’t enter complex itinerary strings (and there’s really no need to, honestly), you can still give the computer a bit of help. Let’s say for example that you’re returning from South Africa to New York.

There’s an easy option on Swiss available through United (again, this should also be available through Aeroplan if you were to call them), but maybe you’re really hoping to fly Etihad and stopover in Abu Dhabi.

You can enter up to two flights in the multi-city fields, so if I wanted an overnight in Abu Dhabi, I might structure it like this:

And then I would refine my results to only show the non-stop flights:

If Etihad has “Guest” award space it can be booked at the lowest level with Etihad miles, or can be booked through American. Juicy Miles will actually show you the pricing using AAdvantage miles too, which is nice!

In this case I chose to book one flight using Etihad miles, and the second using American miles, just so you could see how it looks when it’s all put together.

So hopefully that gives you an idea of how it works.

What I like about the Juicy Miles award search tool

Fundamentally, I appreciate how much easier it is to compare options.

I think OMAAT readers will benefit from this as a time-saving option for searching — you do still need to know a fair amount about redeeming miles to get the maximum benefit when it comes time to put itineraries together. But less-advanced players will enjoy the extra handholding, and can still make solid redemption choices without having to shell out for a full-service booking option, or spending hours and hours basically researching how to start researching!

Visualize tradeoffs

This is something that I know is often frustrating to people, because they might have looked for revenue fares and seen flight options, or heard about a particular award sweet spot that they want to try, but then the realities of award space don’t match up with those expectations.

So I like how having everything in one spot makes it easier to see what the tradeoffs are when redeeming your miles.

Sure, you can get from New York to the Maldives on your exact date for 67,500 ThankYou points and very low fees —

But is a three (secretly four) stop routing on Air China, and the hassle of going to a Turkish ticketing office, worth the price savings compared to a one-stop routing on Air France booked instantly online through Delta?

Everyone has to decide that for themselves, but I think it’s nice to be able to compare so quickly.

Other cool features

Adam has put a lot of time into trying to ensure that this tool would have the functionality that he’d like it to have in order to be useful. Which, that’s probably true of anyone who builds anything, but when you factor in that this is someone who has in-the-trenches experience redeeming miles it has led to some useful stuff that even the program websites don’t offer, like:

  • Virgin Atlantic will display as an option for booking ANA flights
  • Etihad awards will show both the Etihad and American prices
  • Fuel surcharges can be easily compared on one screen
  • Various Marriott partners (even/especially the ones you might not have thought of) are easily considered

As an example of that, if you’re looking for flights to Tokyo, and Korean Air has an option, you’ll see that in the SPG/Marriott results. You also get the price in terms of the number of Marriott points required, not just partner miles, which is useful.

And then there’s what I think is the biggest benefit of the tool. Because Juicy Miles is pulling data directly from the airline reservation systems (when possible), they are sometimes going to be less impacted by airline website shenanigans.

So all this nonsense happening with FlyingBlue lately? That’s a website issue, not a reservations system issue, and you can accurately search for FlyingBlue space through Juicy Miles still.

There are other cases where everyone will be equally impacted by an airline error (more on this in a bit), but having that potential buffer is interesting to me.

Areas for improvement

As impressive as the Juicy Miles tool is, it is still very much a work-in-progress. And I think regardless it’s important to acknowledge a couple of aspects that maybe aren’t quite there yet.

Displayed Award Pricing

One of the cool things about the approach Adam and his development team have taken here is that they’ve integrated so many different data sources into one search engine. The fact that you’re getting the price of Etihad awards using American miles, or ANA results for Virgin Atlantic awards requires layers and layers of coding and cross referencing.

Despite that (or more realistically, because of that complexity), the pricing isn’t always 100% accurate. I know this is something they’re working on, but I think it’s helpful to know why it happens, as there are a few reasons:

  • A program (and thus its pricing) might be temporarily down for maintenance or testing — for example British Airways Avios pricing doesn’t show in the system at the time of writing, as they implement some technical fixes
  • The information they’re getting from the airline might be glitchy — like for a bit last week the Qantas system was convinced that economy LATAM flights between Lima and Cuzco were Premium Economy, so everything showed in the JuicyMiles system at the higher price; or how Aeroplan just cannot handle co-terminals online, but will happily book them if you call
  • If the tool offers transferring Marriott points as an option, the number of points to be transferred correctly factors in the 25% transfer bonus and tells you the right number of points to transfer for one person; for multiple passengers it sometimes tells you to transfer too many points (they’re fixing this, but in the meantime I’d recommend doing your own math)

The first problem is a symptom of a tool that’s actively being worked on and adjusted, so I don’t think it’s a big deal. I do wish there were better messaging so that users were aware that they might be able to book an Iberia flight with other miles than the programs listed, but that BA pricing was temporarily not displaying for whatever reason.

The second issue is somewhat just the nature of the game — airlines aren’t highly invested in making award inventory accurate and easy, so if you’re getting your data from airline systems, sometimes it’s just going to show ridiculous things. The Juicy Miles team has some ideas as to how to triangulate across programs and reject bad data, and it certainly helps that they know what they’re doing with miles and points and thus can catch things, but there’s some element of this that’s always going to be reliant upon the airlines.

Single date search

The best thing you can do to improve your mileage redemption is to be willing to be a little flexible with your dates or routing. Juicy Miles addresses the routing option, as they show lots of flights across a variety of carriers, but I wish it was a bit easier to search a day on either side, or to easily replicate a search on a new date.

Maybe a future premium feature?

Update — I woke up to a message from Adam saying ” +/- 1 day search will be live next week and +/- 3 day is anticipated to be live on Feb 8″, so there’s that 🙂

Other concerns

These aren’t necessarily my concerns, but I do think they’re things that are going to come up, so might as well address them.

“Wait, if it’s easier for people to search award space doesn’t that mean I won’t be able to get the flights I want?”

Not really? I mean, sure, there’s a potential element of that, but I don’t think that’s the biggest variable when it comes to redeeming miles these days. Better algorithms, full flights, and more aggressive inventory management are all much bigger factors — award space isn’t getting manually loaded at midnight on Tuesdays — and the game will continue to constantly evolve regardless.

The more interesting award space is also often one of those things that “can’t be found except by those who know where it is,” and the Juicy Miles tool doesn’t change that. It makes the searching more efficient, but you still need to know where to search, or how to think through airline award routing rules to piece an award together if you want to find the tricky stuff. And that almost “institutional knowledge” isn’t impacted by a different search interface.

What this does do however is equalize the economics a bit more. In order for it to be cost-effective to manually search award space, communicate back and forth, and help clients individually, award consulting services have had to charge a high premium — and in our case at least that came with an understanding that the price point was unfortunately not realistic for many people. Especially those who just need a little help, or have an idea as to what they are doing, but don’t have the time for extensive searching of multiple sites.

I believe that knowing how to redeem miles is much more important than knowing how to earn them (the earning is easy in comparison). If having a more visual tool at a moderate price point helps people understand their potential options, and results in them being able to make the mileage acquisition choices that are best for their situation, I think that’s great for everyone.

And again, all this data (well, with the current and maddening exception of FlyingBlue) is still available for free from other sources.

“Isn’t this going to hurt your business?”

I don’t think so.

We’ve intentionally kept PointsPros as a boutique firm, and the bulk of our client base consists of previous clients or referrals who want a specific experience with using their miles. We have a handful of mileage enthusiasts and blog readers who we help (Hi! We appreciate you!), but 90-95% have never heard of One Mile at a Time, and aren’t necessarily trying to maximize their miles in the same ways y’all do. So it’s just a different market.

I’ve also been very vocal over the years that if you are reading the blog, and are interested in miles and points, that you are best served by learning how to redeem miles on your own (if you’ve ever heard me speak at an event you hopefully heard me emphasize how important that is to me). I see the Juicy Miles tool as another pathway to building that knowledge more than anything that competes with what we’re doing on our consulting side.

Besides, while the “Booking Instructions” provided by Juicy Miles give a solid high-level overview of the process, it’s not quite the same as knowing all the quirks and foibles of a program, so I think there will always be room in the space for specialized expertise. 😉

Bottom line

The new Juicy Miles award search tool is cool, and I think it is going to be a big time saver. This is absolutely something I would recommend to those family friends and neighbors who think they want help using their miles, but don’t really want to use miles the way that we do. So a “check out this tool to compare your options, decide what itinerary you want, and then I’ll help you book it” might make things easier on everyone in those cases.

I appreciate that everything is being done “above board” so that the data is as accurate as possible, and that those inputs are being filtered and collated by a team that actually understands how to redeem miles and points. I also like that there’s a monetization component already built in, so the Juicy Miles team can afford to continuously improve the auto-search tool, and I don’t expect this to be something that folds in a few months — unlike apps that try to find VC money for the thing they’ve built and then have to close up shop when they don’t.

The searching functionality is good, and the pricing layers are accurate for the most part. I like that Adam has found a way to offer this to more people at a reasonable price, and think it’s well worth trying it out to see how it can help you with redeeming your miles.

Have you used the Juicy Miles (or other) award search tool? What was your experience?

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Comments

  1. The price makes only sense for e.g. a booking service like yours or if you manage miles and redemptions for a lot of persons.
    If you are like me planning 1-3 trips per year (and with discounted business class some or all of them being paid trips) it is too expensive.
    I couldn’t figure out if there is a way to easily subscribe and unsubscribe. If the costs are 30 dollar to plan a larger trip then I would pay it (shouldn’t take me more then 30 days).

  2. found the cancellation option in their T&C’s. Not exactly user friendly only via email:

    Cancellation. You may cancel your Juicy Miles membership at any time, and you will continue to have access to the Juicy Miles service through the end of your monthly billing period. WE DO NOT PROVIDE REFUNDS OR CREDITS FOR ANY PARTIAL-MONTH MEMBERSHIP PERIODS. To cancel, simply email us your request to do so at [email protected]. This request will be acknowledged within 72 hours at which point, once acknowledged you will be notified via email.

  3. About 3x too expensive. Not good that this can’t be demoed for a short period. If searching from NYC, have to use EWR, LGA, JFK all separate. Looks like it has potential but I’m out for now.

  4. Price is more than fair. I don’t redeem enough points to subscribe year round. But when I need to plan a trip or two, I would definitely sign up. So I view this as a $30/trip search tool. I imagine that is how most will use it. Hope it lasts.

  5. Introductory price? What is the full price going to be because they don’t tell us. $30/month is steep, most subscriptions services are around the $10/month level and offer a lot more value for that lower price.

    Not worth the price in my opinion.

  6. Kvstool as I recall 75 a year
    expertflyer. 99 a year
    Juicymiles. 360 a year

    It MIGHT be worth a 50pct premium over Expertflyer….but not 3.5x

    Pricing totally misses the market…I joyfully pay annually for the first 2…wont even consider the last 1…totally based on the pricepoint.

  7. I would pay about $100 per year for this, max.
    $30 per month is way too much.
    They should keep in mind: the miles&points traveler is very cost conscious!

  8. Yeah. Adam didn’t hear about social media business model?

    Sell our data. Provide the service for free.

  9. Unless they add a date range search this is a total rip off.

    Single date search
    The best thing you can do to improve your mileage redemption is to be willing to be a little flexible with your dates or routing. Juicy Miles addresses the routing option, as they show lots of flights across a variety of carriers, but I wish it was a bit easier to search a day on either side, or to easily replicate a search on a new date.

    Maybe a future premium feature?

  10. I guess if he wants to build a decent base he will need to introduce tiered pricing. The $30 a month is maybe valuable to Americans who are swimming in miles from their credit cards.
    Non-americans have on average 90-95% less miles to play with, so $30 a month is not a solid business case.
    For those that need to fly miles together instead of getting them out of CC bonuses, something like $30 a year would maybe make sense, and even then I would need to think twice.

  11. While the price is crazy if you’re going to subscribe for months and use it just once or twice, it could be useful at the point where you’ve decided you’re definitely going to book something, and you want to know what all your options are. So you pay for one month of service and then cancel after you’ve booked.

    On the other hand, how many times has mrs snic said “hey, let’s go to X next summer!” – and I dutifully go looking for award space via my usual venues, don’t find it, and tell her that if we go, it will be paid economy? It would be nice to have this tool on hand for quick spur-of-the-moment searches so I can explore all my options whenever I want. But I can’t justify $360/year for that.

  12. Yes – GTFO!!

    Use award.flights Award Finder on google chrome. Free, multi platform search.

    What a rip off!

  13. Not a bad tool but price is a little high as others have mentioned. Award Hacker does the trick for a basic search and shows you which miles you can use. Couple that with Expert flyer and you have a cheaper experience.

  14. I really wanted to try it, but the 24-hour cancellation period isn’t reasonable. He’s charging 3X more than Expertflyer. If his site is really that much better where he can charge $360/year, he needs to give people a lot more time to try it out.

    As always though, your analysis of the site is really informative!

  15. What should we read into the fact that this article doesn’t mention the price? I had to click thru to learn it’s nearky $360/year.

  16. If they offered a single say a seven day at a time span for $9.95 – long enough for someone to find their options and get booked that would work. Since I travel a couple times a year, $30! a month is a non-starter for me.

    This sound more like a tool for someone with an award booking service…

  17. @ Sean — Yes, all the inventory is live from the airline feeds. The prices are accurate (other than where I’ve noted about a certain program not displaying for some interval of time), and the whole system is being monitored by people who actually use miles, so there are plans to triangulate and throw out bad data. You’re also getting unlimited searches across more programs than AwardEx offers, without having to deal with credits and all that.

  18. I took a flyer on it (har). ExpertFlyer is fine but lacking in certain areas and it never hurts to have another tool, and I’m eager to see what’s been built. I agree it’s expensive to have on an ongoing basis but I also appreciate the significant difficulty of building something like this, and want to reward the effort put in. I’ll probably cancel after a month, but if it does end up saving me substantial time versus the huge current PITA that is award searching and booking, it’s probably worth it to me.

    Note that if you pay with PayPal you would also maintain control over cancelling the recurring billing. You’d still owe to them whatever is owed, but they’d have to collect, rather than being able to auto-charge.

  19. @ John W — That’s one of those tools that is moderately helpful, but not actually faster in my experience. It supports a narrow range of sites and carriers, requires taking over your browser, is scraping the loyalty sites rather than getting a direct feed, doesn’t display pricing or triangulate availability, the user interface isn’t great, etc.

    Obviously it’s fine for the price, but that’s not one that I’ve found to be an improvement over just going to the sites directly. I don’t think they are really comparable.

  20. I would rather use KVS tool than this. The fact that it doesn’t handle city codes like NYC, TYO, LON already makes it hard to use for the award searches I have to do most.

  21. @ Alonzo — The guys at Award Hacker are super nice, and they’ve done a good job with that, but they are very limited by resources (which is what happens when you build something without a plan to make it viable). Award Hacker doesn’t have pricing integration, and as they aren’t telling you the full itineraries you can’t see if the result is mixed cabin, has a ridiculous layover, etc. They’re also limited by the data that they’re getting — hence why they aren’t showing any FlyingBlue results at all during the outage, while Juicy Miles does. And you still then have to go to another site to search.

    So it’s a very useful tool from an education perspective and for those who have no clue where to start, but if the goal is to save time I’m not sure it actually does that.

  22. I’m disinclined to pay the $30 per month or go through the PITA of subscribing and unsubscribing from the tool. The price is not worth it to me, but best of luck to those who do find value in the program. A free 7 day trial might make me try it out, but even then I’m not sure. As always, JMTC.

  23. @ Bgriff — I believe that might be coming (they are already flagging them, so it seems like easy coding to filter them), but given how easy it is to click around and how fast the site loads, I think it makes sense to still show the mixed cabins. Most of us would be willing to take an economy flight from Chicago to Toronto if in meant the rest was in business, so I don’t know that it hurts anything to show the option. And since consumers aren’t paying based on how many programs or cabins they ask to search, might as well let them show it.

  24. Seems like a reasonable price, IMO. But then again I have an idea of where I want to go and when, so worst case, it takes me 2 months. $60. If you use their actual award booking service, I think for 2 people it’s around $250. (Yes, I’ve used them before and have an active booking process with them), so in my case, it’s worth it.

    But it seems like most folks here are savvy enough to not have to use any award booking services from anyone, so at that point I can see the *yearly*pricing being a tad high.

    However, I think they’re gearing it for the “use 1-2 months” and that’s that (unless you book for other folks type of thing).

  25. A free trial would go a long way to build a customer base. This is the kind of thing I would never put my credit card down for until I can see how much value it would add to my life.

  26. $10 each time accessed seems would fit most of the above reader’s needs. The more it saves someone, the more they will use as well.

  27. I think this tool can benefit the hard core points guru. But probably won’t help the everyday points person, because you need hundreds of thousands of points in each program (Chase, AMEX, Citi) to have the luxury to choice the lowest points option when booking a premium award. I would like to think the majority of the people who read this blog are concentrated in 1, maybe 2 programs, and when booking premium travel, know exactly which Alliance they need to fly on to use their points. Maybe I’m wrong, but just my opinion…

  28. Just messaged them via the website asking about a free trial membership. Here’s their response:

    “. . . I certainly understand your pricing concerns. We don’t currently have a free trial option but an alternative will be available in the next few days. If you click Login in the top right hand corner, then Sign-Up, you can enter your contact details and then simply exit the window when the $29.99 payment screen comes up. You’ll be entered into our database as a non-paying member and we can then send you a notification as soon as the trial option is available . . “

  29. This would be more useful if you could indicate credit card points, rather than airline programs. Even better if it provided useful instructions thereafter to guide how to, say, move credit card points to United and then book a Star Alliance partner.

  30. As the others above point out (excuse the bad pun), it’s a rather pricey tool if one isn’t earning millions of points annually. For myself, I’d rather contact @Tiffany at PointsPro and let her work out the details for occasional complicated itineraries.

  31. About to book an award flight and adding $360 on top of it to search brings down the value significantly. They need to change their pricing tiers. They should charge more for organizations who are using for clients versus the person who wants a few searches each month. Should give you free searches to start and then have a cheap base package to get people using the service.

  32. $30 intro price means the actual price will be higher. No trial period for free or cheap. This is a no-go for me. This seems like something I’d pay for one month, figure out the tricks they use, then do it on my own. And I feel badly for the unknowing traveler who thinks this will help them…I’d much rather refer them to a full service option, get exactly what they want/need, and pay one price.

  33. With that pricing, they’re clearly targeting one-off or two-off uses and not annual subscribers as there’s no monthly commit.

    The lack of a multi-day, limited-feature trial in lieu of 24 hour cancellation is unfortunate, but I guess it works for them.

  34. I signed up for it. Totally not worth the price. It’s cool, I suppose, but absolutely overpriced and lots of little add-on optionals. I think it’s designed for very lazy people who have a lot of miles, don’t have a basic understanding of mileage programs, and don’t want to spend more than 10 minutes researching options themselves. I thought it would be a lot more than it actually is. After 5 minutes of poking around the site I knew I wouldn’t be renewing and there’s no easy way of just canceling the renewal. You have to email them. Awful. That to me is a red flag. They did email me back saying they’d take care of it (without actually acknowledging the renewal is canceled). They also wanted to know why I was canceling. After paying them $30 and not being impressed (even a little bit) by their product and seeing how they are trying to get more money from all their add-ons I feel they should pay me for my feedback.

    I will also be very careful about signing up for anything plugged by OMAAT going fwd.

  35. @ KA — Yeah, like I said, it’s not for everyone, but I’m confused about the “lots of little add-on optionals”.

    As far as I know, the only thing upsell option is if you want someone to do the booking for you. The full functionality of the search tool is available at the base price, and there aren’t any “extra if you pay” features that I am aware of. But will of course edit my post if there are!

  36. They should offer different paying options… like monthly subscription which they already have and an one month only which they don’t have. People aren’t interested in jumping through hoops to unsubscribe so people won’t bother to sign up…. at least I won’t. But if they have one month option without me remembering sending them an email to unsubscribe, I may give it a go and see how it works out.

  37. Wanted to congratulate JuicyMiles on this tremendously needed tool and thank them for the work they put into it and the upcoming improvements based on our feedback. I will wait until all the rough edges has been worked out and might do the one-month subscription to get my award seats, once per year. Most (if not all) award search engines don’t show AS searches. Is this one any different as we are Alaska miles rich!

    Thank you Tiffany for defending JM honor! 😉

  38. First off Tiffany, great thorough breakdown in your articles as always, thanks! I have two questions, please reply at your
    convenience.

    1) I would like to know if it searches for ALL databases or are some programs that doesn’t allow web search still blocked out? Because we know the cheapest one way business redemption from LAX to HKG is using 50K miles on CX, however this option is not shown in your example. This leads to my next question…

    2) Does it only search for “available” award seats at the time of search? Because that would explain the lack of AS/CX option since it’s December and we all know CX inventory is gutted for rest of the year due to the Vietnam fiasco.

    As others have mentioned (but some could be with better manners), the pricing is a bit steep for people that don’t offer consulting service or manage multiple accounts. However, if cheapest award routing options are posted as info as well (whether available or not), and also “verified and allowed” routes according to routing rules are posted, I can see a niche market for that price, but still a niche market. I can’t recall how many times I use one of the free/cheaper options as others have mentioned above, and then get a letdown after I find out the proposed route is not allowed after reading the actual fare rules or call in to customer service.

  39. I, at most, book 2 trips a year when this tool would be useful. Without ‘trip-based’ pricing options (i.e., a 1 week option for $10 or similar), it’s a non-starter for me. Additionally, without a free trial to know what you’re going to get for your $300+/year, good luck getting people to sign up. Add in the antiquated process for cancelling via an email (is it still 2005?) and I think they’re going to have a real struggle on their hands to build a user-base.

    Bottom line – it looks like a useful tool, but their monetization scheme is horrible and will likely cripple the business.

  40. It takes time and effort to book vacations with miles. I would probably pay someone a 30$ – 50$ fee one time to plan a vacation for me using my miles but there is no way I’m paying money simply for an app to make my searching easier. Even more ludicrous is the monthly cost required.

    Shameless plug for one of Tiffany’s buddies. This site has already gone a bit extreme in credit card advertisements. @Lucky, please don’t let your blog devolve into a cesspool of referrals to friends’ businesses – especially by secondary contributors like Tiff.

  41. @V Tiffany’s certainly earned enough cred in her writing that if she’s pimping a friend’s site, as you say, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she thinks it offers legitimate value. If anything, I think she is less “salesy” than Lucky.

  42. I’m puzzled by why so many dislike the “cancel by email” option. There’s WAY too many things out there that require you to cancel by PHONE only (that’s horrible, IMO). I’d love if everything had a cancel by email. Type one sentence and click send. 15 seconds or less, IMO.

  43. This is a pretty shameless plug by the OMAAT team for what seems like a business idea that hasn’t been well thought out.

  44. @Tiffany – Thanks for a great article. Once again you have done a great job of laying out a complex topic and providing great examples and explanations.

    As for JuicyMiles, everyone is entitled to their opinion but JFC, frankly it amazes me how many folks have a so many snarky/dismissive comments (some almost sound like complaints, wtf? ) about something they have just discovered and have never used.

    As for the pricing, some things are worth paying for. Maybe you have the time and inclination to spend hours digging and researching; maybe you enjoy the hunt (“the game is afoot Watson!”) but somebody else it willing to pay extra for convenience and a little hand-holding. As someone who works in the web development space the amount of work that would have been put into something like this is a little mind blowing. Kudos to Adam and his team.

  45. @ Donna — That’s so sweet! But I don’t think people who think this is pricey are going to want to pay for a full service option either.

  46. @ Kalboz — Hah, not trying to defend them as such; I think it’s a useful tool for some and wanted to be able to show everyone how it worked in case it’s something folks were considering but didn’t want to pay for without having visibility into the product. That seems to have been lost on some though.

    It does show some options with Alaska miles, and will show more partners (probably by the time you’re ready to use it).

  47. @ Sir Fly a Lot — Those are great questions, an I think this is actually a point many people are missing.

    What makes the Juicy Miles tool different from other attempts at this stuff is that it displays live airline award inventory and pricing based on the associated programs and their routing rules. Other tools give theoretical prices based on award charts, but don’t look at inventory; some look at inventory, but don’t consider routing rules or award prices. So it’s a one-stop shop based on reality and the input of people who know miles programs.

    Caveat: If an airline is pushing phantom space into the feed, that’s going to be a problem regardless.

  48. I don’t think it works as a monthly recurring service for most people but $30 is in the ballpark for a month of access to test various options for a big international redemption if it does what they claim.

  49. Lol “Speeding up his own operation would certainly be valuable, and I’m sure his team would have appreciated spending less time searching. Instead, the Juicy Miles award search tool is publicly available as a subscription service — users pay a flat fee”

    AKA “instead of using it himself only he sells it for a ridiculous fee, just a modern day Robin Hood”. You gotta be kidding me.

  50. I appreciate the thorough analysis. I had heard of the tool, and I found your work to explain it very helpful. Count me among those who find $360/year very pricey. If JuicyMiles comes down to $100 a year or so, then I’ll happily jump on board and see what I get from it. Or I’d like the option to search for a week.

    I’m surprised that no one is talking about AwardNexus. There, I buy points that I can use against future searches. I can set it up to run recurring searches each day. I find it tremendously helpful.

  51. Pricing aside, many of you may want to click on the Team page. 🙂

    There are some cute people bringing you Juicy Miles, and those views are free.

  52. 27 Hours to go from SEA to AMS? Someone would choose that option, really? With a stop in Newark and Warsaw?

  53. Developing software and web sites is a time-consuming and hard work. Hope juicymiles could also receive some revenue from elsewhere, like advertisement, high-end client one-to-one consulting etc. Solely based on high subscription fee may not work.

    Also, anything making the cancellation not obvious might drive people away. Something like WSJ, Bloomberg subsciptions.

  54. @Tiffany Informative article for a way overpriced product.

    They are unlikely to get much word of mouth when a limited number of people will sign up. $30 per month (and that is just introductory pricing!) if you will use it for one trip is not bad, but those who read this site (and might spread the word) and travel frequently are unlikely to sign up at that price, especially with auto-renewal. I (with very few exceptions) will never sign up for auto-renewal even when can do so online and not through a an email.

    I get a lot of mileage (pun intended) out of ExpertFlyer and it it worth the $100 per year (and I do not have auto-renewal, but renew manually every year). I might try Juicy Miles for a year (without auto-renewal) at $100.

    While it is way overpriced for a consumer, it is probably underpriced for a commercial user. A commercial user should be charged perhaps $1,000 per year (although perhaps some of the bloggers will get it for free).

    Those individual users who are found to be doing excessive searches (as in likely commercial use) should be required to pay the higher fee or throttled or refunded.

    At a minimum they should sell $100 annual subscriptions through OMATT referrals to build up a base (with guaranteed renewals (but not auto-renewal) at similar pricing). I might sign up myself then.

    One reason ExpertFlyer does so well (or at least appears to be doing so) is because of a reasonable yearly fee. Frankly, this does not even appear to provide as much value as ExpertFlyer.

    I actually wanted to do a test run of a recent difficult search that I had just done (but gave up on using miles for this trip and wound up with a terrific First Class mileage run instead), but, perhaps, understandably, could not do so without paying, but would have been a great test of the program.

  55. Even worse than auto-renewal is that they reserve the right to increase prices by email notification.

    Further, this is cute: “Payment Methods. You may edit your Payment Method information by visiting our website and clicking on the “Your Account” link, available at the top of the pages of the Netflix website.”

  56. I don’t see this as lasting too long. Imagine the constant work/updates and manual fixes to keep up with ever-changing airline loyalty programs. There was another company trying to do this but it bit the dust.
    Soon they will have to integrate with other sites and start giving it away. Just my .02.
    Hope i’m wrong and they do well.

  57. What are their gaps in award availability coverage? EF has several. KVS has almost none but is a scraper so is subject to the tool breaking from time to time when a website changes.

  58. What isn’t answered in the article – and thank you Tiffany for the information you did provide:
    Some airlines’ award inventory is not available on EF or KVS – is JM subject to the same issue? In other words – how did Adam and friends get access to CX award inventory (through their reservation system) where EF and KVS cannot?

    If that issue remains (and even if it doesn’t) that cost kills it.

  59. Planning my award travel is an integral part of what makes the game a great joy and fun to play. I will not “outsource” the search of award flights to any commercial tool, no matter how useful, and deprive myself of the fun!

  60. Thanks for the tip, Tiffany.

    I just signed up. One problem I noted involves Etihad (first class) searches. It showed unavailability when there actually is space. I think it’s because Etihad’s website has the weird quirk where if you search, for example, JFK-AUH one-way in First, it shows as unavailable. But, if you do a round trip search from AUH-JFK, the JFK-AUH segment shows availability on the same date (which reflects actually available seats). I don’t know if there’s a way that the website could deal with this (or at the very least, warn users that Etihad availability may not be fully reflected based on quirks on the Etihad award availability originating from certain cities, such as JFK).

  61. I signed up and spent the last hour playing with it. I like it a lot. I realize some may have the time and enjoy the fun of the hunt the old fashioned way but, for me, this works perfectly. I also have seen some examples of areas I missed in sweet spots that make it not only a convenience but a solution to save me points along the way.

    I noticed that Life Miles rarely comes up however and I am guessing issues with their new system coming online the next few weeks? One would assume that if Aeroplan is showing it that LifeMiles will as well.

  62. @ Red — From the searches I’ve been running, very few gaps when everything is live. There has been some up and down with certain airline feeds (I mentioned BA/IB above, as an example), and in order to integrate with so many airlines I expect there will always be maintenance periods, but in general it’s much more comprehensive than EF.

  63. @ Kelly — I’m not privy to contract negotiations between any of those companies (and don’t know where EF and KVS are getting their data), but I imagine it comes down to details like cost, refresh rates, etc.

  64. @ SF traveller — Etihad has point of sale restrictions built in to their inventory management for award space, so everyone is going to be subject to those limitations. There are technical ways JM could theoretically get around it, but I doubt they would be allowed by Etihad.

  65. @ Stuart — Good to hear!

    And yep, from what I understand LifeMiles has been difficult to work with (shocking!), which might be related to their upcoming changes.

  66. I maintain about 3 airline, 3 hotel, and 2 credit card currencies (at any redeemable value). Spending $30/month for this service is down right BONKERS. Create a transactional price point of $20 per trip/date range, or at the very least, make an easier cancellation process so I can just sign up for a month. But at that price, I’ll just take an hour or two and check my various points currencies against my trip, and save the $30 for a drink or two at my destination.

  67. Agree that pricing needs to be either around the $10 a month mark or allow one off $25 or $30 subscriptions for 30 days without the faff of emailing to cancel.

    The positive thing is that many of the people in the comments appear to be willing to pay $10 a month so hopefully the service can be successful and profitable with some price adjustment.

    Totally get that this was likely very time consuming and expensive to build but still the price has to make sense.

    Agree also that they need a free or very reduced price trial.

  68. I love how your opener acts like he’s doing us all a favour by not keeping it to himself, then you say he’s charging a ridiculous $30 a month. So kind of him!

  69. Been playing some more with this and really, I am impressed. Some great sweet spot redemption areas I never paid attention to before like using Turkish for Star Alliance redemptions that tend to come in lower in points than Aeroplan or LifeMiles in premium cabins.

    One oddity though is the Qatar seems to never come up for anything. I tried numerous obvious searches to Doha from many markets and it never ever returns a single option. I am wondering why and if there is an issue.

  70. I’ve been using Award Nexus for years. Though the interface is outdated, the results are generally useful. And the value lies in paying per search, not via a monthly subscription .

    I am wondering if anyone has sufficient experience to compare JuicyMiles with Award Nexus?

  71. @ rick — I have used Award Nexus, and can see why you would like paying per search, though I found it way too expensive to make it possible to search comprehensively.

    The challenge with Award Nexus is that at the time (and presently, as far as I know), they were scraping airline websites for data, rather than having a direct feed. This made it slow, and as the results were limited to what the websites would display normally, it wasn’t really an improvement over searching by hand for me. The ability to set alerts was nice.

  72. Tiffany/ OMAAT,

    Thanks for posting this guide – it was enough to get me to buy into this afternoon. So far, I have just subscribed on a monthly $30 plan as i have a few redemptions to nail down from Marriott certs and have been pulling my hair out trying to manually search space on all of the airline sites. This tool has been a nice aggregator and the timing couldn’t be better. For others, I don’t understand how so many people (comments) complain at tools being developed to make their lives easier. Yes, maybe it’s costlier than others but this has more features and is pretty easy to use. I understand the price complaints but for a one month trial fee of $30, its seeming like a good value for *me thus far.

    However, I am not completely sold on long term cost/ benefit just yet…

    Feedback:
    1) This tool is very Star Alliance heavy. It seems like maybe 80% or more searches are Star Alliance. And the posted redemption numbers I am seeing appear way higher than via airline sites (direct or partner). Hopefully there are still kinks being worked out.
    2) Availability inconsistencies. Example: I am seeing Alaska Emirates availability and price both better on the AS site. They either aren’t showing up on JuicyMiles or the miles/ cost pieces are higher. Same with JAL.
    3) First class seems AWOL no matter what I do or what city I enter in. Just a bunch of business or mixed (biz + eco) and no first. The only one I have been able to find thus far has been Air China (twice).
    4) And like others have mentioned, the mixed bookings are way too noisy. Here and there you might think the award dropped in a short Eco leg but no, it’s more Eco than Biz or First in the mixed arena. Hopefully some filters or algorithms can improve this moving forward as it will improve the user experience with saved time and avoided frustration.

    With that being said, I’ve got about four hours in and *kinda like it so far.

    thanks again….

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