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How To Set Up Airline Alerts To Secure Airline Rewards Seats

A common question from my readers is ‘how do I secure airline reward seats?’ Usually, it’s accompanied by words such as ‘this is impossible’ or ‘it is a waste of time collecting airmiles.’ Trying to find reward flights with British Airways can sometimes seem like a futile task, although these tips might help you avoid losing the will to live.

Frustrates ladyFear not, my lovely readers, thanks to Simon, one of my faithful readers I have a solution which just might be the answer to your prayers. This little hack might help you secure airline reward seats that you have only dreamt of until now. You know…like those first-class tickets to South Africa or Mauritius that you have been scouting for years!!! Yes, they are the ones I want!

How to secure airline reward seats that you want

Take note, this hack works for only British Airways. Seatspy allows you to do something similiar for both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways and I will be covering it in a future review.

First, sign up for an account at Reward Flight Finder and choose from a free or paid version. The free version gives you unlimited alerts but you only receive a daily email. The paid version gives you hourly emails as availability arises and a few other features.

How to use Reward Flight Finder

Once you have signed up, Simon recommends that you use a PC to search because the calendars are less fiddly.

In the field entitled Where do you want to fly from? you can either enter the airport code or the name of the city. If a city has multiple airports, it will search them all. With this field and the previous field, a drop-down will appear once you have entered three or more letters.

Reward Flight Finder screenshot one
Reward Flight Finder first screenshot

In the field Where do you want to fly to? enter your direct BA flight destination using the airport code or city name. Note, the system will not allow you to input indirect flights and if you do, you will get an error message like this.

Error message on Reward Flight Finder
Error message on Reward Flight Finder

In the next boxes, enter the number of seats you need, select the cabin, whether you want one way or return and which BA Executive Club tier you are. Lucky you if you are not Blue!

Click availability to see results. The results show how many AVIOS you need for the route you have selected and how much the relevant taxes are.

Airline reward seat availability

Below, a calendar shows all the dates for the next 12 months. I searched London to Cape Town on the 4th January and found good availability for July and August but nothing beforehand. This saved a ton of time and frustration! This would also be hugely useful for another reader who has been struggling to get flights to Mexico.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront, Cape Town
Victoria and Albert Waterfront, Cape Town

At the top of the page is a key showing colour codes for peak (dark blue) and off-peak (light blue) Avios costs. The left-hand column shows departure dates and the right-hand column shows return dates and available dates are highlighted in the relevant colours. This allows you to easily identify whether the flights you would like are feasible.

Sadly, it is not uncommon for BA to have outbound availability but no inbound and vice versa. Of course, if you plan to travel for an extended period, this may not be an issue for you (damn, I am envious!)

To secure airline reward seats

To secure your airline reward seats, hover over any date and it will indicate the number of AVIOS you need for flights on that date. It also indicates whether it is a peak or off-peak day.

Once you’ve found dates and flights you like, you need to book them on British Airways. Of course, you could argue that you can do similiar searches on British Airways and this is true, however, the real value with Reward Flight Finder is the ability to set up alerts. That last-minute release of flights might be ideal for you!

Set up airline reward seat alerts

You can set up alerts whether you have a free or paid account. The subscription option of £3 per month, which you can cancel at any time, will send you hourly alerts as seats become available.

The free option allows unlimited searches but will send you an email every morning if seats become available for your chosen dates. To set up the alert simply enter the start date and the end date for when you would like to travel and click the blue button to set up the alert.

Does it pay to upgrade?

I think it does pay as the paid option sends hourly updates. I have sometimes missed out on flights simply because it took me too long to book. When I started my enquiry there was availability but by the time I clicked through to the booking screen, they had gone. Seats for popular destinations go fast as my search for Cape Town proves. No availability until July and we are in January now?!

Views of Green Point and Table Mountain
Green Point and Table Mountain – so desperate to return here!

Also, elite members can specify dates and then search for available routes for those dates if they use the ‘I don’t know where I want to go‘ feature.

I have signed up as a result of Simon’s tips and am eagerly awaiting my emails showing me when availability arises. Maybe now I will finally get to visit my friend in Mauritius who keeps encouraging me to visit! I have also set up alerts for flights back to Austria for next Christmas!

I am trialling a subscription of Reward Flight Finder Pro, courtesy of the company, and find this latter feature quite interesting. As I am often flexible on destination but not flexible on dates this option can provide new options I hadn’t considered. Your possibilities appear on a map and allow you to see availability on the click of each.

Watch the Reward Flight Finder video

If you still want to know more about how Reward Flight Finder works, read these instructions or watch the video.

Thanks to Simon

I have to say a huge thanks to Simon, one of my regular readers, who helped out with this post as I have to confess I wasn’t aware of this alert system. Just goes to show there is always something new to learn! Hopefully this hack will allow you to book your dream flight in 2020 and finally use those hard earned AVIOS.

Travel planning with maps, passport
Now you just need to decide where you want to go

Have your say

If you happen to use this system, or something similiar, drop us a line in the comments below and let us know what you think.

This post may contain affiliate links which pay me a small commission should you click on them and make a purchase. These help towards the cost of running the site, and the occasional glass of wine, but you are under no obligation to use them.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. Rochelle Dodson

    I have signed up as a result of Simon’s tips and am eagerly awaiting my emails showing me when availability arises. Maybe now I will finally get to visit my friend in Mauritius who keeps encouraging me to visit! I have also set up alerts for flights back to Austria for next Christmas!

    • Excellent good luck Rochelle. I’m also trying to get Mauritius flights but am equally looking at St Lucia and Durban. There’s a post coming tomorrow on another tool you might find useful

  2. Just to add, although BA will release 4 Economy and 2 Business reward seats on every flight as soon as they become bookable (ie today +355 days), the benefit of signing up for the paid subscription is that further reward seats are often released at ANY time until departure.

    Our booking for San Francisco flights for October last year, made in March, had First seats released in June – so it’s not just last minute!

    • Thanks Simon. It is actually quite interesting too to watch how they release the flights and I think it probably helps people get a better feel for how they might find flights. I am currently using the premium version of the app and so am getting updates for Mauritius throughout the day and I am already seeing a pattern. In this case, it is simply that each day new flights are released 355 days in advance which demonstrates the benefits of booking early. As I am looking for next Christmas I have yet to get the benefit of last-minute additions but am going to put some new alerts in today to track for other destinations. I am just trying to convince Jason that he wants to go to South Africa instead of a sun holiday but not sure he is onboard!

      • South Africa IS sunny!

        Mind you, I was in Johannesburg one summer (our summer) when it snowed for the first time in decades – there were so many people that had never seen snow before, it was quite amazing!

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