Best Way to Search For Star Alliance Award Availability

Best Way to Search For Star Alliance Award Availability

Star Alliance features many great award redemptions like Singapore Airlines Suites, Lufthansa First Class, and ANA’s The Room, just to name a few. These are also some of the most popular redemptions in the award travel world so it’s crucial to know how to efficiently search for award availability on these airlines. Let’s jump right into what’s the best way to search and find award space on Star Alliance flights.

Searching via United Airlines

Unfortunately, Star Alliance is lacking compared to One World in that it does not have multiple reliable ways of efficiently searching for award space. The only good method of searching for Star Alliance award availability is using United Airlines search tool. This is because United is the only one that provides a calendar view that reliably reflects available partner award space.

As an example, let’s say we are trying to find award availability on Eva Air in business class from Los Angeles (LAX) to Taipei (TPE). We can navigate to United’s award search and input our info as so. Make sure to click the “Flexible dates” check box as that is what will enable the calendar view.

United Airlines Award Search Tool
United Airlines Award Search Tool

United has the same feature as American Airlines where the day with the lowest cost is highlighted in green.

United Airlines calendar view is the best way to search for Star Alliance award availability
United Airlines Calendar View

We can see that May 28 and 29 are the cheapest days and cost 110k miles. Unfortunately, United got rid of its award chart a few years ago so it’s hard to know how much a specific partner award flight will cost. I’ve noticed that United often charges a much higher mileage amount for flights on its own metal as compared to partner flights and I haven’t really seen partner costs in business be higher than 120k. So my general rule of thumb for knowing if a price is for a partner airline and not United falls under 2 criteria:

  • Is the cost less than 120k
  • Are the taxes low relative to the other days

Continuing in our search, we see that the flights on May 28 and May 29 fulfill both of these criteria so that means that there’s a high chance these days feature availability on partner airlines. If we click into May 28, we see that there is in fact partner airline availability on Eva Air but that the 110k award actually is not direct and has a layover in Houston (IAH).

United AIrlines award search will show awards that may layover in a different city
Business Availability on Eva when laying over in Houston

If we don’t mind the positioning flight from LAX to IAH and the layover, this could be a solid option. However, if our goal is a direct flight, we have to keep searching. Thankfully, with the calendar search, we can simply click the arrows to the left or right of the current date range to show the previous or next 30 days respectively.

United makes it easy to search 30 days at a time with its calendar view
United makes it easy to search 30 days at a time with the arrows

As we search 30 days at a time using this 30 day search functionality, whenever we see 110k we can click into that individual day to see if there is availability on our desired direct flight from LAX to TPE. Unfortunately, the only availability that showed up was on July 4th, which is today! This availability showing up so last minute is actually in line with the award flight booking tip of looking 1 year out or within 2 weeks of departure.

Direct flight availability found within 2 weeks of departure

Tips Using United Airlines Award Search

Use The Search Filters

The United search tool will often return lots of results. Thankfully, United provides a useful set of filters to help us narrow down the results to find our desired flight. I recommend setting the “sort” filter to “Miles: Business (lowest)” as that usually pushes all the United flights to the bottom and surfaces partner flights at the top.

United offers a set of filters that makes it easier to find Star Alliance award availability
United Search Filters

Note that if you use multiple filters together, I’ve sometimes seen that the search results get buggy and the flight I’m looking for doesn’t show up even though it exists. The safest bet is to just use one filter at a time and clear all filters or retry your search if something seems off.

Expand The Search Results

If you forget to set the filters or there are still a ton of results showing, make sure to expand the search results. If there are too many results returned, United will hide the surplus search results by default. Sometimes, the desired flight will get buried below all the other possible flights returned so this will help you make sure you don’t miss the flight you’re looking for.

You may have to click "show all flights" to find your desired Star Alliance flight from the United search results
Don’t forget to click “Show all flights”

Know If Your Desired Flight Is Even Available To Be Booked Via Partners

It’s important to know whether or not the flight you want is even possible to be booked with a partner because certain airlines like Singapore Airlines and Swiss Air do not release first class availability to partners. So do your research beforehand and find this out, otherwise, you’re going to spend lots of time searching in vain.

Searching via Avianca

Avianca also offers a search tool with a calendar view. This is pretty useful too since any date with availability will be shown with a little blue dot.

Avianca's calendar view will show a blue dot when there is Star Alliance award space available
Avianca Calendar View Shows Blue Dot For Award Availability

However, Avianca is not as reliable as United in that Avianca receives less partner availability than United. So even though you may find a partner award on United, that same award may not be found in Avianca. For example, United shows availability from Seattle to Taipei in Eva Air business class on 2/25.

United Showing Eva Air Business Class Availability

However, if we go and input that same date in Avianca, we see that there is only economy availability showing and no business class availability.

Avianca may not have the same Star Alliance availability that United is showing
Avianca showing no Eva Air availability

I’ve also found that Avianca’s calendar view is not accurate in that there may be certain days where the blue dot does not appear but if you click into that day, there is award space shown. For example, in the month of June, Avianca’s calendar view shows that there is no availability.

Sometimes Avianca's calendar search doesn't show availability but clicking into the individual day will show award space
Avianca Calendar View Shows No Availability

But if we click into the individual day, we see that there is in fact business class availability.

Sometimes Avianca's calendar search doesn't show availability but clicking into the individual day will show award space
Avianca Individual Day View Shows Availability

This inconsistency from Avianca is why it’s generally not a good idea to use Avianca to search for partner awards. However, Avianca is pretty reliable when trying to find last minute award space on European airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss, etc.

Verifying Award Space via Other Partners

It’s always a good idea to make sure that other partner airlines are showing the same award space you’re looking at before transferring points to book. This is to avoid phantom award space, which is when a partner airline shows award space availability that does not actually exist. For example, in the above example where I found award availability from Chicago to Taipei on June 3, it’s a good idea to cross check this award space with another Star Alliance partner like Air Canada.

Air Canada is pretty accurate in terms of award space availability so it’s a good candidate for making sure the flight we’re looking at is not phantom award space. Searching up this flight on Air Canada does show availability so we can be assured that this award space exists and is safe to book.

Verifying Star Alliance award space on a partner like Air Canada is a good way to make sure there is no phantom award space
Air Canada Shows The Same Award Space


Star Alliance features many incredible flight awards bookable with points but they’re a little trickier to find. Using United’s calendar search feature is going to be your best bet for finding availability on these great Star Alliance flights. After finding award space, be sure to verify that the flight you found is also present when searching through other Star Alliance members. Let me know what great Star Alliance flights you were able to find and book!

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