AwardFares’ Metro Area Searches are one of the most powerful features we’ve ever released: it lets you search for award flights between entire regions or areas simultaneously, which is a huge time saver. Interestingly, it’s also one of the most underutilized ones.
This article covers everything you should know about metro area award searches to leverage their maximum power and consistently score an award on the routes you want. Let’s start!
Understanding Metro Area Searches
Traditionally, when searching for award flights, you must specify your exact departure and arrival cities/airports. This can be limiting, especially if you’re flexible with your travel plans or if award availability is scarce.
Here’s an example of a traditional search between New York and London, using AAdvantage. In this case, the departure airport is JFK, and the destination airport is Heathrow.
However, if you want to depart from New York, there are other airports, such as Newark (EWR) and La Guardia (LGA), as shown below.
If we try searching from these airports, we might find more award seats available or even at a better redemption rate. One option is to add those airports in the Where From/Origin field in AwardFares. Simply add EWR and LGA to the list below, as we see in the picture below:
In the result list, you’ll now see flights from all these airports
However, this is cumbersome, as it forces us to know the names of the airports or cities in that area. The list can become lengthy, and we might not know other airports in the area.
Metro Area searches changes this by allowing you to search for award flights between entire regions or areas rather than specific cities. This approach broadens your search parameters, increasing your chances of finding available award seats.
How To Use Metro Area Search
Instead of adding the airports manually, you can write the name of a Metropolitan area, for example, type New York City (NYC) for any airport in New York.
As you type, AwardFares’ auto-suggest will clearly show you that it is a Metro Area option in the dropdown menu.
Immediately, as we zoom in, we see that searching from NYC also includes more airports and options available, such as New York Stewart International Airport.
Similarly, we can search widely on our Destination city. In this case, we replace LHR with London (LON), which will also search award flights beyond Heathrow, including airports like Gatwick (LGW), Stansted (STN), and others.
In this example, thanks to the Metro Area search, we can find a chepear alternative (in Economy) that does not depart from JFK, saving us 25% of the points!
Examples of Known Metro Areas
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK): JFK is the primary international airport serving New York City.
- LaGuardia Airport (LGA): Mainly handles domestic flights and is closer to Manhattan.
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR): Located in New Jersey, it serves both domestic and international flights.
- Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND): Handles a significant number of domestic flights and an increasing number of international flights.
- Narita International Airport (NRT): Primarily serves international flights and is located further from central Tokyo.
- Heathrow Airport (LHR): London’s main airport, handling the majority of international flights.
- Gatwick Airport (LGW): The second busiest airport in the UK, serving both international and domestic flights.
- London City Airport (LCY): Located in the heart of London, primarily serving business travelers.
- Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG): The largest airport in France and a major international hub.
- Orly Airport (ORY): Handles a mix of domestic and international flights, located closer to the city center.
- Arlanda Airport (ARN): This is the main international airport serving Stockholm. It is located in the Sigtuna Municipality, approximately 40 kilometers north of Stockholm city center. Arlanda handles the majority of international and long-haul flights to and from Stockholm.
- Bromma Airport (BMA): Bromma is located just 7.5 kilometers west of Stockholm city center and primarily serves domestic flights. It is the closest airport to the city center and is popular for short-haul flights.
- Skavsta Airport (NYO): Located near Nyköping, about 100 kilometers southwest of Stockholm, Skavsta primarily serves low-cost carriers and cargo operators. It is a popular choice for budget travelers.
- Västerås Airport (VST): Situated near Västerås, about 110 kilometers west of Stockholm, this airport is used by a few low-cost airlines and for general aviation.
- São Paulo/Guarulhos–Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport (GRU): The main international airport.
- Congonhas-São Paulo Airport (CGH): Mainly handles domestic flights and is located closer to the city center.
- Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE): Commonly known as Ezeiza International Airport, it is the main international gateway to Argentina. Located about 22 kilometers south-southwest of Buenos Aires, it handles the majority of the international traffic coming into and out of the country.
- Jorge Newbery Airfield (AEP): Also known as Aeroparque, this airport is located in the city of Buenos Aires itself, just a few kilometers from the downtown area. It mainly handles domestic flights and some regional flights to neighboring countries.
Pro Tips for Mastering Metro Area Searches
- Combine with alerts. Set up award availability alerts for your desired route with +-1 Day Search enabled. This way, you’ll be notified instantly when award seats open up during your three-day window, giving you a head start on booking.
- Be flexible. Remember, the wider your search window, the higher your chances of finding award seats. Consider expanding your date range beyond just one day before and after for even more options.
- Play with filters. Use filters strategically to narrow down your search results and find the award seats that perfectly match your preferences.
- Consider Alternative Airports. Metro Area searches might reveal availability in nearby airports that you hadn’t considered.
- Understand Your Miles. Know the value and rules of your frequent flyer program to make the most of your miles. Some programs offer connecting flights to airports within the same metro area or region, adding extra cost to the total price in miles.
EuroBonus: AwardFares Metro Search Is Better Than SAS
The official SAS EuroBonus website and award search portal added support for metro area searches a while back. However, you won’t see all flights due to some limitations on their implementation (e.g., NYC or TYO). AwardFares in many cases is able to show you more available flights.
Here’s an example from Copenhagen (CPH) to New York City (NYC) using SAS’ website, that only throws one available seat in Business Class.
However, AwardFares shows considerably more results, including 2 different Business Class flights.
Get started, and stay tuned
With our Gold and Diamond tiers, you can access premium features such as unlimited daily searches, alerts, seat maps, flight schedules, and more!
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