One of our most popular posts is How to Find Star Alliance Award Space using the Continental, Aeroplan and ANA Web sites, and it's easy to understand why, given that the Star Alliance has the most partner airlines, so lots of opportunities for fantastic business and first class award flights.
As Ben explained, while Continental is nice and the easiest to use, with its calendar view, it's not as thorough as Aeroplan and ANA (All Nippon Airways). And of the three, although ANA is the most cumbersome to use, it also is the most accurate. Recently there have been some phantom availability issues for some Lufthansa first class award seats, and if you really want to make sure the seats are there, you should use the ANA tool.
If you don't already have an ANA frequent flyer account, not a problem--just sign up on the ANA Mileage Club page:
You'll need to fill out required date of birth, address, etc. details:
Then log in to your account with your new ANA number and PIN:
You'll then want to click on Award Reservation in the left column.
Update: This page has changed; go to ANA Sky Web to start your award search
And then on the International Flight Awards link:
Since ANA got tired of people using the ANA Web site just for award searches, without actually participating in the ANA frequent flyer program, they tell you "The Partner Flight Award search function is only available for passengers who have a certain level of mileage." There is, however, a workaround. First, enter an ANA route as your search. An easy one is LA to Tokyo, so I input LAX and HND (Haneda Airport).
After clicking "Next" you'll see a page with the search results, but most importantly, you'll now see a blue button at the bottom of the page "Use Star Alliance Member Airlines" that you can click on.
Now you're able to run Star Alliance partner searches to your heart's content. Just remember to search segment by segment, don't just enter your departure city and destination. In this case, I decided to check if first class availability on Swiss that I saw in Aeroplan is in fact there, and it is.
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