Altitude Reserve flight search better than expected but far from perfect

The new US Bank Altitude Reserve card offers very good first year value thanks to its 50K signup bonus and $325 in travel credits (the card currently shows up in the #20 spot on our Top 10+ Credit Card Offers page)  The best use of the card’s points, in my opinion, is to redeem them for flights at a value of 1.5 cents per point.

The problem is that you have to book your flights through US Bank’s rewards portal.  And the flight search feature of that portal is far from perfect.

Good News: first class and multi-city awards are back

When I last used US Bank’s award flight search, I was quite disappointed. As I reported mid 2016,  US Bank had implemented a new and severely limited flight search interface.  That interface did not allow multi-city searches or first class.

The good news is that the interface now allows both.  I don’t know when the current interface first appeared, it might not really be new, but it is new to me.  It has a full multi-city interface and will now search for both business and first class.

Good news for FlexPerks cards too

The new interface is available not just to Altitude cardmembers, but to FlexPerks cardmembers as well.  This means that tricks for Maximizing value from the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Card, which I originally wrote about in 2014, once again work.

For example, I was able to tack together two separate $200-ish flights with one 20K redemption:

Prices seemed correct

I checked a few simple domestic itineraries and found that the new search engine does appear to correctly price the flights it found.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good at finding all available flights…

And the bad news…

Many available flights simply did not show up in the tool’s search results.  This isn’t new — this has always been a problem with US Bank’s flight redemptions.  And it’s not unique to US Bank.  The Citi ThankYou Rewards airfare search has similar issues.  But, it is frustrating.  Yes, you can call to book these missing flights, but who really wants to call?

Overall

The US Bank award flight search interface is markedly better than it was mid-2016 when I last checked in on it.  It now correctly searches for both business and first class flights, and once again allows multi-city searches.  Unfortunately, it continues to leave out many good flight options, so you may still have to call to book your flight if you can’t find the one you want.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Huge caveat on booking two “independent” flights is that they still must be the same carrier. Cannot book a $200 AA flight, and mix with a $200 united flight (or southwest, which would be cool).

    • I haven’t reviewed that option yet, but I do know that booking through US Bank (or any online travel agency) means that you won’t earn points or get elite status benefits for the rental. If your only objective though is a cheap rental, I expect that the Altitude option will sometimes have excellent rates.

  2. I don’t mind calling being used to call them for Southwest with good success and always very close to full redemption. But I only used Flexperks and always on Southwest. My question: I find a better flight on a different search engine, I call and they will book it? Does it have to be all the same airline or two hops, 2 airlines will work?

    • I haven’t tried it, but I think that the answer is yes: you can call to get them to book a flight that doesn’t show up. I don’t know if they can book multi-carrier trips over the phone, but I expect so.

  3. Calling usually brings up the airlines that file in a GDS even if the search page does not show it. I booked Air Astana Multi-City for the same price as in ITA Matrix. Good agents as well.

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