I often find myself talking to people about some of the tools I use to help maximise my usage of miles & points.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some of the key tools I use on a regular basis and can certainly help when booking travel.
Expert Flyer is an online tool that connects directly to the airline booking systems to allow you to search for all things flight related. It is a paid tool and will cost you $10 per month, but can come in handy if you fly a lot or are planning an upcoming trip using miles & points.
One of the key features of Expert Flyer is its ability to search for award seats and display available over a range of days. What's more is once you have performed this search you can set up alerts and expert flyer will monitor for availability on a given route for you and send you an email as soon as seats become available. This is incredibly powerful and comes in handy when trying to secure seats or an upgrade.
Expert Flyer Award Availabilty Search
General Availability Search
Another great tool that I find myself using all the time because it is so simple and fast is gcmap.com.
GCMap is a simple tool that allows you to enter an airline route based on airport codes such as SYD-LAX or SYD-AUH-JFK and it will return a nice map along with the miles for each segment of the trip.
This information comes in handy when you need to calculate the miles for a given trip or segment so you can align things on to an award chart. It also provides nice maps that I often use in my trip reports.
These days airlines seem to make it harder and harder to use points in the most effective way. Many airline websites, by default, shuffle you to convoluted calculators and booking search engines to find the cost of award flights. I find as a result many people don't realize the 'value' of points and how few points you need to get from A to B in style.
This is why I also recommended people familiarize themselves with airline award charts. Most likely you are only collecting a few different frequent flyer miles so it comes in handy to know where to get the actual award redemption tables. These tables allow you to quickly see the airline miles required for a trip of any particular distance and help you work out the various sweet spots in any FF program.