United Blocking Singapore, Thai, And TAP Portugal Awards

Filed Under: Awards, MileagePlus

Airline partnerships can be complicated, and this is especially true when it comes to redeeming miles on partner airlines.

Different airlines take different approaches to releasing award space. Some airlines make more award seats available to members of their own frequent flyer program, while other airlines make the same award space available to members of partner airline programs as they do to members of their own program.

At a minimum, typically whatever partner award seats are made available are consistent across partners. Sometimes there are disputes or system issues between airlines, though, and it seems like that’s exactly what’s going on with United at the moment.

United MileagePlus seems to not have access to Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, and Thai Airways awards at the moment. Apparently this started on January 15, 2019, and there was a memo to agents regarding this, so it’s not just a system outage for a few hours, or anything.

At the moment you can’t redeem United miles on Thai Airways

United claims that this issue is because some partner award tickets are not confirming correctly, so they’ve pulled those partners for the time being. However, it’s anyone’s guess what the full story is here. It’s a bit suspicious that only United seems to be having issues confirming space on these partners.

I’m not saying that this is the case here, but historically these issues have sometimes happened when there were disputes between partners over award reimbursements.

There are of course plenty of other ways to redeem miles on these three airlines:

  • Singapore Airlines makes much of their award space available only to members of their own KrisFlyer program
  • Thai Airways generally makes the same space available to their own members as they do to members of partner programs, so you could book these tickets through Avianca LifeMiles, etc.
  • TAP Air Portugal makes the same space available to members of all partner programs, and they also often have very reasonable paid business class fares

Your best bet for redeeming on Singapore Airlines is to book through KrisFlyer

Bottom line

Hopefully this issue gets solved soon, because it sure is a nuisance if you’re not able to complete a reservation due to there not being access to partner award reservations at the moment. If you’re looking to travel on these airlines there are lots of other options for redeeming miles.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. So now if I wanted to fly to Singapore from SFO, I would have to book United’s 2-2-2 Business class. LOL

  2. I have been watching award space for Manila to Bangkok to Sydney on Thai for the last week or so, waiting for mid-Dec 2019 award space to open up. I noticed on the 15th that booking online awards was down. I tweeted United and they acknowledged the issue. After 36 hours of no actual resolution, I tweeted United again and got the go ahead to call in and ask for the telephone booking fee to be waived. Thursday night, I finally called in to get my TG award tickets booked and after 70 minutes and two agents at the Premier desk, they were able to ticket me and one of the agents let it slip that the reason why they are having technical issues is the implementation of the premium economy award fare class.

    YMMV, but I think I just made it under the wire in booking these TG F tickets over the phone two nights ago. I actually made TG F bookings on my own online on the 13th, canceled those within 24 hours, hemmed and hawed on the actual dates I wanted, and boom, this outage happens.

  3. UA refused to reroute me on a SQ flight due to a cancelled SFO-SIN despite inventory being available.

    Wonder if that is somehow related – ended up getting rebooked on BR

  4. @Dylan you wouldn’t have been able to book that SQ flight with United miles even before this issue.

  5. I had trouble ticketing a Thai award recently, took forever — so I understand why United would disable this part of the system, if issuing one award ticket needs so much manpower.

  6. @Jeremiah Wasn’t aware of that! Hopefully, United gets more competitive by adding Polaris on that route!

  7. Have you ever written an article on how airlines pay each other for redemptions made by members of their own FFPs? It seems more mysterious than the Holy Trinity….

    Follow up question, how do the credit card companies, hotels and banks pay for conversions to airline points?

  8. Wow this is so gratifying to read. I’ve been tearing my hair out over the past week trying to figure out why UA isn’t showing TP award space. Lifemiles seems to only have access to some TP awards too, while NH and AC can see all TP saver space.

  9. Yup. I just tried booking a SIN-BKK award on united.com, which invariably in the past showed plenty of premium award space and got the message:

    “We are unable to process your request. Please see the message below for details.
    We were not able to find any available seats meeting your requirements. You may modify your search criteria…”

    This is truly worrisome in the case of TG because it’s become my dominant *A carrier for booking my year-end escapade award flights throughout Asia, but especially SE Asia. I joined Krisflyer and am now booking their awards straight through the SQ website using UR points to avoid the shenanigans a few years ago of booking SQ awards through united.com (might have been resolved by now but I do not care; it is actually better to book SQ award flights directly with them).

    So, if this situation persists, I will need to start booking my TG awards through the SQ website by transferring UR points to my KrisFlyer account. How much do I depend on TG? Check out the highly descriptive map of my 2018 Year-end Escapade here:


    About 50% of the multi-country/multi-city award travel was in premium cabins on TG, and do you know? I did not have a single ticketing issue! There is something else going on here…

  10. @gus — I think that’s backwards. It never used to require any effort to book TG awards on united.com. Therefore, needing extra ‘manpower’ cannot be the reason for the outage Instead, the delays are the result of the outage and not the other way around.

  11. The issue with TAP Portugal occurred before Jan 15th. About two weeks ago I was unable to find any TAP Portugal availability on United but found it on Aeroplan.

  12. Let’s be clear. This is not a problem ticketing SQ and TG via UA. It’s UA blocking all access to SQ and TG inventory. Options on those two carriers simply do not show as available when you search on the United website, despite availability through multiple other *A programs.

  13. In Miles and more (LH/LX/OS) FF, there is NO SQ award like previous years. Like nothing is loaded, its already for 3 months like that.

    TG is still available as normal.

  14. United 1st and Business is not showing up on LifeMiles either. The economy availability is there, but nothing in the premium cabins.

  15. My comment that’s been held in moderation for quite some time now did contain a link, so I understand the need for moderating it, but its content does contribute to this story/post with a real-life and fresh example of what a UA blockade of TG awards can do! I hope it will be released…

  16. Just book through SQ website … much easier! TG is shit and never tried TAP before.

    @Jeremiah, I have seen up to 4 SQ Biz seats on UA award search engine.

  17. TAP was showing on United as late as 7 days ago on Jan 12th when I was checking availability but would use Aeroplan.

    However Aeroplan phone agent also had issues getting TAP flights. On FT someone has reported Aeroplan agent was able to book the TATL portion but not the intra-EU that followed. My booking initially was MIA-LIS-VIE. The agent could see it just like I saw it online but she said she could not grab it. (failed confirmation?) I asked to switch to VCE instead. On this routing she was able to grab it.

    SQ to / from Australia on every gateway was displayed on Aeroplan site I was able to get SIN-PER and PER-SIN segments on the booking. I even saw SIN-AKL availability.

    UA had shown the same SQ availability up till first week of Jan when I started my search. However when I resumed the search after Jan 10th – all SQs were gone from UA but remained showing on Aeroplan.

  18. @ Kalboz : that is for intra asia isnt it ? Unless there is some glitch, officially SQ had been banned all long haul suites class, first class, business class, and premium economy redeem by ALL star alliance partner miles for almost 10 years already, you can only redeem those seats with its own KF miles.

  19. @ Kalboz – also unless you actually successfully booked and ticketed those 4 seats in long haul business, it will come back as errot, UA sites had been known showing phantom seats on some partners that no O or I class available.

  20. DP: Just called in and used UA miles to book a SQ award and it has been ticketed. The agent was kind enough to waive the phone ticketing fee for me because of this glitch.

  21. @ORDnHKG

    SQ business class is readily available between SIN and Australia/New Zealand. With a flight to SYD that is almost 8 hours and longer to BNE, I guess we can call it longhaul, since YYZ-LHR is a shorter flight but is still being classified longhaul?

  22. I had a trip booked with UA Miles to Lisbon on TAP; even though i have been ticketed, charged and confirmed, this trip no longer shows on TAP’s website. I called TAP up and they told me the glitch was due to an ‘error in their system’, and rebooked me. That was two days ago, and now, after reading this article I checked again and yep, the flight has disappeared once again. I have no idea what to do as this point and am concerned what’s going to happen when we get to the airport.

  23. You know…. I think this is the same issue that affected my booking through United on Ethiopian airlines using mileage plus miles. I booked a one way flight from Los Angeles to Addis Ababa. A week later I received an email with instructions to call United about my flight. I was told the reservation could not be confirmed due Ethiopian not honoring award seats on their flight.

  24. @PM1
    Your post prompted me to check our tickets issued by Aeroplan on Jan 13 on TAP site. Luckily our tickets are intact.

    When you said TAP rebooked you – did the website show you the SAME UA 016 ticket numbers?

    On TAP site, under the Passengers that show up right after the last segment, you can click open the details under each passenger’s name – it will show you the Ticket Number, Date of Issued, and Airline that issued it.
    I assume you would see it shows the same UA 016 tickets you initially received as I do not believe TAP can reissue an UA ticket.

    Not sure when they “rebooked” you is a really rebooking on the same flight or just make its system reconfirm the seats so the itinerary showed up online again.

  25. @miafll, well here’s the weird thing. I just spoke to TAP and they confirmed that while they don’t see the entire reservation using the booking number, they are able to see all TAP fights using the ticket number I provided. Two days ago, after I called into TAP because of the same problem, I was able to see my entire itinerary on their site, and now I cannot anymore. The agent I spoke with assured me that I shouldn’t have any problems and suggested that I contact United to ask them why the itinerary wasn’t showing up. This is very frustrating, to say the least.

  26. @PM1

    Go to Saudia site, using the UA eTicket number you should be able to pull up the itinerary and then see the status of the Coupon of each segment. You can google Saudia site because I am afraid posting a link here may cause the post being reviewed and you would miss this tool.

    The coupon status should say either Open for Use, or Airport Control – both are good status.

    Our tickets are issued by AC with Aeroplan miles. On Aeroplan site the itinerary is a complete mess – last segment on the inbound is shown between the 1st of 2nd segment of the outbound which happen to be TAP TATL and Intra-Europe. Then a full block of HKG-TPE-IAH on BR is missing, no show! Partner sites while showing their own flights correctly, I still cannot piece the whole itinerary to verify all segments on it.

    But the Saudia site gives full, accurate itinerary associated with each ticket number. Thank goodness.

    Hopefully you will find your itinerary is intact from the Saudia site.

  27. Lesson: credit miles to the reward program of the airline you want to fly on otherwise you are introducing a downstream risk of being unable to redeem for the flight you want. If you have a massive portfolio of points across lots of programs, nae bother, but if you are saving for a particular trip the risk of putting the miles elsewhere is huge.

  28. I was trying to get an award ticket for TAP’s new LIS-TLV flight on the A321LR in business. Tried searching the award availability for Dec., 2019, ANA showed a lot of availability but couldn’t see any on UA or AC’s website. I also tried to book it with SQ miles but both their website and phone agent were unable to see any award space…
    But fortunately the paid business class ticket on TAP is reasonably priced and I paid $380 for WAW-LIS-TLV, with a nearly 24-hour layover in Lisbon…At least I still get the chance to try TAP’s A321LR out…

  29. Actually I noticed the same on EWR – ATH routes. Back in October award tix were available with Swiss, now? Nothing

  30. Still a “no” on SQ… United.com says: “Award travel on Singapore Airlines is temporarily unavailable. Our airline partner is diligently working with us to address this situation.”

  31. United is not allowing award booking on Air India flights since March 15 2019. 1K desk does not have any information about when the issue will be resolved. Thus very limited options for travel to cities in India on United awards.

  32. hmm..odd that this major issue is getting so little coverage…especially here at OMAT…truly hope no one is putting a dagger to any site..

  33. Just tried to use my points to book a trip to Portugal and got this same message now 6 months later from the agent that TAP Portugal is still blocked! Really frustrating since it appears online like it would work and I’ve already moved my Chase points over to my Mileage Plus account…

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