United MileagePlus Restores Awards On TAP & Thai

Filed Under: Awards, TAP Portugal

Since January 15, 2019, United MileagePlus members haven’t had access to award availability on Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, and Thai Airways.

This wasn’t just a temporary glitch, but was an intentional outage, and a memo was sent to reservations agents regarding this. United claimed that the issue was because some partner award tickets weren’t confirming correctly, so they pulled those partners for the time being to avoid further issues.

It’s worth noting that over six weeks later, MileagePlus has restored award redemptions on TAP Air Portugal and Thai Airways.

That means at this point MileagePlus just doesn’t have access to Singapore Airlines awards, and that’s noted when you do an award search.

On the plus side, I’d say Singapore’s lack of award availability is the least problematic of the bunch. That’s because Singapore Airlines only makes a vast majority of their premium cabin longhaul award space available to members of their own KrisFlyer program.

However, no doubt having Singapore Airlines as a partner is still useful for short-haul travel, where they do make some space available to partners.

I’m still skeptical about what caused this problem, and United’s lack of actions to fix this:

  • United was the only Star Alliance airline that blocked access to redemptions on these airlines
  • Even if there was a legitimate issue of some sort (which I believe is possible), it shouldn’t take over six weeks to resolve it

MileagePlus members can once again redeem for Thai first class

So we’ll probably never know exactly what happened, though at a minimum I think it’s safe to assume that United didn’t make fixing this problem a priority.

Comments

  1. Thanks for pointing this out Lucky. A new issue maybe you can pass along, when I search for awards and type in NYC (all airports), it keeps defaulting me over to Newark. The only way I have been able to get it to show results for all NYC airports is to search for JFK, then it tells me it’s displaying results for all NYC airports.

  2. ” it shouldn’t take over six weeks to resolve it”

    If this issue were interfering with United’s ability to generate revenue, you can bet your last dollar that it would be fixed in 5 minutes. But malfunctions in the ability to issue award tickets get last priority. Just look at how long it took UA and/or LH to fix the phantom LH first class award space problem (if, in fact, it’s actually fixed). That was first reported more than 7 years ago, and it was years before reports of phantom award seats diminished.

  3. DB I’ve been encountering the same issue, that NYC defaults to EWR after you hit the search button. Another recent UA website issue is that the filtering options bar (in the past, at the bottom of the search results page) has been removed, meaning you can’t filter by multiple variables, e.g. time, stops, layovers, airlines etc. Can use the advanced options, but it’s a lot more clunky this way and means running a bunch of searches. The app still has filtering function within a search, but is a less optimal spot for searching. Also UA seems to be loading a lot fewer premium mile tickets at the saver level – e.g. USA to Australia for all of March and April has zero premium saver availability. In the recent past there’d always be something, even if with partners. Starting to feel a bit like QF 🙁

  4. United still has completely inaccurate and goofy award inventory for some smaller partners (Ethiopian and EgyptAir for instance). This issue has been going on for years, and they seem to be making no effort to resolve the situation. You can still book them if you see the inventory somewhere else (e.g. Aeroplan) and then call. It requires manual selling and generally requires intervention of a supervisor to do it successfully. I’m sure there are other instances of this as well beyond those partners. I’m not sure why this issue with Thai et al got so much attention, meanwhile these other issues are left to fester for years. It’s very frustrating given that these are some partners that have excellent award availability and are very useful for getting around.

  5. Thanks for the update, Lucky. So are awards on SQ still available if you call to speak to a telephone sales agent? Or not at all at the moment?

  6. @DB and @MMM — ditto on all fronts. What I’m really dreading is when they “refresh” the old Continental trip management pages to be up to date with the rest of the wretched site redesign, and lose useful functionality in the process (like the much missed filters).

    I too am noticing a dearth of saver awards both on United and partners. I can’t rememebr the last time I saw a business saver award on UA metal. (With that said, I just booked a flight to Minsk for 70K each way, out on LOT, back on LH, so I can’t complain too much.

    Does anyone know if 1K’s and Plats actually get expanded business award ticket availability like they say, or is that more of a theoretical concept!

  7. @DB and @MMM The same thing is happening when you search “WAS”. United now defaults to IAD. If you want dca or bwi you have to enter it in a separate search. *sigh* united….

  8. @DB this has been an issue for me for well over a year… just search JFK and it gives you the NYC results (particularly important for partner awards).

  9. @Ivan X – I too will be disappointed when the search pages are inevitably updated to reflect the simplified website design. Alas this new design approach, which hides or altogether removes functionality seems to be a general trend across brands and not confined to UA.

    1K Business Saver award availability is noticeably limited these days. Finding a seat on a common route is an exception. This said, 1K phone agents are more helpful these days than than in the past, which is good, although doesn’t mean better availability or ability to use miles.

    Altogether, intentional or not, it has the effect of a ‘soft devaluation’ I suppose.

  10. @Evan

    That’s unusual, as this seems to be a new issue for me. In the past (recently) I have had no problem typing in “NYC” and selecting the “NYC All Airports” option. Either way yes, definitely annoying when looking for partner awards. What I wonder is if this an intentional “glitch’ by UA to push passengers towards booking through their Newark hub. My guess is most people searching for NYC wouldn’t even notice that the results for other area airports were being hidden.

  11. We tried to use our points to go from dallas tx to auckland new zealand and new zealand air was also blocked. We spent 3 days tryjng to sort it and no agent could explajn this to us.

  12. @DB @Evan – Ditto, I’ve only noticed NYC defaulting to exclusively EWR in the last couple of days. Previously if you specifically chose NYC it would include EWR, LGA & JFK.

    Thinking cynically, I suppose it could be UA intentionally trying to maximize traffic through hubs. But who knows.

    I suppose the ambiguity of many small changes, that together add up to less functionality, makes us wonder.

  13. Any idea why there’s no availability on Copa flights after January 4, 2020, on United website (haven’t tried calling yet)? Saver space shows on Copa’s site. As thrilling as the idea of a three-stop itinerary to South America is in terms of sampling every other Star Alliance airline in the western hemisphere, something more direct would be nice…

  14. Even Air India… United does not show any availability for air india flights between SFO and DEL. What’s the user if being in an airline alliance when you can’t fix the ticketing!
    This has been a problem for the last 4 months atleast.

  15. Help! I’m stranded in Singapore. Isn’t there any way I can book a SQ flight soon? I’ve been stuck here for 3 weeks waiting to be able to use my MileagePlus miles that I saved for years. 🙁

    Can I book SQ over the phone or ANY OTHER WAY TO BOOK RIGHT NOW WITH UNITED MILES?

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