You may have noticed that award space on Singapore Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, and Thai Airways has been missing lately on united.com. Unfortunately, United is deliberately blocking the space and has offered no timeframe for a fix.
United has ostensibly blocked award space on these three partners because the award space is not properly confirming. Recently, some flights show as available on united.com, but when trying to complete the booking error out. By telephone, reservation agents encounter the same issue. Sometimes space appears to confirm on the United side only never to actually confirm on the partner side.
I’ve really tried to prod United on what is going on. Why does this problem appear unique to United? What is being done to fix it? When will the issue be fixed?
But thus far, United is sticking to its statement:
Some partner award tickets are not being confirmed by select airlines’ reservations systems. In order to minimize the impact to customers, we’ve temporarily removed the ability to book on these specific carriers until this is fixed.
After pushing hard for a planned resolution date, the only other statement I obtained was a refusal to commit to any timeline.
It’s being worked on – no specific timetable to share.
Other Star Alliance loyalty programs are not encountering similar issues. Even Aeroplan, which once blocked ANA, COPA, LOT Polish, SAS and SWISS, is not currently experiencing these issues.
The problem for United MileagePlus members is that these three carriers tend to be generous in making award space available (Singapore only on regional flights). The blocking of this space represents a huge erosion of the value of your United miles.
Oh, it could be worse. Most partners are still bookable online. But this is a disappointing development that I hope United will put a priority on fixing. Until they do, I will keep the pressure on. We’re at Day 7 of the space being blocked.
Let’s hope this does not a mark a return to StarNet blocking. We don’t need a wall blocking award space for us. Instead, we need a permanent solution to the problem.
This situation seems somewhat like the tension between cable companies and networks when they can’t agree on carriage fees.
I’m not going to speculate further about that absent evidence, but that could well be the case, especially with Singapore Airlines.
Honestly, this could be just some odd IT issue that they don’t have time to prioritize right now because they have high revenue driving items to focus on for now. I find it hard to believe that United or anyone is trying to be nefarious – this is just how IT management works.
I’m a little new to booking rewards on Star Alliance partners, but noticed on a recent itinerary that I could pay for Asiana flights HKG-ICN, but when I tried to book with miles, the Asiana flights disappeared. Is this always the case, or do some specific flights just not have award space? Checked multiple days in the same timeframe and Asiana was never available with miles.
Because there is no award availability on the flights you look at.
Award seats do not mean you can book them on every flight that you can purchase with cash.
It is capacity control and not every flight has award seat available. If there are, you are also competing with gazillions of people with the same goal.
Therefore you need to be realistic on what your miles can get you – require a lot of know how, patience and most importantly, flexibility, in order to succeed in finding the itinerary you want to be booked with miles.
I commented on this in December. Couldn’t find any TAP availability for whole schedule when originally up to five flights were available in sep and oct from Ord.
So the TAP issue has been at least a month 🙁
I usually use United or lifemiles and I believe the latter isn’t showing awards either.
These things usually happen, get cleared up and then its business as usual. Hopefully this is the case and there aren’t shenanigans happening behind the scenes
“Some partner award tickets are not being confirmed by select airlines’ reservations systems. In order to minimize the impact to customers, we’ve temporarily removed the ability to book on these specific carriers until this is fixed.”
Right, because SOME award redemptions don’t ticket correctly ALL redemptions on these airlines are blocked – how’s that “minimizing the impact to customers”? These marketing statements make no sense.
If United cared about the impact to their customers, they’d allow redemptions, online or by phone, and address the cases where the ticketing doesn’t work…
Hey Matt, any updates on this issue yet? Maybe a follow up with your United contact point? We are planning our annual vaca to Asia, and it’s really annoying to know that some of our fav carriers like SQ and TG are blocked from redeeming at the moment..
Unfortunately nothing. United has refused to release any additional info on a timeframe for restoration.
That’s such a bummer.. Hopefully you can update us with a post when you hear any news releases. Thanks again Matt!
Its not just United that struggles with Thai and SQ award space.
SAS Eurobonus search tool is also unable to fetch this space, as well as other third party search tools and Lifemiles. Though are Thai and SQ awards still available for booking on telephone.
Please don’t let this issue quietly fade into acceptance. This represents a major devaluation of United’s program. It’s been sitting for weeks no with no apparent progress made.
Please continue to press United for an update, and keep this top of news – if nobody presses United, they will just sit on this forever. It’s gone on long enough already. They need to make fixing this more of a priority. Please keep the pressure on, if only please keep talking about it so it gets some attention.
Don’t worry. I will.
Has anyone heard anything further on this? Any latest updates?
Any further news on this? And have you endeavoured to get a response / quote from any of the partner airlines blocked ? Might be interesting to get their side of the story…
I’m wondering if this may be related: I’ve been flying United forever and using miles (and now miles AND dollars) to upgrade economy tickets to business class on long haul flights over the Pacific, generally with much success.
This past December I tried to upgrade a flight from IAH to Delhi (by way of Newark) and was shocked to see that EVERY available flight was waitlisted for upgrades.
Since then I’ve been looking at other destinations I’ve upgraded before (as far out as 11 months out) and they’re all universally waitlisted.
An agent I spoke with back in December told me to start calling 11-1/2 months before my travel date as that’s when they release the flights, but that seems risky, as the return portion of any flight booked at that time would be outside that 11-1/2 month window (so not released yet). Would it be available when the outbound portion is booked? Who knows?
Anyway, the reason I write is to ask if you know what’s going on or have any insight.
Thank you for your time,
Well, there is still EVA…
The Singapore, Thai, and TAP thing got me worried that others could join the fun. My brother and I decided to redeem all of our points immediately (Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019).
He got an business saver outbound/economy saver return from Saint Louis to Bangkok on ANA departing in late October and returning early December. There wasn’t much selection, but he did find the last two that did not include a 787-8, only 787-9 between Bangkok and Tokyo.
On Sunday, I found an economy saver outbound from Saint Louis to Manila on EVA departing just prior to Christmas. Yesterday, Thursday, February 7, I found a economy saver returning Tuesday, January 7, 2020.
This morning, within the 24 hours free cancellation/change period, I tried to sneak one more day into my vacation by changing the return date to January 8, 2020. After clicking on the Make Payment button, I received a generic error and the message said to call the United Support hotline.
I did make the call. The nice lady found the flight that I wanted and proceeded to process the change. She got an error, the more explicative error, not the generic one displayed on the website. She told me that EVA blocked the confirmation.
I said “Did we just witness EVA airlines joining the Singapore, Thai, TAP party?” Her dismayed respond… “Apparently so”.
Let us hope that this was a fluke and not an addition to the apparent new norm.
@Michael: EVA only helps a bit. Majority of South East Asia routes are operated by Thai and Singapore. Let me give you an example. Lets say you need an award ticket from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City or from Singapore to HongKong. United will never let you choose the routing: Bangkok-Taipei-Ho Chi Minh. Certainly, if you want to do several one-way awards with EVA for more miles (United loves that), it’s your choice.
I doubt United will fix this issue soon. I constantly check to see if award flights using Thai and Singapore are avalailable. Today is Feb. 13 and still no availability for the whole year.
United just doesn’t care.
Below was the lame excuse I recently received from United Mileage Plus:
“We realize that as a United Global Services member, you look for opportunities to utilize your miles and we want to fulfill those requests whenever possible.
In researching this matter, I am sorry to advise you that we are still unable to book Award tickets on Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines due to a Award technology issue on their side and we are working with our Star Partners to resolve the issue. Regretfully, we have not been advised as to when they will be able to resolve the issues. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Thank you for your loyalty as a United Global Services member. We are grateful for your business and look forward to having you onboard a United flight soon.”
This is starting to remind me of a PepBoys commercial from 1997:
Please keep up the pressure on this. I’m annoyed that this issue continues through the end of February. As a result of this problem, I am currently booked to Madrid for a fall trip to Portugal (cheap flights between Madrid and Portugal are available for less than $50 so I’m going to spend a day of my Portugal vacation in Madrid – which is fun just not Portugal – instead of Portugal unless this gets fixed) and am hoping to be able to rebook for TAP flights to Porto instead of flying United to Madrid. United had no cheap award space available to Porto or Lisbon for my date of travel.