United Airlines has historically had the rather customer-unfriendly policy of choosing to limit access to partner award inventory when customers try to redeem points for award tickets. Essentially they’ve decided that you shouldn’t have access to award seats that other airlines are willing to make available, simply because your miles are in the Mileage Plus program. Several months ago, around the time of the merger with Continental, that policy appeared to relax, with reports of blocked award inventory significantly reduced.
Apparently it is back.
There have been a number of recent incidents, including a couple I’ve verified myself, where award inventory made available by partner airlines has not been available to members of the Mileage Plus program. In a rather ironic twist, merger partner Continental will be happy to book these same award seats, often times on their website rather than requiring a call to an agent only to discover that the award seat you know exists won’t be made available because someone in United’s accounting department has decided it shouldn’t be.
No, StarNet blocking isn’t new. And United has never claimed that they stopped the practice, but the frequency of incidents was much lower recently, to near zero. Apparently that was just a mistake someone made up in Chicago and they’re working on fixing it. Hopefully it doesn’t survive into the new MileagePlus program, but I’m not holding my breath at this point.
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