Monday, December 15, 2008

United "blocking" award seats on partner airlines?

Have you heard? Star Alliance members have offered cross-carrier award ticketing for more than a year, but United Airlines has been blocking access to partner airlines' seats. As the Washington Times put it:
The filters United has been using for a couple of years deny members of its Mileage Plus program access to thousands of seats, which are available to participants in the loyalty schemes of all other 23 alliance partners, including Air Canada, US Airways and Germany's Lufthansa.

The reason is cost: United pays money whenever one of its Mileage Plus members redeems miles for an award seat on one of the airline's partner carriers. But United didn't tell its customers that it was using these filters. And now that they are known, the Times says that they're still in place.

United continues to offer (in my opinion) good service overall for the value. Given this latest revelation, though, and with U.S. Airways charging $2 for soft drinks in coach, Star Alliance loyalists may want to consider shifting their business to Continental when that airline comes onboard in 2009.

Then again, I'm always advocating flying with Continental. Missteps like this one from United (an airline with which I still hold 1K status) just help me explain my enthusiasm.

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