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Old Sep 29, 08, 7:06 am   #1
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Arrow Washington Times - United Admits to StarNet Blocking!

"We manage award availability on our Star Alliance partners just as we do with United's own saver awards," said Jeff Kovick, a United spokesman ... "It is an ongoing balance of ensuring we meet our customers' interest in award travel on partner carriers with United's need to generate revenue on our own flights."
So there you have it... from the horse's mouth.

Full story here:
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008...award-tickets/
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Old Sep 29, 08, 7:26 am   #2
  
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Originally Posted by DogHead View Post
"We manage award availability on our Star Alliance partners just as we do with United's own saver awards," said Jeff Kovick, a United spokesman ... "It is an ongoing balance of ensuring we meet our customers' interest in award travel on partner carriers with United's need to generate revenue on our own flights."
So there you have it... from the horse's mouth.

Full story here:
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008...award-tickets/
How would you interpret or "un-spin" Jeff Kovick's last quote? To me, it seems he's saying that, by blocking award availability on their partner flights, UA can stand to gain by forcing their customers to buy revenue tickets on UA's own flights.

However, in Nick's story in Washington Times, he cited an example of not being able to book any of the 12 daily FRA-MUC flights from Oct 6 to 13 using UA miles, even though the ANA tool showed availability on 10 flights a day on average. In this example, UA doesn't stand to gain anything by blocking these intra-Germany flights that UA does not serve. So I'm thinking maybe I am not interpreting or unspinning Kovick's statement correctly...
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Old Sep 29, 08, 8:26 am   #3
  
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Not sure how to "unspin" this but I think what he's saying is that United can't afford the "revenue" they'd have to pay their "partners" for giving up an award seat for United miles -- and that it's much cheaper to keep the award travel on United.

Not that this is in any way a surprise, but it doesn't do much to build respect for United as an ethical company. But then neither do any of their other sleazy practices such as

- sending out 10% off electronic coupons (Visa promotion) that when you go to book result in significantly higher than the best available fares (eg IAD-SYD is available for $1,710 but if you want to use the coupon it will be $2,380for the same flights and dates)

- putting flashy adds all over the website saying you can move up to economy plus for as little as $14 but when you go to the trouble it turns out that it can easily cost $176 for a domestic roundtrip (DCA-DEN-SFO-DEN-IAD)

Of course, if United was up front about the games they are playing with Star Alliance award bookings, that would significantly tarnish the value of United miles and could cause business travelers to book away from United.

I would very much like to know what the Star Alliance carriers charge each other for award seats -- what does Lufthansa pay United?
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Old Sep 29, 08, 8:31 am   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogHead View Post
"We manage award availability on our Star Alliance partners just as we do with United's own saver awards," said Jeff Kovick, a United spokesman ... "It is an ongoing balance of ensuring we meet our customers' interest in award travel on partner carriers with United's need to generate revenue on our own flights."
So there you have it... from the horse's mouth.
Btw, recently I've also seen the reverse problem. Flight (small feeders inside the US) are avaiable as UA saver awards, but not for redemption with LH miles and not visible on the ANA tool either.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 9:23 am   #5
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Originally Posted by hch View Post
Btw, recently I've also seen the reverse problem. Flight (small feeders inside the US) are avaiable as UA saver awards, but not for redemption with LH miles and not visible on the ANA tool either.
It appears that UA offers some additional inventory on its own flights to its own members, which is not at all unusual. What is unusual is United's decision to disallow many (and sometimes all) awards on partners even if the partners have opened the space up for awards.

Even worse, United's representatives tell people that it is the partner blocking inventory, not UA. This quote from LH confirms that UA is lying to its customers on this issue:

Quote:
But Martin Rieken, director of corporate communications for the Americas at Lufthansa, said that every Star partner makes the same inventory available on StarNet for any alliance member to use "on a first-come-first-served basis."

Christian Klick, Star's vice president for corporate affairs, agreed with Mr. Rieken's characterization.

"We offer each seat to every frequent-flyer program and have no preference" who uses it, Mr. Rieken said. Both he and Mr. Klick noted that formal redemption agreements, covering issues such as mutual compensation, are negotiated bilaterally between carriers.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 11:27 am   #6
  
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Code:
Several United agents tried to explain the discrepancy by saying that Star 
carriers give different award inventory to the individual alliance members. 

But Martin Rieken, director of corporate communications for the Americas at 
Lufthansa, said that every Star partner makes the same inventory available 
on StarNet for any alliance member to use "on a first-come-first-served basis."
Don't you love it when the agent uses that excuse.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 1:12 pm   #7
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogHead View Post
"We manage award availability on our Star Alliance partners just as we do with United's own saver awards," said Jeff Kovick, a United spokesman ... "It is an ongoing balance of ensuring we meet our customers' interest in award travel on partner carriers with United's need to generate revenue on our own flights."
So there you have it... from the horse's mouth.

Full story here:
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008...award-tickets/
Wow, 3 cheers for the Washington Times and their intrepid reporter Nicolas Kralev! I didn't think the media would expose this, but United's behavior is so meat-axe that it's attracting attention outside FT.

Sounds like a good followup opportunity for say Scott McCartney in the WSJ, also the NY Times and Washington Post. Anyone?

BTW, I was barred from completing the recent online 1K benefit-cut survey when UA asked whether anyone in the household worked, among other occupations, in the news biz (my wife is an online editor for a local publication). That saved me some time and aggravation, based on FT reports from those who slogged through it.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 1:26 pm   #8
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Originally Posted by Explore View Post
Wow, 3 cheers for the Washington Times and their intrepid reporter Nicolas Kralev! I didn't think the media would expose this, but United's behavior is so meat-axe that it's attracting attention outside FT.
That reporter is an active FT member.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:05 pm   #9
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Arrow United admits to StarNet blocking!

I guess step one to solving any problem is admitting that it exists, so it's nice to see we can check that off the list.

What's really interesting is what the UA spokesperson is quoted as saying: "It is an ongoing balance of ensuring we meet our customers' interest in award travel on partner carriers with United's need to generate revenue on our own flights."

I don't know whether UA is really that out of touch, or what. If UA just filtered inventory on routes they flew that'd be one thing, but the fact that they filter inventory on routes they don't fly by a long shot, like intra-Europe flights, is a whole different story.

So maybe this is a good time to fight it -- maybe comment on the article so it'll pick up more attention, or email UA and express your displeasure with Starnet blocking, making clear that it's the blocking of routes that UA doesn't even fly that we totally disapprove of.

Well done to Mr. Kralev for taking this on!

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Sep 29, 08 at 8:15 pm Reason: removed portion no longer needed after merge
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:16 pm   #10
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And one of our very own FT members is quoted in the article as well.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:16 pm   #11
  
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I guess UA's plan is to force you to fly only to places they serve.
[jedi voice]"That is not the destination you're looking for."[/jedi voice]

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Sep 29, 08 at 8:16 pm Reason: removed portion now moot after merge
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:18 pm   #12
  
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Makes perfect sense. It's a two way street... It's only fair that if UA only allows so many seats on its planes for other airline customers, that UA's customers should in return be given the same amount of inventory on other airlines.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:18 pm   #13
  
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What worried me more is the mention of the ANA tool in that article.
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:24 pm   #14
  
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Originally Posted by United737522 View Post
Makes perfect sense. It's a two way street... It's only fair that if UA only allows so many seats on its planes for other airline customers, that UA's customers should in return be given the same amount of inventory on other airlines.
Well, why then US Air has all the availability on LH any time I need it? I cannot fathom LH M&M program customers chasing after US flights so much more than United flights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lucky9876coins View Post
So maybe this is a good time to fight it -- maybe comment on the article so it'll pick up more attention, or email UA and express your displeasure with Starnet blocking,
or maybe just sue them for misrepresentation?? Do not believe they would listen to you if you just emailed to express your displeasure??! I don't think they would look at it even if you switch your credit card business from Chase to BofA or Barclays to get USAir card. The management could not care less in my opinion, but the phone agents should be really reminded of the fact each and every time, so they stop lying about other airlines blocking the inventory.

Last edited by FlyinHawaiian; Sep 29, 08 at 8:16 pm Reason: consecutive posts merged
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Old Sep 29, 08, 5:32 pm   #15
  
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Originally Posted by lucky9876coins View Post
I guess step one to solving any problem is admitting that it exists, so it's nice to see we can check that off the list.
I'd like to see what the other 11 steps are in their 12 step program.





Yeah, it'd be really cool to throw a lawsuit together. I'm just not sure for what one could sue . . . .
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