Old Feb 5, 09, 4:58 pm
United PR
Company Representative - United Airlines
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Programs: United Public Relations
Posts: 151
Please find below a response from United Mileage Plus:

Thanks for your patience while we reviewed all of your feedback. We understand this is an important topic to you.

Reading through the thread, we hear that your concerns are primarily related to the inventory-control of Star award tickets to non-United destinations, elite benefits for Star award tickets, employee understanding, and absence of an online booking tool.

Like any well-run business, we work within a budget to provide you with a set of benefits that recognize your loyalty. Inevitably, we must prioritize which benefits deliver the most value to our members and are sustainable for us to offer.

We recognize that the ability to redeem awards on Star carriers is an important benefit and we continue to buy seats from our Star partners for your benefit. In fact, our spend on partner carrier awards has increased nearly 20% year over year. Since we are always reviewing our inventory levels, you may periodically see more seats become available.

We, of course, do not have control of the amount of award inventory our partners make available to their customers. And when award inventory is made available to United, we must buy it from our Star partners at the prices they set for those awards. It simply does not make good business sense for us to open up all availability on our partners – doing so would require unpopular trade-offs elsewhere in the Mileage Plus program.

While we understand your frustration that some of the destinations we serve are sometimes unavailable for award travel, please know that the vast majority of destinations are available at different times of the year. Our recent and future airline partnerships, including Jet, Aer Lingus, Continental and others, are adding more destinations and routings.

Some of you have also raised a point related to elite customers competing with general members for Star award tickets. It is important to remember that as an elite in Mileage Plus, you receive a compelling suite of benefits that are richer than those offered by most Star carriers. You earn full mileage and EQM credit on all published classes as well as a number of complimentary upgrades. We are also the only domestic airline to offer our elites free access to Economy Plus seating.

You’ve also taken this opportunity to express concern over our employees intentionally misleading you, and let us assure you that this is not the case. Our reservations agents’ primary role is to provide you the best itinerary to meet your travel needs. Just like many of them do not know why there are more seats available in certain fare classes, they do not have insight into the availability of award seats. In their exuberance to assist, they may have indicated that we do not manage our partner award availability. We are taking steps to increase their awareness around the product and to ensure that you receive a more consistent response going forward. However, while we hope to avoid inaccurate information being shared, our agents do not have information that says why award seats are or are not available.

Finally, with regards to award search, we have made some significant functionality improvements to united.com over the last few years and agree that continued improvement is a development priority.

We hope the majority of you understand that every program has trade offs and we encourage you to look at the perks Mileage Plus offers across the board. Our goal is to provide you the best frequent flyer program and run a sustainable business. All of this has been shared with the appropriate decision makers and while there are no immediate changes planned, please know that your comments are always appreciated.

United Mileage Plus
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