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UA award booking, change questions / issues / routing / excursionist problems / help

Old Jan 19, 2017, 10:23 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
Main Impact
  • No more free stopover - replaced with Excursionist Perk
  • Agents no longer have the ability to find routings or build itineraries that do not show up on united.com
  • Manually constructing trips using multi-city search results in multiple award fares being charged
  • Changing any segment basically requires current availability for all existing Os&Ds in the PNR (as if a brand new booking is made)
  • Singapore Airlines segments are priced separately (add-ons)

Useful Links
EveryDay Awards - UA MP award changes 1 Nov 2017 (Everyday award/dynamic price, No RTW, No Show fee,..)
principle change - Standard awards being replaced by "EveryDay Award" with variable pricing

What is the Excursionist Perk?
The Excursionist Perk is a free one-way award within select multi-city itineraries. Members who book an itinerary with three or more one-way awards will be eligible to receive one of those one-way awards for free, if it meets all of these conditions:
The Excursionist Perk cannot be in the MileagePlus defined region where your travel originates. (For example, if your journey begins in North America, you will only receive the Excursionist Perk if travel is within a region outside of North America.)
  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
  • The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk is within a single MileagePlus defined region.
  • The cabin of service and award type of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
  • If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.


Previous thread -- UA award booking,change questions/fees/issues/routing/excursionist problems {Archive}


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UA award booking, change questions / issues / routing / excursionist problems / help

Old Nov 1, 2023, 7:38 am
  #781  
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Originally Posted by oblisk
Was looking for some availability NYC - AMS for the MIL next year. Noticed I space available on JFK-MUC as part of a connecting itinerary, however searching for it directly as NYC/JFK-MUC the inventory did not appear. Not sure if a new bug, LH driven feature or UA 'enhancement'.
Not new -- LH has been doing this for several years. They often seem more willing to release award space on connecting itineraries than on nonstop flights, because they know that the nonstop flights are more desirable. It's the same reason that it might be cheaper to fly JFK-MUC-AMS than JFK-MUC.
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Old Nov 1, 2023, 5:54 pm
  #782  
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You can always throw away the extra intra-EU segments
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 8:51 am
  #783  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Madison
Programs: United (gold), American, Delta
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Optimizing for Polaris EWR-DXB on multicity honeymoon?

United Gold, will hit Platinum in next two weeks (although will have enough PQF for 1Ksigh), have the United miles CC, and planning our honeymoon to the Maldives for next fall, which is low season for the Maldives. Ive read numerous threads here and multiple other blogs to understand upgrading but still feeling overwhelmed by which choice to make to maximize our upgrade option for the longest portion of itinerary (EWR-DXB). Full route will be ORD-EWR-DBX-MLE and then reverse for the return.

(ETA sadness as I just realized Maldives are not in the same region as UAE according to United. Question still remains.)

As I understand it, these are my options:
  1. Book economy with $$ (roughly $1800 RT) and put in for miles upgrade waitlist (70k RT)will be charged for highest level and refunded fully if I dont get it/partially if I only get premium.
  2. Book premium economy with $$ (roughly $2800 RT) and put in for miles upgrade waitlist (70k RT/person + $600) for Polaris business. Ive read that booking premium economy and being on the waitlist clears first before all others and would maximize Polaris chances.
  3. Book economy with miles (80k/person RT) and wait to see what they might offer as a paid upgrade in the app. But this will eliminate mileage upgrade waitlist and I wont have enough PP being only Platinum.

I have expert mode on and currently do not see any availability showing for instant upgrade for R/PZ/RNalthough I honestly dont see it for any of the months Ive checked for the EWR-DXB route. But that also seems to be the norm?

The bare minimum were willing to fly for EWR-DXB is premium economy.

I welcome any insights and suggestions on how to maximize our chances!

Last edited by SmileyJoyz; Nov 3, 2023 at 9:10 am
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 9:43 am
  #784  
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Originally Posted by SmileyJoyz
  1. Book economy with $$ (roughly $1800 RT) and put in for miles upgrade waitlist (70k RT)will be charged for highest level and refunded fully if I dont get it/partially if I only get premium.
  2. Book premium economy with $$ (roughly $2800 RT) and put in for miles upgrade waitlist (70k RT/person + $600) for Polaris business. Ive read that booking premium economy and being on the waitlist clears first before all others and would maximize Polaris chances.
  3. Book economy with miles (80k/person RT) and wait to see what they might offer as a paid upgrade in the app. But this will eliminate mileage upgrade waitlist and I wont have enough PP being only Platinum.
Option #1 also has a co-pay. The co-pay looks wrong for option 2 -- it should be slightly lower than option 1. As for option 3, Platinum members can't use PlusPoints to upgrade award tickets anyway; only Global Services members do.

#2 is not quite correct -- anyone using Global Services instruments, regardless of cabin, will be upgraded before a Platinum member in Premium Plus. Also, you're going to find that a significant number of people in the Premium Plus cabin will be attempting to upgrade, and many of those are likely to be GS/1K and thereby have priority.

Originally Posted by SmileyJoyz
I have expert mode on and currently do not see any availability showing for instant upgrade for R/PZ/RNalthough I honestly dont see it for any of the months Ive checked for the EWR-DXB route. But that also seems to be the norm?
Yes, that's quite normal.

Originally Posted by SmileyJoyz
The bare minimum were willing to fly for EWR-DXB is premium economy.
Then I suggest you purchase PE and waitlist for J, rather than purchasing economy and waitlisting for PE.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 10:51 am
  #785  
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Posts: 67,159
From deep discount economy, S, T, L, K, G, it will be 35,000 miles + $600 co-pay to Polaris
From discount PremPlus A, R, it will be 35,000 miles + $450 co-pay to United Polaris business
Note not all the flights have PremPlus, only the EWR-DXB. Not sure about the DXB to MAL -- and the UA upgrade will not cover that flight
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 11:20 am
  #786  
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Originally Posted by SmileyJoyz
Book economy with miles (80k/person RT) and wait to see what they might offer as a paid upgrade in the app.
I have personal experience with this one in the last year on two separate itineraries. We checked every day but werent offered ANY cash upgrades until check-in. Its a real nail biter. I dont recommend it.
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Old Nov 3, 2023, 12:18 pm
  #787  
 
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[snip]

Last edited by beltway; Apr 16, 2024 at 3:10 pm
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Old Nov 5, 2023, 4:29 pm
  #788  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Originally Posted by jsloan
Option #1 also has a co-pay. The co-pay looks wrong for option 2 -- it should be slightly lower than option 1. As for option 3, Platinum members can't use PlusPoints to upgrade award tickets anyway; only Global Services members do.

#2 is not quite correct -- anyone using Global Services instruments, regardless of cabin, will be upgraded before a Platinum member in Premium Plus. Also, you're going to find that a significant number of people in the Premium Plus cabin will be attempting to upgrade, and many of those are likely to be GS/1K and thereby have priority.


Yes, that's quite normal.


Then I suggest you purchase PE and waitlist for J, rather than purchasing economy and waitlisting for PE.
Thank you. This is the option Im leaning towards since its our honeymoon. Appreciate the additional knowledge added here as well re: GS.
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Old Nov 5, 2023, 4:32 pm
  #789  
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Originally Posted by Ericka
I have personal experience with this one in the last year on two separate itineraries. We checked every day but werent offered ANY cash upgrades until check-in. Its a real nail biter. I dont recommend it.
Was that your experience for this exact route? Or just in general? Im frequently offered cash upgrade options and last year was offered them for Mexico to/from Chicago but that isnt long haul. If it was for EWR-DXB, wondering if the lack of cash upgrades had anything to do with it being a newer route?
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 2:24 am
  #790  
 
Join Date: Nov 2023
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Complicated award ticket & excursionist perk itinerary

I've been trying to book the following as an award reservation:

SZX-ROR 12/12/2023
NH966 + UA827 + UA157

ROR-MAJ 12/16/2023
UA192 + UA176 + UA133

MAJ-SZX 12/18/2023
UA132 + UA151 + ZH8064

The first segment has X/XN availability with no issues. The second segment shows XN availability when searching using expert mode, but does not show any availability when I search for an award ticket. The third segment shows X/XN availability with no issues.

Regarding the hidden award availability on the second segment, I contacted UA via chat/call, and they confirmed that award inventory does exist for ROR-MAJ on 12/16.

They compiled all three segments manually, though told me that "it won't price" when they went to finalize everything. They claimed that the fares on some of the flights were "non-combinable," and were unable to explain what that meant. I asked to be pointed to a specific policy about such "non-combinable" fares, and was told that it was just an "internal" rule that was not published anywhere. The agent encouraged me to reach out to Customer Care to seek a full explanationI'm waiting for their reply now.

The agent did say that she was able to book my itinerary as three one-way tickets instead of one multi-city ticket, but then I cannot get the excursionist perk discount on the second leg.

In all, I've now spent 12 hours on the UA booking page, online chat, and phone line trying to make this itinerary happen, but nothing seems to be working and I am running out of options, it seems.

Any suggestions on next steps, if anything?
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 6:30 am
  #791  
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Originally Posted by SmileyJoyz
Was that your experience for this exact route? Or just in general? Im frequently offered cash upgrade options and last year was offered them for Mexico to/from Chicago but that isnt long haul. If it was for EWR-DXB, wondering if the lack of cash upgrades had anything to do with it being a newer route?
The two award trips that did not produce cash upgrade options were both to Europe in summer high season.
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 8:53 am
  #792  
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Originally Posted by lhoutz
The second segment shows XN availability when searching using expert mode, but does not show any availability when I search for an award ticket.
Welcome to FlyerTalk! This is going to turn out to be the crux of the issue here.

Originally Posted by lhoutz
They compiled all three segments manually, though told me that "it won't price" when they went to finalize everything. They claimed that the fares on some of the flights were "non-combinable," and were unable to explain what that meant. I asked to be pointed to a specific policy about such "non-combinable" fares, and was told that it was just an "internal" rule that was not published anywhere. The agent encouraged me to reach out to Customer Care to seek a full explanationI'm waiting for their reply now.
Youre not going to get anything coherent from Customer Care. Youre running into people who are trying to make sense of what the computer is doing no more, no less. The computer doesnt seem to like the itinerary, although I dont see anything obviously wrong with it besides the rather obvious fact that it sounds like a slog.

Combinability refers to the fare rules and indicates what flights can be sold together on the same ticket. Its an industry term, though it rarely comes up in the context of award travel.

Originally Posted by lhoutz
In all, I've now spent 12 hours on the UA booking page, online chat, and phone line trying to make this itinerary happen, but nothing seems to be working and I am running out of options, it seems.

Any suggestions on next steps, if anything?
Dont argue or try to demand answers, as thats just going to get somebody defensive. Dont escalate to a supervisor. HUCA (Hang Up and Call Again). The only way that this is going to work out in your favor is to find an agent who is dedicated to pushing this through, which is probably going to involve manual pricing, which is a PITA, so you may need to call several times. Yes, this is frustrating advice but ultimately, your problem here is that the UA computer seems to have some sort of issue with the long en-route layovers or something; even if I try individual pieces of your longer TKK/GUM/PNI/MAJ trip, it will only give me results with short layovers, as if it were applying North America routing rules (anything over 4 hours is a stopover, as opposed to anything over 24 hours in other markets) and awards dont even follow North America routing rules in North America. Finding someone to overrule the computer, even when you know youre right, can be extremely challenging.
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 12:13 pm
  #793  
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Originally Posted by lhoutz
.... The second segment shows XN availability when searching using expert mode, but does not show any availability when I search for an award ticket. The third segment shows X/XN availability with no issues. ....
The concept of piecing awards segments together disappeared 5 or so years ago. You can only book what is provided by awards search, manually constructing awards of segments with availability, if not offered is not an option. The agents have essentially the same tool and see the same options and will not be able to price a manually build itin. The agent have no more idea than you why the routing is not offered and will make up some "plausible" reason that is like not relevant.

This was a major change many years ago. You may get a rare agent to go to the awards pricing desk but they will usually be stonewalled.
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 12:15 pm
  #794  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
The concept of piecing awards segments together disappeared 5 or so years ago. You can only book what is provided by awards search, manually constructing awards of segments with availability, if not offered is not an option. The agents have essentially the same tool and see the same options and will not be able to price a manually build itin.
Agreed, but the weird thing here is that it does show the XN if you do a simple ROR-MAJ (cash) search. It just somehow doesn't turn into any awards, XN or YN.
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Old Nov 6, 2023, 12:28 pm
  #795  
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Originally Posted by jsloan
Agreed, but the weird thing here is that it does show the XN if you do a simple ROR-MAJ (cash) search. It just somehow doesn't turn into any awards, XN or YN.
Available of award space and a logical option but not showing in an award search has been reported many time.
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