United Mileage Plus

2 Things To Always Check For When Booking United Awards

By November 5, 2012 December 10th, 2013 One Comment

As I had talked about way back in August, I used United’s Segment by Segment Trick to book 2 Business Class tickets to India for my Parents on Qatar Airlines.

Well unfortunately my Parents schedule changed, so they wanted me to change the flights for them. This isn’t an issue because it is still 21 days prior to departure, so you can change the time of the flights, you just can’t change the departure or arrival airport without a fee.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but with only 1 month or so until departure, there is little to no availability. Therefore I again tried the Segment by Segment Trick and started searching all the other major Airports for any available flights.

Unfortunately in the process of changing my Parents tickets, I learned 2 important things about booking United Awards the hard way.

1. Always Check For Mixed Cabins

In the process of looking for availability, I started looking for routes out of JFK and found a flight on Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa.

Surprised that there was availability, I almost went ahead and booked it. Luckily by chance I clicked on “Mixed Cabin”, which showed that the leg from JFK – BRU was actually in Economy!

If you click on “Mixed Cabin” (Red Arrow below), it will expand and show you the Cabin Class.

Similarly if you go ahead and select the flight, it will show Cabin Class on the next page. As you can see below, almost half the flight is in Economy, yet you are still charged for a full Business Class Saver ticket!

It is even worse when you try flying almost any Asian Airline like Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines.

In the example below, you can fly First Class on Lufthansa to Frankfurt but as soon as you switch to the Singapore flight, you are in ECONOMY! Imagine paying 70,000 Miles for a One Way First Class, and then getting on the Singapore plane and having to sit in Economy for 12 hours!

If you ever book an Award Ticket on United and you see a “Mixed Cabin” alert, make sure you DOUBLE CHECK IT!

2. Search With Correct Amount Of Passengers

Another “fun” mistake I made was not searching with the correct amount of passengers. 

Typically I only book tickets for myself, or I will book them for a friend, but the miles are in my friend’s account, so I wouldn’t need to search for 2 passengers.

Unfortunately United (unlike British Airways), doesn’t tell you how many seats are still available for Award Tickets.

In the case of my Parents tickets, I was only searching for 1 passenger since the itineraries are booked separately. After finding availability, I went ahead and changed my Mom’s ticket, only to find out when I went to change my Dad’s ticket that there weren’t any more seats left on my Mom’s flight!

To make matters worse, my Parents were originally flying Qatar, which is not a partner with United anymore! So once the ticket was changed, there is no way to go back and get the old flight.

Needless to say, if you are booking tickets for multiple people, regardless if the miles are in 1 account or not, always make sure you search with the correct amount of passengers.

Recap

Hopefully other people avoid making these silly mistakes. This has turned into a huge headache because I cannot find any decent availability but experience is the best teacher, so I know now going forward to always make sure 2 Award Seats are available before making any changes.

-Parag

One Comment

  • jun says:

    I just booked a mixed cabin flight. First leg is economy and second first class. I was only allowed one free 50# check luggage. Am I SOL?

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