Booking complicated United Award trips have become increasingly more difficult via United.com. I found, from my own experience last week, that United.com would often times tell me that saver space tickets were not available if the ticket required more than 2 stops. However, due to my advance knowledge of United Award rules, and of course some help and double checking from Matt, I was able to book an amazing get away to Europe. Despite this, it did not come easy and it did take more than one phone call to United.
Now I know you’ve all read the horror stories about US Agents, Delta agents, and Alitalia, yet this week I had my own incompetent United phone rep. The conversation went like this:
Me: Yes I would like to change the routing on my reservation from San Diego to Frankfurt
Agent: Alright, I have that in front of me what would you like to do.
Me: Instead of flying ORD-FRA, I would like to fly ORD-NYC-GVA-FRA
Agent: Sir, why would you want to do that? Routing like that is not legal.
Me: I want to fly Swiss, can we please attempt the routing, I already have flights picked out that are showing award space available.
Agent: Sir, I told you this will not work
Me: Please try it.
Agent: Fine, but don’t be mad when the computer doesn’t accept it
Me: Ok, I would like to fly ORD – EWR on flight # UA*** and then connect to LX*** which flies from JFK-GVA.
Agent: Sir, you already have a stopover in your trip on your way back in Seattle, we cannot add another one in NYC. That would be two stop overs, this is not allowed!
Me: From my understanding as long as the stopover is less than 24 hours, it’s considered a layover, so this should work
Agent: Airport changes are NOT allowed sir, this is illegal!
Me: I believe Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK are considered co-terminals for award travel
Agent: Co-what?!? What do you mean? They are different airports. This is now an open jaw ticket
Me: Ok, let’s continue and try anyway, please?
Agent: This is not going to work, I don’t know why you keep insisting and are wasting my time
Me: Please, Let’s try. Now when I get to GVA, I want to depart that night at 7pm to FRA on LH***
Agent: Ok I have all your flights. This will not work. I know so, there are too many stop-overs now! But to prove it to you, I’ll attempt to ticket this.
Me: Thank you, I do appreciate it.
<Minute of silence>
Agent: ok…HA told you so Mr. Horan. The computer says illegal routing.
Agent: Anything else I can do for you?
Me: No, I’ll try again with someone else
This agent, for whatever reason could not get the routing to work for me and I was slightly disappointed, but overall more annoyed by her constant fight throughout the process. Not to mention, it was grossly unprofessional for her to say to me “HA told you so!”
Anyways, point of this story is, not all United agents are all that great. I gave it a few hours and called back and spoke to another agent (She was an old Continental employee, I asked her) and she was glad to help me with my complicated itinerary. It took her some time, and in the end she had to call the help desk to double check the routing to ensure it was legal and to help calculate the new taxes. After a brief 5 minute hold she was able to process the new ticket, and the routing the previous agent had refused to ticket was now mine!
So if you’re flying united and you’re booking an award ticket, remember the rules:
- The maximum number of segments is 12
- A stopover is defined as more than 24 hours
- A layover is defined as any stop up to 23 hours and 59 minutes
- You can do 1 stop over on a round trip ticket
- Backtracking is allowed (to an extent)
- Round Trip tickets can be OPEN-JAW
- Open-Jaw round trip ticket can include 1 stop over
- JFK/EWR/LGA are considered co-terminals for award tickets
I hope these simple tips and the story above will help you when you’re planning your next United award trip!