Booking complicated flights via United.com doesn’t always work. What do I mean by this? when trying to book my Christmas vacation, I tried to book Manila-Seoul-Bangkok-Phuket-Bangkok-Singapore-Manila. This is all legal routing per the United’s award travel rules and should book for 35K in business class. However, when I tried booking this online I received an error message every time! I can book “round trip” MNL-HKT with long lay overs in Seoul and Singapore or even one ways in both directions, but I cannot book a stop-over online with the long lay overs. Complicated non “point-to-point” travel is nearly impossible on United.com
After a number of phone calls, I was successfully able to book MNL-ICN-BKK, BKK-HKT, HKT-BKK-MNL. By the time I found a representative who understood that an extended layover in Seoul was allowed since it was only 18 hours (enough time to explore the city) and a stopover in Bangkok was legal as long as it was a roundtrip ticket, my other flights were no longer available. Every agent I talked to refused to price it out for 35K miles and instead insisted on booking three one-way segments costing 52,500 miles! Matthew has tons of stories like this, and I was starting to feel his pain. Finally, my flights were booked, but the flights from HKT-BKK-SIN-MNL were no longer available and this meant New Year’s Eve was going to be spent in Manila instead of Singapore with my friends like I wanted. Slightly upset, but happy either way, for New Years was going to be somewhere that I had never spent before! And my goal is to spend New Years somewhere different every year! So far I’ve done Bangkok, Sophia, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, San Francisco, Beijing (Chinese New Years), Vancouver, Portland, Disneyland (ok not nearly as impressive as I thought) and now either Manila or Singapore, I was going to get to add another city to my bucket list!
A few days went by, and like the OCD person that I am, I kept checking back for award space. I really wanted to see my old friends in Singapore, and more importantly, as sick as this sounds, I wanted to fly Singapore Airlines for my first time. Sure SIN-MNL is only about 1500 miles and a three-hour flight, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and why Singapore Airline (SQ) is rated so highly. Sure, they have probably the best airport in the world, but can flying SQ really be that much better than other Asian carriers? I guess I’ll find out since in the next month I’m doing a long haul of China Southern & Malaysia Air and I’m doing three medium haul intra-Asia trips on Asiana, Thai, & SQ.
Anyway, Finally HKT-BKK-SIN-MNL came available again and lucky me it was more than 21 days before departure. I got on the phone and booked the flights right away. No change fees or additional miles, just $9 in addition taxes and I am now set to fly and spend New Years in Singapore!
However, after I was done booking the noon flight to MNL, I found on United.com that there was a 1440 flight, meaning I would have 23.5 hours in Singapore, truly maximizing my time there. I got on the phone and tried to book it.
Three agents later, a supervisor, and technical support and over 2 hours on the phone, no matter what we did, United couldn’t book the 1440 flight. This reminds me of an issue I had earlier this summer when trying to change a United Award booking. They said they could not see it in their system, even when trying to book it point to point. I couldn’t believe this so I went ahead and reserved the ticket on a new reservation. After paying for it, I gave them the confirmation number and they were “shocked” that I was able to book it and it ticketed despite it not being on their screen.
My reservation after I bought it to prove to them it was possible
Another 40 minutes went by as they tried to attach the ticket to my current reservation. They finally canceled the ticket and then tried to secure the reservation via waitlisting it, but everything they did failed. In the end, nothing happened and I’m still on the noon flight.
So in the end I wasted 3+ hours. A total waste of time, but can you blame me? I was just trying to maximize my time in Singapore!