Cool – Instant retro mileage credit at United


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Hello and happy Thanksgiving to those in/from the US. It’s the day to reflect on how lucky many of us are to have what we have – be it loved ones, stockpiled mileage balances, or travel opportunities. Today is the day to forget that websites suck, phone agents are clueless, and good deals die every day

One thing I’m thankful for is that I’ve just experienced the easiest retro credit of all time (for me). Earlier this year I flew to and from Tahiti. The ticket was bought from Air New Zealand, while the flights were operated by a mix of NZ and Air Tahiti Nui. Because of the codeshare, I wasn’t sure where to credit the miles initially. I finally checked today, and found that United had decent earning rate. Singapore Airlines earned slightly more, but miles have hard expiration of 3 years, I have zero miles in it, and I don’t fly many paid flights. United MileagePlus IMO has long been the easiest FFP to search and book award flights, although AA is closing in on the gap now that you can book JAL, Cathay Pacific, and Malaysia Airlines awards on (another development I’m thankful for, which to me is worth losing a little bit of [not too much] availability for). United consistently shows award routes neglected by Aeroplan, Lifemiles, and other program websites.

Anyway, I entered my ticket # in the UA mileage request page. It initially said something like “your ticket was reported as unused or exchanged, no go”. Uh, what? I have my boarding pass in hand, and I definitely got back on that flight! It then asked me to enter my flight info, which I did. After entering all 3 flights, I got back a status page. I fully expected it to be “OK, here’s what you submitted, now wait 30 days.” It took me a minute to realize it actually said:

Approved. Your request has been accepted and posted to your account.
Here’s the screenshot:

Wait, say what? Admittedly it’s been a few years since I submitted a retro request, but they all went to a black hole after submission; you’ll never hear from the program, miles either do or don’t post after weeks/months. Sure enough, I checked my MP activity, and the miles were already posted! This is pretty awesome, and I’m extra happy as an IT person to see more data and systems integrated (as someone currently working on such a project).

By the way, you can see from the status above that one of the 3 flights is denied mileage. That’s the one operated by Air Tahiti Nui, codeshared with NZ. Looks like United grants mileage based on operating airline, not the issuing airline. Again, I don’t have many paid flights so this is not my area of expertise. I’m not sure if I can credit that segment to any useful program. If you have any suggestions, I’m ears.

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