As you might know, since I have been so excited about it and talking in my recently posts, I have been busy booking United awards online, and whilst sometimes I enjoy a layover in a City, such as Istanbul for 6hrs when on route to the Maldives last month, at other times I just want to get home. This is especially true for annoying little connections for my European Flights.
Also, what I dislike about indirect routes is that you have to pay Departure Tax to the Country you are changing planes in, so not only is the journey a pain in the backside with a race through the airport to find your next connecting flight, but you are paying for the privilege too. I noticed recently, when booking a series of Multi-City awards that for some reason, even though there was space in Saver Award Categories for Non-Stop flights it wasn’t showing this to me when in the middle of a larger booking. The way to check if there is space is to search a One Way from that route when booking United Awards Online.
Here is my reservation for a part of my trip to Dubai. I like leg one (Rome-Dubai has to be via another city as there is no Non Stop route) and Leg Two (back to Zurich), but leg three, is indirect for no reason whatsoever.
United has an online system for not only booking the award, but changing flights within each leg. So I tried to do this to swap out the annoying routing through Frankfurt and go Non-Stop instead, I had already checked that the Non Stop was open:
So I check the ‘change flights button to pick this much better Non Stop United UA135 from Zurich to Newark in December, which is wide open as you can see above, and get the following screen to pick my routing options – not a single Non Stop in sight!
I do love booking United Awards Online, but sometimes it best to pick up the phone to get the results you need. Personally, whenever I am flying internationally these days I use the United Round The World (RTW) Desk – these guys tend to answer faster, today within two rings of the phone, and when they do they really know what they are doing. The general number routes me to some clueless fool in a call center somewhere, and on Saturday I spend 1 1/2 hrs on the phone to these guys on a problem that the RTW Desk fixed in 5 minutes – here is the United RTW Desk -use it for Star Alliance awards or complex international ones only: 1-877-726-7282
So, within 2 minutes of the call they have me on the Nonstop flight, here is my new ticket:
Also, she credited back $35 to my card since I don’t need to pay the taxes departing Frankfurt! Also, I noticed that I was changing Carriers in doing this, from Lufthansa to United. And there is supposed to be a fee for when you do this on Star Alliance Reservation, however I wasn’t charged. I am not sure why, but I speculate it was because I moved TO United and that is better for them as they have to pay for the Award space on their Partners. That’s just a guess though, so if you do try to swap there may be a fee.
My advice, if you are booking a complex award it is easier on the phone having first mapped out all the One Way legs, write down the Flight numbers and talk the agent through the call – however you can also just do it online so that you can lock in the routing, then call back when convenient to you in order to tweak the flights – remember to make all your changes 21 days in advance if you have no United status to help avoid more fees.