A United Award Booking Hack, No Seat Assignments for Elites, Delta Award Booking Improvement, and Hilton’s IT Still Bad

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • How to put United award tickets on hold

  • French Polynesia’s tourism minister says Air Tahiti Nui will join oneworld. (HT: Jean T. for the article, in French) Already American AAdvantage frequent flyers can spend miles for Air Tahiti Nui flights. It used to be possible to earn AAdvantage miles on Air Tahiti Nui. Interestingly, joining the alliance would raise the airline’s costs allowing for mileage accrual in a variety of programs, though presumably it would help encourage passengers to fly them instead of Air France and Air New Zealand. Seven years ago the rumor was they’d be joining Skyteam.

  • British Airways ‘Hand baggage only’ fares (which don’t even allow elites to have free checked bags – an exception to alliance-wide benefits) will no longer allow advance seat assignments either, including for elites.

  • American’s MD80s will be gone by end of 2017. That’s sad, actually — five seats across (2 on the left side, 3 on the right) rather than six; a fantastic ratio of premium cabin seats; that it will be replaced in many markets by the Airbus A319 with half as many first class seats. The “Mad Dogs” are gas guzzlers which were the mainstay of the American fleet for years. They lack inflight entertainment but were a priority for internet when American first began rolling out Gogo’s product.

  • Hilton announced everyone would have to change their password by March 25, and would get bonus points for doing so by March 8. But their IT systems turned out not to be prepared for this. Readers keep asking for updates, two weeks later. I asked Hilton, and was told:

    Still no update unfortunately. I promise to share any further details once I have them. I do know that they are still working on resolving the issue.

  • Awards on Taipei-based China Airlines can now be searched at Delta.com. Delta adds fuel surcharges to these awards. (HT: MileValue)

  • Royal Air Maroc, which has launched New York JFK service, will codeshare with JetBlue. This gets JetBlue some Morocco-originating passengers, and possibly some JetBlue customers for Royal Air Maroc. What is does not do, however, is give JetBlue customers any new options to use their points. JetBlue’s partnership with Emirates doesn’t, either. If there was ever an airline ambivalent about the existence of a loyalty program, JetBlue has to be it.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “If there was ever an airline ambivalent about the existence of a loyalty program, JetBlue has to be it.”

    That’s because people actually prefer to fly Jet Blue for reasons other than their loyalty programs. There’s literally no reason to fly UA other than the MP program if Jet Blue serves the same market. As a non-elite on Jet Blue, I get basically everything an elite gets on UA–free checked bag, plenty of leg room, snack–PLUS friendly staff, live TV and much faster internet.

  2. Would be hard to argue that the PayPal trick isn’t manipulation of the website should United later decide to cancel the award booked using the “trick”.

  3. @Scott

    So what, if they don’t like it they cancel the hold (frequently they do, in much less than 24 hours). Until it’s paid or ticketed there’s no contract.

    Afterwards, what’s the big deal? Someone booked an available award at the published rate. They just had a few extra hours to decide to book it.

  4. @Gary, re: the American MD80s – what’s the simplest way to find American’s routes for this particular aircraft?

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