Are United Award Bookings on Qatar Airways About to Go Away Early?

Matthew ran into an issue booking United MileagePlus award travel on Qatar Airways.

Just weeks after Qatar award space became bookable on the united.com website, it was announced that the United-Qatar partnership was ending and awards would be bookable up until September 14 (for travel through the end of schedule as of that time).

There are now lots of reports, though, that United’s telephone agents will no longer book the space, citing a memo they received that the partnership terminated early and award travel on Qatar is no longer bookable. The United website still stays bookings can be made through September 14, and the website shows the award availability as well.

Qatar awards are still bookable online, and some folks have reported taking four or five phone calls to get it done offline.

Bottom-line is that whether there’s really some imminent change or just agent confusion, the remaining window to book United awards on Qatar seems to be very short indeed.

Qatar has outstanding availability, and routing through the Middle East is incredibly efficient for travel to North Arica and Central Asia.

If you have your eye on any such bookings, it would be advisable to make them now and to do so online.

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. I had a fairly similar experience a few days ago. My wife was booked on Qatar from BUD to CMB in economy. I called to change routing and class to Biz. The flights and space were available on united.com, but two different agents told me they could not see the award space on their end. The second one put me on hold for 5-10 mins and then came back and was able to confirm my requested changes.

  2. Gary, I posted about this same issue July 5, so I have a data point to add. Here’s the relevant part:

    “and he insisted that he could not sell me the segments on Qatar Airlines because its partnership with United had been severed.

    When I pointed out to him and his supervisor that I could buy the segments online, they suggested I do so. It’s mind-boggling how little these agents understand. I can’t buy the two segments online and the eight over the phone on this ten-segment award, and I can’t buy this ten-segment award online, so I needed to book it all with them.

    Then the supervisor, who was not a native English speaker, tried to argue that my comprehension of this sentence from united.com’s Qatar page was incorrect. “Award tickets issued on or before September 14, 2012, will be honored as ticketed and are valid for one year from date of issue. ” To me it clearly means that you can book Qatar tickets until September 14 for travel until September 14, 2013.

    This is a classic case where hanging up and calling back will usually be the best course. A fresh agent may not try to invent fake rules. Luckily I was soon transferred to United’s web support, where I had the pleasure of speaking with a competent agent. She was able to put together and ticket the itinerary in twenty minutes without making up any rules!”

    I think we’ll be able to book until 9/14 if we talk to competent agents. Full post:

    http://milevalue.com/anatomy-of-an-award-23-hour-layovers/

  3. Hi,
    I am having a problem with award tickets purchased on Qatar Airlines though United.com. I would love your advice on what I should do/what my options are. Here is some background…
    My sister Katie & I booked award travel on United.com from Livingstone, Zambia to Dubai, UAE. The flights were on two carriers South African Airlines – LVI to JNB flight SA49 and Qatar Airlines – JNB to DOH flight QA583 & DOH to DXB flight QR108. The reservations were ticketed and confirmed by United on Fri, June 1, 2012 at 9:44pm Central Time. I wanted to select seats and United told me to call the Qatar airlines directly. Qatar Airlines shows that the reservations we had were cancelled. I spoke with a Qatar agent on Saturday, Sept 1, 2012 and he informed me of an email sent to United on June 2, 2012 letting them know our reservations were cancelled. United has made zero effort to contact us regarding any issue with our itinerary. I have contacted United 20+ times regarding these flights and each and every time the agents inform me that my flights are confirmed on Qatar. Recently I asked an agent to contact Qatar Airlines and then and only then did he acknowledge that my flights were in fact not booked (even thought United’s system still shows them as confirmed). The agents do not have any reasonable alternative flight options for me and are saying they can’t honor our contracted agreement. All I want is for United/Qatar Airlines to honor my reservations. Qatar Airlines is selling seats on both flights so there is availability.
    I understand that United & Qatar have severed their relationship however, per United’s website “Award travel ticketed on or before September 14, 2012, will be honored as ticketed and valid for one year.” We meet those requirements as our tickets were confirmed on June 1, 2012.

    Thanks,

    Kristi

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