The most natural thing in the world for a frequent flyer member to believe is that one can go to their airline’s website, type the city they’re starting from and where they want to go into the search box, and that website will return results showing all the ways they can travel.
Seasoned frequent flyers know that isn’t true at all — some airline partners may not appear on their program’s website at all, the search technology may not check all possible routings, and any number of other technical glitches may interfere — but there’s no reason why in modern times that should be true, or that a program’s 70 to 100 million members ought to be expected to know that it is true.
United shows more of its partners online than American’s or Delta’s does. But when they don’t show partner space, it can be a conscious decision (such as removing the ability to search for Singapore Airlines award space from the website) or it can be technical challenges getting in the way.
Brussels Airlines space has come and gone at various times from United.com.
And that’s especially important because flights to and from Brussels are one of the go-to routes for transatlantic award space using United or other Star Alliance miles. Availability can be good on both United and on Brussels Airlines, and with a Star Alliance hub in Brussels it’s possible to get beyond there to your final destination. It’s one of the more overlooked ways to travel.
United.com doesn’t show Shenzhen Airlines space — worth knowing, but not an impediment to most members for most searches.
They also do not show LOT Polish on their website. And that is a bigger deal than you might expect.
Fortunately you can search for award space on LOT Polish on the Aeroplan and the ANA award search websites. You can search for it on ExpertFlyer. And it’s supported (via Aeroplan and ANA searches) using the KVS Tool and AwardNexus.
LOT offers daily 787 service between Warsaw and Chicago, daily 787 seasonal service which drops to 4 days a week between Warsaw and Toronto, and daily 787 seasonal service which drops to 4 days a week between Warsaw and New York JFK.
While not world-beating, they’ve got a new fully flat business class on their 787 (much better than the relic they had been operating previously) so certainly something worth flying.
Here’s availability for 2 passengers, Warsaw-Chicago, during the first 28 days in October (randomly chosen month).
Here’s the first 28 days in October for New York JFK – Warsaw and return, 2 passengers in business class.
And here’s the first 26 days of October for Toronto – Warsaw and return. Availability does occasionally exist, but for this route is far from outstanding.
The point here is — just because it can’t be found on the United.com website doesn’t mean it isn’t available.
While business class to Europe using United miles has gotten more expensive especially when redeeming for partner travel, it’s not out of whack with the industry when you consider there aren’t any fuel surcharges.
If you have American Express Membership Rewards points you can transfer to Aeroplan and pay just 45,000 miles each way for travel between the North America and ‘Europe 1.’ Poland and points East within Europe are part of Europe 1.
And while Aeroplan adds fuel surcharges onto awards booked on some partners, they do not add them onto Brussels Airlines, Scandinavian, Swiss, Turkish, or United for transatlantic travel… and the surcharges on LOT are less than half what you would pay for travel on an airline like Lufthansa.
And remember that if you change your itinerary after departure of first flight, Aeroplan doesn’t collect increased fuel surcharges only their CAD$90 change fee. That means if you book United for your return trip and then change to LOT or Lufthansa after you’ve taken the departing flight, you won’t actually pay the fuel surcharges to do so.