United Airlines Miles Have Stopped Working For Award Travel On Air New Zealand

United Airlines hasn’t been showing award seats that are being offered by their Star Alliance airline partner Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand publishes the award availability, and it can be seen by other airlines. But you won’t find the seats at United.com and the airline’s agents will tell you there’s nothing available.

Fortunately United claims this is a glitch, rather than intentional, and one they hope to resolve quickly.

See this raised concerns, though, because United has a history of playing games with award space being offered by its partners in order to keep program members from seeing and booking the space.

Here’s what United used to do:

  • Before Continental Airlines management took over, United MileagePlus used to engage in “throttling” of awards (what frequent flyers called “Starnet Blocking”). The space would be available, but United would block their agents from ‘seeing’ the availability when they were running up against their budget for awards on the partner airline for that quarter. Availability would appear again when a new fiscal quarter would reset. (People forget that eliminating this practice was actually a good thing that happened when United was taken over by Continental.)

  • When United and Singapore Airlines had a commercial dispute, United removed the ability to see and book Singapore Airlines award space from its website. You could still get the space if you called, but if you were searching online you’d never know the availability existed.

I reached out to United and they acknowledged a “technical issue” seeing the availability that Air New Zealand is offering, and hope to “resolve it..quickly” so hopefully before you need to use your United Airlines miles for domestic travel within New Zealand or trans-tasman travel between Australia and New Zealand. You’re not going to see much premium cabin award availability between the U.S. and New Zealand on Air New Zealand most of the time anyway, of course.

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. Hopefully United will be true to their words. Although my gut feeling tells me that foul play is afoot.

  2. Back to their old slimy corrupt evil ways
    They should be barred from Star Alliance
    Ive disliked United since 2002 and so glad I left the airline then
    It was fantastic in the 90s my favorite of all time and privilege to fly them and participate in Mileage plus
    I feel sorry for their customers today not being able to book what they wish
    Never again for me will I give them loyalty
    With my last BA flight cancelation they stuck me on United First when American sold out
    It was a cluster f in Ord all the way home on the final leg

  3. Same issue on Aegean/Olympic. United shows zero availability after mid-Feb. And calling United does no good.

  4. Curious why you would use miles for domestic NZ flights when I’m seeing $50 one ways max from and to everywhere?

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