United MileagePlus has had issues booking awards on several Star Alliance partners this year, some of which have been resolved.
A new one that’s arisen is an inability to book Lufthansa first class awards. United and other Star Alliance partners don’t usually have access to Lufthansa first class award space until within two weeks of travel anyway, and Lufthansa has been tighter with releasing that space until even closer to travel than that lately. However once they do, programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and ANA Mileage Club can see the award space — but United right now cannot.
Dan’s Deals speculates that this is intentional on United’s part.
- They’ve intentionally blocked space they did not want to pay for in the past, but that was before Continental Airlines management took over and ended the practice. (Frequent flyers referred to this old technique as ‘Starnet blocking’ while internally it was referred to as ‘throttling’.)
- United has intentionally removed space from its website to reduce bookings on a partner. They did that with Singapore Airlines at one point.
However they’re in a joint venture across the Atlantic with Lufthansa. There’s not a whole lot of Lufthansa first class award space anyway. And they’ve had technical issues making bookings with other partners. So the probabilities suggested this was a glitch rather than something intentional.
Indeed United tells me that they are ‘aware of the issue’ and they are ‘urgently working to resolve it.’ It would be nice to post a note to this effect, so members aren’t searching and calling in frustration in the meantime.