Award Inventory of Singapore Airlines Flights Removed from United Airlines; “Wind-Down” of US Airways as a Partner
With little advance notice, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines have agreed to remove the inventory of Singapore Airlines from the award flight search results on the official Internet web site of United Airlines and on the mobile application software of United Airlines effective as of today, December 13, 2013, according to FlyerTalk member UA Insider — also known as Aaron Goldberg, who is the senior manager of Customer Experience Planning at United Airlines.
You will still to be able to book and change award reservations involving Singapore Airlines by calling the telephone reservations lines — but United Airlines is not waiving the fee for booking your award tickets via telephone, as “the simple reason — and this is a consistent policy across all airlines which are not yet online — is that there is substantial additional work required to price and ticket these awards in our contact centers”, posted UA Insider.
No one outside of those involved in this inferred mutual “agreement” seems to know the reason for its implementation — but how is United Airlines any different from an ultra-low-cost carrier when it offers its customers no other choice than to book award reservations via telephone and then charge for the privilege?
I personally believe that charging a fee when the customer has no alternative is unfair — but how I feel is irrelevant. If United Airlines refuses to waive the fee for reserving an award ticket on Singapore Airlines via telephone and customers pay for it — having no other choice — who am I to criticize? Exactly what impetus or motivation does United Airlines have by voluntarily offering any alternative method?
Actually, there is an alternative: simply do not redeem your MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program miles for award travel on Singapore Airlines. You can avoid the fee that way. Yay.
There is another alternative mentioned in the FlyerTalk discussion linked above — but I try not to reveal information such as that publicly for fear of jeopardizing that method of viewing award inventory on flights operated by airlines which are members of Star Alliance. You will still most likely have to pay the fee for reserving your award tickets on flights operated by Singapore Airlines via telephone, though.
The majority of FlyerTalk members are not happy about this announcement — which comes only three days after a different announcement from United Airlines about the expected “wind-down” of its partnership with US Airways due to closing of its merger with American Airlines earlier this week:
- All current tickets for travel on US Airways will be honored
- You can continue to book award travel on flights operated by US Airways using MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program miles through March 30, 2014 for any travel dates within the published schedule — even beyond March 30, 2014
- You can also continue to earn MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program award miles on flights operated by US Airways through March 30, 2014. On US Airways flights earning MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program award miles, you will also earn Premier qualifying miles, Premier qualifying segments, and Premier qualifying dollars on flights operated by US Airways flights — in accordance with Premier Qualification Dollars and the rules of the MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program — between January 1, 2014 and March 30, 2014
- Star Alliance benefits on flights operated by US Airways will apply through March 30, 2014
- If you have a United Club membership — or if you are traveling on a United Airlines international premium cabin ticket — you can access the US Airways Club through March 30, 2014
While it may be of course obvious as to why the partnership between US Airways and United Airlines is coming to an end, I wonder why it really needed to end. After all, that idea is not unprecedented: United Airlines and Delta Air Lines — members of the Star Alliance and SkyTeam Alliance respectively — had a limited reciprocal agreement for several years which ended in 2003 where you could earn and redeem frequent flier loyalty program miles on either airline but could not earn qualification towards elite status.
I never really took advantage of that arrangement — but I thought it was an idea that was thinking “outside of the box.”
Instead, members of the United Airlines MileagePlus frequent flier loyalty program must deal with the loss of an airline partner and the loss of the ability to view award inventory on flights operated by Singapore Airlines — both in the same week.