Is United’s Devaluation Significantly Worse Than Promised Or Is It Just A Bug?

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Last week United eliminated most award stopovers, free one-ways, and round-the-world awards.

Tough pill to swallow, but that’s the way the industry has gone and United generously introduced an Excursionist Perk that allows for a stopover as long as it occurs in the same region as the destination and doesn’t occur in the region of origin.

Despite some rumors to the contrary, they also didn’t eliminate XN, YN, or JN expanded award availability for cardholders or a seminar tip.

And they even fixed Expert Mode, which now shows up on award searches once again.  When it was eliminated I contacted the 1K email support team who told me that it had been disabled permanently. I followed up explaining why I found it so useful to know how many award seats were available without having to do an award search for the award calendar and then having to do a revenue search to view how many award seats were actually available and they let me know back in June that it was fixed. When I told them it was still not showing they said they would bring it back and it’s good to see it finally make its return. This saver award nonstop from Tel Aviv to Newark on March 1st has at least 9 seats for cardholders and elites but no saver awards seats for non cardholders.

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However since the update I can’t login to my account details page in Chrome, though it still works in Firefox.

But worse than the stopover elimination is that when using the multi-city search on the website or by phone the system now prices every segment separately. You can no longer create a routing even if it falls within the award rules.

In the past you were able to use multi-city search to string together award flights that United.com didn’t come up with. In other words if you search for an award from NYC to Tel Aviv you’ll find many routing options on United.com, but you can find many more by searching from NYC to Europe and Europe to Tel Aviv. In the past you were able to manually select flights and they priced at the same rate as a regular award.

Now United.com and phone agents are charging separately for each leg when manually requested. That means you’re stuck with what United.com finds, if you use the multi-city option you are penalized even if you select the same flights that United.com does find!

United.com successfully found a flight from Tel Aviv to JFK via Munich for 42.5K:

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However when I select those exact flights via multi-city search it now prices each leg separately:

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United.com was unable to find a business class flight from NYC to Sydney on December 6th:

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It was able to find an 80K business class option from Los Angeles to Sydney:

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By using multi-city search I easily added the NYC-LAX flight to that itinerary by searching NYC-LAX and LAX-SYD. But instead of the 80K miles it should have cost, it shows 92.5K due to the new pricing logic:

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How bad is the new pricing logic? If I search for NYC-AKL and AKL-SYD then the same exact flights come back at 110K:

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If United.com comes up with NYC-LAX-AKL-SYD it’s 80K in business class. If I use multi-city search it can be 92.5K or 110K depending on how I input the search.

Is this #UnitedUnfriendly or a#UnitedBug?

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16 Comments On "Is United’s Devaluation Significantly Worse Than Promised Or Is It Just A Bug?"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

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AdamH

I think the bug is a feature 🙁

Here is the response I got back when I sent them an email almost identical to this blog post last week:

I’m sorry you’re disappointed with our change to multi-city ticket pricing.
This was a difficult decision for us as we realize changes may have a direct impact on you. The changes were necessary as tickets were pricing incorrectly, causing ticketing errors. We didn’t want to risk the chance of inconveniencing you and other customers. Your feedback is important to us and we’ll continue to explore better options that’ll help meet your needs.
Thank you for providing the screen shots and I understand your concerns about the same trip being priced differently for one-way versus multi-city when you searched for award fares online. Your comments will be forwarded to our pricing department for internal review.

Nun

If you ticket a round-trip with a stopover outside of the region of origin, it prices correctly. I just tried NYC-FRA-ZRH, ZRH-NYC for 60k. I thought UA always required a round-trip for a free stopover.

fll

Too bad.
Thats uniteds way of eliminating us shtick machers who fly rt from ewr-phl “stopping” in fll or wherever for 4 hours and then pushing the return off to get a rt ticket for 10k….

Dan

@AdamH:
I’ve reached out to them for comment.

@Nun:
That’s the Excursionist perk.
None of the examples in this post include a stopover, just connections.

AdamH

Nun,

That did not work for me. I think you are confusing terms. These are not stop overs. These are just connection points that are forced via booking each leg separately via multi-city. If you want to force a connection point, or if you want to force a longer layover if a flight/airport is delay prone, for example, it is pricing each leg individually.

Until last week simple examples like the ones Dan outlined priced fine.

myb821

im 99.9% sure thats now policy and not a bug……..

Dov

Thanks for being the first to cover this dirty “silent” devaluation by United

Now that you finnaly brought it up let’s Hope this will get more coverage and the pressure on United will grow

Ben

In the past, before this change, I found circumstances in which an award flight A-B-C showed no X/XN availability although I did see availability A-B and B-C as one-ways, but trying to price it as a multicity priced it as two one-ways. I remember it happening last year in trying to get from New York to Montrose. I think I found New York to Denver in XN, and Denver to Montrose in XN, but couldn’t find New York-Denver-Montrose in one-way search, and when I did it multicity, it did it as two one-ways (12.5k + 10k = 22.5k).

United’s excuse at that time was along the lines of what they said about hidden city fares. Sometimes they price certain markets cheaper – and sometimes they only offer certain routes on an award.

In some cases (this was one) I was able to get the flight booked at the proper miles but it was always a heavy life, HUCA HUCA HUCA followed by “we have notes on your account of you asking about this repeatedly” HUCA HUCA HUCA booked.

I’d be curious to know if it’s 100% the case now that multicity always prices the one-ways individually or if this was the kind of thing like I encountered before.

AA

What about a longer stopover each way? For example, I recently (pre-deval) booked IAD-SAL-BOG; CTG-PTY-IAD with >24hour stopvers in SAL and PTY. Flights with longer than 24 hour stopovers obviously wouldn’t show up on UA.com, but when pricing them via multi-city it properly calculated at 70k.

I’m too lazy to try to reproduce it, but would that no longer be the case?

AA

Wow. I just priced it out with a Stopover only one direction and all saver award availability. 100k. Really hoping it’s a glitch in their new feature system.

Jesse

I just tried it with MLE > IST > CAI > ATH… search found the routing for 25k, but the layovers were pretty short. We wanted to see the pyramids on the Cairo layover, so I called in with flight numbers for the long layovers ( ATH with layovers. She confirmed that my layovers followed the legal routing rules. After 40 min on hold, she came back and said “I was able to book it for you under the OLD RULES, but I don’t know how much longer that will work.”

My takeaway… this is not a bug. If you have an itinerary you are trying to book now, call and find a competent agent. Do it soon, bc the new rules will likely go permanent soon and prevent building long layovers.

Mike

Had a string of HUCAs the last couple days trying to book saver economy award travel MEX-MDE, MDE-MVD, EZE-MEX beginning in December and ending in March, flights picked from those listed as available at United’s booking site. The system prices out the routing at 50K, but when I enter CC info and hit purchase, it goes to an error page. First CSR said I couldn’t book Avianca flights MEX-MDE even when United’s system said they were available. HUCA. Second CSR said I couldn’t book Copa flights. HUCA 2. Third CSR said there was no way a mere civilian could distinguish which listed flights were actually bookable. He offered a routing with a 9-hour layover in IAH for MEX-MDE. Don’t yet have tickets.

indy

same experience trying to get FLR-FRA-CPH-ORD-TUS. no agent was able to manually price it out @ 70K even though they all agreed it should price as one ticket (3x HUCA)

Hvaces42

So I’m not crazy. I mentioned this in the United Award thread on DDF. BTW didnt get a Twitter alert for a few DDMS posts including this one.

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twitter is having major issues lately…..

DD

Having the very same issue right now, trying to get from TLV to CCU via FRA and BKK (this was allowed couple of years back) – but it’s not available via the website any longer (even though all the legs are available separately)

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