Continental last redesigned their website in 2006. It’s not pretty, but even 9 years later it still offers more functionality than any other airline’s website. That’s a real testament to just how far ahead of its time it was. When United merged with Continental it was a no-brainer to keep Continental.com over the site that was derided as United.bomb for its failure to correctly perform basic tasks.
In 2012 at the United DO I sat in a fascinating Q&A session with Mark Nasr, who came from the Continental side and was in charge of United.com up until a few months ago. He guesstimated that the new United.com would be up and running by the 2nd half of 2013. And he swore to get rid of the notorious blue screen while waiting for flight results:
He was 2 years off, but the new United.com site is out of beta and is now up and running. And the blue screen is gone. The legacy Continental site will only be operational “for a few weeks” longer. During the rest of this month people will be transitioned over to the new site while still being allowed to switch back to the old site while it exists.
Unfortunately the new site represents a massive setback in award searching functionality from the old site.
Both the home pages of the old site and new site allow you to search for award flights and select nonstop flights only.
But the old United.com site gives an accurate look at which dates have nonstop flights with saver award availability. Dates in yellow have nonstop saver award space, dates in white only have standard award space:
Even if you didn’t originally search for a nonstop flight you can just click “nonstop flights only” and you’ll see a calendar that shows which dates have nonstop saver award availability.
On the new United.com even when you select nonstop only it still returns a calendar that shows dates that only have connecting flights with saver award space. In the example below a search for a nonstop flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 the calendar shows saver award seats, but in reality those are only available on connecting flights. If you look at the calendar on the old United.com as shown above you can easily tell that there are no saver award seats on nonstop flights from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 but on the new site it’s impossible to figure that out from the calendar, so you’re left having to manually check every single day to find nonstop saver award space:
To make matters even worse, the new United.com has eliminated the Economy Saver and Standard award columns that the old site has. Now there’s just a column that’s called “Economy (lowest)”. In order to know whether you’re getting saver or standard award pricing you’ll have to look at the award chart! The cynic in me says that is exactly their intention. I won’t be surprised to see United copy Delta’s lead in deleting their award charts and moving to dynamic pricing so that you never know if you’re really getting a saver award. But then why would they still have saver and standard columns for business and first class on the new site?
I always break down my award searches to identify nonstop flights with award space. There may be saver award space from NYC to Los Angeles on May 18 and from Los Angeles to Sydney on May 22nd. United.com won’t show saver space for that itinerary, but after finding both of those nonstop awards you can use the multi-destination award search to piece together an award with a 4 night stopover in LA before flying down under. It won’t even cost you more miles to take advantage of that stopover. Without the ability to quickly view nonstop award space on the calendar view this technique becomes far more time-intensive.
Let’s make ourselves heard:
There’s no reason that United can’t add 2006 technology into their 2015 site, but the time to get it fixed before the old site dissapears is running out.
Please go now to the new United.com site and click on the green “site feedback” button on the right-side of every page (I highlighted it in a red box in the screenshot above).
And ask them:
1. Please fix the award calendar on the new United.com site so that when you select “nonstop” the calendar only shows dates with nonstop saver award availability, just like the old United.com currently does.
2. Please add a separate Economy Saver Award and Economy Standard Award column to the new United.com, just like the new site has for business and first class awards and just like the old United.com has for economy, business, and first class awards.
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— DansDeals (@DansDeals) August 5, 2015