Master Thread: Holds on United Awards

Two weeks ago, I wrote that United had ended free holds online for award bookings.

Luckily, JB from the MileValue Award Booking Service came up with an extremely simple hack to regain all of the lost award-hold functionality.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.56.03 PM

The ability to hold awards is crucial when booking a trip has many moving parts–hotels, flights for more than one person, several awards booked with different types of miles, etc–that you want to lock in completely before booking any part of the trip. That means it is great news that we can hold United awards so broadly!

Award holds on United are possible again under two circumstances:

  • You have enough miles in your United account to book the award. (PayPal trick)
  • You do NOT have enough miles in your United account to book an award AND the award contains a partner segment. (DoNotTrackMe trick)

That means there is only one time when you cannot hold an award on united.com:

  • You do NOT have enough miles in your account and the award contains only segments on United airplanes.

And even here, there’s a workaround.

How do you hold a United award when you have enough miles in your account? What about when you don’t have enough miles? What’s JB’s hack?

Last week without warning, United took away the ability to hold any award with a partner segment if your account didn’t have the miles to ticket right away.

Before disappearing, it was a great hold to make if you needed to transfer Ultimate Rewards into your United account or if you justed want to give yourself an extra day or two to make a decision. I was sad to see it go.

Luckily my friend JB emailed me to say that he had found a workaround that I’ve been able to replicate.

How to Hold an Award that Includes a Partner Segment when Your Account is Short (DoNotTrackMe trick)

The workaround is to download something called DoNotTrackMe. I’m not sure why it works, but it does.

Step 1: Go to www.abine.com and click Get DoNotTrackMe.

Note that you download things onto your computer at your own risk. I am telling you how I’ve been able to hold United awards, not insisting that you download anything. Copying me is at your own risk.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.01.27 AM

 

Step 2: Create an Account.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.01.53 AM

Step 3: Inside your account, activate Tracker Blocker and install it on your browser, which will require a browser restart.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.02.13 AMScreen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.02.26 AM

Now when you go to united.com and search for an award that includes at least one segment on an airline other than United, and you don’t have enough United miles to ticket the award right away, the Reserve button will appear–exactly where it used to appear–once you’ve selected your flights!

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 11.56.03 PM

You are required to give a credit card to hold the award, but if you do nothing, the award hold will lapse and your credit card will NOT be charged.
The award is held until 11:59 PM the next day in the time zone of the departure city.

You can find the award and its confirmation number by clicking Change/View Existing Reservations in your United account.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.14.35 AM

There’s the award I held:

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.05.50 AM

How to Hold Any Award When You Have Sufficient Miles to Book (PayPal Trick)

Step 1: Select any award–with flights operated by any airline–and go through the screens to purchase the award. First you click “Continue to traveler information.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.12.13 AM

Then you select seats or not. (You will only be given a chance to select seats on United flights.)Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.12.40 AM

Step 2: On the payment screen, select PayPal and Checkout with PayPal.Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.13.14 AM

Step 3: You are taken to PayPal and asked to sign in. Don’t. Instead, click “Cancel and return to United Airlines, Inc.”Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.14.10 AM

The hold is now in place, and if you want to see it, you can do so by selecting Change/View Existing Reservations from any united.com page.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.14.35 AM

Here’s the held award:Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.15.03 AM

How Do You Hold United-Only Awards When You Are Short Miles?

If your account has zero miles and you select an award with only United-operated flights, United wants you to pay to hold the award with its Fare Lock product.

For instance, here is an award from Los Angeles to New York for 12,500 miles and my account only has 6,500 miles in it. Fare Lock costs $10-$15 depending on how long I want to hold the award.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.06.45 AM

To save that money, I would simply add a partner segment to the award and then–after downloading DoNotTrackMe–I’d have the chance to hold the award for free since:

  • the award would include a partner segment
  • and my account wouldn’t have enough miles to book the award

Here’s the same Los Angeles to New York flight with a dummy leg from Phoenix to Los Angeles beforehand. As you can see, I’m offered the Reserve button, which means I can hold the award for free.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.07.53 AM

If you do this, you just have to call to book the award and have the agent remove the dummy leg before booking. Make sure to tell her you put the award on hold online, but couldn’t make the change you wanted online, so you had to call to ticket the award. This will get her to waive the $25 per person phone ticketing fee.

Recap

When it comes to holding United awards, there are three types of awards:

  1. Awards that cost less than your United account balance.
  2. Awards that cost more than your United balance and include a partner segment.
  3. Awards that cost more than your United balance and don’t include a partner segment.

If you have enough United miles to ticket an award–type 1 above–use the PayPal trick to hold the award.

If you are short the miles you need, and the award has a partner segment–type 2 above–use the DoNotTrackMe trick to hold the award.

If you are short and don’t have a partner segment–type 3 above–add a dummy partner segment, then use the DoNotTrackMe trick.

If you are confused or your time is better spent on things other than award booking, hire the MileValue Award Booking Service to book your dream award.

Getting the Miles

I’m still bullish on United miles. They’re fantastic for economy awards. They’re also reasonable for United Business awards, and I consider United Business to be a very comfortable bed with solid food and entertainment options. See reviews here and here.

Plus there are a lot of options to get United miles. When you can rack them up very quickly, a lot of awards are in reach.

There are United co-branded credit cards. There are also cards that earn Ultimate Rewards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold that allow 1:1 transfers of their Ultimate Rewards to United miles.

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  1. Pingback: The Trick to Hold United Awards | milevalue.com

  2. Pingback: What You Need to Know about United Award Holds | milevalue.com

  3. Wow! What a beast of a post………….extremely well laid out in a simple format for all to see……….great addition to the tookit……..

  4. Hey Scott – Thank you for all the lovely work you do. Though this is not related to United I’d still wanted to tell you that I followed your instructions to a T and booked myself two business class tickets from US to India on Etihad. You are awesome -thank you so much!

  5. Hi Scott, thanks for this. I’ve been having a lot of trouble trying to get United Agents to piece together an itinerary that doesn’t seem too complicated (double open jaw, with a stopover in my int’l gateway city) but they are insisting with fervor that my open jaw is a “stopover” and “you can’t have two stopovers.

    I changed my itineary to:
    LAX-EWR (stopover)
    EWR-TXL 2 months later
    IST-EWR

    United is insisting that TXL to IST is my stopover despite me explaining otherwise, and I also ran into an agent who insisted that you cannot even have ONE stopover with a double open jaw. He said you can only have a stopover when you leave out of the same city (in this case, Berlin). He insists I cannot leave out of Istanbul. I told him that United rules permits two open jaws and a stopover on a roundtrip ticket but he insists my ticket is “not roundtrip” if it’s open jaw.

    How do I argue against this? Thanks Scott!

    • Very interesting. At this point, someone may have notated your record with “the problem”, which would make it nearly impossible to get an agent to override that. In your case, it might be time to have the reservation cancelled and try to get the same flights ticketed from scratch on a new reservation number.

      As far as I know, everything is fine with your reservation and United hasn’t changed the rules related to one stopover plus two open jaws. But maybe they did on 2/1/14 without telling us. Please keep me posted on your progress with ticketing this.

  6. Hi Scott, thanks for your tips and an update:

    So far, talked to about 3-4 agents:
    -One agent says absolutely not, the trip itinerary is “too complex” (I didn’t even know what to say to that), “Too many stopovers, you can’t do it.” I hung up politely and called back
    -Later, another agent insisted that the stopover is from TXL-IST. I tried to explain otherwise. He gave the phone to his supervisor. The supervisor said he’s “not buying the story to change the flight.” What story? Originally, I had a stopover in Europe but United couldn’t get their partner to confirm the flight so it was not ticketed. I was very upfront that I wanted to make a change since the original itinerary didn’t work out.
    -Another agent didn’t notice anything difficult about the itinerary, but when he tried to price it all the saver awards are gone on my first segment. He said “well, the itinerary wouldn’t have worked anymore because you have two open jaws.”

    So lesson of the day is most United agents do not know their own routing rules. I gave up because it’s not worth calling again and being put on hold for up to an hour.

    • try this:
      1)log into your account on united.
      2) Use the Multiple destination tool.
      3) grab the EWR to TXL and the IST-EWR legs.
      4) put it on hold with the trick above – or the paypal trick
      5) call United with the reservation number and tell them the computer wouldn’t let you add a leg to your flight (so you don’t have to pay the phone fee).
      6) feed them the LAX to EWR leg
      7) that should be it. The computer sometimes gets hung up on the routing.

  7. thanks JB, but the problem is I already booked the main portion of this trip prior devaluation to lock it the pre-deval price. i’m trying to add on the additional leg but that’s what’s tripping up the united agents, who claim my open jaw is a stopover and/or “there is no such thing as a stopover when you have an open jaw in your trip.”

    when they discard the original booking and manually price it entirely from scratch, it offers them the now post-deval round trip business PARTNER pricing (140,000).

    good luck to anyone trying to change an itinerary made prior deval!

  8. Hi – I just used the Paypal trick to hold my flights. How long will that hold last? And is there any way to extend it? Thank you.

  9. Pingback: Booking 4 tickets to and back from Europe - FlyerTalk Forums

  10. Very Helpful! Thanks Scott! I was a little hesitant about installing a third party program on my computer, but since I didn’t have any other working options I did install it and could put award on hold. Interestingly though that I could not proceed with paying for this award, since the button to pay is missing, but I don’t mind calling the agent and just paying for the reward over the phone. Thanks!

  11. Hey, I just used the PayPal trick WITHOUT enough miles in my account. The post seems to suggest that you can only do it WITH enough miles.

  12. I can’t believe downloading that extension worked! I just put a great itinerary on hold for my wife, my daughter, and I in all business class…EWR-VIE-CDG-VIE-EWR…stopping in Vienna on our way to France for a week for my brother-in-law’s wedding next summer. Great work milevalue, thanks!