Per this thread on Flyertalk, United.com no longer displays Singapore Airlines award space. This abrupt announcement might seem like terrible news to award bookers, but it’s more of an inconvenience than anything else.
United.com is the easiest way to search for Star Alliance award space. It’s far from a perfect booking tool, however. The site displays phantom award space, doesn’t show partner availability on Brussels Airlines or LOT Polish Airlines, and will often spit out horrible itineraries with long layovers when better ones are available.
With Singapore award space being removed from United.com, the site becomes a slightly less useful tool in constructing Star Alliance awards.
What does the announcement mean? Can you still book Singapore award space with United miles? What’s the best way to search for Singapore award space now?
Why did this negative change happen?
Per the Flyertalk post by “UA Insider”, this decision was a joint agreement between United and Singapore. I decline to speculate on the actual reason, though it’s very strange in its timing and swift removal of online functionality.
The change only affects what space you can see on united.com. It doesn’t affect what space you can book with United miles. With United miles, you can still book Singapore economy space and some Singapore Business space, though not most longhaul Business, First, or Suites space on Singapore.
What’s the last day you can book Singapore awards on United.com?
When I said “abrupt” I wasn’t kidding! Singapore award space was removed on Friday, December 13. That means all Singapore awards booked with United miles must now be constructed over the phone by calling United reservations.
Now that you have to call to book Singapore awards, will the United phone reservation fee be waived?
No. The same United rep who made this announcement posted answers to a few follow up questions.
Singapore awards, though impossible to book online, are still subject to the $25 phone booking fee, at least for people who aren’t in the know.
This otherwise immensely frustrating fee is easily overcome. Scott wrote a great post What You Need to Know About United Award Holds. Placing a dummy award on hold online and then calling in to tweak the itinerary is the best way to skirt the annoying $25 charge. Polite persuasion is another tool to avoid the fee.
Now how do I search for Singapore award space?
Aeroplan.com or the ANA Star Alliance search tool. Aeroplan’s search tool can be frustrating when trying to search multiple days at a time, but the site does accurately display partner space. If you find Singapore award seats on Aeroplan.com, write down the dates, flight numbers, and times and then call United to book.
The ANA booking tool is a bit easier to navigate and shows availability in seven day increments. ANA requires its own frequent flyer members to have miles in their accounts before searching for Star Alliance partner space, but this rule is easily overcome by transferring 1,000 Membership Rewards points to your ANA account.
If you don’t have any Membership Rewards, use the backdoor trick I wrote about in this post, How to Use the ANA Search Tool for Awards with United Miles. Below is a sample search from Bangkok to Singapore. There is Singapore business space on most dates. Again, note the dates, flight numbers and times before calling United to book.
Can I use United miles to book longhaul premium cabin awards on Singapore?
Singapore is extremely stingy about releasing premium cabin award space to its Star Alliance partners. The award space I displayed above is for relatively short intra-Asian routes.
If you want access to business class on Singapore’s long-haul flights, you need KrisFlyer miles or a partner with access to that award space like Lufthansa miles. To book Singapore’s exclusive Suites class, you will need to use Singapore Krisflyer miles to book. Scott wrote two great posts on this subject, which can be found below.
- Anatomy of an Award: Booking Singapore Suites
- Membership Rewards Transfer Options: Singapore KrisFlyer
With no notice, United.com no longer displays Singapore award space. Though annoying, this isn’t the end of the world. Singapore space can still be found on Aeroplan.com and ANA.com. Both sites are more cumbersome to search than United, but they accurately display space that can still be booked over the phone using United miles.
United will not waive the telephone reservation fee for Singapore awards. This isn’t a deal breaker, either. We’ve detailed above how to avoid this fee using United award hold tricks.
For those yearning to fly Singapore long-haul business class or the ultra-luxurious Suites class, this announcement changes nothing. United already didn’t have access to Singapore Business Class, and ultra-premium Suites class space is never released to Star Alliance partners.
United.com now offers less functionality for award bookings. Coupled with their upcoming massive devaluation, United miles are getting less valuable.