Bad news for anyone who wants to book awards to the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, the Maldives, and even Europe with United miles.
United’s relationship with Qatar Airways ends September 14. Tickets booked by then can include Qatar segments up to 337 days out or so, which is generally how far in advance you can book United awards. United.com says:
That means you can book awards with Qatar flights that fly until about August 17, 2013.
Unfortunately, if you book a United award with Qatar miles, and you later want to change it, you won’t be able to move the Qatar segments to other Qatar segments on other days. You’ll either have to keep them as they are or replace them with another partner’s flights.
How big of a deal is the United/Qatar relationship ending? It’s a huge deal, as Qatar has a fantastic business class product–fully flat beds on its 777s and access to its premium terminal in Doha–and the best availability to and from the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and the Maldives among United’s current partners.
I could show a million screen shots, but I’ll just show two. Above is typical. There is space on tons of flights between Doha and India in all cabins. Below is a calendar of the space on the direct flight between Doha and JFK in April. Eleven days with space in business and one in economy. That’s pretty great business availability.
What should you do? Take a look at where Qatar flies.
If there’s somewhere you’d like to go on Qatar with United miles in the next 11 months, head to united.com or my Award Booking Service to book the trip.
Book now, but only if you think there’s a very high chance you’ll fly the award as booked, since you won’t be able to change it as easily as a normal award. Of course, you should be able to use my $50 “cancellation” trick if you don’t want to fly the award, but don’t go in hoping to use that.
You may be wondering whether US Airways miles can be used to book flights on Qatar. Unfortunately US Airways miles cannot be used to book flights on Qatar Airways.
If you want to book a complex itinerary in the next ten days that involves segments on Qatar, you may run into an error screen on united.com because united.com has trouble with multicity itineraries. In that case, try to book or reserve the Qatar segments online before calling to United.
Example: You want to book New York to Doha to Male//Male to Istanbul//Istanbul to London to New York but united.com gives error messages.
You should reserve–using the phone-hold trick–New York to Doha to Male, the Qatar segments, before calling United. Give the reservation number with the Qatar segments held, then add in the other flights.
Why? I’ve had trouble getting phone agents to add Qatar segments. I succeeded eventually, but holding them online first will save you hassle.
I hear the Maldives are nice
this time of all year…