United not honoring airmiles booking on Singapore Airlines

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Jan 3, 2019
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#1
I booked a Singapore flight on United website using United miles. Received booking confirmation email, cc got charged, but no e-ticket. Needed that in order for Singapore to seat me next to my kids (booked their tickets direct with Singapore). I spoke with Singapore before making my separate bookings to check it would work and that they could later connect all bookings and seat me and my kids together at no extra cost. They confirmed I was doing everything correctly.

That award flight still shows as available on United website, Singapore says there’s plenty of availability inc redemtion seats that are available to United. United tell me it’s not available to them. They only offer me their indirect flight or alternative days (not suitable - I have to travel with my kids and have other commitments so need that flight on that day). Both companies have passed me back and forth for hours on end and blame each other. I have heard multiple excuses. I’m getting nowhere. How can it be legal to continue to advertise this award flight, but not fulfill it? I am extremely frustrated and stressed by the whole situation. (Note - I booked my return flight using chase travel/cc points and had no problem with that at all. I only booked the entire trip in the first place after finding a way to keep it within budget using United miles and Chase points on my ticket.

I would like United and Singapore to communicate with each other - from online searches it seems this issue is not uncommon. Transparency to customers is key and the bigger issue has to be fixed.

For me, I need them to honor my booking by whatever means necessary behind the scenes, and give me an eticket. I did everything in good faith and could not have done anything any differently. I cannot second guess whether every flight they advertise and I book actually exists.

I have emailed the VPs of both companies yesterday evening. Other than this, what can I do next to get my issue resolved? If I still cannot resolve, what action can I take to report Inited for falsely listing award travel flights on partner airlines?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
What happened? Did you book and get a reservation number but no ticket issued?

What happens with partner airlines — (except LH) is that UA does not have the live inventory — they send the ticketing request to the airline — and the airline either accepts or rejects it — and this happens with both paid and award tickets.

I am attaching an email I received about a paid ticket — which ultimately was not ticketed because Austrian did not have the availability—

Nothing is confirmed until ticketed.

Singapore telling you that they have availability does not help because those reps do not know what has been released to UA for award — what they have for Krisflyer awards is different for UA awards. UA sends the request and it is either granted or denied by Singapore.

Partners do not have access to all available inventory for both cash and award bookings. I cannot buy many intereuropean discounted Swiss flights on the UA website — I have to go to Swiss directly.

The airlines have different reservation systems which is why UA has to ask Singapore to ticket.

The problem with the lack of live availability is real, and have dealt with it with both paid and award tickets. The computers do not speak or interact well which is why it takes 24 hours to ticket.

All UA can do is send the request and Singapore either accepts or rejects; UA cannot force it through.

The airlines have a disclaimer about availability not guaranteed until ticketed.

All you can do is wait for the executives.
 

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Jan 3, 2019
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#4
Correct. Only the booking confirmation email from United mentioned nothing at all about it requiring further confirmation, and I had taken extra care and called Singapore in advance regarding how I planned to make the bookings, to be sure it would all work out. I only know there is a problem due to me speaking with Singapore trying to assign seats with my kids.....even now I have received no email from United saying it can’t be ticketed.

I take issue with a few things. The lack of customer service, the lack of transparency, continued fraudulent advertising of the award flight, lack of communication highlighting there was an issue, lack of apparent alliance between the airlines (blaming each other, claiming they can’t contact each other but after pursuing/escalating they do at least speak to each other) and being lied to regarding what is going on. And the fact that I currently have 2 kids booked to travel internationally without an adult, and a return flight for me using part Chase points. None of which can now easily be changed. To be told there is nothing they can do is false. They both know the whole situation, there are plenty seats available, there are ways and means of making things happen if they are so inclined. I can’t help but feel what they are doing is illegal.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
As Singapore is the operating carrier the seats are under their control as is the schedule of availability.

The lack of computer systems speaking to each other is a problem with many alliances. I used AA points to book an inter European flight with BA last week— and had the same waiting game for BA to ticket the reservation. And of course I have one booking reference from AA and a different code from BA.

Were the children’s tickets booked with cash?

Certainly it is annoying that the systems do not play well with each other— but they are alliances and not the same company.

SQ puts in a lot of restrictions — they do not give UA any F suites award seats on transpacific routes, those are only available for their own members.

I am not sure how there is anything illegal, and sadly this is a problem with each of the alliances — Skyteam, OneWorld and Star Alliance.

When is the date of travel?
 
Likes: lucywoodhead

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#6
Award tickets are part of each airline's proprietary frequent flyers points programs. These programs are not regulated by the government. Each airline makes its own rules and can change them at will without any oversight. United offers codeshare award tickets but if their codeshare partner will not release the seats they cannot provide the seat.

You can appeal to the cust serv agents at United and see if they can get your seat ticketed. If not then you should purchase a ticket ASAP.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#7
If you do get the ticket with points you might not be able to obtain a seat assignment for you. When code share flights are booked in many cases you can’t get a seat assignment until 24 hours before you fly.

Best of luck with this- it’s a little difficult with you buy tickets directly with the airline vs. as a code share.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#9
Weihlac I think it is up to Singapore to approve the ticket, UA cannot force it through. They can only open up inventory on their own flights.

I have had this issue with cash bookings with codeshares....
You are correct- United only puts in the request. And just because you can see available seats doesn’t mean Singapore is allowing them to be booked with points- many times there aren’t award seats on every flight you are interested in.

If you absolutely need a seat- but it, don’t rely on points. You can always book a refundable ticket and cancel it if you get an award seat.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
Also Singapore has recently announced a change to their program redemption levels — later this month it will cost more points for KrisFlyers to redeem travel.

No idea what that does to partner redemptions but people are trying to get ticketed before the increase later in January.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead
Mar 29, 2016
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#11
Often, one of the most useful tactics in cases like this is to hang up and call again. Also using a call center in another location, like Australia or the UK can help. It is the luck of the draw in getting a competent and engaged agent. Sometimes, phantom award space just shows up and nothing can make it work. One thing for sure is that time is of the essence in securing award space.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#12
FOR OUR OTHER READERS When booking different tix on the same flights, I book the award/upgraded tix first, then go back and make a separate res for cash. My theory is that the cash tix will always be there, but the award tix may or may not be viable. So far it's all worked fine.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#13
Travel is end June for almost 3 weeks from Houston to uk, and paid on cc.

Singapore will assign seats in advance for parents and kids at no cost....apparently it’s their policy.

I feel it’s illegal for a few reasons, including:
-I enquired before booking and had it confirmed I was going about everything the right way. (I.e. book award ticket, book chase travel center ticket, book kids cash tickets, in that order.
-I waited until I received the United confirmation email before booking the next one).
-The award flights continue to be listed on United website despite them knowing they’re no longer available (yes. Using United awards and flying on the Singapore flight).
-I only by chance know my booking has not been ticketed due to talking with Singapore to get the seats assigned and them needing an eticket number - I received NO notificatoin from United that they couldn’t be ticketed.
-There is also nothing whatsoever on the confirmation email from United regarding the need to ticket.

Customers should not have to have a sixth sense to know what listed ticket exists and what doesn’t, it’s inherantly wrong and surely there’s something in consumer protection laws that require United to take more responsibility (duty!) in protecting the customer from ending up in such a predicament. There are definitely only certain days that it seems like award bookings are possible.....so the average customer would assume the ones that are listed are legit!

I have probably spent around 6 hours on calls with Singapore and United before resorting to emailing the VP of each company. I have been lied to, had multiple excuses made, been in the center of a blame game between each company and received very little ‘customer sevrice’ from this so called alliance. Both companies seem quite happy to leave the situation as is. I still await the VP email replies.

I only booked this trip after figuring out an economical way of doing it, so it’s not a simple matter of ‘just buy a ticket’, the cheapest ticket in the summer (the only time we can go back to visit family in uk due to school) is around $900+. If I had been informed the award seat didn’t exist, I would not have booked any of the tickets. I know for sure the kids seats cost $200 each to change, so I’m stuck with those. Can’t remember restrictions on my return ticket that I booked using Chase travel center, using my Chase points and cash.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#14
The airlines do everything they can to make it difficult to use award points. They give you a false sense of “value” because the benefits are not really there.

Your issue is with Singapore Airlines, not United because it is THEM, not United who is not issuing the tickets. United can only put in a request for the tickets, they can’t force Singapore Airlines into issuing the ticket. You must take this up with Singapore.

Award and loyalty points are one of the things we don’t handle.

Have you checked out The Points Guy? He has a lot of info on booking Award Tickets. If you go to his website and search for Star Alliance booking process you’ll find articles that might help.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead
Jan 3, 2019
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#16
I can’t screenshot the whole initial confirmation booking email ..... however ..... there is not a mention on that whatsoever about waiting for ticketing. After the confirmation email came through, I went on to book other parts of the journey.

I do follow the points guy .... I’ll look up on his site for suggestions, thanks.

We are patiently awaiting replies from the VPs and someone at United (the highest we could escalate to on the phone), claims to have escalated it further to a few departments but may take 2-3 days to reply.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#18
I doubt there is anything illegal because nothing is confirmed until ticketed.

This is a problem with all the airlines and alliances.
Airlines have to request a seat from the partner and wait for a yes or no — and this is for both paid and mileage. Not surprisingly the mileage tickets are limited in number.

The problem is that the OP misunderstood the process— and booked the cash tickets without actually having the e ticket.

When one tries to work the points/frequent flyer game one has to do the research to understand the not so straightforward process. And the tech issues are annoying, but it is a problem with all the alliances.

A reservation is not enough one needs an actual ticket.
 
Mar 29, 2016
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#19
One other point with airline alliance award bookings to remember is that in the case where one is booking a Singapore Airlines tickets through United, it is most likely not a codeshare ticket but is effectively an OTA booking. United is acting as an agent, much like Expedia is, in booking the Singapore ticket. You are just using United miles to "buy" your Singapore ticket.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#20
I’ll try and remember to update if/when I get any further with this.....still no official update....

Re the legality........surely there are consumer protection laws in place that are not being met? If not, that is a shocking situation indeed! Rather than me misunderstanding the process (true! Why would/should I know these intricacies, I don’t work in the industry, I just want to buy a flight to get from a to b), I would argue that United and Singapore (the experts) have a duty to prevent this situation from happening in the first place, and they missed various opportunities to educate/prevent me from getting into the situation it seems I’m stuck in ... e.g. at the point of me phoning to check if what I was planning would work, when listing the flight as an available award seat (STILL LISTED BTW, so other non suspecting customers could also make the same mistake!), and when emailing the booking confirmation. Pure chance that award seats ran out just as I booked?! Doubt it. I’m sure the situation is being manipulated in order to try and get more $ from me.

Thank you for all comments..... I do appreciate them ..... I’m just so frustrated. Your comments are allowing me to look into and consider all options.