United not honoring airmiles booking on Singapore Airlines

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Neil Maley

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#21
Please research for phantom availability on the Points Guys site. He had a story about this and it might be why you see flights that really aren’t available and why you might not be ticketed.

Use our company contacts and start writing to the Executives at United asking why you haven’t been ticketed.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#22
Lucy, you are absolutely, positively right about this "process". You, the customer, were careful and did everything right. There is no way on earth that you could possibly know that the UA confirm is NOT a confirmation of your Singapore tix. United is at fault for not giving you that information. It may not be illegal, but it's definitely unethical behaviour. What are they hoping to gain by putting you in this position? What possible reason could there be for United not explaining to you that the confirm you received is only a confirmation of .... of what? Pretty simple, it is probably a confirmation of your request to purchase a tix on Singapore using United miles. What's difficult about telling the customer that? The airlines cut commissions to travel agents, the only source of knowledge that we have as consumers. Nobody seems to notice or to care. This is one of those topics that infuriates me.

I'm in the middle of booking flights to China in November. I am a VERY experienced traveller. Without this forum and my colleagues, I'd have no idea that using my UA miles to book an award on Singapore isn't a done deal until Singapore issues the tix. I have many options, and I'm forced to not use some of them for fear of ending up just like you.

There seems to be no recourse for the passenger who is being punished ... the airline lobby is strong and rich, so they pretty much get what they want from the government. You write very well, so I'm hoping someone at United will slow down and take a look at the mess they have made for you.

For what it's worth, based on my China research, it looks to me that transferring some Chase Ultimate Rewards to Singapore's KrisFlyer program and booking an award directly might be the way to go. One award tix and one cash tix is my goal. I really don't want to be involved in any code share/alliance schemes that the airlines have dreamed up.
 
Likes: lucywoodhead
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#23
Lucy, you are absolutely, positively right about this "process". You, the customer, were careful and did everything right. There is no way on earth that you could possibly know that the UA confirm is NOT a confirmation of your Singapore tix. United is at fault for not giving you that information. It may not be illegal, but it's definitely unethical behaviour. What are they hoping to gain by putting you in this position? What possible reason could there be for United not explaining to you that the confirm you received is only a confirmation of .... of what? Pretty simple, it is probably a confirmation of your request to purchase a tix on Singapore using United miles. What's difficult about telling the customer that? The airlines cut commissions to travel agents, the only source of knowledge that we have as consumers. Nobody seems to notice or to care. This is one of those topics that infuriates me.

I'm in the middle of booking flights to China in November. I am a VERY experienced traveller. Without this forum and my colleagues, I'd have no idea that using my UA miles to book an award on Singapore isn't a done deal until Singapore issues the tix. I have many options, and I'm forced to not use some of them for fear of ending up just like you.

There seems to be no recourse for the passenger who is being punished ... the airline lobby is strong and rich, so they pretty much get what they want from the government. You write very well, so I'm hoping someone at United will slow down and take a look at the mess they have made for you.

For what it's worth, based on my China research, it looks to me that transferring some Chase Ultimate Rewards to Singapore's KrisFlyer program and booking an award directly might be the way to go. One award tix and one cash tix is my goal. I really don't want to be involved in any code share/alliance schemes that the airlines have dreamed up.
Thankyou for the kind comments. One has to hope if there aren’t consumer protection laws in place to prevent this type of situation, that they soon will be.

I don’t know if this is useful or not, but I used the Chase travel website to book my return ticket with Singapore, partly using cc points built up recently (and partly on that cc as I didn’t have enough points). Chase multiply the cash back amount you have by 1.25, so you get 25% more value if using the points on travel via their site. For what it’s worth, that went very smoothly. From a Singapore perspective, I wasn’t buying any kind of award flight I suppose, it’s considered a fully paid for ticket. I’m thinking of saving future cc points to book travel moving forward, given the 25% extra value.

Good luck with your travel plans!
 
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#24
Please research for phantom availability on the Points Guys site. He had a story about this and it might be why you see flights that really aren’t available and why you might not be ticketed.

Use our company contacts and start writing to the Executives at United asking why you haven’t been ticketed.
Thanks, yes I found the article and it sounds just like what has happened to me. I emailed the VPs you list at both United and Singapore the other day. What do you think is a reasonable time to wait before placing more follow up calls/emails? (Hubby was told it could take 2-3 days for them to escalate to other departments over the phone. I emailed the VPs in the meantime. I’m nervous about how long to hold on for waiting and doing nothing .....
 
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#25
And this goes to show just how useless the so-called airline alliances are. All the benefits that they claim are very quick to disappear in cases like redeeming air miles on a partner airline. I found Air New Zealand to be especially bad for this, they had seats available (even on sale on the internet for reduced prices) yet would sometimes not release these to 'partner' airlines. Frustrating and unfortunately, very biased against the traveller.

Long overdue for a BIG overhaul of airline ticket law, airlines seem to ignore/disregard normal contract law. But that is another topic,

Jerry
 
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#26
Worldtraveler I do not think of this as an airline alliance problem. live inventory management is a challenge for many industries. Ever order something online and then find out it is out of stock? Or when O have been at a store and what I want not available there but the computer shows it at X branch but it is not there? That is what this is.

Certain airlines are less generous with their mileage seats or may offer better or more seats to only their customers — which makes sense.

And the airlines have become less generous because of all the people that churn creditcards and such — there are bloggers that flog credit cards (commissions and ads) and it has spiraled out of control.

I am happy to be able to use my AA miles on BA or my UA awards on Swiss/Lufthansa. But one has to recognize the limitations of the alliances.
 
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#28
I realize Chris Elliott is not a fan of loyalty points and there are many parts of his argument l agree with— certainly about bloggers and churners.

It is not unheard of for a business to reward their better customers. There is a restaurant I frequent and have for over a decade. They give me a free after dinner drink, make something off menu, etc— which does not happen to the once a year visitor. Now I do not have unreal expectations— if I fail to make a reservation and the place is fully booked it would be wrong to expect someone be denied their table or delayed —.

I do not do crazy routings and spend extra to maintain status if there are no seats on the day I want or only full fare, I go to another airline.

But as someone who does at least 3-4 transatlantic trips per year and several domestic I tend to book the same airlines because I know the airplanes, the airports, etc and that makes for less surprises. But I am also that way with the hotels I stay in and these are small establishments that have no loyalty points.

And I have been able to take r/t award miles tickets every year— have to be flexible and be aware of the limitations.
 
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#29
i think the main difference between the importance of an Airline industry having up to date inventory information, compared to something like a store such as Home Depot ...... Home Depot will allow me to return any other related products I may have purchased without any hassle. In this case, the airline could potentially apply a penalty if I end up having to change or cancel the kids outbound flight. It is worrying that the same award flight remained showing as available for DAYS. Why, following my raising of the issue with them, was it not immediately removed? I’m sure award seats from alliance airlines could be much better controlled than at present - sure, perhaps it requires an investment in IT updates, but as things stand the customer is not protected. If Singapore initially allow 10 (?) awards seats for use via United, surely Uniteds system can have a counter for those 10?? Then when they’re gone, they’re gone. If more are allocated nearer the time, then the counter is reset.

If they cannot have an adequate system to handle live inventory management across alliances, they need to change the system to be appropriate and show a duty of care on behalf of the customer. E.g. in this case, Communications need to be drastically improved, from the Singapore Airlines Rep who never advised me to be aware of the possibility of a non ticketing outcome, lack of any warning messages flashing up when i actually booked, the absence of any mention of it in the confirmation booking email, the many contradictory excuses/blame game between both airlines etc etc. All this amounts to a feeling of being cheated.

Since hubby flies regularly within the US and internationally for work using United, we expected much better treatment than the ‘sorry, not my problem, can’t fix it’ attitude we have been given for hours over the phone. The many hours he works a week, the time away from the family, the events he misses due to working away ..... we mentally justify all that by remembering he will earn the hotel and flight points, which means we can take a family trip.
 
Jan 6, 2019
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#30
When doing an award booking with United miles on Singapore, United requests the space from SQ. Once SQ comes back and confirms the space, then the ticket is issued. United has no control over making SQ give them the space. United cannot issue the ticket if SQ does not confirm the space. Unfortunately nothing can be done if SQ doesn't confirm.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
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#31
If SQ has 10 award tickets per day that is generally for all within an alliance not just UA; so UA would not know if someone from another alliance partner booked the tickets.

As I mentioned I had this problem with a paid ticket that had Austrian airline segments — the fare class was available on the UA website, I booked it and got a confirmation code — but no eticket within 24 hours so I called and was told Austrian had said no more tickets at that fare available so I chose a different airline.

The airlines all use different computer systems and they do not play well with each other.

I do not know how often Singapore updates the information on their system; but UA cannot force a ticket on Singapore— they can only open up inventory on their own planes.

Unfortunately travelers sometimes have to chase after the airlines — part of the do it ourselves issue of booking travel — only an eticket is a true confirmation and the terms are confusing. When is a confirmation not a confirmation? When there is no eticket attached.
 
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#32
If SQ has 10 award tickets per day that is generally for all within an alliance not just UA; so UA would not know if someone from another alliance partner booked the tickets.

As I mentioned I had this problem with a paid ticket that had Austrian airline segments — the fare class was available on the UA website, I booked it and got a confirmation code — but no eticket within 24 hours so I called and was told Austrian had said no more tickets at that fare available so I chose a different airline.

The airlines all use different computer systems and they do not play well with each other.

I do not know how often Singapore updates the information on their system; but UA cannot force a ticket on Singapore— they can only open up inventory on their own planes.

Unfortunately travelers sometimes have to chase after the airlines — part of the do it ourselves issue of booking travel — only an eticket is a true confirmation and the terms are confusing. When is a confirmation not a confirmation? When there is no eticket attached.
The system needs an overhaul! Currently it’s just sloppy. Whether or not United have any control over Singapore award seats, there is plenty they could change regarding highlighting/notifying the customer, to improve. Even highlighting the listing differently for a start. If airlines are not willing to invest in IT infrastructure to better improve live inventory control/data integration, then the process of booking alliance award travel needs to be changed. Task the company who is flying with managing all award bookings, rather than each alliance taking the booking but not ticketing.....that’s deceiving. Let them do the leg work and actually liaise with their alliance partner to verify the customers miles. I imagine there are very low numbers of customers who realise that a booking is confirmed then ticketed - only through this saga have I learnt about it, and I’m a Brit who has emigrated here, traveled a good amount, and married to hubby who has cranked up a lot of miles traveling for work - he too was completely unaware. I agree. They very word ‘confirmed’ gives the wrong impression. ‘Requested’ would be far more appropriate.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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www.promalvacations.com
#33
What Lucy needs is a definite yes or no on if the seat is available or not. If it isn’t, she needs to know to purchase a seat with her kids.

And I agree with you 100% - the way things are worded it isn’t clear at all.

Lucy, you should certainly write to the Executives about the issue. Your suggestion about saying sears are requested is a good idea.
 
Likes: jsn55
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#34
Lucywoodhead I absolutely agree that it is confusing and I am someone that travels a lot and books 99 percent of my own travel.

All of the alliances have these problems sad to say. I did have to wait for my BA flight booked with AA miles to ticket.

When I tried to buy an Austrian Airlines ticket
I did get the following email:

Your itinerary contains one or more flights operated by a partner airline, so we have asked Austrian Airlines to confirm your reservation within the next 24 hours.

And Austrian said no.

On a mileage ticket for LH I got this email:

We're processing your reservation and will send you an eTicket Itinerary and Receipt email once completed. This process usually takes less than an hour, but in rare cases it could take longer. If you don’t receive an eTicket Itinerary and Receipt email within 24 hours, please call the United Customer Contact Center

But that one went through.
 
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#35
UPDATE: hubby never received follow up phone call from United as promised (and still no reply from VP of either company that I emailed last thing Wednesday I believe). I may follow up this evening and let them know the below.

Hubby spent another hour or so on the phone with a supervisor from United this evening. At least this one seemed inclined to want to help resolve the situation adequately. This supervisor managed to speak with a supervisor from Singapore during the call, and fed back to us. Both reps agreed that we had gone about things in 100% the correct way and that they were the cause of the problem between them. Singapore again advised that there is award travel there for United to book. Between them they assumed there must be a glitch in the system and tried making the booking again. Same issue. United guy committed to following up with hubby on Thursday morning, hopefully with a solution. (He doesn’t work tomorrow, but will spend the day resolving it with the Singapore supervisor on Wednesday. He has also escalated it to the star alliance team that deal with disputes between airlines). Supervisor is based in Detroit, so hubby mentioned he would happily meet with him when he’s flying up there for work next week!!

So, this all sounds a little more promising, but I worry in the meantime about more and more seats being bought on this flight. I have to wonder how quickly they sell out. Travel not until June, but still, the worry is there.

Story to be continued........
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,926
7,806
113
San Francisco
#36
UPDATE: hubby never received follow up phone call from United as promised (and still no reply from VP of either company that I emailed last thing Wednesday I believe). I may follow up this evening and let them know the below.

Hubby spent another hour or so on the phone with a supervisor from United this evening. At least this one seemed inclined to want to help resolve the situation adequately. This supervisor managed to speak with a supervisor from Singapore during the call, and fed back to us. Both reps agreed that we had gone about things in 100% the correct way and that they were the cause of the problem between them. Singapore again advised that there is award travel there for United to book. Between them they assumed there must be a glitch in the system and tried making the booking again. Same issue. United guy committed to following up with hubby on Thursday morning, hopefully with a solution. (He doesn’t work tomorrow, but will spend the day resolving it with the Singapore supervisor on Wednesday. He has also escalated it to the star alliance team that deal with disputes between airlines). Supervisor is based in Detroit, so hubby mentioned he would happily meet with him when he’s flying up there for work next week!!

So, this all sounds a little more promising, but I worry in the meantime about more and more seats being bought on this flight. I have to wonder how quickly they sell out. Travel not until June, but still, the worry is there.

Story to be continued........
Oh, you're ON IT now, Lucy! Once you and your husband got someone's attention, it will get straightened out. This is great news. I love that he offerred to have lunch with the Supervisor ... these are the kinds of attitudes it takes to make your issue stand out and UA interested in fixing it.

Christina's example of emails telling you that your res is awaiting formal approval by the partner airline is exactly what we wanted to know. UA erred her not telling you. BTW, I am grateful to you and this forum for the knowledge of the difference between a confirm vs an issued tix. My cruise line just booked Cathay Pacific for me out of Shanghai ... which made me very happy, and I knew enough to check with CP to see if they had ticketed the res yet. Otherwise I would have never known to keep checking to be sure it becomes a real tix. The traveler's challenges never end! I know you'll keep us posted.
 
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#37
At least something promising, I am hoping for the best for you Lucy — I keep thinking of the saying “To err is human to really *!&* things up takes a computer”.

I do understand why you wanted singapore — as they have one of these 5th freedom (I think that is the term) non stop flights from Houston to the Manchester.

I do chase after my reservations now both paid and mileage. It is not that I do not trust the airlines but ... okay maybe I have trust issues.

Now that Singapore supervisor is also involved I am more optimistic, as someone in a position power has to address this. It is not a small aircraft so I think there will still be seats available.

Good luck and let us know.
 
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#38
At least something promising, I am hoping for the best for you Lucy — I keep thinking of the saying “To err is human to really *!&* things up takes a computer”.

I do understand why you wanted singapore — as they have one of these 5th freedom (I think that is the term) non stop flights from Houston to the Manchester.

I do chase after my reservations now both paid and mileage. It is not that I do not trust the airlines but ... okay maybe I have trust issues.

Now that Singapore supervisor is also involved I am more optimistic, as someone in a position power has to address this. It is not a small aircraft so I think there will still be seats available.

Good luck and let us know.
Yes - Singapore started the IAH-MAN route in October 2015 or 16. It’s the first and only direct airline from Houston to Manchester. I’ve not been able to take a trip back since it was introduced, and prior to that since birth I flew BA via London, or United via Washington or Newark, but many friends and relatives have flown it and say it’s life changing! No hanging around for hours waiting for a connection, less jet lag/Less hours awake, less chance of missing luggage etc, and that on flight service is much better. Hopefully I will get to find out for myself.
 
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#39
Well this takes the biscuit! (Still waiting for any official replies/resolution) ...... But in the meantime .... I just took a call from a Singapore rep. They said they could see I had been trying to make a booking and would I like to buy a ‘commercial’ ticket instead (which I interpret to mean a regular cash price ticket). Coincidence?! Interesting. Very interesting indeed. Ooooofff!!!!!
 
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#40
UPDATE: received an phone call from a Singapore supervisor this evening. He took me off waitlist and assigned me a seat. I received an auto email from Singapore to confirm that, then another advising of my seat number (weirdly it only lists this outbound seat and not return, so need to check that), and another email reconfirming the kids seat numbers both ways. I was told I then needed to inform United, so that they can ticket my outbound seat. I called United, and they still can’t ticket it. So ......not quite resolved yet......but feeling a lot more confident that I’ll get there, eventually.

United did tell me an email has been issued late afternoon today from upper management, advising that there is an IT issue with allocating United Award seats on Singapore Airlines flights, and until this is resolved all United award seating on all Singapore flights has been temporarily suspended. Who knows if this has come from my perusing of the problem, emails to the VPs, or many passengers perusing the problem......but, I can say, I am pleased the issue has finally now been formally identified, and it seems to be being actively investigated.