How Did My New Year Frequent Flyer Wishes Perform?

Randy Petersen generously offered me the opening editorial for the January issue of Inside Flyer some 11 months ago. I offered my 5 Frequent Flyer Wishes for the New Year.

One came true unequivocably. One might have come true. And another is either true or two-thirds true.

In short, my wishes are:

■United ends Starnet blocking. No other major North American program engages in the practice. No other Star Alliance member engages in the practice. United should allow its members to book the award seats being offered by its partners, not pretend that the partners aren’t offering them the seats.

■American and British Airways each permit members to book transatlantic awards on the other carrier. There’s no legal reason that this legacy restriction remains in place.

■Delta brings back at least 24 hour holds for awards booked by phone. Their website is broken, their premium cabin international award inventory is tight, this small change would make remove much of the grief that members face when it comes time to use their hard-earned points.

■Alaska allow mixed-partner awards. They’re a great little program, and they’ve talked about letting you book more than one partner on an award. Redemption would become much easier if Alaska allowed mix and matching as airlines that are members of alliances traditionally do.

■US Airways, Continental, and especially Air Canada Aeroplan don’t change a thing. Their premium class international redemption options are almost too good, and when things are too good I worry they can’t last. These programs are providing real value to their members, I just hope they keep it up!

Starnet blocking has only been a problem for about 10 days since early May. (And not even something I had wished for, but United now offers one-way awards on partner airlines and still offers roundtrip awards which permit a stopvoer, something American abolished when they introduced one-ways.)

American and British Airways, as part of their joint business venture, have done much to align their frequent flyer programs including allowing reciprocal earning and redemption between the US and the U.K.

Continental Onepass and Air Canada Aeroplan have stayed steady, though sadly Onepass will go away next year. And a week ago I’d have said that US Airways has as well — continuing to offer probably the easiest mileage earning combined with some of the best award redemption — but now there’s some speculation that they’ve implemented award ‘blocking’ which is preventing members from claiming generous Lufthansa premium cabin award space between the US and Europe. It’s perhaps just as likely to be IT issues as has occurred in the past, the verdict isn’t completely in yet. But it’s certainly the case that for about the past week or two US Airways members haven’t been able to easily claim Lufthansa award seats which are being offered by Lufthansa to their Star Alliance partners.

We’re still waiting for my other wishes, of course, I rather thought we might see Alaska introduce mixed-partner awards (though I always wonder whether the relationships with at least some of the partners are a bit rocky, as Alaska gets closer and closer to Delta I wonder about their partners like American, Qantas, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific). But nothing so far. And I guess it was asking too much for Delta to bring back award holds.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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