Prior to merging with United, Continental Onepass awards booked on Star Alliance partner Asiana would sometimes disappear. It was rare, but occasionally Asiana segments would drop out of a reservation. Continental wouldn’t notify customers. They’d either check online and see the segment gone, or they’d go check in and they wouldn’t have a reservation.
Continental was already pretty good about fixing the situation, to the extent they could. They wouldn’t be able to get the Asiana flights back if there was no award availability on those flights. But they’d go to great lengths, generally, opening up seats on their own aircraft to use instead. Sometimes it would take a call or two to get someone who was helpful and would escalate this to the level necessary. But in the end things usually worked out, albeit differently than the passenger had planned.
This isn’t something that’s been a problem with Star Alliance award flights booked by Continental on other partner airlines. And it isn’t a general problem I’ve seen with other Star Alliance airlines making award bookings on Asiana, either. United awards issued prior to the March 3 reservations system integration with Continental never seemed to have this problem. (Perhaps 18 months ago there was an issue with United-issued awards on Lufthansa, and United solved the problem during an interim period while getting the glitch corrected by refusing instant ticketing of awards on Lufthansa, as long as a customer waited 24 hours before ticketed they’d know for sure that the reservation really was confirmed.)
Since the March 3 integration, however, it’s been happening more frequently. The new United now has this problem, again with Asiana. It seems to be happening more frequently than it was with Continental prior to March 3.
United does know about the problem, at least specific United folks I’ve spoken with do. They generally blame Asiana’s systems, but that makes little sense since it’s only been an issue with Continental (now United)-issued awards. What seems to be happening is that when United issues an award ticket on Asiana, the ticket information isn’t getting pushed properly to Asiana’s systems, so Asiana sees a reservation but no ticket. And when the system shows an unticketed reservation beyond the permissible hold period, it cancels that reservation.
The thing to do, if you’re going to book an award ticket on Asiana with United miles, is to call up Asiana after ticketing. Confirm with them that they not only see your reservation but also your ticket, and that the ticket number is linked properly to the reservation. If it isn’t you’re going to want to call up United, likely conferencing in Asiana (so that they do not simply point fingers at each other, and you also don’t want to accept a promise of a call back from United either, fixing this issue is time-sensitive so the segment doesn’t get cancelled).
The agents can certainly make sure that Asiana’s system properly shows the United-issued ticket, and once it does nothing should be cancelled.
A bit of attention is necessary to make sure that a confirmed and ticketed reservation made by United doesn’t disappear!
With all of the IT issues that United still has, two months after their systems integration, I’m hopefully that they’ll at least move this one up the queue to fix it soon. In the meantime it’s important to remain vigilant.