Last night I read over on Lucky’s blog that Singapore Airlines had apparently opened up a tremendous swath of premium cabin award space for their partners.
The guesses being made — and one shouldn’t try guessing too hard about these things — center mostly around a reservations system update at Singapore Airlines, and the possibility that award space that’s normally offered to their own members only was being made available in error to partner airlines. (Although it certainly appears to me that there was more award space being opened than is normally available to partners.)
It was late in the evening, I had a long day at an event where I had just spoken, so I tried playing with it and couldn’t get it to ticket — I called US Airways and they weren’t seeing all of the same space that was being offered on the United website (my preference in general is to burn US Airways miles rather than United miles, I have plenty of the former and I value the latter somewhat more highly because of more generous change rules — US Airways allows no changes whatsoever after departure).
I kept trying to book via the United website but got error after error, usually that the seats that had shown as available weren’t actually there, a common occurrence I’ve seen mostly with trying to book Lufthansa first class award seats — Lufthansa hasn’t been opening first class award seats to partners until 14 days out or thereabouts, and United.com has been showing phantom inventory. (The Aeroplan site has been doing the same, and my guess is that the search engine has been getting the ‘point of sale’ wrong and displaying inventory that’s open for Lufthansa’s own Miles & More members, but it’s not actually open space for partners when they go to ticket.)
With nothing but frustration and phantom inventory, I went to bed, assuming that the glitch was being corrected somehow. I didn’t want to send folks on the same wild goose chase I had blown a couple of hours on, trying to get United.com to work (as well as adventures with several call center agents). So I didn’t blog it.
Woke up this morning and for kicks tried again and managed to book first class awards on Singapore, I didn’t bother with connecting flights I just searched San Francisco – Singapore for next year and pulled the trigger. I can manage the connecting flights later, those were making the United website spit up and weren’t the object of my desire in any case.
The key is this: there’s plenty of business class space available, including on the A380 and for most Singapore routes. For first class, you can’t book A380 Suites awards, Singapore members can’t book those at regular award prices either. Since I wanted first class departing the U.S. my options were:
- San Francisco – Seoul (and on to Singapore)
- San Francisco – Hong Kong (and on to Singapore)
- Houston – Moscow (and on to Singapore)
The JFK – Frankfurt – Singapore and Los Angeles – Tokyo – Singapore flights, operated by an A380, couldn’t be booked in a cabin higher than business.
And Los Angeles and Newark – Singapore non-stop don’t offer a first class cabin.
The current guess is that when Singapore’s systems come back online this morning that the window of opportunity will close.
And there’s no guarantee that Singapore will honor the tickets, though it will be interesting to see what happens if they don’t for folks that have their awards ticketed (not just held or being processed but with actual ticket numbers). I wouldn’t book onward, non-refundable travel yet. I’d give it a few days…
Good luck to anyone else who wishes to try!