Yesterday Qatar award inventory was pulled from the United website, even though the partnership which is ending was supposed to allow award booking with United miles on Qatar through September 14.
Already the ability to book awards on Qatar by phone, calling up United, had all but disappeared. Finding a telephone agent who even believed award booking was still permitted on Qatar was a challenge, and finding one who knew it was possible and knew how to do it became almost impossible some time over the summer.
Strangely, the ability to book Qatar awards on the website has come back. Here’s an example of Qatar business class, JFK-Doha.
It’s unclear when exactly this ability will disappear again. Normally I’m a big fan of putting awards on hold (you can choose to call in your credit card number or say you’re going to pay by Western Union on the payment page, instead of paying instantly, to put an award on hold — and then go back and ticket on the website with a credit card anyway). But I suspect even if you are able to hold these seats, you will need to actually ticket them before the partnership ends. And we’ve already seen that it could end at any time, as opposed to “September 14 at 11:59pm Central” or something of the sort.
You are currently able to book space on Qatar through the end of their published schedule. But you won’t be able to make changes to awards booked on Qatar, except such that the itinerary will no longer include Qatar in it, since United will no longer have access to the space in the future.
And it is also possible to include Qatar and other Star Alliance partners in the same award.
The only trick at this point is that you have to book it online, you likely won’t be able to find anyone to help you by phone. So you’re restricted, more or less, to itineraries you can get the website to give you and price without erroring out.
Ultimately if you want something not possible on the website, you can probably get all of the Qatar segments held by the website and add or change non-Qatar segments by phone without too much difficulty.
But if you’re at all interested in these awards, book now, there’s only hours left. Qatar is a great way to reach Central Asia, including the Maldives, considering that award availability is generally good and the business class product is as well.
(HT: Seth in the comments)