Beginning October 15th United will charge $15 for booking awards via telephone reservations or at the airport. The fee will not apply to on-line bookings. They’re also increasing the change fee on award bookings from $75 to $100.
This is especially egregious because the United website is so poor for booking awards. It will not allow awards on partner airlines, which means all Star Alliance or even USAirways awards will incur a fee. It will not allow open jaw awards, only simple roundtrips, so those will incur a fee.
To add insult to injury, in my experience the website is incapable of booking an award in multiple classes of service. If I wanted to fly in business class to Tokyo, and there was availability on the transpacific flight but not on my domestic connection, the website wouldn’t allow me to ticket. I’d have to call United and pay the fee in order to be put in coach for part of my trip.
And United.com is just glitchy when it comes from finding award seats. You have to try several departure times throughout a day in order to pull up award seats, and the website will never think of all available routings to check.
United 100,000 mile flyers and Global Services members are exempted from this fee.