How to Request United to Manual Sell an Award Seat

Further to my recent posts about United’s filtering of award seats (here and here), a reader asks:

I have a DEN-IAD-AMS in C on the 27th, but I’d rather go LH DEN-FRA-AMS.
It SHOWS Availability on ANA, but I cannot get UA to pull up a seat.
Any ideas?

There’s no foolproof way to circumvent StarNet but what you want is for the agent to do a manual sell of the segment you’re looking for, essentially sending a message to the other airline asking if there’s availability, and if there is then it should come back as confirmed. But agents aren’t supposed to do this, really.
I suggest asking something along the lines of,

I talked to another agent today about a different itinerary, and she said there were some problems with the award booking system and she’d have to request the flights manually. I gave her the flight number and then it confirmed.

In other words, non-threatening. And there’s at least some chance you’ll get the flight you’re looking for (if it shows up as being available in other systems).

Update: Score! This reader writes back,


I tried 6 times, and finally got an agent to do it.

She said she wasn’t supposed to do a “manual request” and that they had been scolded for doing so, but she did it! Now Luftansa all in business class! Much better routing!

Thanks so much!

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, 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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