First CO/UA Award Booking

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by barelyelite, Apr 21, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. barelyelite
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    barelyelite Silver Member

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    Come to think of it, it will actually it'll be my first award booking on any airline with my own miles. I'm an AA flyer primarily and have become familiar with their award idiosyncrasies, but I know much less and UA/CO's. However, availability appears much better with Star Alliance for the trip I'm planning.

    Anyway, I'm thinking about visiting a friend in Sofia, Bulgaria, (SOF), traveling in business class and making a stopover somewhere in Europe (say, for this example, Madrid).

    1. Does it matter whether I use UA or CO miles, other than, of course, UA's StarNet blocking?
    2. The big question. There's decent availability right now IAD-VS-LHR-LH-Germany-LH-SOF and from SOF-LH-Germany-LH-MAD. However, I can't get CO.com to show availability from MAD-WAS. I have found, though, that there is award inventory for something like MAD-SN-BRU-SN-LHR-VS-IAD. Would CO's routing rules allow this? I assume I'd have to do this over the phone. If this is indeed possible, does this seem like a good routing (especially in terms of business class experience)? Anything I can take advantage of that I'm not?
    3. Business class is better on VS than on LH, right?
    4. I could not get the KVS tool to show the CO codeshare flights on VS. Is this possible? If not for the CO booking engine, I wouldn't have even thought of this.
    5. Can you change an award booking after travel begins?

    I'm sure I have more questions, but I'll hold back. I'm kind of excited to start using these miles I've been hoarding for over a year. Thanks in advance!
     
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  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    1. You've identified the difference, CO partners with VS and UA does not.
    2. Usually/probably, but it's really a function of whether CO's computers price it, if they do you're golden. With UA almost certainly (though VS isn't an option) because it'll be less than 15% more than published maximum permitted mileage for the route.
    3. Yep
    4. You don't need a CO codeshare on VS. Just award availability on VS. But KVS tool won't show it. Sign up for a Virgin Atlantic frequent flyer account and use it to search award availability.
    5. Yes
     
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  3. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    Just to add a bit to what Gary said:

    1&5-if you ticket before June 15, CO's redeposit/refund fee is much less than UA ($75 for general members vs. $150 on UA). After June 15, they will both become $150.
    2- Make sure you have the exact routing you want to feed to the CS agent because I've found that this helps them successfully find what you want. Come to think of it, I'd say that's true for any call to a CS agent.
    3- Amen, Brother! In other words, yes, VS is better in C than LH. More comfortable sleeping - flat bed vs. angled seats- and a far better ground experience than LH. Catering onboard is, to put it mildly, not up to snuff on VS, and the FAs are hit or miss, but they do have an open bar on the plane!
    5-On UA, any change to the routing will incur a change fee. On CO, as long as you keep the same O&D cities they will not charge you if you change the routing (I am almost sure of this, but others should chime in if I'm not). I don't know what will happen to this after June 15, but I fear in will go the UA way.

    Sounds like a fun trip- enjoy!!
     
  4. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    I think others have already answered most of this, but to amplify a few points:

    1. Yes, in a lot of ways. In your case, you need to book with CO to get VS. But, if you wanted a double open-jaw or a one-way award, you would need to use UA miles. Also, UA miles can be used on EI but I don't think CO miles can other than for the UA coded flight from IAD-MAD (and even that one I'm not sure about).

    2. It should be fine. CO has most, but not all, partner availability online. It looks like SN might be one of those not covered yet (I did a quick search and CO doesn't pull up any MAD-BRU flights for any days where I know there is SN availability) which is why you can't get CO.com to pull anything up. Intra-Europe C is a pretty boring experience regardless of the carrier, so the real product is the VS flight which others have already said is nice.
     
  5. barelyelite
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    barelyelite Silver Member

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    Thanks for all your replies. I guess I now have a more fundamental question: what is the best *A carrier in J for transatlantic flights (notwithstanding availability)? I'm sure this is a common question, but searching here and on TOBB did not elicit a good comparison thread. I guess my choices are UA, CO, LH, LX, SQ, (or VS). Am I missing any ;)?
     
  6. Infinite1K
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    Infinite1K Silver Member

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    It all depends on what you are looking for and some people weigh one factor (lets say seat) higher than another (lets say on board service).

    For me it is the seat and here is my take:

    UA: I think the new lie flat seat and IFE are really good. However seat conversion is in progress so not all TATL flights have lie flat seats (all 747 and 763 do, as well as a few but growing number of 777s). But even on the older config 777s, I find the barcalounger seats to be more comfortable than the angled lie flat seats found on other airlines.

    CO: 764 and 762 seat conversion has not started. But the 777 and 752 they fly are lie flat and are good. I am not really a fan of flying a single aisle plane though for long routes.

    LH: They have the angled lie flat seats, which I find to be OK for daytime flights, but don't find them that great for sleeping, since I keep slipping down.

    LX: The new lie flat seats being installed are excellent. However only their A333 have them installed. I believe their A343 are in progress and you can find them on the longer routes like SFO and LAX to ZRH.

    SQ: The only option you have is their 747 service from JFK to FRA. Have not flown them, so can't comment. Seatguru mentions that some of their 747s have lie flat, but others have angled.

    VS: Not *Alliance, though you can get award seat using CO miles. They do have lie flat seats, but because they are in the "herringbone" configuration, if you are a window person and want to look out, you have to strain your neck a little.

    Others that you missed:

    SK (Scandinavian): Angled lie flat seats. See comment about LH.

    LO (LOT/Polish): Angled lie flat seats. See comment about LH.

    OS (Austrian): Angled lie flat seats. See comment about LH.

    AC (Air Canada): Lie flat seats, though similar to VS, they have a herringbone configuration.

    US: Some of their A332 have lie flat seats which people seem to like. Others are the angled lie flat.

    TK (Turkish): Their 777s have lie flat seats, while their Airbus have angled.

    TP (TAP/Portugal): Angled lie flat seats.

    NZ: Only TATL route is LAX-LHR, but they have nice lie flat seats, though in the herringbone config.
     
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  7. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    That's a terrific synopsis, Infinite1K. Thanks for the post.
     

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