Should I book award tickets with UA or CO?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Scottrick, Jul 11, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    Thanks to others who previously helped me find award tickets for my parents' trip to Europe in October. I have a follow-up question that I may have answered already.

    I am currently 1P/Gold but will reach Plat in late September right before my parents leave. Assuming I book tickets for my parents now and need to make changes now, should I book them through UA or CO? My understanding is that I'll probably be making the changes close in and after I get my status increased by CO. There won't be any step up from UA because they don't have a 75K level. So I should book with CO, right, since they'll waive any change fees and UA still won't as a 1P? Are there any unforeseen dangers here? Right now it's looking like they'll fly UA to connect in LAX or DFW before going on their way to FRA. Maybe stop in SEA on the way back instead. But should the heavens part, I'll rebook them non-stop SFO-ZRH on LX.
     
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  2. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    I'm not a UA/CO pro, but right now I believe your situation makes it best to go with CO because of the change fees.

    Good luck with that direct, just monitor every morning, especially close to departure!
     
  3. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I believe your analysis is sound regarding change fees and would do it with CO at this point because of that.
     
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  4. Hannaman
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    Hannaman Silver Member

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    CO also lets you make the changes whenever, for no fee, so long as you're 21+ days out and the origin/destination stay the same. UA is a bit more strict on that one.

    Generally, CO has the more lenient award rules and it's advantageous to book that way. As a 1K, though, I tend to book through UA simply because I don't want to get burned again by CO's systems dropping award space on a whim.
     
  5. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    This was more what I was concerned about, whether there were significant differences in award availability between carriers. It doesn't seem like there is a huge difference, especially since *net blocking is not as apparent lately. I would probably want to go with CO anyway because they're thinking about a stop-over in LHR on the way there and might want to fly Virgin Atlantic.
     
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  6. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    CO is definitely more flexible with the stopover rules and routing distance issues. Having VS as a partner still - at least for now - doesn't hurt either.
     
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  7. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    After checking out the CO award booking site, I can't see how anyone can go back to the UA one. It's gotta be the worst FF award booking engine extant. CO's may not be as revealing as the NH one, but aside from more flexibility to the actual award, it actually shows you a range of options whereas UA's is so limited...
     
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  8. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I would be calling in, not using the site, but I agree... to a point. CO's web site seems to work better, but I have the hardest time finding information or understanding the results it gives me. It's like a page of text with no formatting. CO gives you more options and lots of information, but I think what little UA has is better presented. Hopefully they can find some way to combine the merits of each.
     
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  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    :confused:

    Seriously? The grid of flight options, with the various award levels and flights available all listed out is hard to understand? It makes all the sense in the world to me.
     
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  10. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I didn't say the information isn't there. It "is" better quality and more information than UA provides. I just think it's hard to process visually. There is a lot of text and not much white space, which is fine if you want to read the whole page but not if you're scanning for the right flight.

    I kind of like how UA has lots of different colors and separates flights into distinct bubbles. Maybe they go too far, wasting space, but I like it better. I also like being able to select my outbound and return flights at the same time, so the column format works better than changing pages.

    I think a similar comparison is between FT and MP. Yes MP has a lot of different technology, too, but the layout is also very different. FT is just page after page of text.
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    We're talking about these screens, right?

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I can agree that the UA version has more bubbles and more white space on the page.

    I find it hard to agree that all that space makes it easier to compare the options available to you as a customer. Different pages - including reload times - for partner versus home metal stinks. Aircraft information is a pop-up rather than in the main display. Ditto for total travel time and individual flight duration. United even manages to save space on the display screen by not showing the actual city names for the connection points. All the javascript that makes it so pretty also makes it annoyingly slow. And god forbid you want to see coach, business and first options all on the same page to decide if it is worth paying more to get a better flight time versus a better class of service.

    The claim that it is easier to find a specific flight is lost on me. There is a single column you have to look at in the CO version. On the UA version the mileage cost is the key field highlighted, distracting from the flight time or routing. If you're going through the list looking for the 8pm departure your eyes get distracted by the mileage numbers interspersed with the departure time. I certainly understand being more familiar with one than the other and that will make it more comfortable to use. But that doesn't mean the information is displayed better.

    That UA wouldn't show the exact same US flights that CO has in the above example for the same date is more disappointing, but that's not really an aesthetic issue so much as it just being broken.
     
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  12. bucketlist
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    bucketlist Silver Member

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    You may get elite access for your parents if their award travel is booked on CO.

    Our daughter and 2 grandchildren, all GM's, were traveling a month on award tickets ABQ-iah-MSY w/ miles from an elite bucket. Their coach tickets printed w/ Elite Access, which facilitated check-in, security, boarding, etc. Others have posted that this is a known quirk of the CO system, which CO knows about but is in no hurry to fix.

    (I also prefer the CO www site for both award and non-award travel)
     

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