I’m sure we all know about UA’s notorious Starnet blocking, whereby they block Star Alliance award inventory to save money. Whenever something is Starnet blocked the agents literally don’t see the flights in their computer, unlike normal where they’d see the flights but just not the award inventory if it’s all booked up.
Let me take last night as an example. I called to see about an F award from EWR to FRA. The outbound worked out on the nonstop LH, but the return flight, just one flight number off (the other portion of the flight, so to speak), was Starnet blocked. I thought they were at least consistent about Starnet blocking, but it seems like they’ll sometimes have one direction available and not the other, which seems odd, despite both showing availability on the ANA tool.
So anyway, the agent looks for the return portion and says “Sorry, the return flight is so full that the flight isn’t even showing up. They wouldn’t even think about releasing awards for us,” a phrase I have gotten very used to with agents over the past year or so. As much as I’d love to say “Actually, every other Star Alliance carrier would get me an award seat on that flight, even US, the scum of the alliance, but United won’t cause they’re cheap with award inventory,” I’ve actually come to appreciate the fact that they don’t understand what’s really happening. I have always had success getting around Starnet blocking, but when I really think about it I think my luck would decrease greatly if they actually knew that United was doing this on purpose. As it is now I can walk them around Starnet blocking and they probably think it was just a glitch when it wasn’t showing up. So this is one case where misinformation IS good, in my opinion.