So United’s not the only one blocking partner award inventory….

As much as we like to complain about United’s notorious Starnet blocking, it seems like they’re not the only ones. I’ve raved about Air Canada’s Aeroplan program as an excellent choice for transferring American Express Membership Rewards points, and the program is no doubt still lucrative, but they seem to have an “issue” with award availability on Swiss.

Basically, they’re not seeing certain Swiss award availability which is available on Starnet. Unlike at United, they see the flights, but they just show the award space I need as not available. I eventually spoke to an Aeroplan supervisor about this (which is quite a challenge, because Aeroplan must have the rudest agents in the industry) and explained the situation. The first question he asked me is “How do you have access to Starnet?” Gee, thanks for addressing my issue.

Anyway, he didn’t really seem to believe me, so he put me on hold and called Swiss at my prompting. He came back a few minutes later, and here’s a shocker, I was right, Swiss did show the space as available. He insisted there was no system problem and that they weren’t intentionally blocking award inventory, but he promised he’d look into it. I bet he just said that to get me off the phone, which make it even more frustrating.

Let’s put some pressure on them….

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. It’s funny, I’ve always had friendly, helpful agents. Much more so than when calling UA’s ORDRR…

    This really is vexing, we must get to the bottom of it to see what’s going on here, system glitch or blocking of some kind.

    After the supervisor verified with LX that the space was available, did you ask him to do a manual or long sell, since he insisted they weren’t trying to keep you from having an available segment?

  2. I actually did, Gary, and he refused to. He said all that he can book is what automatically comes up in the system.

  3. How did you have access to Starnet? Were you using ANA’s search tool or is there another site out there that I don’t know about? Thank you.

  4. Good to know for the future. So basically, ANA does have the best availability, albeit a higher premium?

  5. Well, in theory every Star Alliance airline has the same access to Starnet, and United is the only one that blocks consistently, so they should all have the same availability. Some say this Aeroplan issue is a hiccup and temporary, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. So I would say for now that unless you want to fly Swiss, Aeroplan is as good as any other program.

  6. Hey Ben,

    Couple of thoughts… I thought that on the ANA site it does not show availability for LX was not available online, as they have this disclaimer on their site… Reservations for EVA Airways[BR], Air China[CA], Shanghai Airlines[FM] and Swiss International Air Lines[LX] cannot be made through the internet.

    For a recent booking Aeroplan booking I was looking to fly JFK – ZRH, but Aeroplan was showing no availability on LX, but if I searched JFK – MUC or JFK – GVA the JFK – ZRH flights would be included in resulting options. When I called to make my reservation however, and I asked for the JFK to ZRH flight I wanted, I got it no problem.

    About a month ago, certain award classes were not available for booking by Aeroplan agents on LH, and I think TG, and NH or OZ. It was apparently a technical glitch, that would come and go and slowly one airline at a time got rectified.

    I would be more likely to think that it were a technical problem, than a planned problem. Air Canada / Aeroplan IT is not known for it’s genius!

  7. Thanks for your thoughts, Darren. You’re right, I’m doing crazy. I was using the Lufthansa award tool along with ExpertFlyer.

    I sure hope it’s a technical glitch, altough I would at least hope they’re aware of it, which the supervisor didn’t seem to be when I called.

    That trick about booking a ticket to a further destination is interesting. Any clue if that works in the reverse? Like, if I want ZRH-JFK, could I try GVA-JFK or MUC-JFK?

  8. Yes you can do this for both directions… for instance I just checked JFK-ZUR-JFK on the 10th of Sept, returning on the 24th. No First class availability showing, and in fact no direct ZRH flights in any class. But switching to JFK-MUC shows that their is F availability on LX017 on the outbound to ZRH and LX016 on the inbound.

    With the Aeroplan site, you cannot search one-way or open jaw flights if the flights are not on AC, but the new site shows you your outbound and inbound flights all one one page, and allows you to move through the dates to find the availability you need.

    Only problem is sometimes the site wants to route you back through Canada… for instance FRA-HKG it will only display AC flights and thus route you through YYZ or YVR! Great for a mileage run, but not for an award!

    And the other thing with the Aeroplan site is you don’t have to be logged in to search flights and see availability or the number of points required now, so even non-Aeroplan users can use it!

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