US Airways no longer Starnet blocking Lufthansa transatlantic award space?

For quite a while now US Airways has been engaging in the practice of Starnet blocking, whereby they block partner award space as a revenue protection measure. It was worst with Lufthansa transatlantic flights, where they blocked virtually every first class award seat.

US Airways claimed it was a problem with their systems for a long time as opposed to intentional blocking. I suppose that’s a possibility, though it’s certainly a convenient problem to have, if you ask me.

Well, a few weeks ago US Airways updated their systems (as evidenced by their less-than-stellar agents taking even longer than usual to book awards), and I had no issue getting Lufthansa first class seats. In the past it wasn’t too tough to get an agent to “manually sell” space, though that’s not needed anymore as far as I can tell.

So has anyone else noticed that Lufthansa first class award space isn’t blocked at all anymore through US Airways?

Now, US Airways is still doing some blocking. I’m still having trouble with award space on ANA, though that’s about the extent of it.

With all that good news out of the way, I think I’ve figured out US Airways’ new convenient “system error.” When you call US Airways’ reservations phone number the voice prompt asks whether you’ll be redeeming Dividend Miles for a reservation. Whenever I say “yes” I get a recording saying “due to extreme weather at many of our airports we can’t take your call right now.” Whenever I say “no” I get connected to an agent right away. Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Certainly good news if it is true. Now if they did one way Star Alliance awards that would be good also.

  2. A few months ago, I used point for a ticket on Luftansa and Thai. I got first class on all Thai legs and business on Luftansa. Since I paid the first class milage rate, After seeing your post, I just called and was able to upgrade my Luftansa legs to first!

  3. In addition to LH F, I think there was (is?) a problem getting LX F as well using using US DM.

  4. The LH A380 in FC from FRA-SFO was fantastic, along with the first class terminal and the Porsche to the aircraft, where 3 A380s were parked together.

    Highly recommend this for an award. It was the trip of a lifetime.

  5. @Mile L – Graham Atkinson of UA Mileage Plus did a few years ago (you’ll find the master thread on FT)

  6. Why do you say US Airways blocks partner award space as a “revenue” protection measure? Maybe I have this wrong, but I thought US Airways and United blocked the awards because they didn’t want to pay their partners for seats. If that’s the case, wouldn’t that practice be an “expense” protection measure?

    A “revenue protection measure” would be if they thought the customer (upon learning the partner seat wasn’t available as an award) decides to instead actually fly on US Airways/United on a paid revenue ticket. That would be a revenue protection measure. But, I don’t think that is what you are saying.

  7. @Lucky What has been the issue with ANA? I’ve got an award planned (not yet called it in – as I’m working up to sitting on a 2 hour call)which would include ANA NRT-China in C. Is that likely to be an issue? I see it on Continental and AC as well as the ANA tool.

  8. I just spent several hours on the phone booking an award with US where my credit card details got dumped during the call (and I got hung up on when one rep was coming back from the rate desk to boot), mileage and tax pricing changed at various times depending on who I was talking to, I was told a less than 24 hour transit was an illegal stopover, and the CS agent admitted the rate desk had to manually price my award.

    So I completely buy that this is a problem with their IT, GDS sync or whatever. US miles are wonderful, but dealing with the reps trying to redeem them… make sure you have a cold drink and don’t plan on going anywhere fast.

  9. @ Mike Smith — Swiss has separate award inventory for their own members which often isn’t released to Star Alliance partners. That being said, as far as I can tell US Airways isn’t blocking Swiss anymore, so if you see it on the ANA tool, it should be bookable through US Airways.

  10. @ mark — I should have added the word “internal.”

    @ Mike — It seems entirely random at times. I’ve noticed problems on intra-Asia flights and also on flights between the US and Asia. There seems to be no consistent pattern, though, so the only way to know is to call.

  11. Hmmm…. never collected miles with a US based airline before but given they sell them like they are going out of fashion I might take a look into this offer, for the future.

    Taking a look I can get a return to North Asia for 100,000 miles in First class from Europe which seems a good deal for just over £900!

    My only concern would be over how easy it is to book being UK based and which airlines I would be restricted from.

  12. @Lucky

    While I wish this were true, I have still run into some type of blocking when it comes to TATL LH F awards. I’ve made a few bookings in the last month or so and have had to convince the agent (usually on the second or third call) to “manually request” the seats. This is often how the conversation goes (sorry for the long post):

    “Hi, I’d like flight xxxx from FRA to xxx in LH F”
    “Sorry, not available.”

    “But I see it as available on AC and NH’s websites. Surely LH doesn’t select which *A partners gets award seats.”

    “I don’t know. I think that’s how it works. LH decides who can see it. I can see all of the available seats, and there are none.”

    “Excuse me ma’am, are you saying that LH gives 0,1,2 or 3 seats on an individual basis to each of their 27 partners? You must agree that that simply doesn’t make much sense.”

    “I guess that sounds right, but I am still not showing availability.”

    “Could you just check this one flight for me? I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you manually request the two F seats.”

    **Wait three minutes***

    “Wow sir. How’d you know that. There you go, you have them. You got very lucky.”
    **chuckle inside.**

  13. @Ari (or Lucky)- I actually tried asking the agent to manually request an F seat on LH for me (I see it available on both CO and AC) but she had no clue what I was talking about and she told me if she couldn’t see it she couldn’t book it. Should I just try again with another agent? Right now I have an Itinerary from DTW-FRA-BLR(Destination)-SIN(Stopover)-BKK-FRA-DTW all in Business except for the FRA-BLR which is F and so for that one segment the award is 160K instead of 120K. I see F available on the dates I want for the the other segments on CO and AC. Any suggestions on how can I actually get them booked? Thank you!

  14. @Yaswanth

    It’s not impossible, just very difficult (depending on the agent). Some – I’d say about 1/10 – will know how to do it and (more important) actually go through with it. Mos however, either don’t know or don’t want to be “shown up” by some Joe Shmoe. In Amy case, YMMV. I got very lucky. This was the first time it ever happened for me on the first try. 🙂

  15. I’m having trouble booking EWR-MUC later this year in LH F. Shows on ANA and Continental but US agents can’t see it. I haven’t found anyone to add it manually either.

  16. I tried to book LH F on several LH flights from FRA, MUC or DUS to different US destinations, all available at ANA, however not available when asking US agent… Does anybody know more about it?

  17. Have been going out of my mind with USAir trying to book F Class on LH. Even spoke to a supervisor who claimed she had no idea what it meant to manually sell a seat. I give up! I hope USAir gets acquired so my 600K miles will roll into another program where I can book the freakin seats and see Star Alliance availbility online. Enough playing “Battleship” with the clueless agents on US-Scare.

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