Is US Airways Blocking Oneworld Award Space?

A couple of weeks ago US Airways transitioned from the Star Alliance to oneworld, and there has certainly been a big learning curve with this, for both their agents and even for us.

I’ve done what I can to provide tips for booking oneworld awards through US Airways over the past couple of weeks, including the following posts:

One question I’ve received repeatedly over the past couple of weeks is whether US Airways is blocking oneworld award availability. I’ve heard from people trying to book award space on Cathay Pacific, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, etc., and for whatever reason US Airways agents haven’t seen that availability.

So is US Airways blocking some oneworld award space, and is there a way around it?

I think the short answer is “sorta.” I don’t think US Airways is intentionally blocking any award space. Why? Because I don’t think they’ve had time to analyze which redemptions are most costly/frequent to them, as was the case with their Star Alliance award blocking.

I do think they’re having issues with displaying some award space, and the fact that agents seem to have to pull different inventory from different systems doesn’t help either, especially since they’re new to all these systems.

What I’ve found to most commonly be the case is that agents simply don’t know how to search space. This is especially true with Malaysia Airlines. The award space doesn’t show in their “normal” award program, but when they pull up inventory for revenue flights it seems to show the correct award space as well. One agent speculated “oh, this might just be something they’re doing till they find the plane.” Oy!

So sometimes it’s just a function of being patient, explaining that you think a flight should have award space, and seeing if they can check with a supervisor or look at space in a different system.

Generally speaking if they see the flight you want but don’t see award availability on it, they’re doing something wrong. Meanwhile if they don’t even see the flight as operating, then chances are it’s a system glitch. That being said, even then I’ve had some agents that have been able to “sell” the space in and it came back confirmed.

Again, I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think they’re still figuring out their new system. So if you’re told there’s not space just hang up and call again. There’s a chance the space may be bookable, there’s a chance it may not be. If it’s not, hopefully there’s a decent alternative, or hopefully they’ll get their systems fixed soon.

But given the generous routing rules and fairly lucrative award chart, I sure am loving redeeming US Airways miles for travel on oneworld.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-10
Redeem US Airways miles for Cathay Pacific first class

Comments

  1. so the trategy was:

    1. sell the miles
    2. devalue the chart the next day
    3. do not train agents in new systems so no one can actually use those miles

    this comany has become so trustworthy it’s starting to hurt!

  2. US Airways blocked Lufthanasa First Class awards. How soon till they & Aadvantage block Cathay First Class awards?

  3. just a heads up, seems like all RJ inventory has disappeared off of BA’s search tool.. right when i need a AMM-DXB.. son of a turtle!

  4. i also forgot to add steps 4 and 5 in their strategy:

    4. tweet porn to traumatize customers even more!
    5. act surprized and claim public outrage was unexpected.

  5. LAN Ecuador is coming up blanks. Any idea why they would see space for other LAN carriers but not LAN Ecuador?

  6. I was able to book JAL F and CX F. First agent clueless, but second agent no problem. The usual HUCA. Don’t expect any better from US Air. They are not AA agents.

  7. I booked Iberia J tickets with US. All fine, miled deducted, fees and taxes paid, booking looks good at Iberia.com… except that Iberia cancelled the booking after a couple of days.

    Called US again, ticked reinstated. After a couple of days, bang, reservation is no longer there at Iberia.com.

    Called US to reinstate. Called Iberia to reserve seats, they say the ticket is fine, until… bang. Gone again.

    Reissued a new ticket with US (this time, a new ticket with a new PNR). Will see if it gets cancelled by Iberia again in a couple of days.

  8. They seem to have problems seeing Dragonair award space as well, or they are just not searching the correct inventory. Talked to 4 different agents and none could book seats that were available on BA

  9. I had problems booking award for my dad to ATH, it just showed the PHL-ATH flight.. on USAir flight when he really prefers to fly on BA/AA planes. The only way around it was some weird routing like TUL-DFW-BOS-LHR.

  10. I just made a booking on QR/CX/JL, first time a US air agent knew what she was doing. Just hope the booking does not vanish like Houdini.

  11. I’m having the reverse issue – attempting to book PHL-YUL with BA Avios, but no matter which dates I pick, the online tool keeps telling me that no reward space is available, even though usairways.com is showing availablity at the low threshold level. Huh?

  12. Ricardo-

    I had the same problem booking IB through AA last summer.

    My take is that IB responds that booking is ok, but in a way that booking carrier can not see or just doesn’t see. 48 hours after sending initial ok, IB cancels due to non-response.

    Next time, I would call booking carrier back each day and insist on search for IB booking, and if found, immediate response by booking airline.

  13. Tried to book a PEK-NRT-FRA on JL tonight and the agent I had basically told me they don’t have any JL flights in their system yet…I just hope next morning I will get a better agent….

  14. @Lucky,

    I am really confused now…. So I was booking this QF flight from LHR to DXB and the First class it has is a P…. So US Airways agent told me that they can’t do it since it has to be a Z… I mean what’s the difference between P and Z??? The agent was nice enough to put the flight in for me but it just won’t price no matter what…

  15. Find F space on CX has become increasingly difficult. Most of the space disappears by the time AA/UA/AS see seats, so the good award chart isn’t all that useful unless you do the BA cancel trick.

  16. Doubt this helps anyone much, but just in case: I booked a four-segment MH intra-South Asia business class RT a little over a week ago. The super friendly and genuinely competent agent forewarned me that they would likely have trouble seeing and booking the space, as MH has been difficult. I fed in flights, she saw them, expressed surprised, reserved them, and went to find the guy with the tax abacus/dartboard. It was the easiest award booking I have ever made with any airline that required speaking with a human. The agent said it was her first MH booking. Sorry, to have so many words in the post.

  17. @ Jason — Yeah, the agent definitely needs to be requesting “P” class for Qantas. I’d suggest hanging up and calling again, as that is indeed their first class code.

  18. Ugh… I almost feel bad for US agents trying to learn OW on the fly.

    On a related topic, does anyone know what agents will be retained after the merger – AA, US, or a mix of both?

  19. I’m trying to book a flight on Jan that shows 2 seats on BA And AA but us airways says there is no availability. I’ve called twice. Should I just kept calling?

  20. This happened to me for the whole first week of April. I was trying to book HKG-MLE. Showing up as available on Qantas/BA searches, and as a revenue ticket for US, but not as an award. Kept on being told it was a glitch. By the time they figured it out, I had maybe logged 20 calls to US, and the award availability ended up going away. I’ve been waiting almost a week to hear back from US customer service on a potential fix. Hopefully they will waive change fees.

  21. I attempted to book Cathay first class for next February — shows up as available on BA website, but US Air agent told me that each airline gets a different availability, so it may be available with Avios, but not US Air.
    I doubted this, so I hung up and called back — got the exact same song and dance from the next rep.
    Any suggestions? Am I crazy or are they clueless?

  22. @ Craig — It should show up. Just keep in mind that oneworld options show up below BA options, so make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page.

  23. It shows up on BA website, but US Air reps claimed that THEY don’t have access to those seats.

    Crazy/clueless rep or are there limitations I am unaware of?

    Gonna make another run at it now…

  24. Sorry to keep commenting, but thanks for the advice — I FINALLY succeeded in getting it booked, although it took forever for them to price it.
    “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!”

  25. @Anthony
    I had a similar experience with Japan Airlines. I was trying to book business class seats for BOS-NRT. BA showed availability and the US Airways agent told me they weren’t there. They did finally get the seats though…after 3 hours of talking and arguing.

  26. Yep US air agents having hard time finding/booking MH flights. Will have a fun evening trying to redeem to Bali.

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