United Airlines hasn’t been showing award seats that are being offered by their Star Alliance airline partner Air New Zealand. Air New Zealand publishes the award availability, and it can be seen by other airlines. But you won’t find the seats at United.com and the airline’s agents will tell you there’s nothing available.
Fortunately United claims this is a glitch, rather than intentional, and one they hope to resolve quickly.
See this raised concerns, though, because United has a history of playing games with award space being offered by its partners in order to keep program members from seeing and booking the space.
So @united is again blocking @staralliance partner awards. Both @ExpertFlyer and @AirCanada are showing plenty of domestic availability on @FlyAirNZ, but United is blocking all nonstop flights for MileagePlus members. @garyleff
— Nicholas Kralev (@NicholasKralev) August 9, 2022
Here’s what United used to do:
- Before Continental Airlines management took over, United MileagePlus used to engage in “throttling” of awards (what frequent flyers called “Starnet Blocking”). The space would be available, but United would block their agents from ‘seeing’ the availability when they were running up against their budget for awards on the partner airline for that quarter. Availability would appear again when a new fiscal quarter would reset. (People forget that eliminating this practice was actually a good thing that happened when United was taken over by Continental.)
- When United and Singapore Airlines had a commercial dispute, United removed the ability to see and book Singapore Airlines award space from its website. You could still get the space if you called, but if you were searching online you’d never know the availability existed.
I reached out to United and they acknowledged a “technical issue” seeing the availability that Air New Zealand is offering, and hope to “resolve it..quickly” so hopefully before you need to use your United Airlines miles for domestic travel within New Zealand or trans-tasman travel between Australia and New Zealand. You’re not going to see much premium cabin award availability between the U.S. and New Zealand on Air New Zealand most of the time anyway, of course.