Your United MileagePlus Award Flight on a Star Alliance partner has a segment that's cancelled: what are your options? That was our situation recently, when we woke up to find that the last leg of our MileagePlus Business Class award to Europe had its second leg cancelled. Here are the options if that happens to you:
Refund the Award
With a segment cancellation, as with a major schedule change, you can request a full refund of your MileagePlus award ticket, both the miles and taxes paid. Before choosing this option, however, be sure you have a good alternative since award availability is dynamic. Read on for other alternatives.
Reroute the Award
We didn't want to refund our awards, since we booked many months ago and nothing was available for a similar award cost. We wanted to keep our trans-Atlantic business class flight and change to different economy flights to get to our destination (since our originally booked business class award also had its last intra-Europe leg in Economy). Fortunately we were able to find other Star Alliance flights that worked. You need to find saver award space, which is far more likely for economy flights, so if your originally booked itinerary had rare saver business award space you may be out of luck, at least if the route that was cancelled isn't one that United flies on its own metal (see below).
Note that if needed, you can try switching your destination to a nearby airport, but it needs to be within 200 miles of your original destination, for example FRA could be switched to MUC, AMS could be switched to BRU, HEL could be switched to LED, MAN could be switched to LHR, etc.
Ask MileagePlus to Open Up Award Space on United
There's a third option: asking United MileagePlus to open up award space on flights. Keep in mind that United *won't* be able to open up award space on Star Alliance partner airlines, only its own metal, so if you're hoping to magically obtain SWISS Business Class, SAS Business Class, etc. where it's not currently available as award space, that won't happen. But MileagePlus can open up space on United's own flights, so that is a possibility, although you may need to get a supervisor involved to accomplish it.
Since we have no United MileagePlus elite status, we initially spoke to a regular Reservations agent. It quickly became apparent that she wouldn't be all that helpful, as she focused on the refund option, which we didn't want. We asked to speak with a supervisor, who was far more helpful. We already had found the substitute flights we wanted, with Economy saver award space, so I fed those to the supervisor and she made the change, keeping intact our original business class trans-Atlantic flight and award pricing.
If you've had a United award segment cancelled recently, what was your experience resolving it?
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