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Just three weeks into the year there was a major scare for United MileagePlus members as it became impossible to book awards on TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines using United’s miles.

There was no announcement, no emails went out to MilagePlus members to let them know of the new limitations and no explanation was sent out when the blogs started writing about it.

To all intents and purposes it looked like United was deliberately preventing its MileagePlus members from booking awards on airlines that a lot of people enjoy flying.

Singapore Airlines 787 Business Class – Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines

When View From the Wing finally got a comment out of United it transpired that the airline was indeed deliberately blocking awards on all three carriers….but not for the nefarious reasons a lot of us had assumed.

Here’s what United said:

“Some partner award tickets are not being confirmed by select airlines’ reservations systems. In order to minimize the impact to customers, we’ve temporarily removed the ability to book on these specific carriers until this is fixed.”

It would have been nice if United had found the common decency to let its MileagePlus members know what the issue was without a blogger having to extract the information from them but at least this wasn’t an example of an airline silently devaluing is loyalty program.

Things have been very quiet for over a month but, just as quietly as award bookings were closed, United has re-opened award bookings on two of the three affected airlines.

Right now I can see that Thai Airways awards are readily available on….

 …and TAP Air Portugal awards appear to be available too:

Unfortunately, however, this is still a sign that you’ll see when initiating an award search on United:

Bottom Line

Two out of three isn’t bad and it’s certainly better than the situation we’ve had for the past month but it’s Singapore Airlines that’s the jewel in the crown here (for a lot of people) so the sooner its awards are available through United once again the better.

[HT: Point Me To The Plane]