KrisFlyer News Star Alliance

System glitch: KrisFlyer awards on United are charging by flight segment

Multi-sector domestic awards in the US on United Airlines using KrisFlyer have suddenly become a lot more expensive, but don't worry!

UA Premium Transcon 787 (United Airlines)

One of the good value spots on the KrisFlyer Star Alliance award chart is for domestic flights with United Airlines in the USA. While some shorter flights aren’t always a great deal, if you can pick up a longer coast-to-coast itinerary then the rates start to look quite attractive.

For example you can fly for over 5 hours from San Francisco to New York for just 12,500 KrisFlyer miles + US$5.60 in Economy Class, or 23,000 miles + US$5.60 in Business Class.

UA SFO-EWR Y.jpg
Further than Singapore to Perth

The super-low taxes and fees are also a reason these redemptions can give you even better value.

(See our KrisFlyer College Part 3 for the best and the worst cities for redemption taxes and fees on SQ/MI flights)

These UA transcontinental routes are very popular, so it can sometimes be hard to find a non-stop flight to suit your needs. Alternatively you might be flying somewhere a bit more obscure on the UA network, where a flight change will almost always be necessary.

That’s not usually a big problem provided you don’t mind a connection or two, as the airline offers a wide range of options through its hubs.

The problem

For some reason the online KrisFlyer system has started pricing these United domestic connecting flights as individual sectors, rather than applying the usual zone-based total miles amount, as you can see in the following example for an Economy Saver award from San Francisco to Newark with a flight change (layover) in Chicago.

UA SFO-EWR Y Glitch.jpg

The usual pricing for this itinerary is still 12,500 miles + US$5.60, but it is charging the miles total twice, once for each flight sector.

Worse still if you pick a routing with two changes, it charges you three times the usual miles needed.

UA SFO-EWR Y Glitch 2.jpg

The same problem exists when searching a round-trip ticket. If both the outbound and inbound flights contain only one flight sector it’s correctly priced, otherwise it starts summing the total number of flights in the itinerary at 12,500 miles each (in Economy) when calculating the required miles, which can inflate the total significantly.

The issue does not affect multi-sector domestic flights with the same flight number, quite a common practice in the US.

UA SFO-EWR Y Glitch 3.jpg
Two different aircraft operate these flights, but because the flight number remains the same the system is not adding any miles requirement for the second sector

The good news

Fearing that this was some kind of new policy, we checked several other one-way multi-sector Star Alliance redemptions, like Athens – Frankfurt – Paris with Lufthansa and Singapore – Bangkok – Chiang Mai with Thai Airways.

Thankfully those are unaffected, so we contacted Singapore Airlines to clarify what was happening.

It’s confirmed to be a system error, and appears only to be affecting KrisFlyer bookings for United domestic flights. The correct pricing is 12,500 miles + US$5.60 in Economy Class, regardless of the number of flight sectors in the itinerary, for a one-way booking.

UA 737 (United Airlines).jpg
No policy change, just a systems issue. (Photo: United Airlines)

United itineraries with international sectors (e.g. BOS-SFO-HKG) don’t seem to be affected, but when searching USA to/from Hawaii routings with more than one flight sector it appears the same issue arises some of the time, but not every time.

We’re not sure how long it will take to resolve, but the Singapore Airlines CSO we spoke to confirmed that they are working on fixing the issue.

What to do

In the meantime you can still search availability for United domestic routings using KrisFlyer miles online, however you will have to call to book any routing coming up with incorrect pricing (i.e. with two or more one-way sectors), and book over the phone.

The customer service team were happy to help us book several example itineraries we provided to them, at the correct rate, so they can either bypass the issue or are seeing it correctly on their system.

Make sure the agent waives the offline booking fee in this case, since the glitch is occurring with SIA’s online booking portal.

(Hat-tip to Sleepy_Sentry at the FlyerTalk forum for the heads-up)

(Cover Photo: United Airlines)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: