My preference when booking travel is to be able to go to my favorite/preferred/only available/what-have-you website and book a ticket and be done. Not all tickets are that easy (like any partner award ticket with US Airways, for instance). We know that Delta has long had issues with their award calendar and availability, which is one of the things that makes a lot of people shy away from them. Now, it seems that even United has some award calendar discrepancies.
Disclaimer: I tried this with a small sample of dates/destinations. This does not work for all United award tickets/destinations.
I have been trying to find a preferred flight to my rebooked award flight leaving Rochester in a few months. United got rid of my later flight and US Airways (I booked the award ticket through them) moved me to the earlier flight. The problem is, it leaves me in Washington DC for about 6 hours. I either want to be there for a short time or longer than 6 hours, if I have to. The reason is that if it is a longer time than 6 hours, I will go to DC and get a run there. Washington DC is one of my favorite cities to run in and visit. Anytime I can get there is good!
The problem is that United had no Saver awards available (the cheap ones), only Standard (the expensive ones). US Airways can only book the saver awards so they were not changing me to my preferred flight. So, I just decided to wait a bit. However, yesterday, I checked on my phone on the United app (which is the same data as the mobile site) and it was showing availability on all the Rochester-IAD flights that day! I quickly went to my computer to pull up my reservation and prepared to call US Airways. When I checked United’s desktop site on my computer, it was showing nothing again. I went and checked the mobile site and they were still available!
Just to see if it was a fluke or not, I went ahead and ticketed it through the mobile site and it went through like normal. I went back to the regular site – nothing. The funny thing was that the phone reps could not see Saver availability on the flight either (when the mobile site could).
To check this on your own, you do not have to do it from a mobile device. You can simply go to mobile.united.com from your laptop or desktop and it will load the mobile site.
I tried this with other, longer-haul flights but came up empty. I tried other dates and some of them were different availability while others were the same. To add a further twist to the situation, when I went ahead and cancelled the award reservation I had made on the mobile site, award availability for that flight suddenly appeared on the desktop site! Not just for that flight, but the other flights for the same day. ETA: Now, the regular site is again showing no availability while the mobile site continues to show availability.
It seems as if there is some fluke in their system, whether it is that award availability loads on United’s mobile site/app first when it is updated or something even more odd. It does make for a strange twist, though. Perhaps, someone here who knows more about the technical ins-and-outs of airline reservation systems could explain it, but I cannot.
Ideally, we would just be able to book it all on United’s main website, but if that doesn’t work, now you can at least check one more site – just to be sure! 🙂