Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I've been calling the United Airlines frequent flyer call center a lot the last few days. I didn't even mean to end up with United. I'm a Continental frequent flyer—Newark is my home airport, so this makes sense as Newark is a Continental hub. But airlines become other airlines as corporations merge and change. And so I found myself a United customer, with enough miles to go to Burma over the Christmas holiday, which is no longer under the shadow of a tourism boycott.

Of course, it's one thing to have the miles. It's an entirely different thing to get the empty seats over the holiday season, when everyone else wants them too. 

But not being able to do something only makes me want it more. So there are no seats from the East Coast to Burma. Big deal! I'll just fly the wrong way around the world. 

I am now flying from Dulles (near my mother's) on Christmas Eve, via Paris to Bangkok to Burma. Silly, but hey, it works. 

The return was a lot tougher. I need to be back to teach class on January 8th. If I taught on Thursday or Friday, this would have been much easier as there are seats available after the 8th. But that isn't an option.

I'll be starting my trip in Bangkok on the return. I'm stopping over to get my teeth cleaned and buying some more zebra T-shirts. And getting lots of Thai massages. 

But the only return I could find across either the Pacific or Atlantic was via Tokyo. Tokyo! That's a long way from Bangkok. A long expensive way. 

I relentlessly pieced together options for a few days. I annoyed people at the MileagePlus center. I hung up on one slower specialist who simply couldn't keep up with what I pieced together. The computer wouldn't do it—it needed someone to input it manually. See if you can figure out why.

I have it now. 

Crazy, yes. But considering I traveled from Tahiti to Newark via Auckland and Japan last year, this seems almost reasonable. 


Miriam said...

You can't book flights on Singapore on-line right now, which is why the call, right?

I find the best way to come up with availability for using United miles is by searching on ANA, but that requires having an ANA account and using a workaround to search Star Alliance routings when you don't have ANA miles in that account.

Marie Javins said...

The reason for the call is...

The online booking system would not "see" the Tokyo option, because it doesn't see arriving at Tokyo Haneda and departing Tokyo Narita as a connecting flight.

In fact, no one did...I had to hang up and call back after the first guy at the call center was baffled by my itinerary. The next guy saw it, but he did laugh at me as I booked it.