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gail Sep 12th, 2006 03:59 PM

Help booking Star Alliance flights - USAir and United disagree
Trying to book 3 seats Feb vacation week with FF miles. UA has availability at 40,000 each for the 3 seats, but only have enough miles for one seat on UA account. Have enough on USAirways for the 2 additional seats. (Yes, both accounts are in same name)

USAirways says there are no seats available for FF redemption (even using 40,000 miles) for this itinerary. UA says there are seats and have to transfer miles from USAirways account to UA, but we have to get USAirways to do that. USAirways says they can not do this. Can not figure out anyway on website to accomplish this.

We have spoken to 3 different people at each airline, including asking for supervisor. Any suggestions? Am I doing something wrong? Am I misunderstanding rules?

ms_go Sep 12th, 2006 04:15 PM

40K - is that a North America standard economy award or a NA first class saver award? If the former (and I might be completely wrong), my impression was that standard awards are only available with UA miles for travel on United; you can't use them for tickets on Star Alliance partners. So, I'm assuming this works the same in reverse--i.e., you can't use partner miles to book a UA standard award.

DonTopaz Sep 12th, 2006 04:16 PM

First, you cannot transfer miles from your US account to your UA account in the way thgat you want. (you might be able to transfer from US to a 3rd party, and then to UA, but you would lose a huge amount of the miles that way.)

If the seats are on UA, it might very well be that the seats can be reserved using UA miles but not US miles.

gail Sep 12th, 2006 05:35 PM

Seems like some of my questions are getting answered here - thanks. First, it is a standard economy award. I assumed it could be cross-booked since that is how I interpret the website - it does not give an exclusion, but I imagine there is fine print somewhere.

Two people at United keep telling us we can transfer miles, although it sounded odd to me as well. Without igniting a controversy here again, since UA outsourced telephone customer service to India, we have had multiple problems (this is the same airline that kept telling us Wyoming was not part of the US).

Seems I am going to have to pay for tickets on Air Tran (booking BOS-MIA for cruise) for $500 each - I can't stand spending that much for Florida, but I know how it goes during that week in Feb.

ms_go Sep 12th, 2006 06:06 PM

In looking at the US Airways partner awards chart (link below), there is only one award level, which equates to saver awards -- 25K for NA economy awards. There is no "standard" option for using US miles to book travel on partners. The same is true for United Mileage Plus members booking on Star Alliance partners.

As far as transferring miles between the two, I can't help you there...but it doesn't sound logical. Just out of curiosity, though, I'll ask next time I call United (I usually get one of the US call centers).

mrwunrfl Sep 13th, 2006 12:43 AM

Yes, the 40,000 mile standard award is with UA MP miles on UA flights.

I've never heard of any ability to transfer miles between MP and DM and pretty sure I've read (tho in the past) that it was explicitely and clearly NOT possible. It was a common question at the time that US and UA became partners.

The agents that you spoke with must be confusing the transfer question with the feature that allows you to fly on one carrier and earn miles in the other's FF program.

You tried calling Dividend Miles about the transfer and they said they couldn't do it. I am pretty sure that is the right answer. IF the transfer was possible I would assume that DM would have to initiate it. Wouldn't think that MP could just grab your DM miles for you.

I will point out that United MP would have come thru for you if you had all your miles with them whereas DM could not.

mrwunrfl Sep 13th, 2006 01:03 AM

Dividend Miles does have a Premium coach award for continental U.S. and Canada for 50,000 miles. That would be on USAir flights (or, apparently, on Big Sky airlines).

You can't use your 40,000 (or 50,000) Mileage Plus miles on USAir, tho, other than the Saver award seats which apparently are not available.

Can you get two US awards on US flights? And the third person would fly on UA. I understand this is sub-optimal.

gail Sep 13th, 2006 04:21 AM

Thanks again for explanations and info - I think I get it now, although I am left wondering of what use "Star Alliance" is then.

No tickets available on USAir, unfortunately, at mileage level less than 75,000. Back to computer to try to mix and match options of getting one free ticket and paying for 2 - or just paying for all 3.

mrwunrfl Sep 13th, 2006 05:28 PM

They are two different airlines with two different programs. Each of them have other partners, too. The UA MP Standard award is a benefit to MP members flying on UA (or UX or Ted). I called MP to book a first class award to Thailand but no seat was available on my return date. The saver award is 120,000 miles. They explained that I could get a Standard award, for 200,000 miles. To do this, they would convert an available <b>revenue</b> seat to an award seat. There are plenty of road warriors with a gazillion miles in US or NH or LH FF accounts, so it makes sense that United would want to limit this kind of award to people who are MP members (and actually more likely to be frequent UA fliers than other *A account holders).

I called Mileage Plus today about this. The most important thing that I got out of the call was that if you have a MP question you should be asking it of MP CSRs by calling the MP number (6AM-11PM South Dakota time CST, I think but could be MST). MP does not have foreign call centers, but after hours the calls are handled by reservations call centers around the world. A reservation agent in China is not going to be as knowledgeable as a MP CSR in South Dakota. Maybe the res agent is eager to help, with limited knowledge, and gives out wrong info. The MP person I spoke to mentioned that she would know nothing about how to help with reservations (so she would not be surprised if a res agent got MP info wrong).

I mentioned to the lady (in S.D.) that we all know that if we don't get the right answer from MP to call back until we do. She refined that and suggested that if you get an answer that you <u>know is wrong</u> that you should definitely call back.

I asked if it was possible to tranfer miles between DM and MP and the answer was clear: no. Asked about using an MP standard award on USAir flights and she mentioned that the question had come up earlier that day and the answer was definitely no.

gail Sep 13th, 2006 09:29 PM

Thanks mrwunfrl - now it makes even more sense - and especially thanks about the call centers for UA. My husband is one of those people who periodically has a gazillion miles on USAirways - between actually flying and charging to USAir credit card (including our son's college tuition) - despite using miles for family trips every year. He is also whatever MP calls next step up from basic member, but I see that that does not matter.

End of story is that we found flights on itasoftware for just over $400 (AA non-stop outbound and Air Tran with reasonable connection northbound), so I am now better informed and can at least tolerate that cost of flights.

mrwunrfl Sep 13th, 2006 10:55 PM

Ok, so your DH has made Mileage Plus Premier elite status. That is a Star Alliance Silver status, so in addition to other benefits on United, he has priority standby and priority waitlist benefits on all *A flights.

You didn't mention status on USAir, so I assume he doesn't have any (would be a big mistake to have silver status on both).

When he flies on USAir, he should use his Mileage Plus number. With no USAir status, he can at least have potential benefit from the *A status on United. Plus, USAir is a *special* partner so that not only are elite qualifying miles earned on MP for US flights (as is the case for all *A) but he will also earn the 25% mileage bonus on his MP account just as if he was flying UA.

Hopefully, you know all about that and are working the system. But, I will take you the next step: can I interest you in a MP Platinum Visa. :)

Supposing he flies 30,000 miles on UA and 10,000 miles on US. Those 10K US miles are doing him no good, so he should earn them on MP (they would actually earn 12,500 redeemable miles on UA with the status bonus). So that is 40,000 EQMs for a year. The top level MP Visa earns 5,000 bonus EQMs per year plus 1 EQM for each $ spent on tickets at So with the 40,000 flight miles and $5000 worth of ticket purchases on the card, a person could reach MP Executive status (Star Alliance Gold). That gets 100% bonus miles on UA, US, and LH (and UX and Ted) as well as priority boarding, business class checkin, ... all this good stuff:,6722,1165,00.html

Or put it all into a Dividend Miles account. It just doesn't pay to split them. I finally realized this just recently. For a USAir flight a few months ago, using my DM account with no status, I was in boarding group number 7! But recently using my MP account I was &quot;Star Gold&quot; with priority boarding group 1.

Anyway, hope this helps. No actually, I hope you knew it all already.

gail Sep 14th, 2006 03:19 AM

He actually does have silver status on USAir - has both primarily because of USAir credit card. He never flew much on United until this year when he is going Bos-ORD several times/month for a client. But most of his past and likely future travel will be on USAir - that is where the credit card is as well. A few years back we considered changing credit card when it seemed USAir might actually disappear and if he has permanent route changes, we still might. He also does a lot of BOS-New York or Washington travel and USAir works best for that. Also, always get our son free flight to/from Savannah on USAir.

Thanks again (and my apologies to anyone else who has been totally annoyed or bored by this thread)

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