United Airlines devalued MileagePlus a few years ago and basically destroyed all of the value the programme had. Before the changes, the programme was actually amazing and my favourite use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. However, first came an award chart devaluation whereby some awards went up 100% in cost and then came a major restriction in routing rules – basically if it doesn’t show up on United.com, you can’t book it on one ticket. Given that United has terrible IT, this has almost always affected me.

United’s website is generally the best place to search for Star Alliance award availability.. but it isn’t the best place to book (or try to). United’s website has so many issues that I don’t even know where to start – the most annoying one is that if you search round-trip for award flights, you will most often get very little flight results than if you were to search for only one-way.. WTF is this? It is fine when you want to book a simple round-trip (you can just book two one-ways), however when you want to include a stopover or open-jaw, things get incredibly complicated.

United’s terrible and dumb phone agents are the worst in the industry. Hell, Delta and AA have much better phone agents. United’s are just awful. They don’t understand what you want, they don’t know how to do anything, and they will only offer you everyday awards – basically ignoring saver awards. The supervisors aren’t smarter either. If I have to call United, I don’t – there’s no point.. nothing will be accomplished.

My latest frustration is the following: I booked Seattle – San Francisco – Tokyo in United’s Polaris on the Boeing 777-300ER. The Seattle to San Francisco segment was originally booked in Economy since there was no domestic First Class award space. Well, now there is, so I want to “upgrade” it since I technically already paid for it. If there’s no award space on all of the flights from origin to destination, you can’t. Reason being is that instead of changing out one segment, United’s agents can only change the whole leg of the journey. So the flights are Seattle – Tokyo and they won’t break it up for you (they say they can’t). So I basically can’t upgrade a flight I already paid for because there’s no space in Polaris on the San Francisco – Tokyo flight… even though I already am confirmed on it… The biggest limitation of the new rules is that you can’t put flights together as you want them.. well, you can, but you will pay per segment.. even if the layover is under 24h. I can handle an award chart devaluation, but restrictions like this fly drive me insane and kill me on the inside. What dumbass thought of doing this? If they wanted to restrict routing rules, they could’ve totally done that so many other ways. As for the actual Polaris flight, I doubt it will be any good.. maybe I should just cancel this whole thing and fly ANA First…

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