United Airlines has added Qatar Airways to its online award search, making MileagePlus truly one of the most comprehensive and robust complimentary ways to check for award seats on nearly 30 airlines. Even better, Qatar Airways has made ample award space available in both economy and business class on many of its routes.
Qatar Airways, with its hub in Doha, offers a (rapidly) growing worldwide route map with service to U.S. gateways including:
- New York JFK
- Washington, DC (Dulles)
Reader Thomas asks:
Matthew, So would the following itinerary be possible with less than 24 hour stopovers in the cities (assuming its with the MPM):
ATL – FRA – CHP – DOH – DEL – SIN?
The answer is yes. In fact, even if the MPM is exceeded, if united.com can book it, you can get it. I’ve seen many interesting awards offered, like Washington to Johannesburg, South Africa via Doha (check out the low taxes!).
I work with a lot of clients who wish to travel either to Johannesburg or the Maldives and Qatar serves both. It used to be that I had to call the airline directly to check on award space (because the United folks were really clueless about checking it) and now that is obviously no longer necessary. This partnership outside Star Alliance opens many doors for those with United miles, though I have to predict that what happened when Swiss and Turkish award space appeared on united.com will happen here: people will quickly scoop up available award space and we’ll see a notable reduction in award inventory.
A quick note on the united.com award tool, a bit unrelated to this topic: while I have found the Qatar Airways award space that shows up is accurate and bookable, there has sadly been a proliferation in “phantom” award space recently on united.com. The biggest culprit: Lufthansa first class continues to show as available when it is not and more recently, Egypt Air business class shows as available, with multiple seats per flight, when there is actually no space. I mention that just so you do not get your hopes up when you are searching on united.com and run across something that might not actually be available. I trust that United is working hard to resolve these bugs.