After months of
nagging inquiry, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines have finally found a way to restore Singapore award space to united.com. This is very good news that goes beyond the Singapore space itself.
Singapore Airlines is an elusive Star Alliance partner for United and the other members of Star Alliance. It offers a stellar product onboard, even in economy class, but is not exactly generous when it comes to allocating award space (except to its own members). While that is certainly its prerogative, it nevertheless undermines the principle of cooperation underlying the idea of an alliance.
But while longhaul premium cabin award space is exceedingly rare on Singapore Airlines, the airline does make shorthaul and midhaul flights bookable with partner miles…that can come in very helpful, particularly in SE Asia.
Maybe, just maybe, I am taking far too much credit here, but the issue remain unresolved until I started pestering both United and Singapore last week. A lot of email. A lot of questions. Perhaps the space would have re-appeared anyway this week, but it does remind us that airlines still listen.
During United’s bankruptcy, some of then-CEO Glenn Tilton’s most egregious anti-customer policies were rolled back after protest from United frequent flyers. Ever since then, we’ve seen that United will listen when its members pushback hard enough. The most recent case of that is was United’s attempt to remove tomato juice onboard…which was met with a firestorm of customer wrath. It took only a week for the decision to be reversed. United’s employees also essentially forced United to rescind its new bonus program after loudly protesting.
I’m not calling for mass protests over every little issue. We must always pick our battles wisely. I focused on the Singapore Airlines issue because it just made no sense why United was the ONLY carrier that had technical trouble booking the space, especially when the two carriers fought on award space reimbursement costs in the past.
Perhaps I should not be heartened that this space back. Instead, my reply should be simply be ABOUT TIME! But, I’m thankful this morning that you can now easily use your United miles to book (available) Singapore Airlines award space. I’m also quite pleased that United seems to take nagging seriously…let it be a lesson that together we can influence policy.
We’re still in a wait-and-see mode for what the new MileagePlus program will look like this autumn. Be ready to pushback if it turns out worse than we thought.