The Washington Times - October 26, 2008, 07:42PM

About two weeks after ON THE FLY first wrote about United’s massive blocking of Star Alliance partner flights, the airline relented and lifted some of the filtering. Scores of travelers have already snatched seats on flights that had not been available for months, though the blocking is by no means gone.

Anyone who expected United to admit that it was pressured to rethink its practice because of the public exposure will be disappointed. In fact, the airline said that its policies haven’t changed, which means that blocking will continue.

SEE RELATED:


“What you’re seeing is a standard adjustment in our award inventory,” said spokesman Jeff Kovick. Asked to elaborate, he replied, “I’m not in the habit of providing long-winded responses when it’s a pretty basic answer.”

Some of United’s top-tier elite customers begged to differ, saying that so much award availability hasn’t been seen in a long time. They also noted that nothing about this until recently secret practice is basic or clear. The company’s management hadn’t even told its reservations agents about it, which is why they were blaming partner-carriers. None of the Star members was aware of it, either.

Listen to my interview on Peter Greenberg’s radio show. Peter is the Today show’s travel editor.

 

Read my column on the subject:

KRALEV: United yields on ‘awards’

Also read the initial column:

KRALEV: Airlines curb ‘award’ tickets

About 50 elite United customers wrote an open letter to the airline’s management, urging it to be more open and forthcoming about its practices and remove all additional controls on partner awards.

Read and sign the letter:

Elite fliers’ open letter to United

The question is how long the lack of massive blocking will last. United refuses to say, but we’ll keep an eye. You can report your own experience by e-mailing OntheFly@washingtontimes.com.

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