Saturday, December 13, 2014

Helpful Flight Booking Tools (especially for United frequent fliers)

Discovered some great flight booking tools recently. I was searching for a way to make sure that itineraries using Star Alliance airlines (other than United) ended up getting ticketed by United Airlines (i.e. ticket number beginning with "016"). United is now requiring that a certain amount of "Premier Qualifying Dollars" (PQD) be spent in order to achieve Premier status and you can accumulate PQD on Star Alliance flights only if the ticket is issued by United Airlines. I normally prefer to fly international routes on Star Alliance airlines other than United and found that some of these itineraries cannot be generated easily on the United website. I needed a way for Star Alliance itineraries NOT using United on any leg to show up on the United website. In that way I could have United issue the ticket on their ticket stock to make sure that the flights on Star Alliance carriers other than United qualified for PQD accumulation. Following?

So, for example, I wanted to have United Airlines ticket the following routing from Portland, OR to Tokushima, Japan;

  • Portland (PDX) to San Jose, CA (SJC) on Alaska Airlines (non-Star Alliance carrier)
  • SJC to Tokyo Narita (NRT) on ANA (Star Alliance carrier)
  • Tokyo Haneda (HND) to Tokushima (TKS) on ANA (Star Alliance carrier)
  • TKS to HND on ANA (Star Alliance carrier)
  • NRT to SJC on ANA (Star Alliance carrier)
  • SJC to PDX on Alaska Airlines (non-Star Alliance carrier)

You can't get this routing to show up by just using the United Airlines website. So, it you want United to ticket this itinerary (using the United website), how do you do this? Here's how:

Option 1

1. Use Hipmunk (hipmunk.com).
2. On Hipmunk, create a "multi-city" itinerary using the following specifications:

FROM: PDX::AS SJC NH
TO: NRT

[This means From Portland, OR (PDX) to San Jose, CA (SJC) on Alaska Airlines (AS), then one leg on ANA (NH) to Tokyo, Narita (NRT).]

FROM: HND::NH
TO: TKS::NH

FROM: TKS::NH
TO: HND::NH

FROM: NRT::NH SJC AS
TO: PDX

Select the appropriate flights from the results. When the itinerary is assembled, hit the "Book" button and Hipmunk will normally send you to the United website where the itinerary will be generated. You can then can book the ticket directly with United.

Hipmunk will not always send you to the United website for booking; it might send you instead to other booking sites such as Orbitz or Expedia. Where you get sent depends on the specific itinerary that you've built.

Option 2

If Hipmunk doesn't do it for you, you can also follow the instructions at the following webpage to generate an itinerary on the United website for booking.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/travel-tools/1623427-ita-purchase-fares-orbitz-delta-userscript-2.html

Though it's a little more complex, this option works well.

Happy booking!

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