Friday, January 6, 2017

Using United Miles to Fly British Airways and Air France

I booked a one way business class award in January using United Airlines miles. I wanted to see Paris and enjoy a free one day stop over (offer no longer available with United). The trip was DEN-SFO-YYZ-CPH-CDG with about 22 hours in Copenhagen. The aircraft were United 757 first class to SFO, Air Canada 767 business class pod to YYZ, brand new Air Canada 787 business class to CPH, and an SAS A321 flying to Paris. It would be a fun sampling of airlines and a long time enjoying premium cabins. I was excited to fly the new Air Canada 787 after reading about it.  
I Don't Know What the Inside Looks Like
Air Canada cancelled the YYZ-CPH flight 3 months in advance (not sure if it was Boeing's delivery issues or Air Canada sales), but didn’t tell me. They rebooked me on a flight two days later resulting in a 2.5 day layover in YYZ and a negative 2 day connection at CPH. After a brief call with Air Canada, I learned that it's my problem and United is responsible since they issued the ticket. I called United and booked a Lufthansa trip DEN-MUC-CPH while keeping the SAS leg to Paris. This reduced my premium cabin time, but kept my trip on schedule. I love Lufthansa and the A330 to Munich has the new business class seats.
Lufthansa & Denver
As European airlines do, Lufthansa went on strike with short notice. As is my luck, I had a flight with them and it was cancelled. I found out about it at about 8am on the day of departure. I thought I was in the clear when I went to bed the previous night because a strike forced cancellation should have one day notice.
Not What I Had In Mind
Lufthansa rebooked me on Delta, coach to Atlanta then business to CDG. Their computers saw my trip as DEN-CDG and rebooked accordingly. I saw it as two trips, DEN-CPH then CPH-CDG. I called United to see if they could assist. Since Lufthansa ‘took control’ of the ticket, the United agents were unable to help. I called Lufthansa and tried to work out an alternative. After some negations, we agreed on British Airways to CPH then Air France to CGD. I received an updated itinerary email and took a deep breath. 
Bad/Old Seats - Friendly Crew
At the airport British Airways was able to find the reservation, but it wasn’t ticketed. The agent referred me to the Lufthansa counter to sort it out. The Lufthansa contract agents couldn’t ticket it themselves, so it was back to waiting on the phone. After about 20 minutes, the ticket was sorted and I had a boarding pass and was off the the American Airlines lounge. 
Better Lounge in Denver than United
This award reservation earned me some miles, a slight consolation for losing time in Denmark and spending over an hour on the phone. The key here is to be alert for changes and if not acceptable, jump on the phone immediately to find a better alternative. 

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