I noticed a schedule change on my flight booked with United miles one way from Bangkok to the US. It only gave me 35 minutes to connect in Frankfurt, Germany and this certainly was well below the minimum connection time and therefore “illegal” according to the rules of the ticket. It was time for me to start looking at other options.
I found acceptable alternative flights on United.com and called in to make the changes. It turns out that one of the flights I found wasn’t actually available! Shame on me for not verifying what I saw on united.com was truly available because they do show “phantom” award space regularly on their site. I was a bit flustered at this point.
Between the schedule change and the united.com bug I convinced the agent to open up saver award space for me on a more direct routing on United flights. Score!
Instead of having an extra intra-Europe connection I now connect back to the USA directly from Paris. As a bonus I will also have time to visit Paris for a couple of hours during our long connection!
This is a case where under certain conditions you can get United to make their own flights available for you at the saver level as long as there are still empty seats on the flights. I was able to do this because of the schedule change and the frustration of their website giving me false information. I should also note that I have no elite status with United and therefore got no special treatment.
If this happens to you keep in mind that they can open up space for you (only on their own flights) in these circumstances! I know that Delta and American will also do this for you as well. It never hurts to ask!