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Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

Coral Gables...
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Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

This falls under the category: I wish I had known that before I booked... so I am sharing this info.

If you book a flight on Air Canada with United Miles you will not be able to access Air Canada's website to choose seats or check-in online, etc. You also will not be able to pay extra to upgrade to AC's version of an economy plus seat, even by calling them directly. You can call and obtain an Air Canada confirmation number once booked, as I did with my Swiss International ticket and my Lufthansa ticket but unlike Swiss International/Lufthasa websites that allow access to website features with their airlines' specific confirmation number, if you did not book with Air Canada you cannot access website features- even with an AC confirmation number in hand.

I'm sharing this info because while I appreciate the ability to book on alliance partners with United miles, I wish I had known about this quirk of Air Canada flights booked with alliance miles before booking. I would have chosen differently, probably purchasing tickets on direct flights instead. Hope this helps others out there considering using their United miles to book award travel on Air Canada.

48 replies to this topic
Newmarket, Canada
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1. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

You can only make changes to Air Canada flights through their website if you booked the flight through the aircanada.com website. For other bookings, you can still select seats by calling AC reservations. Even when I book reward flights using my Air Canada Aeroplan miles, or when I book a flight directly with an Air Canada reservations agent on the phone, I still need to call them to make the seat assignments. It's an inconvenience to have to call, but I've never had a problem selecting the seats.

I've never heard of not being able to use online check-in. What was the error message you got when you tried it?

Coral Gables...
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2. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

Thanks for your reply. Yes, I was able to call and select seats. That isn't the problem. When I inquired about purchasing premium economy seats told that AC's system wasn't set up to allow those who didn't book through AC to buy seat upgrades. Also, please realize having pre-selected seats very likely will not do me much good if I don't check in until I get to the airport. Airlines regularly give away assigned seats if check-in is delayed until day of departure. This happened to me once with United flying out of Aspen and it only took one time for me to learn the lesson that checking-in the day before a flight is essential to hang onto seats. Hence I never fail to do online check-in. From reading posts re AC here, the same thing happens on AC. As for online check-in-- how am I to check-in when I cannot access any online services? I cannot even enter the online system. As it is not 24 hours or less before departure I have not attempted to check-in online nor do I need to attempt to do so to realize that is not feasible. Basically, by being blocked out of AC's online system a domino effect is created that causes signifigant inconvenience/uncertainty.

Brooklyn, NY
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3. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

If you click the "Check In" button on the front page of AirCanada, you can check in with your name, departure city, and Booking Reference number. Are you saying that your confirmation number isn't a booking reference number?

Newmarket, Canada
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4. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

The online check-in is not only accessed through the manage my booking section (although that is another way to do it). You should be able to view your booking at aircanada.com if you have your booking reference, but just won't be able to make updates. When I have a booking made through a different agent, I can see everything in the booking, but some options are just greyed out and not available (like seat selection). Your booking reference number for AC is likely different than the one assigned by United. Whenever I book a reward ticket on multiple star alliance airlines, I always have to ask the airline for the reference numbers for the segments operated by the other carriers. I would probably call Air Canada back and reconfirm your booking reference number.

For online check-in, just go the main Air Canada website. Click the big red "Check In" button. You'll get a popup window that will prompt you to enter your name, departure city and a booking reference number (the AC booking number). If you have all of that, you should be good.

I completely understand wanting to check-in as early as possible, but I don't think you'll have any problems with the online check-in a the 24-hour mark.

Alberta
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5. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

When I don't have access to a computer for on-line check in, I get a family member back home to check me in so that I have a seat. I then print the boarding pass when I get to the airport.

Canada
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6. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

Why don't you try checking in now? Go to aircanada.com, and click on "check in". Fill in the blanks, including the confirmation number you have. If it accepts the confirmation number, it will tell you "This flight is not yet available for check in" because it is more than 24 hours away. If it does not accept the number, you will get a message such as "We have no record of this reservation." At least then you will know whether it will work when the time comes.

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

You can get your AC reference number from United, or it may even be on your reservation on the United site.

Coral Gables...
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8. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

"You can call and obtain an Air Canada confirmation number once booked, as I did with my Swiss International ticket and my Lufthansa ticket but unlike Swiss International/Lufthasa websites that allow access to website features with their airlines' specific confirmation number, if you did not book with Air Canada you cannot access website features- even with an AC confirmation number in hand."

Thanks to everyone who replied. Many mentioned that I should obtain a CA confirmation number. Please note that I did mention that I had obtained an AC confirmation number and was still unable to access the website in my original post. Quof of Halifax thank you for your helpful suggestion. That is a great idea and will let us know for sure if check-in online is definitely not available. Will post back with results.

Coral Gables...
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9. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

cdar of Alberta, thanks also for your helpful suggestion. That is an option if online check-in is not available.

Coral Gables...
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10. Re: Air Canada flights booked with United miles= some problems

DCH, thanks. Perhaps one character is off in the confirmation code I wrote down when speaking with the AC agent. It's possible. Btw, I do realize about having to get a unique code for each airline in the Star Alliance, that is why I called AC to obtain that reference code directly from them.

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