Quick Hit: Star Alliance awards to the Faroe Islands are now available… sort of.

I know new posts have slowed to a crawl lately, mostly due to my hobby business taking up a big chunk of my time while I finish up a project. I’ll get back into it soon (probably), although I do have something to neat to write about tonight. Specifically, I was messing around with some award searches on United, and I managed to get United’s booking engine to show me awards between Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands.

I’ve written about the Faroes a couple times, and since it’s a place I plan to return to as often as possible, I’m very excited about this development. When I planned my first trip there, the only flights were on Faroese flag carrier Atlantic Airways, although shortly after that trip, Star Alliance member airline SAS began flying between CPH and FAE as well. I hypothesized that this route would enable Star Alliance awards all the way to the Faroes, which unfortunately turned out to be incorrect. Despite SAS flying the route, Star Alliance award booking engines still choked whenever FAE was entered as the destination. (I assume that SAS’s own EuroBonus program would have worked just fine, but without a meaningful stockpile of EuroBonus points and no easy way to earn them, it didn’t really matter to me.)

I don’t know how long this was the case, although it definitely was when I booked my most recent trip to the Faroes. It’s not a huge deal, since flights on both SAS and Atlantic Airways are pretty cheap. Plus, Atlantic has better reliability and more schedule options, so there’s a marginal benefit there over SAS in the first place. Still, for two people, an award routing that includes the CPH-FAE leg would save a couple hundred bucks and would also combine the legs on a single itinerary, which has its own advantages. And if you’re flying business, the domestic leg would be in SAS Plus… not that that’s worth much, since they don’t even block the middle seat. (However, if my recent SAS flight is representative of total demand for the route, it shouldn’t be hard to get an empty middle seat, since there were 60 SAS Plus seats and five passengers or so.) But it certainly isn’t worse than economy, so if it doesn’t cost you any extra, stop whining.

So what about the “sort of” in the title? Well, we’ll start with United’s calendar for CPH-FAE, which shows a shitload of availability.

united-cphfae.jpg

Yay, right? Unfortunately, for one reason or another, United can’t tack this leg onto a long-haul award. Here’s what you get if you try to search SFO-FAE:

united-sfofae.jpg

You can put the itinerary together as a multi-city award, but United then makes you pay for the second leg separately. It’s possible that a customer service rep would be able to manually book it as a one-way, but it’s almost midnight right now, and I don’t feel like talking to anyone on the phone. Plus, Aeroplan doesn’t have the same issues:

aero-fae

For anyone who’s curious, business class redemptions are possible too, at the usual price of 55,000 points. I don’t love the 55 minute layover even though CPH is a nice airport to transit, but I guess the worst case would be getting reaccommodated on the next day’s flight. It would be annoying to deal with, but there are worse places to get stuck for a night than Copenhagen. The only hitch is that SAS doesn’t fly CPH-FAE on Tuesday or Wednesday, so if you miss your connection on Monday, you may be stuck for a few days. Personally I would avoid a Sunday/Monday itinerary for that reason, although SAS is so stingy with business class awards that I probably wouldn’t have the luxury of making that choice.

I don’t know how many people care about this, but with the steadily increasing tourism levels in the Faroes, I’m sure some will find it useful. I’m definitely excited to take advantage of it on our next trip.

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7 thoughts on “Quick Hit: Star Alliance awards to the Faroe Islands are now available… sort of.”

  1. Two questions..
    1. Did you try calling to see if United could hook together the two legs? These days my expectations for humans overriding computers are low, but still would be good to know.
    2. Did you actually book these flights? Could be phantom availability (wouldn’t be the first time).
    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good questions, and the answer is “no” to both of them. There’s a good chance that a competent United agent could put the itinerary together. As for phantom availability, it’s always a possibility, but I’m hopeful this is real. In the past, the search engine didn’t even recognize FAE as a destination, so no matter what this is a positive development.

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  2. Could you use United’s fabled “Excursionist perk” to add a trip to FAE to a TATL itinerary without incurring additional miles?

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    1. I’m not super familiar with the excursionist perk, but my understanding is that the routing would have to be something like SFO-CPH-FAE-SFO in order to qualify (in which CPH-FAE is the perk). But since you can’t fly from FAE to SFO directly, I don’t know if it counts. And anyway, there’s no reason FAE should show up any differently than any other city in Europe in the first place.

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