Sunday Reader Question: What are married segments?

Sometimes when you’re searching for award space, be it on Aeroplan, United, Delta, etc., you’ll find that some seats will show as available when you search for them from origin to destination, but when you call to book the flights segment-by-segment, those flights show as unavailable. Often, this is caused by married segment logic. Today’s Sunday Reader Question is: what are married segments?

The quick answer is: “the bane of my existence” (second to phantom availability). Married segment logic is a tool used by airlines that restricts availability based on origin and destination, rather than by segments. For example, say you search Toronto – Delhi (this is a fictitious example). When you search on Aeroplan or United’s website, you’ll find availability, say on United via Newark. You can book this without any issues.

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Say your actual trip is Toronto-Newark-Delhi-Colombo. You just searched Toronto – Delhi to find the award space on United, and your intent is to attach an Air India segment from Delhi to Colombo. You find all the award inventory and go to call and book. You feed your flights individually to the agent. To your surprise, the agent says Newark-Delhi is unavailable. What? You see it right on your screen! What’s happening is married segment logic is being applied.

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Married segment logic controls routings based on origin and destination, rather than segment-by-segment availability. In our example, revenue management for United has decided they want Toronto – Delhi via Newark to be available as an award, but they don’t want a different origin or destination (in our example, changing Delhi as destination to Colombo, even though it’s the exact same flights as the Toronto – Delhi itinerary). To get around this, instruct the agent to do a normal search for Toronto – Delhi, and then manually add the Delhi – Colombo segment. This should validate, at least for Aeroplan.

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For other programs, like Delta Skymiles, it’s not this easy. If you find a willing supervisor, it usually requires a manual override for married segments.

Luckily with Aeroplan, if you give proper instruction to the telephone agent, you can bypass married segment restrictions. However, you have to learn to recognize when married segment logic is being applied, and how to provide instruction to the agent to bypass it.

Would you rather someone else deal with this for you? Awarding Canada offers award booking services.

Comments

  1. There is another similar, but different, phenomenon. Sometimes there are “married seats”. Example: I was booking SN flight using Aeroplan miles, and two seats were available BRU-JFK. As soon as one seat is taken, the other disappears as well. One seat is released back, two go back into award inventory. You can book two seats on one booking, but if you have to do two separate bookings, then you won’t be able to get two seats. Interesting, huh?

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