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✈️ One airline, two major updates

Some really exciting news from United, though a bit rough around the edges...

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 22 seconds

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Good morning folks, and welcome back to your favorite travel newsletter.

There’s been a lot of hotel talk recently, so today is going to be alllllll about airlines. In fact, it’ll be all about one specific airline (in a good way).

Here’s what we got:

✈️ United’s new seat alert feature

Yesterday, I booked my trip home to Canada from Indonesia. Award flights were scarce, and my itinerary involved a 14-hour flight from Melbourne to San Francisco on United Airlines.

I don’t mind sitting in economy for 14 hours as long as I can get a half-decent seat.

Sadly, there were no half-decent seats left for me to choose from unless I wanted to shell out $229 for a preferred seat…

United seat selection example

But that’s why I was excited to hear about the recent news that United will now launch a pretty sweet feature in their app that could solve this issue entirely.

Last Friday, United launched a new “seat alert” feature in their app. 

Here’s how it works:

When you are booking flights (or selecting seats after booking flights), United will give you the option to choose your preferred seats, even if those seats are currently occupied.

If your preferred seat opens up at any point, you’ll be automatically moved to that seat, and you’ll receive an alert on your phone telling you.

United's new "seat alert" feature

That is pretty freaking sweet…

Seats change all the time. Whether people change flights, get upgraded on the same flight, use standby, or just cancel their travel plans, the odds of seat availability changing on any given flight are pretty high.

As far as I can tell, you can even select more general preferences like window or aisle seats, giving you (and United) even more flexibility for ending up in a better seat.

There is one annoying catch (for now), though…

They’ve only rolled out this feature for some of their members. Sadly, I am not one of those members, so I’m stuck roughing it in a middle seat for 14 hours… 😭

Middle seat meme

For anyone who has United flights booked (or plans to book some soon), check your app to see if this feature is available now.

If not, fingers crossed that we’ll all see it pop up soon!

🤔 United’s mileage pooling fiasco

Okay, this United update is arguably even more exciting than the previous one… but also way more confusing…

Last week, there was a ton of hype around United launching a new “Mileage Pooling” feature, allowing multiple frequent fliers to pool their miles together.

Obviously, it was very exciting.

United miles pooling homepage

Sadly, this excitement did not last very long since the page was taken down almost immediately after it went live, with no explanation…

In fact, until today, there was no trace that the page or program ever existed.

Earlier, however, the page is now live again… but the functionality is still down… which is super confusing.

Gif

‼️ Okay, y’all. This is wild (and this is Mike three hours from the future after finishing this newsletter), but… IT’S BACK ON. The whole thing. All the functions.

Seriously… get 👏 it 👏 together 👏 United.

But anyway, let me now tell you all about it and why I think this will be a really solid feature.

Let’s say you travel with your family sometimes. Maybe you have kids who have accumulated some United miles but not enough to really do anything with…

With this new pool feature, a family could combine all of their smaller mileage balances into one account to use for any one of the family members, which makes these smaller chunks of “orphaned” miles actually useful.

Maybe you’re traveling with a group of friends, some of whom have large balances while others have medium-sized or small United mileage balances.

You can effectively even out the scales to book flights for everyone in the group without one person needing to shell out all of their miles to do so.

Here is what we know, based on the press release:

  • Up to five members can join a pool

  • There is no age minimum for members (great news for families)

  • There is no limit to the number of miles in a pool

  • Pooled miles can only be used for flights with United or United Express

Oops… did I forget to mention that last part…?

The single biggest drawback to this program is the fact that unlike normal United miles (which can be used with dozens of partner airlines), these miles can only be used “in-house” on United airlines.

It’s definitely not ideal…

But United is a huge airline… so whether you’re flying domestically or abroad, there will still probably be plenty of uses for pooled miles.

Anyway… While the execution on United’s end has been less than ideal, I’m still excited to see an airline like United rolling out useful and valuable new features.

Fingers crossed they actually keep the page up and running 🙃

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

Okay, enough airline news… let’s fire up some exotic travel inspiration with some trivia.

Which country has the world's smallest capital city by population?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Correct Answer: The specific city is called Ngerulmud, located on Babeldaob island in the western Pacific Ocean.

...with a population of around 200 people.

In 2006, Ngerulmud was designated as the capital of Palau, which is the correct answer to today’s trivia.

Ngerulmud replaced Koror City as the capital back in the early 2000s despite being much smaller in population size.

This is the most exciting photo I could find of the place… 👇

Ungerulmud, Palaus

Situated on Babeldaob island, Ngerulmud offers limited amenities, with only a few restaurants and shops.

Visitors to Palau often stay on Koror Island, located about 40 minutes south of Ngerulmud and accessible via the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge.

Koror Island has a range of attractions, including oceanfront resorts, fresh seafood dining options, local markets, and family-friendly beach activities, making it a more popular destination for tourists despite Ngerulmud's official status as the capital city.

And... it's beautiful. 😍

Koror Island, Palau

Other honorable mentions are Yaren, Nauru, Vatican City, San Marino, Vaduz, Liechtenstein, Valletta, Malta, Palikir, Micronesia, Funafuti, Tuvalu, Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis, Roseau, Dominica.

Have you ever visited any of these spots? 

Read more about Ngerulmud here.

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That’s all for today, friends.

Sometimes, I wonder who is in charge of rolling out new features like these two on United…

You’d think with millions of users and customers that they’d be able to make these things go a bit more smoothly…

But anyway, I’ll be back in your inbox first thing tomorrow with more travel tips.

See you soon ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

7.5755° S, 110.8243° E