Why your United itinerary might suddenly include a flight from MKW airport in Indonesia

Apr 8, 2020

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Ever been to Manokwari, Indonesia? The West Papua coastal town of 100,000 is a popular tourist destination for travelers seeking a bit of outdoor adventure. And, according to my United itinerary, I’ll be visiting myself in February 2021, departing just after midnight on United Flight 1342.

United doesn’t offer service to Indonesia, though, and Manokwari’s Rendani Airport (MKW) doesn’t offer any international flights. And I certainly didn’t book this itinerary myself. So, what’s going on?

As it turns out, MKW is an internal code United adds to an itinerary when a flight is canceled due to “market withdrawal.” Later this month, I was scheduled to fly on Austrian Airlines as follows:

Those Austrian Airlines flights were canceled due to coronavirus, but they still appear in my itinerary, as I haven’t been rebooked on replacement flights. I’m not expecting to be able to travel to Europe this month, of course, so I’ll most likely be canceling that portion of the itinerary. As of now, I still do plan to fly the return leg, from Newark (EWR) to Dublin (DUB) later in the year, but that trip could end up falling through, too.

Just below that Dublin leg, I noticed the peculiarity — United flight 1342, from MKW. My reservation lists an arrival time and date on the airline’s app, but, when viewed on United.com, I can actually see a destination — RGM, which is not a valid airport code, but is often used as an abbreviation for Robert Gabriel Mugabe Airport in Harare, Zimbabwe (HRE).

But wait, there’s more! I can even see a seat map for the MKW-RGM leg — interestingly, it’s for a version of United’s 777-200 that’s no longer flying, with the carrier’s old first class cabin, and a 2-4-2 configuration in business class. I wasn’t able to save my selection, though, so I suppose I’ll have to ask an agent to assign me 20K at the gate in Manokwari.

In all seriousness, though — what should you do if a flight from MKW appears in your reservation? It almost certainly means that there’s been a change to your itinerary, even if the segments you originally booked still appear. United provided sound advice on Twitter — you’ll want to give the reservations line a ring to see which segments might need to be corrected:

You might want to take a screenshot or two before you call, though — just for fun.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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