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How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers

Old Sep 21, 2016, 8:13 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
How to upgrade a partner flight using UA MileagePlus miles:

See UA's Star Alliance Upgrade Awards Page

Key points:
  • Only a few fare classes (and expensive) are eligible -- depends on the carrier (see the UA page)
  • Needs to be native flight numbers, codeshares are not eligible
  • Generally no waitlisting but ANA allows waitlisting
  • Most can be requested after ticketing (NH/ANA & ET cannot be requested earlier than 8 weeks to departure -- still true??) and must be done at least 24 hours prior to departure
  • Max of 4 passengers can be upgraded
  • Generally the available of award space is a good indicator of upgrade space (but not guaranteed) - typically requires (I) inventory
  • Upgrade request can only be made electronically
  • Upgrade requests are per segment
  • It may increase your chance of success to request only one segment at a time on the upgrade page, even though it allows you to enter two (YMMV).
  • For mileage requirements, see Interactive travel destinations awards chart
As a general rule, with exceptions, SAUA need I space (for the partner) to have a chance of clearing.

See this thread for the no-longer-available award chart (disappeared from united.com as of October 2018): https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/unit...d-website.html

Error codes
  • "We were unable to complete your request due to a technical problem. In the U.S. and Canada call 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) within the U.S. or Canada, elsewhere use the local phone number. (Error code: 110).
  • "We were unable to complete your request due to a technical problem. In the U.S. and Canada call 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331) within the U.S. or Canada, elsewhere use the local phone number. (Error code: 118)"
  • "The traveler has the same name as an existing traveler on this flight. Please contact the operating airline for the required information and try again. (Error code: 384)"
  • "Upgrade not available (Error code: 511)."
  • "The number of travelers indicated does not match the number of passengers in the reservation. Please correct your information and try again. (Error code: 528)"
  • "insufficient MileagePlus Balance (Error code: 2001)"
Mileage required? Capturing here the last known information, as information is disappearing, no guarantees how long this will be true

For UA operated flights see Using Miles to Upgrade on United


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How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers

Old Oct 31, 2022, 5:05 pm
  #136  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan
I mean, sure, it's better than if it doesn't show, but you should be checking UA's site, not TK's site, to get an idea of how likely it is. TK likely makes award inventory available to its own members that it doesn't open to partners. Yes, you'd need the H fare to upgrade, not the E.


You assume incorrectly. The wiki also states that "upgrade requests are per segment." You'd be charged the intra-Europe price for MAD-IST and then the Europe to Southern Africa price for IST-CPT. But check the equipment on MAD-IST to see if it's even worth the trouble.


That's a question for the TK forum, but my guess would be the former.
Thanks for the info. How do I check with UA's website? I checked for award inventory on the second segment and it is not showing. Does this mean I'd be unlikely to get a *A upgrade to Biz? Does free award inventory need to exist in order to get the upgrade award? Tough to pay $263 extra per seat only to find out it isn't avail. Is this what people do whenever they want to use *A upgrades? Do they just pay more and roll the dice?
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Old Oct 31, 2022, 5:31 pm
  #137  
 
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Originally Posted by TravelinSperry
Does free award inventory need to exist in order to get the upgrade award?
The SAUA confirms into I, so general rule is needs to be available to have a chance to confirm. However it is a little more complicated as there is some additional behind the scenes communications between the carrier's systems that seems to go beyond just fare bucket availability and I don't think anyone knows definitively what causes the SAUA to be approved.

Originally Posted by TravelinSperry
Tough to pay $263 extra per seat only to find out it isn't avail. Is this what people do whenever they want to use *A upgrades? Do they just pay more and roll the dice?
Yes. The SAUA is designed to give an award option for people who have to book a "high yield" fare class whether by business/contract requirements or close in booking. It doesn't necessarily exist for what many people try to use it for (buy a slightly more expensive fare in hopes of an upgrade), though I'm sure the alliance carriers have no qualms about people choosing to pay a higher fare when a cheaper one was available.
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Old Nov 2, 2022, 2:49 am
  #138  
 
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I'm trying to upgrade a BR055 segment (checked that there was upgrade availability but to be fair I did call a while ago and who knows how fast it goes) using UA miles. I imagine the error should be Upgrade not available but instead I'm getting:
The traveler has the same name as an existing traveler on this flight.

Is there any way around this? I have SQ miles as well I could use to try to use instead. Does it matter if the person being upgraded is not the same name of the person asking for the upgrade? Ultimately, I guess I should call Eva again and double check (I had actually tried right after I had called originally, got this error, thought I did something wrong and refunded the ticket I bought using chase points. Eva website does bring it up no problem). I guess I can try refunding the flight and trying for the Eva website directly to see if that helps.
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Old Nov 2, 2022, 4:49 pm
  #139  
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Originally Posted by psychoidiot
I'm trying to upgrade a BR055 segment (checked that there was upgrade availability but to be fair I did call a while ago and who knows how fast it goes) using UA miles. I imagine the error should be Upgrade not available but instead I'm getting:
The traveler has the same name as an existing traveler on this flight.

Is there any way around this? I have SQ miles as well I could use to try to use instead. Does it matter if the person being upgraded is not the same name of the person asking for the upgrade? Ultimately, I guess I should call Eva again and double check (I had actually tried right after I had called originally, got this error, thought I did something wrong and refunded the ticket I bought using chase points. Eva website does bring it up no problem). I guess I can try refunding the flight and trying for the Eva website directly to see if that helps.
I got the same error when trying to set up an NH upgrade recently. I found that by entering the ticket number (described as optional) I could get thrugh to the next screen where I was given the number of miles the upgrade would cost. Of course, once I selected the button to be waitlisted for that segment (there were no available instant upgrades) I got an error. Calls to UA only resulted in my being told each time to wait some random amount of time before trying again (1hr, 1 day, 2 days). Nothing ever changed and nobody at UA was able to assist in any way. All they could do is "Send a message" internally. But nothing ever changed. Eventually I gave up and applied PlusPoints. I believe that that's not an option for BR flights. Since you have SQ miles you may wish to try applying them to the reservation from an SQ account. Good luck and let us know what happens.
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Old Nov 2, 2022, 8:05 pm
  #140  
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Originally Posted by psychoidiot
I'm trying to upgrade a BR055 segment (checked that there was upgrade availability but to be fair I did call a while ago and who knows how fast it goes) using UA miles. I imagine the error should be Upgrade not available but instead I'm getting:
The traveler has the same name as an existing traveler on this flight.

Is there any way around this? I have SQ miles as well I could use to try to use instead. Does it matter if the person being upgraded is not the same name of the person asking for the upgrade? Ultimately, I guess I should call Eva again and double check (I had actually tried right after I had called originally, got this error, thought I did something wrong and refunded the ticket I bought using chase points. Eva website does bring it up no problem). I guess I can try refunding the flight and trying for the Eva website directly to see if that helps.
Have a look at my post in the BR forum - this is a known UA defect they are in no hurry to fix.
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Old Nov 5, 2022, 12:11 pm
  #141  
 
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According to ExpertFlyer, TK (turkish) upgrades book into J. Is it true only when using TK miles or also when using UA miles? Might purchase a flight where J is available but I is not.
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Old Nov 5, 2022, 12:15 pm
  #142  
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Originally Posted by gordo6
According to ExpertFlyer, TK (turkish) upgrades book into J. Is it true only when using TK miles or also when using UA miles? Might purchase a flight where J is available but I is not.
You mean using UA miles to upgrade a TK flight? That will book into I.

The *A upgrade tool is so unreliable, I personally would never make a purchase decision based on the hope/expectation I could confirm an upgrade.
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Old Nov 5, 2022, 11:24 pm
  #143  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee
You mean using UA miles to upgrade a TK flight? That will book into I.

The *A upgrade tool is so unreliable, I personally would never make a purchase decision based on the hope/expectation I could confirm an upgrade.
Yes thats what I meant- thx for confirming.
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 7:11 pm
  #144  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee
You mean using UA miles to upgrade a TK flight? That will book into I.

The *A upgrade tool is so unreliable, I personally would never make a purchase decision based on the hope/expectation I could confirm an upgrade.
Are you sure Star Alliance upgrades depend on I availability rather than J on Turkish? or can it get it from both?
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Old Nov 7, 2022, 11:20 pm
  #145  
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Re: our NH upgrade above, no UA agent was ever able to understand our requests and any time we mentioned using PlusPoints to upgrade simply were convinced we had a mileage ticket. Fortunately, the outbound segment cleared. We'll see what happens with the return. The fact that some of the UA tools are broken and that nobody understands them r will take responsibility for them is pretty pathetic.
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 12:03 am
  #146  
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy
Re: our NH upgrade above, no UA agent was ever able to understand our requests and any time we mentioned using PlusPoints to upgrade simply were convinced we had a mileage ticket. Fortunately, the outbound segment cleared. We'll see what happens with the return. The fact that some of the UA tools are broken and that nobody understands them r will take responsibility for them is pretty pathetic.
It is my understanding the *A upgrade tools are principally the responsible of *A employees (not the airlines themselves). The request from UA is sent to the *A team which Sents it to the operating airlines -- the request does not go direct from UA to LH. It is a common backbone used by all *A carriers and used for PlusPoint upgrades for LH, NH. Frontline employees don't deal or understand and can only report issues. The is no manual path, all an agent can do report is issues. This has long been a problematic tool because of because of the multiple handoffs very sensitivity to the slightest change by any of the parties,
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 12:05 am
  #147  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
It is my understand the *A upgrade tools are principally the responsible of *A employees. The request from UA is sent to the *A team which sents it to the operating airlines -- the request does not go direct from UA to LH. It is a common backbone used by all *A carriers and used for PlusPoint upgrades for LH, NH. Frontline employees don;t deal or understand and only report issues. The is no manual path, all an agent can do report is issues. This has long been a problematic tool because of because of the multiple handoffs very sensitivity to the slightest change by any of the parties,
Yes, it's quite weird - LH upgrades (with no I-class) can confirm immediately, while Swiss (with 8 x I-class seats) will not...
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Old Nov 8, 2022, 1:30 pm
  #148  
 
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I have a small chance that I need to cancel my Y fare Eva flight to a different date that I had successfully upgraded using UA miles - do I at least get the miles back for the upgrade?
The other question I had is typically Y fare is refundable but I bought using chase points so I need to figure out what happens there.
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Old Nov 13, 2022, 3:11 pm
  #149  
 
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Trying to upgrade a D class fare on LH, but it fails. Is this because it is a UA code share?

We cannot process your request. This flight segment is not eligible for upgrades.

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Old Nov 13, 2022, 3:23 pm
  #150  
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Originally Posted by malgudi
Trying to upgrade a D class fare on LH, but it fails. Is this because it is a UA code share?
Yes, codeshares are not eligible, hence the talk of converting to native flight numbers

UA states
only on flights marketed and operated by the same airline.
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