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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 Mar 25, 2023, 3:14 pm
  #196  
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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Posts: 31,552
Originally Posted by hardworking21
Thanks @Lux Flyer & @cfischer - both very helpful replies! I want to fly on ANA (NH) metal, but am sitting on ~250K UA miles and was hoping to use them for a Business --> First upgrade.
go for it! NH First is spectacular. Book Z or higher and waitlist the UG (difficult to confirm these days). Good luck!
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cfischer is offline  
Old Mar 28, 2023, 1:52 am
  #197  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Programs: UA 1K (since '05), TG silver
Posts: 10
UA SAUA (Star Alliance Upgrade Award) : nonworking

Dear flyertalk,

I use the SAUA (Star Alliance Upgrade Award) using my UA miles from time to time, While there are no guarantees, this proved to be a very useful feature.

The last time I successfully upgraded using SAUA was 2023.03.06.

However, I find UA's SAUA totally broken for me for several days since 2023.03.20. Tried upgrading 3 different itineraries to business (one for a friend, two for myself), all fail. A friend tried for me, also fail. I have not been able to find people who succeeded in upgrading via SAUA in the last week,

The symptoms are: you go on the SAUA page, request the upgrade, receive notification that upgrades are available, when you try to hit upgrade, you fail. This has persisted for a week.

Can someone confirm or deny that this is working or not working for you since 2023.03.20?

perplexed in Taipei


fail when I hit CONFIRM

test case 1

test case 2
moscito is offline  
Old Mar 30, 2023, 3:23 pm
  #198  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 226
I can confirm the SAUA tool is broken as described above. Had to use Lifemiles instead.
gerald5 is offline  
Old Mar 30, 2023, 5:09 pm
  #199  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Programs: UA 1K (since '05), TG silver
Posts: 10
what is lifemiles?
moscito is offline  
Old Mar 30, 2023, 5:16 pm
  #200  
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Posts: 35,196
Originally Posted by moscito
what is lifemiles?
Lifemiles is the FF program f Avianca
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Old Mar 31, 2023, 4:02 pm
  #201  
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Programs: UA, 1K
Posts: 155
Terribly frustrated trying to use M+ *A upgrades on Copa

Hi All
I was trying to use United miles for a *A upgrade on CM. At 20K miles, this is a much better deal than using plus points. However, after spending 4 hrs with United the conclusion is that the process to do this is broken and no-one knows how to fix it and when/if it will be ever fixed. I used the link, confirms that the upgrade is available and then when you click on confirm, it errors. Called 1k reservations, couldn't help, punt me to M+, couldn't help, punt me to web support which initially lied through their teeth (upgrades are not available, uh..yes they are; ahhh but your fare is not upgradable, err..yes it is, you need to call CM,..err no, they don't have visibility on M+). Then they suggested why don't you clear your browsing history and try again?..err, I've been trying this for 2 days, err. why don't you try different browsers?, (I did!).
Finally a supervisor came on line and according to her: "this is a known bug, we don't know how to fix it or if it will ever be"

Conclusions: for all practical purposes you cannot use united miles to upgrade CM tickets, at least not through any United channel (be it human or web based)
Does anyone have a contact number for a *A help desk or any other suggestions?
Thanks in advance and apologies for the rant.
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uyflyer is offline  
Old Mar 31, 2023, 7:33 pm
  #202  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.98MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 66,101
Originally Posted by uyflyer
...Conclusions: for all practical purposes you cannot use united miles to upgrade CM tickets, at least not through any United channel (be it human or web based) ...
as the prior posts discuss, it appears broken at the moment and has been for a couple of weeks
Originally Posted by uyflyer
...Does anyone have a contact number for a *A help desk or any other suggestions? ....
A majority of the tool is not UA "own" and it could be a problem at UA or with the partner or with the *A portion of the tool. With multiple carriers having issues, it is likely UA or *A. This has happened multiple times in the past and it can be down for a month or so at times,
In the past, the only option is to wait till it is repaired. No one you can reach at UA will have any useful information.
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WineCountryUA is offline  
Old Mar 31, 2023, 9:30 pm
  #203  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Programs: UA 1K (since '05), TG silver
Posts: 10
Correct. This has been broken since at least March 20 on the UA page for multiple people and multiple airlines.
We seem to know that Avianca miles could still do Star Alliance Upgrade Awards, so the problem is likely with UA.

Is there a Global Services person reading this who can complain?

My upgrade seat for April 9 has vanished.
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moscito is offline  
Old Apr 3, 2023, 9:16 am
  #204  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Programs: UA 1K (since '05), TG silver
Posts: 10
UA page seems to have returned to functional.
jcturnbull likes this.
moscito is offline  
Old Apr 4, 2023, 10:39 am
  #205  
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Programs: United MileagePlus
Posts: 332
Does anyone have experience with clearing rates? Specifically, considering the cash upgrade ($890) vs upfaring for $250 to U on LX for LX19 late May.
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Old Apr 4, 2023, 11:28 am
  #206  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Programs: UA 1K, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 5,144
Originally Posted by jcturnbull
Does anyone have experience with clearing rates? Specifically, considering the cash upgrade ($890) vs upfaring for $250 to U on LX for LX19 late May.
For LX (and some/most other *A partners), award space (I class) is a fairly reliable, but not failsafe, proxy for upgrade space. So if you can see I on your flight, it could/should clear. I'm 1-for-1 on clearing a SAUA on LX when I is available.
dkc192 is offline  
Old Apr 4, 2023, 12:47 pm
  #207  
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Programs: United MileagePlus
Posts: 332
Originally Posted by dkc192
For LX (and some/most other *A partners), award space (I class) is a fairly reliable, but not failsafe, proxy for upgrade space. So if you can see I on your flight, it could/should clear. I'm 1-for-1 on clearing a SAUA on LX when I is available.
I set an EF alert. I'll sit on the upgrade vs upfare+SAUA decision for now. Thanks!
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Old Apr 4, 2023, 6:07 pm
  #208  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Programs: UA 1K (since '05), TG silver
Posts: 10
Can someone remind me how to check for award space (I class)?
moscito is offline  
Old Apr 4, 2023, 7:32 pm
  #209  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2007
Programs: UA 1K, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 5,144
Just search on UA.com or in the app. Check the "book with miles" box on the website, or toggle the "search award travel" switch on in the app.
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dkc192 is offline  
Old Apr 5, 2023, 6:07 pm
  #210  
 
Join Date: Jul 2022
Programs: United MileagePlus
Posts: 332
Does the ticket have to be 016 in order to apply a SAUA?
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