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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 16, 2022, 1:50 pm
  #31  
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Join Date: May 2007
Programs: UA 1K, Hyatt Globalist
Posts: 5,161
Originally Posted by dinoscool3
Although now that I'm on the AC flight, UA says my fare code is ineligible. I was moved from N to E at an earlier schedule change, and I still show E on the AC flight. Could UA detect that the underlying fare basis is N? Any way to get around this, is the online system the only way to process an upgrade, i.e. could I get a different result from an agent?
To be clear, you're trying to upgrade the AC flight, booked as an AC flight number and in E class? E is not eligible for a *A mileage upgrade on AC; you need to be booked in O (full fare). E is only eligible for *A mileage upgrade on NH and LH group airlines.
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Old Mar 16, 2022, 1:51 pm
  #32  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: PIT
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Originally Posted by dkc192
To be clear, you're trying to upgrade the AC flight, booked as an AC flight number and in E class? E is not eligible for a *A mileage upgrade on AC; you need to be booked in O (full fare). E is only eligible for *A mileage upgrade on NH and LH group airlines.
Oops! I just assumed E was allowed on AC too. Oh well, such is life.
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Old Mar 16, 2022, 10:42 pm
  #33  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
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Posts: 66,207
Originally Posted by dinoscool3
...., is the online system the only way to process an upgrade, i.e. could I get a different result from an agent?
Online system is only choice, UA agents do not have access or ability to do this.
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Old Mar 22, 2022, 6:33 pm
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: PNW
Programs: AS 100K
Posts: 1,536
Originally Posted by atcanobbio
I have a BKK-HKG-YVR booking on TG (B) and AC (Y), no codeshares...I booked through priceline...will that still allow me to submit star upgrade request on UA? I just want to upgrade the TG leg.
so I never followed up on my experience.

Anyway, i ended up booking through AC site. So I tried upgrading the TG leg...BKK-NRT, which required 10k miles. I checked EF beforehand and TG had J award space for my flight. I added all the info and after a few seconds of processing, it gave me an error message and it told me to try again in 15min or so (similar error message seen a few posts above).

Since i was too impatient to wait for the 15min, i tried again after 5 min. Filled out everything, submitted, then it tells me the can't go through since the leg had already been upgraded. I checked my reservation online AC and TG, and sure enough, new fare code is "I" and I was able to select my seat. I didn't receive an upgrade confirmation email from UA though....is that normal?

Last edited by atcanobbio; Mar 22, 2022 at 7:21 pm
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Old Mar 22, 2022, 7:02 pm
  #35  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
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Posts: 66,207
Originally Posted by atcanobbio
,,,, I didn't receive an upgrade confirmation email from UA though....is that normal?
UA does not send messages when you upgrade on a different carrier -- TG should have done that.

The upgrade request system is run by *A and brokers the "payment". doubt UA knows much about the transaction. Your request per se did not go to UA. The miles are convert to some internal *A credit that goes to TG. Likely UA has no idea what flight was upgraded and UA could not / should not touch the ticket.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Mar 22, 2022 at 7:58 pm
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Old Mar 22, 2022, 7:23 pm
  #36  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: PNW
Programs: AS 100K
Posts: 1,536
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
UA does not send messages when you upgrade on a different carrier -- TG should done that.

The upgrade request system is run by *A and brokers the "payment". doubt UA knows much about the transaction. You request per se did not go to UA. The miles are convert to some internatl *A credit that goes to TG. Likely UA has no idea what flight was upgraded and UA could not touch the ticket.
thanks for the explanation. I did also notice that the points required were not deducted from my account...will they, eventually? do you think will TG give me any trouble at check-in?
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Old Mar 22, 2022, 9:37 pm
  #37  
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Posts: 5,161
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
UA does not send messages when you upgrade on a different carrier -- TG should have done that.

The upgrade request system is run by *A and brokers the "payment". doubt UA knows much about the transaction. Your request per se did not go to UA. The miles are convert to some internal *A credit that goes to TG. Likely UA has no idea what flight was upgraded and UA could not / should not touch the ticket.
Originally Posted by atcanobbio
thanks for the explanation. I did also notice that the points required were not deducted from my account...will they, eventually? do you think will TG give me any trouble at check-in?
I actually did receive an email from UA confirming the "purchase" of my *A mileage upgrade on LX in January (I also got an email from LX). Not sure whether this is one of the cases where the upgrade is all good on the TG end and not saying anything to UA might result in bank error in your favor (i.e., saving the 10k miles), or if TG/UA will eventually see that no miles were deducted and put you back in Y. Given my strong aversion to flying in Y, I'd probably call UA to check that everything looks good and/or ask why the miles haven't been deducted yet.
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Old Mar 30, 2022, 11:09 pm
  #38  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat
Posts: 184
Booked SFO - NRT - BKK on ANA Premium Economy and did a waitlist upgrade through united. NRT - BKK is operated by Air Japan, but I thought I would just try to see what would happen and to my surprise it went through to waitlist! Also pleasantly surprised that when looking at the reservation on ANA , it shows the status as "Upgrade Waitlisted" so everything seems correct and updated within minutes.

Does anyone know if ANA will always clear the upgrade waitlist if there are seats left, or will they only upgrade if they need to bump people up? Just trying to see my chances for upgrade. My flight is in less than 2 months, and just checking the seat map availability for the next couple days show a pretty open business class cabin.
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Old Mar 31, 2022, 10:40 am
  #39  
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Originally Posted by godbreath
Booked SFO - NRT - BKK on ANA Premium Economy and did a waitlist upgrade through united. NRT - BKK is operated by Air Japan, but I thought I would just try to see what would happen and to my surprise it went through to waitlist! Also pleasantly surprised that when looking at the reservation on ANA , it shows the status as "Upgrade Waitlisted" so everything seems correct and updated within minutes.

Does anyone know if ANA will always clear the upgrade waitlist if there are seats left, or will they only upgrade if they need to bump people up? Just trying to see my chances for upgrade. My flight is in less than 2 months, and just checking the seat map availability for the next couple days show a pretty open business class cabin.
ANA clears these if there are seats available. Air Japan makes no difference ... same as NH.
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Old Mar 31, 2022, 12:09 pm
  #40  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat
Posts: 184
Originally Posted by cfischer
Air Japan makes no difference ... same as NH.
On the united upgrade page (https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...de-awards.html) it says

  • Not eligible on
    • ANA intra-Japan flights and flights operated by Air Japan
So that's why I was surprised it worked. Unless this means that it is not eligible on intra-Japan flights operated by Air Japan.
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Old Apr 2, 2022, 12:21 pm
  #41  
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Originally Posted by godbreath
On the united upgrade page (https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...de-awards.html) it says

So that's why I was surprised it worked. Unless this means that it is not eligible on intra-Japan flights operated by Air Japan.
correct, it is the intra-Japan flights.
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Old Apr 12, 2022, 5:44 pm
  #42  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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So, on a TATL return on LH, on an H fare, economy class, the only way to submit for an upgrade is using PlusPoints?

Thanks-
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Old Apr 22, 2022, 11:04 am
  #43  
 
Join Date: Mar 2022
Location: Chicago
Programs: United Silver, Marriott Platinum
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I am trying to upgrade a March 2023 flight from JNB-FRA on LH using UA miles. I went through the UA website to upgrade and the message says "No Upgrades Available". My seat class is E so it is upgradable. Does anyone know if LH releases upgrade seats closer to departure and if so when approximately they may be available? There are still 50 business seats available. I am wondering if I am just way too early? I read you can request upgrades up to 331 days in advance. Thanks for any info
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Old Apr 23, 2022, 10:56 am
  #44  
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Originally Posted by kd2330
I am trying to upgrade a March 2023 flight from JNB-FRA on LH using UA miles. I went through the UA website to upgrade and the message says "No Upgrades Available". My seat class is E so it is upgradable. Does anyone know if LH releases upgrade seats closer to departure and if so when approximately they may be available? There are still 50 business seats available. I am wondering if I am just way too early? I read you can request upgrades up to 331 days in advance. Thanks for any info
March 2023. Love it. Someone else who books early LH might release seats at any time. If you set an alert (e.g. in EF) for I-class it can be a good indication that the upgrade will go through, but not a guarantee. You can't 'waitlist' the upgrade? I thought LH allowed that, but I am only using +Ps, so no recent experience with miles.

And just to be certain, the JNB-FRA segment has a LH flight number? That is required.
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Old Apr 25, 2022, 11:51 pm
  #45  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 514
Upgrading flights 016 ticket stock for travel on Lufthansa and Swiss

I booked a trip from SFO-JNB with a connection on Swiss (via ZRH) and Lufthansa (via FRA) in business class. The fare class is P. According to United Mileage Plus, the upgrade award on Star Alliance carriers from Europe to South Africa is 45,000 each way. I am instructed to request it online, but when doing so, it indicates that the ticket is non-upgradeable. The ticket was purchased on United's website so it's 016 ticket stock. The flights from SFO to/from Europe are United codeshare numbers, while the flights between Europe and Africa are Swiss and Lufthansa flight numbers. Is there a reason why this ticket is non-upgradeable?
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