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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 Sep 9, 2022, 4:14 am
  #106  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Programs: UA 1k 1mil. Marriott Titanium
Posts: 202
Originally Posted by jsloan
L fare is not upgradable with Untied miles on AV. Here's the relevant page: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...de-awards.html

Since AV isn't listed as an exception, it means only Y and B are upgradable (and C and D, if AV had a First Class cabin to upgrade into).
there are only 3 fares available on av site. I called Web support and told me that error code means no inventory.
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Old Sep 9, 2022, 10:08 am
  #107  
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Originally Posted by JC1976
there are only 3 fares available on av site. I called Web support and told me that error code means no inventory.
The number of available fares on the website is irrelevant. Few airlines make all of their fares available on their website, and certainly not in the default UI.

Your fare is not upgradable with UA miles.
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 5:44 am
  #108  
 
Join Date: Sep 2022
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 4
*A upgrade confusion

I purchased a one way ticket from VIE to EWR for Novemeber (2 months from now)
It's a class "M" which I believe is eligible to submit for a *A request.

However, when I try to enter the upgrade request it shows:

We cannot process your request.

Upgrade not available
Doe upgrade requests slots open up? Or is it likely not going to happen.
If that's the case, might make more sense for me to cancel the ticket and just fly the leg with miles or even buy the cheaper class ticket.
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 5:53 am
  #109  
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It seems like you're on an OS flight, in which case M class is eligible for *A upgrade. However, as the website indicated, upgrade inventory must be available. Try searching for awards on your flight--award inventory generally corresponds to upgrade inventory, but the presence of the former does not guarantee the presence of the latter. If you find a different flight with business awards available, you could switch to that flight and request the upgrade.
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 6:00 am
  #110  
 
Join Date: Sep 2022
Programs: Mileage Plus
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Originally Posted by dkc192
It seems like you're on an OS flight, in which case M class is eligible for *A upgrade. However, as the website indicated, upgrade inventory must be available. Try searching for awards on your flight--award inventory generally corresponds to upgrade inventory, but the presence of the former does not guarantee the presence of the latter. If you find a different flight with business awards available, you could switch to that flight and request the upgrade.
That's correct!
Do other classes have a better chance? Like say Y class?

Does inventory open up later? Don't want to get my hopes up ha. It's an almost 10 hour flight
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 7:03 am
  #111  
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Location: LAX
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Other classes do not have a better chance. More inventory may open up later, particularly as you get to within two weeks of the travel time.
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 7:10 am
  #112  
 
Join Date: Sep 2022
Programs: Mileage Plus
Posts: 4
Originally Posted by angetenar
Other classes do not have a better chance. More inventory may open up later, particularly as you get to within two weeks of the travel time.
Thank you! I guess I'll leave it as is and keep my fingers crossed.
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Old Sep 16, 2022, 10:50 am
  #113  
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Originally Posted by IcarusWings
Thank you! I guess I'll leave it as is and keep my fingers crossed.
keep checking. Also check for award inventory for M&M members as well ... once you see 'I' available there it has a chance of going through IME
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Old Oct 17, 2022, 6:27 pm
  #114  
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 24
Can you use miles to upgrade a seat on a partner airline flight?

I'm currently traveling for work, and have an economy ticket from NRT to LAX (fare class: K). Added myself to the waitlist for Premium Plus, so I can hopefully get some sleep.

I see that I can change it to a HND to LAX flight on ANA, and I'm sort of curious to try it, since I've never flown an Asian airline. If I could use miles to upgrade, it'd be a no-brainer, but if I'm stuck in economy, I'd rather stick with my current itinerary because of times. Any thoughts?
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Old Oct 17, 2022, 6:36 pm
  #115  
 
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 2,206
Originally Posted by wtphock
Can you use miles to upgrade a seat on a partner airline flight?

I'm currently traveling for work, and have an economy ticket from NRT to LAX (fare class: K). Added myself to the waitlist for Premium Plus, so I can hopefully get some sleep.

I see that I can change it to a HND to LAX flight on ANA, and I'm sort of curious to try it, since I've never flown an Asian airline. If I could use miles to upgrade, it'd be a no-brainer, but if I'm stuck in economy, I'd rather stick with my current itinerary because of times. Any thoughts?
Yes it's possible, but requires being in certain fare classes (close to full fare Y, depending on the airline). It is known as a star alliance upgrade award, and details are here: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...de-awards.html

Separately, on ANA, you can also use PlusPoints (if applicable to your situation) in lieu of a SAUA.
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Old Oct 17, 2022, 6:58 pm
  #116  
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 24
Originally Posted by Lux Flyer
Yes it's possible, but requires being in certain fare classes (close to full fare Y, depending on the airline). It is known as a star alliance upgrade award, and details are here: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...de-awards.html

Separately, on ANA, you can also use PlusPoints (if applicable to your situation) in lieu of a SAUA.
Thanks! Do you know how it works if the flight is a codeshare? On United's website, the ANA flight shows up with a UA flight number.

Regardless, it seems like getting a K fare class upgraded is a bit of a long shot, so I will perhaps just keep my existing reservation.
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Old Oct 17, 2022, 7:01 pm
  #117  
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Originally Posted by wtphock
Thanks! Do you know how it works if the flight is a codeshare? On United's website, the ANA flight shows up with a UA flight number.....
It can not be a codeshare, you / your TA need to change it to a native partner flight number -- which can be difficult or easy (if original fare class is still available).

Originally Posted by wtphock
... Regardless, it seems like getting a K fare class upgraded is a bit of a long shot, ....
More than a long shot, not eligible at all.
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Old Oct 17, 2022, 7:05 pm
  #118  
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
It can not be a codeshare, you / your TA need to change it to a native partner flight number -- which can be difficult or easy (if original fare class is still available).

More than a long shot, not eligible at all.
If you're already booked on a UA flight, call UA and ask to change to the NH flight in an eligible class (U is the lowest), making sure that the agent books you on the NH prime flight number. Something like "Hi, I'm on UA33 NRT-LAX and would like to change to NH106/126 HND-LAX in U class, can you advise how much it would cost and check that you're booking me on the NH prime flight number?" should do the trick.
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Old Oct 18, 2022, 5:14 am
  #119  
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
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I would like to upgrade from J to F on LX for a flight in 30 days using SQ miles. But when I tried to do it using the *A tool, it gave me an error saying that no award space is available. But I checked the current capacity and there should be 3 seats available. Is there any chance that they would release F awards closer to the departure date? Should I check the tool again T-14?
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Old Oct 18, 2022, 11:50 am
  #120  
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Originally Posted by volutes
I would like to upgrade from J to F on LX for a flight in 30 days using SQ miles. But when I tried to do it using the *A tool, it gave me an error saying that no award space is available. But I checked the current capacity and there should be 3 seats available. Is there any chance that they would release F awards closer to the departure date? Should I check the tool again T-14?
While this is the UA forum,
the issue is likely LX not releasing F space for awards even if there are unsold seats. Even last minute availability is rare -- so notable when it occurs there was a thread on it Swiss First Awards now bookable?.

You will probably get better insight from the LX forum, such as LX First Class Award Availability, where it is noted LX F awards are generally limited to M&M HON elites
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