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How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers

How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers

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Old Feb 21, 20, 7:50 am   -   Wikipost
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How to upgrade a partner flight using UA MP miles?
See UA's Star Alliance Upgrade Awards Key points
  • Only a few fare classes (and expensive) are eligible -- depends on the carrier
  • Needs to be native flight numbers, codeshares are not eligible
  • No waitlisting waitlisting sees to now be available
  • Most can be requested after ticketing (NH/ANA & ET cannot be requested earlier than 8 weeks to departure) 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 are made electronic
  • 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 page 6 of Star Alliance Upgrade Awards chart.
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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Old May 3, 12, 11:51 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,645
How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers

Could someone please tell me how to determine availability of flights to upgrade on a *A carrier by paying B fare and using UA miles?

I'd also be grateful for an actual answer, not telling me to go somewhere else and read a FAQ. I've spent 3 hours trying to figure this out and I've read everything I could find that might be pertinent.

Some people have mentioned that this type of upgrade is allowed on any flight that has buckets for free flight with miles. Is that true? If so, what are the buckets and how does one check them?

I have a Premium account on ExpertFlyer but can't find a solution there b/c they don't seem to have functionality for most *A carriers such as ANA, Singapore, or Thai. I emailed them, no response.

I also tried to use the ANA booking tool, which someone else suggested, but I can't find any way to book an itinerary with miles on ANA, only to book a paid flight.

When using CO, pay with miles feature, it won't even give me options for *A carriers, instead forcing me to CO metal for which I know I'll never see an upgrade.

Furthermore, in the few instances when I can coerce the CO to show me a *A itinerary (not forced on to CO metal), I can see available seats at both the standard and saver level, and I don't know which level corresponds with *A upgrade eligibility.

Again, I've invested a ton of time in this, studying everything I can get my eyes on, both here and on Star site, and I cannot figure this out, so I'd very much appreciate someone who knows the answer to share it with me and respectfully request all the people who get off on telling me what an idiot I am for not reading the FAQs to restrain themselves from doing so, because that really won't help me and is just a waste of your time.
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FlyWorld is offline  
Old May 3, 12, 12:12 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 335
You are bringing up a lot of issues here.

First...forget booking on ua.com It won't give you any options for booking a *a flight and then upgrading.

Instead...go to the airline's website that you want to book the flights on. Either that or Orbitz, Expedia, etc.

Rule #1. Book the flight number of the operating carrier. If flying on an LH plane, be sure it is booked in the LH flight # (not the UA or other codeshare.)

Rule #2. Fare must be B class or higher (excluding Z)

Rule #3. Once the itinerary is ticketed you can upgrade using MP miles. You have to call UA reservations (not Lufthansa) and tell them you want to use miles for a *A upgrade on the carrier you booked. They will need the record locator, flight #, etc. If the upgrade is available you get it. If not, you don't.

As far as seeing what flights have open seats for upgrades, you can do this a variety of ways. For LH, I know upgrades to business book into "I" class, which is the same as their award seat. So if they are showing business class award seats availalbe, you will also be able to upgrade. You can find these on ANA or on UA's reward booking engine.



There are other rules and notes here http://united.com/web/en-US/content/...rade/saua.aspx
ualboston1k is offline  
Old May 3, 12, 12:14 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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First, take a deep breath and exhale....

You need to search for upgrade availability on each *A carrier separately. There is no way to see this information on United.com (CO doesn't exist any more). If you have a route in mind, that will limit your partners you need to search. You can find this on the ANA tool (at least for carriers that use the same space for upgrades and awards - LH does this). For the ANA site, you must have an ANA number and there are some tricks to get it to search when you don't have any miles. There is a long thread here. Sorry, but I don't remember the details, so you will have to slog through the thread a bit. Here is the link for searching for awards on the ANA website. Just log on with a valid ANA mileage number.

The bottom line is that it is not easy. If you try to use miles and money as an option, you will end up on UA metal as that is all they can offer (miles and money not valid on *A carriers). In the case of LH, if you can book an award in C, you can most likely be able to do a *A upgrade. I can't speak to the Asian carriers.
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Old May 3, 12, 12:53 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by tods27 View Post
First, take a deep breath and exhale....

You need to search for upgrade availability on each *A carrier separately. There is no way to see this information on United.com (CO doesn't exist any more). If you have a route in mind, that will limit your partners you need to search. You can find this on the ANA tool (at least for carriers that use the same space for upgrades and awards - LH does this). For the ANA site, you must have an ANA number and there are some tricks to get it to search when you don't have any miles. There is a long thread here. Sorry, but I don't remember the details, so you will have to slog through the thread a bit. Here is the link for searching for awards on the ANA website. Just log on with a valid ANA mileage number.

The bottom line is that it is not easy. If you try to use miles and money as an option, you will end up on UA metal as that is all they can offer (miles and money not valid on *A carriers). In the case of LH, if you can book an award in C, you can most likely be able to do a *A upgrade. I can't speak to the Asian carriers.
Thank you very much for your reply. It was helpful to be pointed to the ANA page, as I couldn't find it on my own. I logged in using my ANA credentials, and it says this:

Members must complete the application by themselves.
Before applying, please read the Guide to Using Awards.

Do you have any idea what it means?

Below that, there are two sections - one for ANA awards and one for partner awards. The option to proceed with partner awards is disabled. "Use Star Alliance Member Airlines" is grey and when I click on it nothing happens.

Any idea how to solve this?

So, I understand how to purchase a ticket on a foreign carrier in B class but I still don't understand how to determine whether there is space available on that carrier to subsequently upgrade with miles?

Originally Posted by ualboston1k View Post
As far as seeing what flights have open seats for upgrades, you can do this a variety of ways. For LH, I know upgrades to business book into "I" class, which is the same as their award seat. So if they are showing business class award seats availalbe, you will also be able to upgrade. You can find these on ANA or on UA's reward booking engine.
This is the point I am stuck on.

How do I check "I" class availability? How do I determine equivalent classes and their availability for other carriers? Does the "I" for LH map to "standard award" or "saver award"? Since I have 1K status, if I use the UA web site to book with miles I can sometimes force it to show me LH flights. In this specific instance, if it shows availability at the standard level, does that mean the flight can be upgraded? Or, only if it shows availability at the saver level?

I'm suspicious about this b/c it seems like almost all flights have availability at the standard level but few at the saver level.

Last edited by iluv2fly; May 3, 12 at 4:27 pm Reason: merge
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Old May 3, 12, 1:16 pm
  #5  
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Call the airline.
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Old May 3, 12, 1:57 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
Below that, there are two sections - one for ANA awards and one for partner awards. The option to proceed with partner awards is disabled. "Use Star Alliance Member Airlines" is grey and when I click on it nothing happens.

Any idea how to solve this?
It's a bit kludgy but what i've done is start with an ANA award search
"ANA International Flight Awards "
drop in dates in which I'm interested - then just drop in a city pair you know ANA serves (e.g. LAX-NRT).

Once you do that -you'll get ANA availability -and below the results there will be an option
"You can proceed by selecting Star Alliance Member Airlines."

Click on that option - then you'd see star alliance availablility.

then you can modify the cities and you're on your way.

If the route you are targeting is served by ANA just start with those cities. Quite often mine are not - which is why i just start with LAX-NRT to get the initial search result and open the door to accessing the star alliance search.

After all this you will have to end up calling UA and walking them through the routing you find - but i have had very good luck once i find something on ANA being able to walk the agents through the routing.

Of course - haven't talked to the 1K desk to do one of these post 3/3 so YMMV
johnru36 is offline  
Old May 3, 12, 4:23 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Bay Area, CA
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Here's what's worked for me.

I start with the UA search since it's pretty good now at showing a lot of partners. Look for the flights you want to upgrade as if you're trying to book an award ticket. For the most part, upgrades and award tickets come from the same inventory, so if you see it available as an award you should be able to book the flight and then upgrade it (assuming no one has snatched it up). I won't say that as an absolute because I'm sure others who know more than me would point out exceptions, but it's a pretty reliable rule.

As others have said, after finding availability I then go to the operating airline's website to book (no codeshares). Make sure you're booking an upgradeable fare (B or higher for Y to C). Once it is ticketed by the operating carrier you can request the upgrade at UA.com through the *A upgrade award page (looks like LH has a problem still). It asks for your name, ticket number, confirmation number, airline, route, date, flight number, and current class of service.

I typically get a confirmation from UA within a few minutes. If I then go back to the operating carrier's website and bring up the reservation again it shows now as business class.

Full disclosure, I've done this three times on TG, OZ, and NH. Each time was seamless but it's not like I've done it many times. The hard part was finding the award availability. To double-check, when I find availability I want on UA.com I always go and check on ANA and Aeroplan. If it's real it will show up on all 3 of the searches.
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Old May 3, 12, 5:07 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Originally Posted by ualboston1k View Post

Rule #1. Book the flight number of the operating carrier. If flying on an LH plane, be sure it is booked in the LH flight # (not the UA or other codeshare.)
This cannot be overstated, if you book a codeshare you can't upgrade it. Be very careful booking through united.com
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Old May 3, 12, 9:02 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by DaveSFO View Post
Here's what's worked for me.

I start with the UA search since it's pretty good now at showing a lot of partners. Look for the flights you want to upgrade as if you're trying to book an award ticket. For the most part, upgrades and award tickets come from the same inventory, so if you see it available as an award you should be able to book the flight and then upgrade it (assuming no one has snatched it up). I won't say that as an absolute because I'm sure others who know more than me would point out exceptions, but it's a pretty reliable rule.

As others have said, after finding availability I then go to the operating airline's website to book (no codeshares). Make sure you're booking an upgradeable fare (B or higher for Y to C). Once it is ticketed by the operating carrier you can request the upgrade at UA.com through the *A upgrade award page (looks like LH has a problem still). It asks for your name, ticket number, confirmation number, airline, route, date, flight number, and current class of service.

I typically get a confirmation from UA within a few minutes. If I then go back to the operating carrier's website and bring up the reservation again it shows now as business class.

Full disclosure, I've done this three times on TG, OZ, and NH. Each time was seamless but it's not like I've done it many times. The hard part was finding the award availability. To double-check, when I find availability I want on UA.com I always go and check on ANA and Aeroplan. If it's real it will show up on all 3 of the searches.
When you look for award availability on UA, there is saver level and standard level. Is it your understanding that standard level for 1K would qualify for the UG? I'm concerned about this point b/c there are 3 types of inventory - the saver inventory, the standard inventory available to anyone, and the standard extra inventory available only for 1Ks. I don't know which would map to the *A UG scenario.
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Old May 3, 12, 9:46 pm
  #10  
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
When you look for award availability on UA, there is saver level and standard level. Is it your understanding that standard level for 1K would qualify for the UG? I'm concerned about this point b/c there are 3 types of inventory - the saver inventory, the standard inventory available to anyone, and the standard extra inventory available only for 1Ks. I don't know which would map to the *A UG scenario.
No, you need the saver inventory, which is the most capacity controlled. There really isn't such a thing as standard availability on most *A partners (from a UA perspective). And since you're looking for inventory on partners, the fact that you're a 1K shouldn't matter.
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Old May 3, 12, 9:55 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Originally Posted by mitchmu View Post
When you look for award availability on UA, there is saver level and standard level. Is it your understanding that standard level for 1K would qualify for the UG? I'm concerned about this point b/c there are 3 types of inventory - the saver inventory, the standard inventory available to anyone, and the standard extra inventory available only for 1Ks. I don't know which would map to the *A UG scenario.
To add to what ijgordon noted, you are looking for availability on *A partners, so you will only ever see "saver" award availability for those flights. You just ignore all UA flights in the results.
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Old May 3, 12, 10:32 pm
  #12  
 
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This thread has been very helpful.


Thanks everyone who posted.
tasnam is offline  
Old May 4, 12, 12:40 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
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Originally Posted by ualboston1k View Post
Rule #2. Fare must be B class or higher (excluding Z)

Rule #3. Once the itinerary is ticketed you can upgrade using MP miles. You have to call UA reservations (not Lufthansa) and tell them you want to use miles for a *A upgrade on the carrier you booked. They will need the record locator, flight #, etc. If the upgrade is available you get it. If not, you don't.
E class fares on NH are also available for upgrade. I don't know if there's any other exceptions.

Also, award inventory opens up but you will have to call everyday and check. I had to call every day for a few weeks last year for an OZ upgrade, but eventually I was able to get it. You cannot waitlist for these upgrades, so you will have to call in daily if you don't get it right away.
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Old May 4, 12, 6:51 am
  #14  
 
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The exceptions from the website are:

ANA (J, Z and E class)
Lufthansa (J class) currently unavailable*
SAS (S class)
Singapore (S, Z and J class)
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Old May 12, 12, 10:13 am
  #15  
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Originally Posted by johnru36 View Post
It's a bit kludgy but what i've done is start with an ANA award search
"ANA International Flight Awards "
drop in dates in which I'm interested - then just drop in a city pair you know ANA serves (e.g. LAX-NRT).

Once you do that -you'll get ANA availability -and below the results there will be an option
"You can proceed by selecting Star Alliance Member Airlines."

Click on that option - then you'd see star alliance availablility.

then you can modify the cities and you're on your way.

If the route you are targeting is served by ANA just start with those cities. Quite often mine are not - which is why i just start with LAX-NRT to get the initial search result and open the door to accessing the star alliance search.

After all this you will have to end up calling UA and walking them through the routing you find - but i have had very good luck once i find something on ANA being able to walk the agents through the routing.

Of course - haven't talked to the 1K desk to do one of these post 3/3 so YMMV
When I go to "ANA International Flight Awards" then I click on "Please log in and access to members-only function (24-hour service)" then I am given only two options - CLOSE or REGISTER. If I REGISTER then the only available option is to register a new user as a family member. I registered a new user (myself really, again), but every time I go into this screen, I end up at this place, with only option to CLOSE or REGISTER a new user.

Is this not happening to you?

Is this ANA site the only way to find availability for star alliance upgrades?
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