Using Miles to Upgrade on United

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Old Feb 25, 19, 4:03 am   -   Wikipost
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Wiki Link
UA website page - Use your miles to upgrade and fly in a premium cabin.
Details on "Request an upgrade", "Pricing", "FAQs","Terms and conditions" can be found at the UA site

N.B., There are several changes to the policy below due to the introduction of Premium Economy. This needs to be updated.

To see the mileage + copay requirements - see Interactive travel destinations awards chart * or PDF version (see pages 4-5 for upgrades) **
  • UA offers the opportunity to upgrade with miles and a copay all paid fares - with exception of Basic Economy fares.
  • Elites are exempt from copays on CPU routes
  • Upgrades are on a space availability base and open seats in the premium cabin is not an indicator of upgrade space availability.
  • Upgrades from economy to the next cabin is based on R space (PN space for GS). For F on 3-class aircraft, it is ON space.
  • If space is not available at the time of the request, the request will be waitlisted. More on waitlisting -- Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively
    Also, see [Consolidated] Chance of upgrade clearing on my flight
  • Double upgrades using miles or certs is not allowed (but cash upgrades may be available with a mileage / cert upgrades)
  • If no waitlisted segment clears, your miles & copay will be returned
  • If you waitlist for multiple segments including Polaris segments and none of the Polaris segments clear, your miles & copay will be returned and any cleared non-Polaris upgrades will be retained. UA Miles + $ CoPay Upgrade (refunded if no BF/GF/Polaris segments are upgraded)
  • For itineraries that have connecting flights, upgrade mileage is based on per direction basis from departing point to the destination. You can request upgrade on a per segment basis (e.g., requesting only IAD-SFO on a XXX-IAD-SFO itinerary). Once the longer segment clears, you can request to extend the upgrade on the shorter segment. This can only be done over the phone with an agent.
  • Upgraded passengers are provided the same perks as those on a paid ticket, including lounge access
  • Upgrading UA operated segments can be done even if booked on a non-016 ticket stock or booked as UA operated codeshare.
  • Your mileage / PQD earning will be based on the original purchased ticket and the upgrade (if successful) will not change the mileage earning. The upgrade copay does not receive PQD credit.
  • If you change or cancel your flight, the miles (and copay, if any) will be funded. You will have to make a new request for the new flight.
  • If there are irrops and/or schedule changes, UA will generally maintain your upgraded status (on UA operated flights) if possible.
  • Purchased E+ access fees will be refunded for a segment will be refunded if that segments upgrade clears (does not apply to E+ subscriptions)
Occasionally Miles and/or CoPay not deducted on award booking/ upgrade, usually this will be caught by check-in, very rarely it is not noticed

Mileage upgrades are possible (although only on highest fares) on partners but the process is different -- see How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers
*Interactive travel destinations chart hasn't been updated to include PE yet (as of 2/25/19)
** PDF link currently redirects to the Mileageplus Updates Page
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Old Mar 21, 18, 1:14 pm
  #451  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Assuming you mean miles+copay, there have been some recent reports of this issue when a partner flight is on the itinerary, a call should work fine.
Thanks as always for the good advice. I'll get out of coach any way I can! ... but yes, I meant miles+copay. I will call in to split and request the upgrade.
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Old Mar 26, 18, 12:12 pm
  #452  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I don't see any pictures, but UA has had the ability to search for mile+cash upgrades for a long time. As you say, it's in the advanced search, and you're likely to find a lot more "waitlisted" results than you will "upgrade available."
You're right that you will probably see more waitlisted than anything, but those are usually because of a domestic segment that doesn't have R inventory open so the default icon will show "waitlist" even though the longer Polaris segment might be instant upgrade. If you only searched for the longer international segment you might see that same flight with a green icon instead of yellow.

Last edited by fightingsioux09; Mar 26, 18 at 12:13 pm Reason: Addition
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Old Mar 26, 18, 12:28 pm
  #453  
 
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Originally Posted by brooks_87 View Post
You're right that you will probably see more waitlisted than anything, but those are usually because of a domestic segment that doesn't have R inventory open so the default icon will show "waitlist" even though the longer Polaris segment might be instant upgrade. If you only searched for the longer international segment you might see that same flight with a green icon instead of yellow.
Sadly, even on the international legs you're likely to find more waitlisted than anything else. However, you're right -- you should search for the international leg on its own to mitigate this as much as possible.
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Old Apr 29, 18, 9:24 pm
  #454  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Advice on instant upgrade with miles and points

Exploring booking a coach ticket and then doing an upgrade with points and miles. The upgrade seems to be based on availability. I only want to do the purchase if I can get an upgrade. Is it practical to book, request the upgrade with points and miles, and if the upgrade doesn't clear immediately, cancel within 24 hours for a refund? Is the chance of getting an upgrade with points and miles to clear immediately greater if booking far in advance or if booking close in? Thanks.
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Old Apr 29, 18, 9:42 pm
  #455  
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Originally Posted by jonsail View Post
Exploring booking a coach ticket and then doing an upgrade with points and miles. The upgrade seems to be based on availability. I only want to do the purchase if I can get an upgrade. Is it practical to book, request the upgrade with points and miles, and if the upgrade doesn't clear immediately, cancel within 24 hours for a refund? Is the chance of getting an upgrade with points and miles to clear immediately greater if booking far in advance or if booking close in? Thanks.
You can do an Advance Flight Search ("all search options"), select Upgrade Type, MileagePlus Upgrade Award. This will cause the search results to tell you if upgrade space is presently available.

the other approach is to enable Expert Mode which will display fare class inventory during flight searches and you need to look for R space.
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Old May 8, 18, 9:28 am
  #456  
 
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I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this (no) and I imagine it has been asked and answered here before, but I was unable to find it in this thread.

If my wife and I are traveling on the same reservation and would like to upgrade using miles, is it possible to upgrade each of us separately? I'd like to use miles from each of our accounts, but I have a feeling that United requires everybody on the reservation to be upgraded at once. Am I correct in that assumption?
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Old May 8, 18, 9:38 am
  #457  
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Originally Posted by rmlanman View Post
If my wife and I are traveling on the same reservation and would like to upgrade using miles, is it possible to upgrade each of us separately? I'd like to use miles from each of our accounts, but I have a feeling that United requires everybody on the reservation to be upgraded at once. Am I correct in that assumption?
You can do that, but you'll have to split the reservation.
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Old May 8, 18, 9:38 am
  #458  
 
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Originally Posted by rmlanman View Post
I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this (no) and I imagine it has been asked and answered here before, but I was unable to find it in this thread.

If my wife and I are traveling on the same reservation and would like to upgrade using miles, is it possible to upgrade each of us separately? I'd like to use miles from each of our accounts, but I have a feeling that United requires everybody on the reservation to be upgraded at once. Am I correct in that assumption?
With both tickets in the same reservation, United needs R=2 to upgrade you. Meaning that if there is R=1, the upgrade will pass you and your wife and get to the next person in the waitlist.

If you separate the reservations, then it will upgrade each one of you separately when R=1. But, then, there's the issue of what happens if there's a travel disruption.
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Old May 8, 18, 9:55 am
  #459  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
You can do that, but you'll have to split the reservation.
That's what I figured. Since I haven't booked yet, I'll likely just book them separately to avoid having to inevitably split them later.

Originally Posted by StuckinITH View Post
With both tickets in the same reservation, United needs R=2 to upgrade you. Meaning that if there is R=1, the upgrade will pass you and your wife and get to the next person in the waitlist.

If you separate the reservations, then it will upgrade each one of you separately when R=1. But, then, there's the issue of what happens if there's a travel disruption.
Yep. R=2 at the moment. Travel disruption is definitely a concern, but we think it is a risk worth taking for this trip.
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Old May 8, 18, 10:58 am
  #460  
 
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Originally Posted by rmlanman View Post
That's what I figured. Since I haven't booked yet, I'll likely just book them separately to avoid having to inevitably split them later.

Yep. R=2 at the moment. Travel disruption is definitely a concern, but we think it is a risk worth taking for this trip.
It's a risk that my wife and I take on every trip as I need a clean receipt for work. And it's trips to Asia and Europe. The one time that we missed our flight to PVG, UA could only send me on another flight that day but not my wife as I was flying Business Class. So, I just asked them to put both of us on the flight the next day. But my wife would have had no problems traveling alone.

Actually, today was my lucky day for upgrades with miles + copay. At 7:00 AM, I received an email that my waitlisted upgrade request cleared for a flight to Germany next week. Surprising, as Polaris Business was sold 32/40 and they still want $10,500 for a roundtrip. At 10:00 AM, I received an email that my waitlisted upgrade request cleared for a flight to HKG in November. Polaris Business was sold 0/40 and I did get my favorite seat. Still, waiting to see if my wife will get as lucky.
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Old May 10, 18, 9:15 pm
  #461  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Apologies if this is not the correct thread, but my question involves using mileage to upgrade on paid flights. I have not used this option in decades, so I'm a bit rusty. Here is my situation:

5 hour flight, HNL-to-West-Coast, followed by 1.5 hour flight. The mileage needed for the upgrade is 25k. Only the 1.5 hour flight is available for upgrade, and the 5-hour flight is labeled "waitlist only."

So if I pay the 25k, I am presumably upgraded immediately for the shorter flight, but not on the longer flight. Am I correct to assume that even if the longer flight waitlist does not clear, I am out the 25k?

Many thanks for your insights!
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Old May 10, 18, 9:23 pm
  #462  
 
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Originally Posted by 747FC View Post
So if I pay the 25k, I am presumably upgraded immediately for the shorter flight, but not on the longer flight. Am I correct to assume that even if the longer flight waitlist does not clear, I am out the 25k?
Yes. If you prefer, you can call and ask to waitlist the upgrade only on HNL-west coast. Then, if it clears, you should be able to call back and ask them to extend it to include the short flight too.
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Old May 10, 18, 9:40 pm
  #463  
 
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Yes. If you prefer, you can call and ask to waitlist the upgrade only on HNL-west coast. Then, if it clears, you should be able to call back and ask them to extend it to include the short flight too.
I thought if only the short segment clears that you got miles refunded -- is that true for international flights? I am still waitlisted for my DEN-LHR and LHR-DEN segments but got cleared into United First on the short hop (CRJ) to/from DEN. I'm NOT paying 20,000 miles each for 20 min flights on a CRJ ...
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Old May 10, 18, 9:42 pm
  #464  
 
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Originally Posted by ExplorerWannabe View Post
I thought if only the short segment clears that you got miles refunded -- is that true for international flights? I am still waitlisted for my DEN-LHR and LHR-DEN segments but got cleared into United First on the short hop (CRJ) to/from DEN. I'm NOT paying 20,000 miles each for 20 min flights on a CRJ ...
CR7 I assume.. would be quite the trick to clear an upgrade on a CRJ

Yes, the policy is if the "long segment" is Polaris-marketed, so it wouldn't apply for Hawaii.
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Old May 10, 18, 9:48 pm
  #465  
 
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Originally Posted by ExplorerWannabe View Post
I thought if only the short segment clears that you got miles refunded -- is that true for international flights? I am still waitlisted for my DEN-LHR and LHR-DEN segments but got cleared into United First on the short hop (CRJ) to/from DEN. I'm NOT paying 20,000 miles each for 20 min flights on a CRJ ...
A refund can be expected if a non-Polaris segment clears but the Polaris one does not. In your case if DEN-LHR does not clear, you should get refund.

This refund policy does not apply to tickets w/o Polaris segment(s). If LAS-LAX clears, but LAX-HNL doesn’t, there’s no refund.
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