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 Aug 14, 18, 2:05 pm
  #481  
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: COS
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Originally Posted by brooks_87 View Post
Did you look at the booking classes? In UA's chart, miles&copay are based on booking class. There must be different classes on outbound than on the return.
H outbound, V Return. Obviously no copay as its domestic travel. Cash upgrade is equal for respective segments. $79 for IAH-DFW, DFW-IAH, and $139 for COS-IAH, IAH-COS.

Edit, I see now what your talking about in looking at the chart. Had no idea.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 4:14 pm
  #482  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
Programs: UA G, *G, Global Entry, Marriott, Hilton, Fairmont, Hyatt, Starwood etc
Posts: 295
Second time this season we've requested mileage and $$ (a lot of it) upgrades from MUC-SFO 5-6 weeks before flights. Last time we weren't even on the waitlist at check-in, because Lufthansa wouldn't let us check in for our prior flight except at airport, and even then we were not put on the standby list until after a complaint at the gate at MUC. Remarkably, we did get the upgrade seats at the very last minute. And then some compensation for the uncertainty and frustration at the airport.

Tomorrow going the other way. UA won't even let us check in without PPs being scanned at airport, despite having done so a month ago, and also taking perfectly accurate images whose details were verified and mirrored back to me through new UA app check in mechanism. Naturally, we don't show up on upgrade standby since they won't even acknowledge our attempt to check in.

1) Should I take any comfort from the fact that in the reservation for the long haul flights UA now states "Polaris Business" class? Will be repeating this scenario in one week. Or does this just mean "COULD BE Polaris Business Class?"

2) If we are not upgraded for the long haul, but only for the later short hop (which currently is practically empty) will all those $$$ and miles be expended? How and how late do I register that if that is to be the only upgrade I don't want to spend them?)

3) Does anyone know whether there is a known problem with the UA/LH interface, since somehow the UA agents in MUC had to MANUALLY enter our information to get us onto the flight at all last time. Doesn't help that UA's strange .......ization of our names to include prof degrees apparently confuses LH as to who we are. Can't even make seat selection for the ongoing flight. But am more worried about the same hassle before check in for the flight home, as it's ridiculously early.

Thanks for any advice. It's always sumpin'.

Last edited by landrew; Sep 14, 18 at 6:11 pm
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Old Sep 14, 18, 4:24 pm
  #483  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
1) Should I take any comfort from the fact that in the reservation for the long haul flights UA now states "Polaris Business" class? Will be repeating this scenario in one week. Or does this just mean "COULD BE Polaris Business Class?"
Does it say "Upgrade Confirmed" or "Upgrade Requested"?

Originally Posted by landrew View Post
2) If we are not upgraded for the long haul, but only for the later short hop (which currently is practically empty) will all those $$$ and miles be expended?
No; you'd get a full refund in that case.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 6:07 pm
  #484  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
Programs: UA G, *G, Global Entry, Marriott, Hilton, Fairmont, Hyatt, Starwood etc
Posts: 295
On the usual Reservations page it says United Economy for the outbound flight (tomorrow) (nothing at all said about upgrade) (this was a B fare) and for the return it says United Economy and also says Upgrade Requested.
On the "change seats" screen, all of the flights (actual as well as potential upgrade) still show FWIW.
Also, they are offering to upgrade on the first long haul segment for more than the cost of the entire itinerary....and seatmap shows 5 available pods.

However, I just today attempted to download the entire itinerary to my calendar, and UA sent it in 7 separate emails.

The two long haul emails state, under trip Details: Flight: UA 195
Depart: MUC - Munich on Sat, Sep 22 2018 at 12:10 PM
Arrive: SFO - San Francisco on Sat, Sep 22 2018 at 2:55 PM
Fare class: United Polaris business

and


Flight: UA 926
Depart: SFO - San Francisco on Sat, Sep 15 2018 at 7:05 PM
Arrive: FRA - Frankfurt on Sun, Sep 16 2018 at 3:15 PM
Fare class: United Polaris business

And the one upgraded short haul states
Fare class: United Business

Whereas the short haul (no F cabin) states
Fare class: United Economy

Does this help? Which (website or email confirmation) is likely to be more accurate?

Thanks! Just trying to decide how many "props" I need to pack to get through this ordeal...

Last edited by landrew; Sep 14, 18 at 6:12 pm Reason: confusing
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Old Sep 14, 18, 6:52 pm
  #485  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: DAY/CMH
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
Flight: UA 195
Depart: MUC - Munich on Sat, Sep 22 2018 at 12:10 PM
Arrive: SFO - San Francisco on Sat, Sep 22 2018 at 2:55 PM
Fare class: United Polaris business

and

Flight: UA 926
Depart: SFO - San Francisco on Sat, Sep 15 2018 at 7:05 PM
Arrive: FRA - Frankfurt on Sun, Sep 16 2018 at 3:15 PM
Fare class: United Polaris business

And the one upgraded short haul states
Fare class: United Business

Whereas the short haul (no F cabin) states
Fare class: United Economy
I'm not sure exactly what you're asking but it seems clear that your outbound and return long haul flights are both in business class. United's status tool says your MUC-SFO flight is on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. This aircraft does not have the Polaris pods but its business seats are lie-flats. All long-haul business flights are branded as Polaris whether or not they have the new pods.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 7:22 pm
  #486  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
Programs: UA G, *G, Global Entry, Marriott, Hilton, Fairmont, Hyatt, Starwood etc
Posts: 295
Thanks, ajG, that IS what I'm asking (does this email increase the likelihood) but the problem is the reservation itself still says Economy, and there is no indication of an upgrade or even being on the Upgrade List. (nor, oddly is there a listing of those who HAVE been upgraded...strange). For that matter, the Business Upgrade SB list states "Error" although it also appears that there are 3 on the waitlist for upgrade to Business First.

For some bizarre technical reason I can't check in, despite valiant efforts including going to the airport (where no UA agent will appear until tomorrow----my hubby tried the kiosk), so won't know until tomorrow I guess unless anyone has ever experienced this disconnect between what the website says and what they send you.

I guess I will feed back to the group as another small piece of intelligence---be it good or bad!
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Old Sep 14, 18, 8:55 pm
  #487  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
For some bizarre technical reason I can't check in, despite valiant efforts including going to the airport (where no UA agent will appear until tomorrow----my hubby tried the kiosk), so won't know until tomorrow I guess unless anyone has ever experienced this disconnect between what the website says and what they send you.

I guess I will feed back to the group as another small piece of intelligence---be it good or bad!
Good luck then. I'm rooting for you!
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Old Sep 14, 18, 9:27 pm
  #488  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, DL, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
On the usual Reservations page it says United Economy for the outbound flight (tomorrow) (nothing at all said about upgrade) (this was a B fare) and for the return it says United Economy and also says Upgrade Requested.
Sounds like you're in Economy then. If you applied an upgrade request to your outbound, it is not currently reflected in the PNR.
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Old Sep 14, 18, 10:04 pm
  #489  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
On the usual Reservations page it says United Economy for the outbound flight (tomorrow) (nothing at all said about upgrade) (this was a B fare) and for the return it says United Economy and also says Upgrade Requested.
On the "change seats" screen, all of the flights (actual as well as potential upgrade) still show FWIW.
OK, based on this information, I'd say you're probably still in Economy as of this moment. IME, as upgraded segments clear, the economy segments will disappear. However, sometimes the reservation goes out of sync when the upgrade clears -- that would also explain why you couldn't check in. So, I'd call UA, tell the agent that you couldn't check in online and that you were wondering if your upgrade had cleared or if you were still waitlisted. We can guess; a UA agent can tell you for sure.

BTW: if you're really on a B fare, there shouldn't have been a copay for the upgrade. B is the second-highest economy fare class.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 8:48 am
  #490  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
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Thumbs up Does check in time matter at all in this situation?

Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
So, I'd call UA, tell the agent that you couldn't check in online and that you were wondering if your upgrade had cleared or if you were still waitlisted. We can guess; a UA agent can tell you for sure.

BTW: if you're really on a B fare, there shouldn't have been a copay for the upgrade. B is the second-highest economy fare class.
So, this sounded like excellent advice. A 20 min call to UA Premier Desk and thought I had a very knowledgeable sounding agent. I learned that "heightened TSA security" is the reason we can't check in....hope that doesn't mean SSSS for both of us, she couldn't say. However, she did confirm that there are many people on the upgrade list already, and only a few seats.
She didn't have info as to whether our upgrade had cleared.
Her advice was if at all possible to go to the airport and check in ASAP.
I then called back to find out how to learn from this small airport whether there are any UA agents there at this time, and another agent said that time of check in makes absolutely no difference (and it hasn't for as long as she has worked at UA--24 yrs---though I clearly recall that it DID make a difference previously at least in some situations) She checked with her supervisor who confirmed what she had said.

At this point, I'm not making an extra trip to the airport (did that yesterday to no avail as there were no agents), but for future reference, who is right?

And yes, the B fare was VERY expensive. And as a result, I don't believe there was a co-pay (it's hard to tease this out), so I won't be refunded even if we are stuck in steerage. I'll just be disgusted.

Anyway, thanks for your info and for the well wishes of my other advisor! Flyer Talkers are the greatest! I will let you know what happened in case we can glean any other intelligence from all of this.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 10:24 am
  #491  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
She didn't have info as to whether our upgrade had cleared.
This makes no sense at all. All she should have had to do is to look at the PNR and see whether or not the business class segments were confirmed.

Originally Posted by landrew View Post
and another agent said that time of check in makes absolutely no difference (and it hasn't for as long as she has worked at UA--24 yrs---though I clearly recall that it DID make a difference previously at least in some situations) She checked with her supervisor who confirmed what she had said.
Time of check-in is the third tiebreaker on the visible upgrade list, used at the gate, after status and fare class. However, in your particular case, I don't think it will matter, because they don't sell a lot of B fare tickets.

Originally Posted by landrew View Post
And yes, the B fare was VERY expensive. And as a result, I don't believe there was a co-pay (it's hard to tease this out), so I won't be refunded even if we are stuck in steerage. I'll just be disgusted.
It's not uncommon for B fares to be more expensive than discount business class fares. On the other hand, most B fares will be refundable, so if you have flexibility in your travel plans, and your upgrade isn't going to clear, there's a good chance that you can cancel and find another flight. (Alternatively -- you may be able to use same-day confirmed change if there is an alternative flight available with R space).

Good luck!
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Old Sep 15, 18, 11:20 am
  #492  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
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Maybe I misspoke. She could not "confirm" any upgrade.

I thought I was right about that tiebreaker thing, but it's too late now, after the two agents said no (after the first one said yes). I guess Premier desk agents don't know the rules governing desk agents.

I have a sneaking suspicion any upgrade can only take place now in SFO, and that will be about an hour before the flight (if flights moving on time)

There won't be time to make any alternate flight plans looking for R, I can't work that fast!

I guess it's good to know "they don't sell a lot of B tickets"---maybe no one else was fleeced for this flight, and at least we can lie flat! I believe that this was the ONLY way I could get an upgradable fare, at least trying to do it online. I certainly didn't ASK for B. It also cost us $70K miles apiece.

Anyway, thanks for all the help and I know you wish me luck at the airport!
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Old Sep 15, 18, 11:30 am
  #493  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
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Originally Posted by landrew View Post
I believe that this was the ONLY way I could get an upgradable fare, at least trying to do it online.
All United-operated flights are upgradeable with miles + copay except for those that are specifically called out during the booking process (Basic Economy and TATL "Light" fares).
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Old Sep 15, 18, 2:08 pm
  #494  
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
.....
Time of check-in is the third tiebreaker on the visible upgrade list, used at the gate, after status and fare class. ...
now the fifth factor --
Effective August 14, 2018, upgrade waitlists are processed in the following priority order:
  1. Premier status of the traveler
  2. Fare class
  3. Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholder
  4. United Corporate Preferred participant
  5. Time of request
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
. However, in your particular case, I don't think it will matter, because they don't sell a lot of B fare tickets. ..
agree it is doubtful there be other B folks on the list, so fare class will preempt the need for the other factors.
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Old Sep 16, 18, 2:16 pm
  #495  
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 553
Hello all, I was hoping to get some advice from the experts here. Flying SFO-HKG later this year. However, the passengers are split between 2 PNRs. One PNR is originating in SFO while the other is connecting. We'd like to request upgrades using miles+copay but would also like to do all or nothing (as in all passengers get the upgrade or we'd rather sit together in Y).

Is there a way to do this? What are the other options, such as potentially waitlisting individually and turning down the upgrade at the gate if everyone doesn't clear?

Thanks!
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