United Mileage Plus question

Apr 16th, 2004, 07:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 485
United Mileage Plus question

I know it has been said that if one wants to use miles for a free ticket it is often necessary to call a year in advance due to the limited number of seats set aside(especially for popular destinations). However, if I want to use miles to upgrade to the next class of service, do I need to call a year in advance to do that as well? Do they limit the number of upgrades using miles available? This is for a member with no special status with UAL- just basic membership. Thanks.
Miramar is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
I don't know UA's program very well, so I'll try to answer in a more general way.

First, make sure the fare you will purchase is good for upgrades. Many airlines have restrictions as to which fares are upgradable.

Upgrade awards are capacity controlled. What most airlines do, is to release few seats when the flight gets put into the system (330 days ahead). If you grab it then, you will be confirmed to the next class of service. If the seats are gone, don't despair, the game is not over yet. Get yourself put on a waitlist. Depending how the front of the plane is filling up, airline revenue dept. will release some more seats as the flight gets closer and all the way up to departure day.

The one thing you have working against you is the fact that you don't have status. Any person with status will go ahead on the same waitlist, even if they call after you.

One thing you do have working for you, is that mileage upgrades will trump any sticker/free upgrades given to people with status.

Hope that helps a little.

Good luck!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Good point by AAFF about the fare class. You can find the information on united.com. Basically, most economy fares within the US, or to Hawaii, Mexico, Caribbean and Central America are upgradeable, but for Europe, Asia, S. America, most discount fares are not.

If your travel plan is dependent on whether you can get upgrade or not, I think you should just call Mileage Plus directly, and see if they can confirm the upgrades immediately if you purchase the tickets right then. If not, find a date that they can do that. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a discount non-refundable economy ticket and no upgrade seat.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 07:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 342
Since my good friend and fellow FT'er "AAFF" is not a UA flyer, I'll try to be a little more specific for you.....

Here's the story: UA has recently (as of approximately August '03) tightened up their "advance" upgrade capacity SIGNIFICANTLY!! My best guess, and its ONLY a guess is that they are using this method to defeat Ebay sales of United Systemwide Certs....aka: SWU's.

As for advance release, if you are lucky enough to be able to book far in advance and capacity is available, then so long as you hold a "H" class fare or higher (B, M, and Y are higher) you should be good to go on your upgrade. OTOH: if its NOT available, you are stuck on a waitlist.
But here's the rub: waitlists on UA are prioritized as follows: 1) fare basis, 2) UA status (1K, Premier Exec, Premier, and THEN general member), and finally, miles flown YTD.

My best advice would be to look on UA's website as though you were seeking a "free" ticket......this can sometimes be used as a proxy for available upgrade seats......but is NOT a perfect match.

Call UA and see what they have for upgrade capacity. Make sure you have a H fare or higher and then see what happens......Generally, the earlier the better, but be aware that seats which WILL be released closer to flight time will go to higher "status" flyers.

Another piece of advice would be to look at flyertalk.com and be more specific about what your flight plans are...i.e.- from where to where, what time of year, what day of week, etc...you will get good advice from a bevy of UA status flyers.

Best wishes in your quest....if you'd like more info please email me, or simply "private message" me at flyertalk.com.....my FT handle is: bseller.

Best wishes, Dave
Dave is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 07:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 342
I failed to add that, UNFORTUNATELY, on UA,,,,,what AAFF said:

"One thing you do have working for you, is that mileage upgrades will trump any sticker/free upgrades given to people with status".....

is not IIRC correct on UA flights.....

Upgrades are upgrades, and status flyers will be above you on the list no matter what method you choose to use for your upgrade. (Except that, presumably, you will have paid more for your "H" class fare).

Most status flyers will be using W, Q, or V fares which are eligible for SWU upgrades on UA.
Best wishes, Dave
Dave is offline  

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