United Airlines upgrade awards

Aug 3rd, 2005, 09:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,346
United Airlines upgrade awards

Can someone please help me find information on UA upgrade awards using miles? All I can find on the UA web site is sample upgrades--not a complete list. We want to fly RT to Hawaii using cancellation credit for one first-class ticket and then upgrade from an additional economy ticket.

I have to say that dealing with UA is about ten times as hard as with American Airlines! the telephone waits are very long, and the agents don't seem very anxious to provide information--just sell reservations.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 21
Hang in there. Be patient. You arent spending any cash on these frequent flyer / cancellations. Call customer service and wait. Get a speaker phone and do it from your desk during working hours if possible. FYI (little secret) you used to be able to use FF miles to fly to Hawaii and stop in SF or LA on United for as much as three days - for the same miles. My wife and I did Napa and then on to Maui all for the same points.
kcunningham1999 is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,047
I'm not sure what information you are looking for, but this page from united.com includes the information for upgrade awards:


Or this page for upgrade award rules:


I read this as indicating that it takes 8,000 miles, each way, to upgrade a Y or B class fare; and 15,000 each way to upgrade other eligible fare classes (M, H, Q, S, V, W, L, T).

I upgraded one way to Hawaii last year and it was 15,000 miles. I don't remember the fare basis, but it was probably W or S.

Also, upgrade awards are capacity controlled, so you may find that they are not necessarily available for the routing you want. They may open up closer to flight time. I believe when I upgraded to Hawaii last year that I was on a waiting list for a period of time before the upgrade cleared. I used UA miles to upgrade a transatlantic flight last weekend, and I was on the waiting list for three months; the upgrades cleared one hour before flight time.

I would call the awards desk, not the general line. It's hard to say when to call, but I've had the best luck AM on weekdays.

Good luck.
ms_go is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,047
One more thing:

If you do go on a waiting list for an upgrade award, there is a whole, complicated prioritization process that I don't really understand, but it involves status and fare basis paid.

Hawaii is a very popular route for awards and upgrade awards, so your best bet is to keep trying until you get a good phone agent (there are some out there).
ms_go is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,346
Good luck indeed! It looks as though I have to buy a ticket BEFORE I can find out whether an upgrade is available--and then I'd be stuck with the ticket if the upgrade wasn't there. Correct? That sounds a lot like buying a pig in a poke, or whatever it's called these days.

UA seems to be charging $15 for buying a ticket with a real person--I am beginning to understand why that airline is in so much trouble. AA charges $5.
Underhill is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2005, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,437
I don't have AA FF miles so I can't compare, but I have to say that my last two experiences with redeeming United miles by phone (one call was last fall; one was this summer) went surprisingly smoothly. In fact, once when I'd called to see if I could upgrade from a ticket on a that I'd scoped out online, the agent volunteered the info that an economy FF seat was available on that flight if I wanted to do that instead (which I did). Maybe you should try calling at a different time. They should be able to tell you if there's an upgrade currently available for any available economy ticket on a flight before you buy it.

BTW, the United $15 charge applies only to FF transactions. Buying a regular ticket by phone costs $5 (unless it's changed very recently).

KT is offline  

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