United (re-)introducing Star Alliance Upgrades?

Inside Flyer ran an interview in its August issue with Michael Schutzbank, the Director of Loyalty for Star Alliance.

The news? Mr. Schutzbank says that United Mileage Plus members will soon (again) be able to use their miles for upgrades on participating Star Alliance airlines.

We have made some major enhancements and we believe we have fixed the problems we had with UA, and we are currently testing the system. If it works satisfactorily, I expect UA Mileage Plus members to be able to upgrade in the next six to eight weeks.

This was a feature of the Mileage Plus program and then pulled ‘due to technical difficulties’ and sure the technical challenges are great but at least half of Star Alliance airlines managed to make it work… Once re-implemented, it’ll take close to full fare coach tickets in order to use miles to upgrade, but that’s better than no ability to upgrade on partners at all.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Interesting. I’m presently on a business trip from Seattle to Chennai in India, flying SEA-FRA-MAA on Lufthansa. This was purchased on LH, not as a UA code-share.. I’m a UA PremEx, and I decided to see if I could upgrade using my UA miles. United posted me four paper upgrade coupons, two for 30,000 miles and two for 35,000, endorsed “SAVER UPGRADE AWARD ON LUFTHANSA”. My upgrades on the outbound flights were confirmed; I’m waitlisted for upgrade on the return flights on Wednesday.

    My checkin with these coupons was complicated, and the staff at both SEA and FRA took about 10-15 minutes to process the coupon. I’m very glad that I was able to upgrade; apparently the coach passengers on LH758 FRA-MAA has no food service at all (just water) because of the strike…

  2. OK, that’s good to know. It still strikes me as “quaint” that in this era of eticketing we would revert to pieces of paper with numbers printed on them…..

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