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The trick to get United First & Business awards at low Saver mile prices, even when not available

by on Thu March 13, 2014 • 669 Comments
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United-BusinessFirst3

United substantially raised the prices of many Business and First Class awards in 2014, especially on flights that involve partner airlines. The good news is, Saver award prices on United’s own flights are still very reasonable and good values, like 115,000 miles roundtrip for Business Class to Europe.

But there is a problem…

United’s own flights often have very little Saver level award availability in First and Business Class.

So are you stuck paying expensive partner or ‘Standard’ award prices that can be twice as much or more when Saver seats aren’t available?

Not if you’re savvy.

There is a method to get Business or First Class seats at the lowest Saver award prices on United flights that have no Saver award space available, even at the busiest peak times like the holidays and summer travel season. It’s also helpful for flights that almost never have Saver award seats available ahead of time like Newark to Delhi and Bombay, Newark to Tel Aviv, or many flights to Hawaii.

With this option you’ll get first priority for a Business or First Class seat at the airport, ahead of all upgrades and just behind full cash tickets. Basically unless the flight sells out with paying cash fares or mileage tickets at the very highest prices you’ll be sitting up front, which means your odds are very good.

The method involves an arcane, but easy to request wait list policy that United inherited from its merger with Continental Airlines. It’s an official policy of United listed on its website and in its computer systems (we’ll talk about the details below), so this isn’t a ‘bend the rules’ method. It’s a real benefit that takes some advance knowledge to execute.

Here’s how it works…

  1. Call up United and ask to reserve the Saver Economy space, but ticket it at the Saver First or Business Class price
  2. Then, have United wait list that Economy reservation for First or Business Class. If United opens up SaverBusiness Class award space before your flight, you’ll automatically clear into it.
  3. If United doesn’t open up Saver Business Class, you can be put on a wait list at the airport with the very highest priority – as if you paid for a Business or First Class ticket – and ahead of people using miles to upgrade paid tickets.

If you don’t clear into the front cabin you can call in to request that your miles be refunded, but again, since you will have priority over all upgrades the odds are good you will be sitting up front unless every seat is spoken for by tickets paid in cash or the highest mileage price.

You can’t book this online so it has to be done over the phone with an agent.

Here’s an example to help…

Let’s say you want to travel from San Francisco to Lihue, Hawaii.

Here, the flight you want has no ‘Saver’ Business Class seats available, and only ‘Standard’ Business Class for 90,000 miles.

United Saver award space Hawaii

But there is ‘Saver’ Economy Class available and you can use this to secure a wait list spot for the Business Class seat.

Call in to request ticketing yourself on the flight as a Business or First Class Saver award, but confirmed in Economy Class. Then ask to be wait listed for Business or First Class.

You’ll be charged 40,000 miles, much better than the 90,000 ‘Standard’ rate for Business Class and receive first priority for a Business Class seat.

This only works for United flights, but if you have an itinerary with both a United and partner flight you can still wait list the United flight.

Once you’ve done this, here’s how you can make sure it is ticketed correctly:

Make sure you were charged the Business or First Class Class mileage level. If your account wasn’t deducted the number of miles for Business Class, and only the economy amount was deducted, call back and get it properly ticketed. This will only work if the Business Class number of miles was used as the basis for your award so that’s your first check. You can also see the number of miles deducted at the bottom of your reservation on United.com.

United mileage price

Make sure the wait list displays. Your second and final check to see this was set up properly is to see a ‘wait listed’ designation on your reservation. Login to view your reservation at United.com and it will show “class requested” below the United Economy label. If either of the above two checks failed call up and try again with another agent.

United award wait list

If the agent you speak with doesn’t know about this tell him or her to look up “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37” in the computer system. That will provide all of the instructions needed to book your flight correctly. It would be nice if all United agents knew about this, but it’s not well publicized and generally agents from the old Continental are more familiar with it than those who came from the old United side of things.

Make sure you get on the ‘PR-1’ list within 24 hours of departure If you don’t clear into Business Class before the day of your flight, you’ll have to make sure you’re on the airport standby wait list. It’s supposed to be automatic, but don’t trust that it will be.

When checking your position on the wait list at United.com or on the United mobile app you should appear near the top.

If after you check in online you don’t see yourself on the first / business class upgrade list at United.com/info then call United to get it sorted out.

The phone agent may need to contact the internal ‘ATO’ airport desk to properly add you to the waitlist with priority as a ticket that has already paid the business class mileage. That desk handles ticketing issues within 24 hours of departure.

Unfortunately not all agents are familiar with this so it may take several tries before you show up on the waitlist. This can all be done on the phone, so it’s not necessary to ask to be added at the airport in person.

This is not an upgrade, and don’t use the word ‘upgrade’ or you will confuse the agents. You paid the Business or First Class price in miles, so you are entitled to the highest upgrade priority.

If an agent isn’t helpful, find another, or ask to get a supervisor. You can also ask them to call their internal rewards line to verify your ticket was charged as a Business Class ticket and that you’re eligible to be wait listed with ‘PR-1’ priority.

What’s the catch? The catch is there is a risk your wait list won’t clear because United is able to sell all of the seats in Business Class to cash paying customers. The good news though is you will be ahead of everyone in line trying to use miles to upgrade, even high level elite fliers, and you’ll get first dibs if ‘Saver’ level space opens up before your flight. Otherwise at the airport you’ll have the same priority as someone who bought a Business Class ticket and is waiting for a seat to open up.

If there are two of you traveling there is a chance you could be separated, where one of you gets the seat in Business Class and the other doesn’t at the airport. But you can always tell the agent at the airport to only clear if there are two seats available. But whatever you do, *don’t* call this an upgrade. It will only confuse agents into giving you lower priority, and it’s not true since you already paid  the Business Class rate for your ticket.

If your wait list doesn’t clear and you end up sitting in coach, you’ll need to manually request a refund of your miles. You can do it by calling United, though you’ll go through the same process you did when booking the ticket. Some agents will be familiar, and others wont, so prepared to be patient.

Finally, this is not a loophole in the system. It is a real, documented benefit. So don’t let an agent bully you into thinking you’re on an Economy Class ticket and don’t deserve wait list priority at or near the top of the list. In fact, here is the language from United’s website describing this process:

United MileagePlus rules

It would be great if United automated this process entirely and let you wait list using the website. But like many things United you have to be ‘in the know’ of the system to make things work to your advantage, even if they are set in stone policies of the airline.

In this case though the benefit is so powerful it makes earning United miles for Business and First Class awards very compelling. American and Delta don’t offer a similar feature, and this is a great way to make sure you nearly always get really good value out of your United miles even in these times of stingy Saver award availability.

It makes business sense for United since it doesn’t like to sell Saver level seats if they will displace someone who wants to pay cash for a ticket. And there are a lot of us willing to use miles at the Saver level but not at the double price Standard level for awards. So this method encourages the usage of miles among us who have enough miles for a Saver Business Class award, while making sure the airline doesn’t lose out on any full price customers since you may not clear until right before departure.

It’s like a super-priority upgrade wait list.

And that’s a good thing to have in your back pocket.

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669 thoughts on The trick to get United First & Business awards at low Saver mile prices, even when not available

  1. Milm

    Hi first thanks for the advice, i just did it and worked perfect now lets hope it will clear,
    Now my question is i am on “I class requested” if its not cleared till 24 hours, is still pr-1 available ?
    and can i call in if i dont c my name on the list or it can only be done in airport ?
    Thanks in Advance.

    Reply
  2. DWong

    Just got off the phone with United trying to book a flight from EWR to EZE. This is a United flight with saver economy awards for both the departure and return but no saver business. The agent told me she can deduct the saver business miles (55K each way) and confirm me in economy while wait listing me for the business award but if I don’t get upgraded I still lose all 110K miles and they can’t be refunded. I ended up not booking the ticket and will try again another time, but I’m wondering even though she said I can’t get a refund, if I still can if I call back after my flight? If I’m told the same thing tomorrow, should I just book and then hope to get a refund if it doesn’t work out or do I need to get verbal confirmation that a refund is possible to ensure that I did this correctly?

    Reply
      1. DWong

        Thanks. Called again today and everything appeared to work fine. When I checked my trip on the United website after I got off the phone, it showed the correct mileage being charged (110K) for economy saver with I class requested. However when I got email confirmation, the receipt had changed to show 60K miles being charged. None of the miles have left my account yet, but I was wondering if anyone else has experienced a similar situation? Any chance the receipt says 60K but I will be charged 110K? I will check back tomorrow to see how many miles are deducted but I’m thinking it was keyed in wrong now and I’ll have to call again.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @DWong – Would give a call back before 24 hours elapse from the time you ticketed, otherwise you’re out of the window for free changes.

          Reply
          1. DWong

            First off I want to thank you for the quick responses! I rarely comment on things like this because I figure no one reads them but you guys have blown me away. I called again and got an extremely helpful agent who told me immediately the person who keyed it in had made a mistake. She has since corrected the issue and noted it was a good thing I called otherwise it would have fallen through.

            Thanks again for the prompt responses and getting me through this complex process.

  3. Steven Chen

    If i don’t clear the waitlist, do i get charged a fee to ask them to credit back my miles?

    Reply
  4. Jim

    Before i ask my question, i just wanted to say thanks so much for this article as it’s a great hidden benefit. Now I’m traveling from CHI to TYO and searching through award travel via United & i will only be available to book the flight using this method on my leg from SF to TYO as all the return flights do not have saver economy by United; only saver economy on the partner airlines (using a round trip booking). With that being said, can i book the ticket to get the waitlist for business saver on my leg from SF to TKO but still book normal economy on my return flight?

    If the answer is no, would the correct method be to book 1 way CHI-SFO-TYO and then book a separate one way flight back? That way i receive the possible waitlist to business saver going to TYO and not worry about the return?

    Just trying to make sure i do this the correct way.

    Thanks in advance,

    Reply
  5. Mark

    If I already have an economy saver award ticketed, can I call up to have them waitlist me for business saver and debit the additional miles?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Mark – they’ll charge you a change fee to do that. You can waitlist though without getting the miles deducted – it just won’t carry over to the airport on the day of departure if the upgrade doesn’t clear.

      Reply
  6. JW

    Does this trick only work on booking through UA miles? I have a booking using Aeroplan miles and one segment is operated by UA where UA shows I fare but Aeroplan doesn’t see it. Can I request UA to wait list in this case?

    Reply
  7. Tramond B

    Thanks for the breakdown! I’m still a little unclear about the process. I’m looking to book one way award tix MSY-SPU or MSY-MXP and one way return tix from MXP/SPU-MSY in July. Saver economy awards aren’t showing up on the dates I’m looking at, so the cheapest tix are economy 65k o/w. Could I still call and book one-ways at the economy fare of 65k and request the upgrade waitlist?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tramond – Unfortunately no, the Saver price needs to be available. Also, the SPU part wouldn’t be on United and some agents won’t do the waitlist because there have been problems when a partner flight is in the itinerary – basically, when you clear the waitlist, the partner sometimes sees it as a signal to cancel the flight.

      Reply
  8. Mike Z

    I booked a one way economy saver seat from ORD to Frankfurt at economy saver miles a couple of months ago. I selected my seat in economy plus.

    Can I still use your technique to change my ticket to a wait listed business saver. Pay the extra miles for economy saver and request wait list for business saver. The business saver is 70,000 miles for this leg but is not available.

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  9. Joe

    So I spent an hour on the phone with United this weekend and tried to get this done. I think it was close, but no cigar. The flights I picked had the economy saver award available, but no First/Business Saver. So I asked for being booked at the First Saver rate but confirmed in the Economy…I think they just charged the Economy rate and requested an upgrade.

    My flight confirmation now shows my confirmed in YN Class with I Class Requested. (I did this for both me and my wife.)

    When looking at the miles deducted, it looks like I have 160,000 less miles ,(which should be correct, 40k each both directions) but when I look at the transaction details I only see mention of 90k being deducted, which would be wrong (22.5k times 4)…

    Any suggestions on how to clear up definitively if this is correct? Based on all the comments and details, I’m confused if this is what I should expect or not.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Joe

      I think I figured it out. Logged back into United.com and found that the correct amount was deducted from my account (40k per leg). So at this point, it seems correct to me! I guess the only thing that I wasn’t sure of is the class..wasn’t sure if YN and I are correct, now I get to wait and see if I get the front of the plane!

      Reply
      1. Dave

        Thanks for sharing your information Joe….looking forward hearing from you soon about how the clearing of your ticket goes through.

        Reply
  10. Ralph

    Hello thank you for all of the information… question… I am booking a flight from EWR to SFO they have a economy saver flight for 12,500 each way but there are not business savers available. My question is if I call and follow the steps how many actual points would I need in my account to do this.. would I need 50k (12,500per ticket) or would I need 100k ( 25k per ticket business saver price)… I just don’t want to call and then not have enough points available.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Dan

      Your question is not clear, and further, if you actually take the time to read the article, you would know the answer to your own question. Please stop clogging up the comments section with crap like this.

      And no, I won’t answer your question. Read the article.

      Reply
      1. JDoubleYou

        @Dan – really? If Ralph’s question is not clear to you, then how do you know that the article answers his question? If you can’t be helpful on this thread, then please don’t respond. It is you who actually “clogged up” the comments be responding is such a negative manner.

        And yes, I read the article. I’m a 1k he has a valid question.

        Reply
    2. JDoubleYou

      @Ralph, your question is very valid and my boss had the same quesrion. You should be fine with the lower amount of miles in your account. Good luck dude!

      Reply
  11. Paul

    Thanks for the great article. Is this possible for domestic-only flights? I’m planning to fly ORD-SEA round trip this fall. The other question is if it is possible if it’s worth spending the extra 12,500 miles for a domestic first class ticket.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Paul – In theory it is, though domestic first class tickets far in advance are often not that much more – like $150 – $200 or so more each way than an economy fare – so not the biggest bang for your miles.

      Reply
  12. YL

    Please bare with me as I am a complete newbee to this.
    I am looking at EWR-ATH in June’17. United which offers “non-stop” flight from EWR to ATH does not offer Business Saver Awards on that flight and only has the Business Standard Awards. So in theory, if I follow your steps above I should be able to book 2 round trip standby tickets for my wife and I for 57.5k points each way right ?

    If they dont have room at time of departure, they will put me and mywife in economy seats ?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @YL – Yes if there is Economy Saver space on the flight. It’s 57.5k per person.

      And if you don’t clear, you’ll get the miles refunded after the trip.

      Reply
  13. Sam

    Quick question:

    I currently am looking to fly TYO-SFO (won’t say the dates since I don’t want anyone to take the space :p).

    I have confirmed in business NRT-PEK-SFO on Air China. I’d rather fly United business direct but haven’t found any availability. Would you say it’s worth the risk to cancel my confirmed business ticket and use this method? The united flights I’m looking at are wide open at the moment, at least in J.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sam – It would be a big gamble – business seats tend to get purchased by last minute business fliers, so what you see now isn’t a great correlation with what will actually happen unless you’re looking a day or two out here.

      Reply
  14. Tamara

    Hello,
    I was confused about having star alliance legs on the routing you are trying to book this way.
    Is it that you cannot use this method at all if one leg is on a partner? Or just that you cannot waitlist for the star alliance partner.
    you can book a standard award in business class and only get economy on a partner leg, why can’t you book this understanding that it will always be economy.

    So if I am going somewhere United does not fly, Am I just out of luck?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tamara – Wouldn’t count on it. Some agents might push it through, the issue is when the waitlist clears, because UA is on a different reservation system than partners, it sends a signal that gets interpreted by the other system to cancel the partner portion of the award. It’s frustrating old computer systems that are the limitation, but that’s what’s going on.

      Reply
  15. Lee

    Hi, I just did this over the phone , I asked to be charged business saver award miles on economy award seat, the rep told me he had to wait for a supervisor to figure out the amount of miles. I waited 20 mins on the phone, then he said is done. When I checked the reservation on the website, I see very strange things. The reservation didn’t mention which class I am at, economy or business classes, dates, origin and destination. Usually reservation will say confirmed economy or business… Didn’t say it is award mile reservation, very different from my other regular reservations. It didn’t mention I am waitlisted to business class, nothing. Should I call back to ask be put on waitlisted to saver award business class? How do I know they did the right thing. Could anyone share a screen shot of the reservation?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Lee – One of the listings in your reservation should show ‘Polaris Business’ – if it doesn’t, then call back to check up on it.

      Reply
  16. Confused

    I recently booked a flight using United miles on a mixed cabin flight from JFK-Istanbul (business)Istanbul -Athens (economy). I am aware I cannot be waitlisted since I’m a flying Turkish Air. Now, 2 weeks later the same flight is no longer listed as a mixed cabin flight. I called and tried to have the second leg of my flight changed- they tried to charge me 150.00 change fee per ticket. Is this common practice? I thought if award space opened up I could be upgraded, not automatically, but if I called?!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Confused – Unfortunately it’s a grey area. Because they have to ‘reissue’ the ticket they’ll think a fee needs to be collected. But try again, and if you hear the fee again ask nicely to see if a supervisor can take a look. Since you’ve already paid the full business class mileage, and not changing the flight itself some waive the fee.

      Reply
  17. Laura

    Thanks for this great info. I was able to find 3 saver business to SYD on United from GSP for this June. I booked that one way. Now I am looking to find saver business back home from SYD. So I was thinking of trying this method to get the business tickets.
    My first question is: Should I go ahead and book the economy saver tickets online and then call United for them to waitlist us and deduct the rest of the miles, or should I just call United and get them to do the whole thing at once?
    My second question is: will it be unlikely to get 3 of these business class tickets? United does fly the dreamliner to and from and has 2 flights a day. Just wondering if it is good odds? Is it worth the frustration if more than likely we won’t get the 3 tickets to clear?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Laura – Book the whole thing over the phone.

      As for likelihood, really impossible to tell this far in advance, since so many business travel tickets are booked close to departure. It’s remarkable you were able to confirm 3 saver seats in advance for the trip down.

      If you want to up your chances, book it as 3 separate tickets, so in case only one or two seats open up, at least those will clear.

      Reply
      1. Laura

        @Milcards.com- Yes, I was shocked that I was able to get those 3 saver business class tickets. I kept looking everyday to see what was available and one day they appeared. I booked those tickets so quick. Of course it is a mixed award since I am coming from a small airport, but the LAX to SYD leg is in Polaris Business. One of the legs is IAD to LAX and it is in economy, so I used your method of calling United and wait listed for that leg. The guy said that it would cost me more miles and I told him no, I already paid for the full saver award and then he spoke with his supervisor and he said I was correct. So he wait listed us on that leg. Hopefully it will open up, but if not I am happy with the 15 hour flight in Business. Can’t wait to get my United pajamas 🙂

        Reply
  18. Mark

    Do you think this would work for a ticket already booked at economy saver? Could I “upgrade” using this system somehow? Thanks!

    Reply
  19. Hundreds

    I tried this and called United over 5 times with no luck. They keep saying it’s not possible to book the economy saver and deduct the business saver amount. I’m going to try again later and call at night to see if those agents are more familiar with how to do this.

    Reply
  20. Julia

    I’m on hold with my 5th rep…so far it has confounded the first 4…they are really eager to book me on the Economy Saver fare, and *then* add me to the waitlist, but I keep insisting that I need them to ticket it at at the Saver Business price, which then (usually) leads to them putting me on hold again 😉 Any tips?!

    Reply
    1. Jacklyn

      JULIA,
      I’m in California
      I had luck speaking to United agents at night.
      Ii think they are more familiar with this rule.
      I don’t know if it’s true or just pure luck
      Why don’t you try to call as late at night as you can

      Reply
      1. Julia

        Thank you for the tip! I was on hold for a WHILE with the 5th rep, and *finally* got the full amt for Business Saver deducted, and my reservation shows me on the waitlist! Lots of perseverance!!!

        One thing that seemed to trip them up was the idea of TICKETING it at Business Saver…it almost seems like he “booked it” as Economy Saver, but DEDUCTED the “wrong” number of miles (the true cost of the business saver). I’ll update as we get closer. Hopefully we’ll clear before the trip!

        Reply
  21. Joe

    So I got it to work and had to call back three times. One agent hung up on me she was so confused! They deducted the right number of miles from my account but on the reservation receipt it only has 60,000 (2 passengers) deducted. But I am waitlisted for I class. Is everything good as long as my account reflects the deduction and is reflected in my account history?? Thank you again for this little trick!

    Reply
  22. Goden

    does it work on star alliance partner flight when booking through united website using united miles?
    e.g. Im searching SFO->KBP (operated by lufthansa)

    Reply
  23. Joe

    I successfully used this technique to book travel for my wife and I to London in May. The return leg departed from Shannon with a partner airline to LHR and then back to the states on United. I believe it took me about three hours over the phone to get everything squared away but United can do this, just have to be patient.

    An additional reminder which has been mentioned a number of times. Make sure the debit the miles for the business saver amount! Upon successfully booking the trip with “I” class requested the miles were only debited for economy. A quick call fixed this and everything was in order. The partner airline threw in a minor hiccup but a United supervisor was able to take care of that.

    Reply
  24. Joe

    Do the miles need to be from a saver economy or can I reserve economy for 65,000 points and still try to get the upgrade through the system you described? My wife and I are flying from SMF-MAD and there is a United flight but it does not have the saver economy, only economy.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  25. JD

    Thank you *so much* for the article, as it is incredibly helpful! My wife and I have ~160,000 Ultimate Reward points and are looking to travel to Italy (likely RDU-VCE, then FCO-RDU on the return). Ideally, we would like to use 140,000 miles to “pay” for two Business Saver awards going to Italy (using the method you described).

    Question: since we don’t have enough points for both departure and return Business Saver awards, is it possible to use points for Business Savers going to Italy and then pay cash for the return flight? It looks like booking a one-way flight from FCO costs 2-3x as much as booking round trip RDU-Italy. I’m wondering if this is a common occurrence or if there are any workarounds to get a “normal” economy fare when booking award for one half? The one-way economy is almost as much as normal business class!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @JD – Unfortunately no easy way around that for the return leg paid in cash. Though sometimes roundtrips booked with cash departing from Europe can be much cheaper than a one way ticket, and sometimes much cheaper than a roundtrip booked from the U.S.

      Reply
    2. mygreyhound66

      Greetings, I apologize up front – I couldn’t start a new comment thread!!! I am so incredibly grateful for this article that you have detailed – and I am about to launch right into it. In my research, I am hoping to book two business awards from EWR – CDG one way, 9/3/17.
      After looking at your rules and updating myself to the ‘expert’ search on United, I do find that Business awards on the PS for United are rather sporadic, however, I did write them down to try to establish a pattern, but……..
      So what I do see as of today, is a saver award on the flight on 9/3/17 at the 9:30 departure. (The earlier flight is not available on saver as of today). So in looking at the ‘expert’ search, it shows me that the earlier flight has a 50 Business cabin and the 9:30pm has a 30 Business cabin – I realize my question is on the lines of ‘when should i win the lottery’ but, I am asking!
      Based on a monday morning arrival into CDG at either 7am ish or 10am ish – do you think that the later flight would be more likely to fit into the scenario?
      I did try to figure out the fare codes, but honestly, that was pushing it for me, I did see a couple of differences.
      I have the luxury to wait another week or so, but your article also indicated that timing on the waitlist was a factor.
      If you could – I would sincerely appreciate your input…………again, many thanks, this is probably the best thing I have read in years!

      Reply
  26. Cher

    Here’s my question – After speaking with a few different reps, I finally found one who set this up correctly for me. I’m seeing the “IN class requested”. I’m also traveling with my sister who paid a full fare ticket. If I clear into business, will I be able to bring her along with me as my companion since I have Premier Platinum status?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Cher – Unfortunately no you won’t be able to bring her as a companion. She’d have to be upgraded using miles and a copayment.

      Reply
      1. Cher

        Got ya, thank you! My flight is a little over a week away and there are still 44 seats available in first class. Hoping I stand a good chance.
        Also, does united still do the Tens of Dollars upgrade the day of the flight? Hoping my sister stands a chance to pay a lower fee to upgrade. Flight is EWR to SF.

        Reply
  27. Jacklyn

    Thank you for your tip.
    I’m on wailisted I class and confirmed On X class
    but I found I class has zero availability Using United Expert mode.
    Does it mean that my chance is slim ?

    Reply
  28. manutd

    This has probably been answered somewhere in the comments section, but either I missed it or I did not completely understand, so I do apologize if it has been answered. Assuming that business saver does not open up and I have to rely on getting into business class off of the waitlist. I know it’s been mentioned here that you need to make sure that you’re on the waitlist 24 hours out… When should you know if you have been cleared off of the waitlist into business class? I’m thinking of doing this method for the EWR – SFO 777-300 Polaris, and seeing how I rarely ever see business saver for PS flights, I don’t anticipate it opening up for this one.

    I assume United Silver members on a cash paying economy fare would get an upgrade before I would have a chance to clear into business class?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @manutd – Before things clear at the gate, a Silver trying to upgrade could have priority over you. But if it ends up going down to the wire at the gate, you’ll have higher priority as a business class ticketed passenger standing by.

      Reply
      1. manutd

        Silver doesn’t get a complimentary upgrade on a PS route flight though right? Trying to figure out what my chances are clearing into business on the 777-300 at the gate haha.

        Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jackie – Unfortunately it doesn’t. Only possible to waitlist United flights if you’re using United miles.

      Reply
  29. Kolt

    When is the best time to typically look for Business Saver awards SFO->AKL. I was looking at late Dec 2017, or late Jan 2018 and they have pretty much nothing in any class. Any advice on searching and scoring these tickets?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kolt – Rare to see availability during those prime times to get down there. Persistence and luck the only real strategies, unless you’re willing to fly partners via Asia, which sometimes show up more frequently, or check Australia destinations.

      Reply
  30. Richard

    Hi – Do you know if I can do this with a three class cabin? Confirm an Economy saver award seat and waitlist for first class (instead of business class)?

    Reply
  31. rita rout

    I called the US Premier line today and got the most rude agent, however she said she knew the process and quote “I did not need to tell her how to do her job” (as it turns out she was right). Booked SAN-LAX-LHR with business saver miles and confirmed in economy. Reservations show the “IN” class wait list as described in your article and the business saver miles were deducted. I was able to snag a first saver award for the return so no issues there. Other than being on hold for about 15 minutes the process was quite smooth. Not sure if the Premier agents have more experience with this type of booking, but the agent I had did everything right the first time. Thanks for the tip. This is invaluable information for frequent travellers!

    Reply
  32. Jacklyn

    I have A Saver economy (30,000 miles) one way reservation LAX-LHR-LIS on 5/21/17
    LAX-LHR with UNITED
    LHR-LIS with TAP Portugal
    The United agent told me that unless all flights are operated by United
    They can’t do the waitlist for me by paying upfront full 57,500 miles
    Currently all other flights with United services on both legs are standard economy at 65,000 miles
    She told me to wait for United to open up saver economy flights with only United
    Is she right?

    Reply
      1. Jacklyn

        Thank you for your reply
        I really appreciate your greatest blog

        After 36 minutes on phone with an agent, I was confirmed in X class & I had I class requested.

        A charge of $75 for manually changing my online booking saver economy reservation to put in on priority waitlist

        But I wonder why my 27,500 miles were still in my account even though both agents ( I called again to ask why ) confirmed that they already deducted in addition to 30,000 miles paid?

        Is there a pending period for United?

        Should I keep calling or wait and see?

        This is what it’s read in my reservation:

        You are confirmed in X class in this flight and have requested a change to I class.

        You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class ( I ) becomes available.

        Reply
    1. Jacklyn

      Is 1hour 25min layover enough in LHR?
      I’m thinking of booking LHR-LIS separately by cash
      I then can use your method to be waitlisted

      Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Oscar – If you cancel it outright, there’s a fee to redeposit your miles. If you still fly, but in Economy, you’ll get the difference in milage refunded with no fee.

      Reply
      1. Eddie

        This is the exact scenario I’m searching for an answer to in the comments. In this instance where you end up flying in Economy and don’t get moved up, do you just call United once you land and ask for your miles to be redeposited? What rate do they take out for your economy flight – saver or standard? thank you!

        Reply
  33. SYD Bound

    I recently had success doing this for a one way SFO->SYD. Thanks for the insight!

    The return trip brings up an interesting interpretation of the United air travel award rules that perhaps you could help with. Here the situation: The return leg of SYD -> SFO was a standard award, but SYD->LAX->SFO was not. So, I snagged that trip online.

    In reading the fine print in the rules this sentence comes up: Ticketed customers may waitlist for travel in a premium cabin for an alternate flight.

    Do you know if this means I can be waitlisted in the same manner as discussed in this post on the direct SYD->SFO flight even though there is only a standard award available? I know that I can change to the direct flight the day of travel for the $75 fee and pending the availability, but who wouldn’t rather be in business and direct!?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @SYD Bound – You can only be on one waitlist at a time. If you end up clearing the SYD-LAX-SFO then you could waitlist for the nonstop, and pay the change fee if it opens up.

      Reply
      1. Alexander Hawley

        I’m not on a waitlist as of yet for the SYD-LAX-SFO flight (booked on a saver economy due to not enough miles, but more on the way). But, I’m wondering if there is a magic way to go from saver economy on the SYD-LAX-SFO flight to the direct SYD-SFO without clearing first (therein lies the interpretation of the sentence “Ticketed customers may waitlist for travel in a premium cabin for an alternate flight”). Thanks again for the information.

        Reply
  34. SJ

    I’m excited to give this a shot for a trip I am planning to Australia. My question is, how do you know how many miles the business saver award is, since it says not available? I have enough miles in my account for an economy saver, and I can transfer points from Chase Ultimate rewards to (probably) get me up enough for a business saver, but I don’t know how many points to transfer to make sure I have enough so that they can “charge” me for the business saver. Is there a way to easily find this out? Or do I just call? Since it sounds like it’s hard enough to get someone who knows how to do this, I hate to call once to find out the price, then go and do the transfer from Chase UR, then call again to get them to book it (although I will if that’s the only way.

    Thanks to anyone who can answer the question!

    Reply
      1. SJ

        Thanks. That was helpful. For some reason I had it in my head that it wasn’t a flat rate region to region. I see now it’s pretty easy to figure out – thanks for answering anyway!

        I called today and booked an economy saver award to and from Australia and got waitlisted for Business class and charged the business saver mileage. It took almost an hour on the phone with them – the call taker did know what I was referencing and was really nice but it took a while to input it as I guess it has to be done manually, so I was on the phone with them for a while. Also, initially the flight out I wanted didn’t have the economy saver, only economy standard which is 85k (more than the 70k business saver) so she said they couldn’t do it for that since the class I wanted was less. So I changed my flight one day to get on a flight with economy saver (40k). So, I paid 140k miles total – if I don’t clear I have to call to get refunded and it will cost only 80k. I did confirm that it shows that I’m in XN Economy and in a parenthetical it shows “I Class Requested.” Hopefully I’ll get the bump. My flight isn’t until the fall so hopefully they’ll open up business saver between now and then – there are hardly any seats taken on either flight at the moment. I’ll report back here to advise if it works!

        Reply
  35. NEELAM SACHDEV

    Can we get stop over in Paris, FRA or London when travelling to Glasgow, using United miles. Many years ago i used NW miles to fly SFO- CDG -GLA round trip and got a stop over in Paris

    Reply
  36. SINBound

    Just tried this today and it worked! At least we were able to book our ticket from SFO > SIN…we’ll see if we actually end up getting booked in the Polaris, but after 1.5 hours on the phone with customer service who were very rude and even despite after them reading all of the documentation that said they could do it, they claimed it was impossible. What actually worked was submitting a complaint on the Customer Service page. The agent who responded was extremely helpful and made it happen super quickly! The paragraph from United.com
    https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/awards/travel/types.aspx
    was the most helpful to speed along the conversation, especially in the email! Thanks for posting this…we’re keeping our fingers crossed since this is the flight for our honeymoon!

    Reply
  37. Pari

    Thanks for the highly informative and detailed post.
    Would you recommend this for 1Ks who have GPUs?
    ie. Is it true that applying a GPU to a paid ticket (in W class or higher) will clear before waitlisting on a business saver award as described in IN class? I have gotten conflicting information from United on this.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Pari – GPUs are a whole different animal. Basically, this method gets priority over GPUs if waitlists end up being cleared at the gate. Before then, there’s no specific priority for saver awards vs GPUs. GPUs come out of ‘R’ inventory, while saver awards come out of ‘I’/’IN.’ On some flights, ‘R’ opens up before ‘I’, and on others ‘I’ opens up before ‘R’. Hard to predict.

      With GPUs, wouldn’t waitlist unless you’re pretty close to the flight date and see a pretty wide open cabin, or the price of the ‘W’ fare isn’t so high that you’re okay if it doesn’t clear.

      Reply
  38. Desperada

    MileCards, thanks for this information!

    I’m just curious to know if this still works, given that UA has changed their verbage since the article was written. 🙂

    Here’s a bit of background for me: I can book two economy class tickets to CDG using miles, booked one-way. For my return (to SFO), I’m tempted to purchase round trip LHR-SFO-LHR tickets and request a MUA for the LHR – SFO flight, but ditching the SFO – LHR. I know I run the risk of not getting cleared for the MUA going back to SFO. But can UA hold my miles hostage for not showing up at the airport for my “return” flight?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  39. Daniel

    Throwing in my thanks for an extremely thorough and insightful post. I’m completing a 20-country, 14-month trip around the world, and am thrilled to have stumbled upon this for my final longhaul flight.

    I spent 2+ hours on the phone trying to get this booked from SYD-SFO last night, and all five agents that I spoke with said it was not possible – even when I outlined the policy and referenced the DRS reference page. Alas, I called back this afternoon (middle of the night US time, so must have gotten a different call center) and the agent promptly helped me book. They deducted 70,000 miles from my MileagePlus account (the Business Saver price, vs. 40,000 for the Economy Saver price), confirmed me in Economy, and waitlisted me for Business so that I’ll automatically clear if/when availability opens up.

    My online reservation has the same note as the post’s screenshot: “You are confirmed in X class on this flight and have requested a change to I class. You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class (I) becomes available.”

    Availability is currently halfway booked two months out, but I’m traveling solo so thinking that my odds of clearing are high since it will no longer be high-season on this route. Fingers crossed!

    Reply
    1. Christina

      @Daniel if you don’t mind my asking, what date are you flying? If your flight is before mine I’d love to know if/when your waitlist clears (If it’s the same date then may the best three win)!

      Reply
  40. Patrick

    This also appears to have worked for me and I’m leaving on a comment to help keep this post alive in SEO since it’s really, really valuable.

    My experience was actually pretty painless. Had been looking to book two tickets in business from AKL to RDU for later this fall. The AKL-SFO leg had business saver availability but the domestic routing was only available in economy to get back to the east coast, so I booked the mixed cabin award at the business saver rate.

    Called United and the agent initially told me it wasn’t possible, that waitlisting was only for revenue tickets. I had to clarify I was only attempting to waitlist into business or first saver space and he relented and told me he would “look for some workarounds”. After being on hold for < 10 min they found those elusive "workarounds" (presumably somewhere around DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37) and came back and said I was waitlisted. Must have had a knowledge supervisor or back-office agent on hand. Online the fare class lines for the domestic legs show: "Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (I class requested)". Hope it comes through in the intervening months.

    Definitely not the nightmare multi-hour runaround others have gotten. I think already being ticketed at the business saver level allowed me to be much clearer in my request (business is "paid" for, put me on the waitlist) rather than having them try and book an entire business itinerary in economy over the phone like others here have done. YMMV, but I'd suggest booking online if at least one leg is business saver and then calling them within your 24hr cancellation window.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Patrick – Glad it worked out and congratulations on getting Business Saver upfront on an AKL-SFO flight.

      Reply
  41. Andrew

    This appears to have worked for an IAD-LHR roundtrip.

    Took me 1 online customer service complaint, 2 days, 5 hours on the phone, 6 separate calls, 8 or 9 agents spoken to, but finally got it booked. I was also hung-up on 3 separate times after being left on hold for 20+ minutes each time. Amazing how hard they make it to get this done. Only one agent (a supervisor) had ever even heard of this process.

    One question: If I now pay for an EconomyPlus seat using the United website (in order to hedge the risk of the BusinessSaver award not clearing), will that affect the waitlist for the I-class seat?

    And one note for others: The agent specifically told me that she had successfully gotten the full BusinessSaver fare deducted. And I called the MileagePlus phone number, which read me my balance, confirming that 115,000 miles were deducted. My online account however doesn’t show any deductions — in fact, it shows no transaction details that had displayed earlier today (e.g., miles I earned as a result of credit card purchases). The process might screw with how your account displays online, but you can double-check the deduction by calling the MileagePlus number.

    Reply
    1. Andrew

      @MileCards.com Do you know whether purchasing Economy Plus will void or interfere in some way with the waitlist for ‘I’ class?

      Reply
      1. EYEART

        Hello @MileCards,

        I want to fly round trip SFO –>Florence in May. All ‘official’ awards travel seem to be via non-United carriers (Swiss, Lufthansa, etc.) I want to try business saver approach for new Polaris Business class (has anyone used this? It looks divine), and I found that SFO-FRA is one leg I could do, then I guess I would have to pay $$ for the hop to FLR. Is it possible to mix awards travel with non-awards travel in the same direction, and just pay for the short hop? The United agent I talked with was flummoxed by my proposal.

        Thanks!

        Reply
  42. Christina

    Finally worked it out…I think….so I’m confirmed in XN with I class requested….should I be requested in IN? Or is just I good? Additional miles haven’t yet been pulled but he said it could take 24 hours to pull those extra for the business saver I didn’t have to pay any fees for the additional business miles, though…..is that correct?

    So wondering if I should be IN instead of I, and if I should have paid any fees….
    If it makes a difference, I am a mileage plus cardholder.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Christina – ‘I’ is fine and as for fees unless you’re going out of a place with extra biz class taxes like the UK there’s no difference between business and economy. The key is having the miles deducted – and make sure you check that before 24 hours are up, because once you hit the 24 hour mark you can’t make changes without paying change fees.

      Reply
      1. Christina

        Bah, so I called back to have them deduct the miles, and she had to call two Mileage Plus people and then finally her supervisor to manually pull the miles, but on the receipt I was just emailed it appears she only pulled out a total of 140,000 miles….I think business class SYD to ORD (through SFO) would be 80,000 miles, correct? Therefore we should have pulled out 160,000? ……does this mean I have to call back….again?

        Reply
          1. Christina

            Update: 140,000 miles have been pulled from my account. I’m assuming at this point I just sit back and anxiously wait to see if my seats change? Anything I should do to keep an eye on it besides check the booking codes in expert mode? I was also wondering the same thing about purchasing economy plus seats while we wait, just in case…but if I pay for the economy plus seats and then get cleared I won’t get my money back, will I?

  43. Christina

    So I’m determined to make this work…the first couple agents I spoke with would just transfer me and eventually I would get re-routed to start all over with the automated system, but now the agents are all just hanging up on me!! Some customer service for my dedication to flying with United for the past 30 years and holding their credit card…. I’m determined to make this work for my one way SYD to ORD, though…

    Reply
  44. Allen Landrum

    Thank you for the very helpful information. Using your advice I was able to get ourselves business seats though supposedly unavailable. Very happy camper here. God is good!

    Reply
  45. Browns

    Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I just wanted to post that I went through the whole process here, but it didn’t work for me. 🙁 I’m sure that’s because I was traveling to a popular destination during the holiday season. We booked two seats confirmed in Economy class, the Business Saver mileage was deducted and the reservation showed waitlisted for Business/First. As we slowly approached the day of the flight, more and more First class seats filled (sold, I’m assuming), and there were only 4 left by the day before. There were several people on the upgrade list more than 24 hours out, so I’m assuming they had some kind of status that put them ahead of us. When I called the Premier Silver help line, they were able to confirm that there was basically no chance we’d get the Bus class seats (not even 1/2). The woman felt bad for me because it was a long haul flight and I’m 7 months pregnant…she said it “never should have been booked this way because it’s misleading” and waived all the fees for us to change to a more desirable route with some open first class seats. We were able to use miles to purchase first class going to our destination, but didn’t have enough to do the same on the way back, so we’re going Economy Plus for that leg. I’m still so appreciative for the great advice on this site…just wanted to let others pursuing know that there are definitely times when it doesn’t work out, as you’re weighing your options.

    Reply
  46. Ryan

    I’ve followed these instructions to a “T” and read through the various comments. This has been very helpful. Although the article is 2+ years old, reading from the comments it appears to still work. I do have a few outstanding questions to clarify, for my trip from SFO to AKL and AKL to SFO. 1. Although I will only be ultimately paying the Saver Award rate (40k each way), I must first target a flight that is United operated (not partner such as Air NZ, but United itself), and for which a Saver Award fare exists, but NOT a Business Saver Award fare. 2. I must then have enough points in my United balance to cover the Business Saver Award fare (70k points x each way), so 140k (70k+70k) points, to get it initially booked (even though it will ultimately be 40k+40k). Is all of this correct? I only have 100k points at the moment, so will need to do some MFG spending if this is the case. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ryan- Almost correct.

      If you want to sit in Business, if your waitlist clears, you will pay the 70k + 70k, which is the Saver Business Class rate. You’ll get a refund so that your final cost is 40k + 40k (the Saver Economy Class rate)if the waitlist doesn’t clear and you’re stuck in coach.

      Either way, you’ll need the 140k to do this kind of waitlist for Business.

      Reply
  47. Scott

    I’m wait-list confirmed but only the economy miles were deducted. Think I need to call back? It took 72 minutes the first go around to get me where I am – Confirmed in X class, requested a change to I class.

    Reply
  48. Meghan

    Thanks for the detailed post. I was able to book IN confirmed in XN for JAX to HNL via IAH. At this point we are T-36 hours out and I see that two people have cleared the waitlist for the JAX-IAH segment (Not us!). Why is this? Our names are not currently on the waitlist when checking the status of either segment. Do they only show up T-24h?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Meghan – They might be Global Services members who get to upgrade into a special inventory not available to other flyers, or elite members who purchased full fare tickets, which on domestic flights upgrade even when award / mile upgrade space isn’t available.

      You won’t show up on the waitlist until your check in, or if you clear the waitlist before that.

      Reply
  49. Nelly Frank

    Thanks for the article! Trying to book my honeymoon from Chicago to Australia (United, I have Silver status). Do you think I have a better shot at being upgraded from economy to business by 1.) waiting for the “R” code to hopefully go from O to 2 or 2.) booking the econ saver at Saver Business level miles upfront, even when the Saver business seat isn’t currently available?

    Reply
    1. Nelly Frank

      Flight (LAX to SYD) is currently showing the following

      Available fare classes: J9 JN9 C9 D9 Z9 ZN9 P9 PN3 R0 RN0 IN0 I0 Y9 YN9 B9 M9 E9 U9 H9 HN9 Q9 V9 W9 S9 T9 L9 K9 G9 N9 XN9 X9

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @Nelly – Better to book and waitlist now if that’s the only flight that works for you. The fact that it’s showing PN3 (which means Global Services level fliers can upgrade) is a good thing for your chances. And keep an eye on the flight to see if R opens up – you can always ask to be cleared if you’re already booked and see the space open.

      Reply
  50. David

    Thanks for the detailed information! I just went through this process yesterday and looking at my tickets this morning I appear to have been successful. I called once a few days ago and the representative said he had never heard of this policy, he asked his supervisor who told him the same. They weren’t being helpful so I said “thank you for your time” and got off the phone.
    Called again yesterday and the first representative was very helpful, she wasn’t sure of the policy but after mentioning the DRS reference page she understood what I wanted and talked with a supervisor to confirm it was possible. From there on out she made it work out. Took about an hour on the phone in total, most of which was spent on hold while the representative worked on the booking with her supervisor but it’s looking good!
    She confirmed over the phone the number of miles that would be taken out of my account and the refund policy if I didn’t clear into saver Business. As of the next day (less than 24 hours) the extra 40k miles for the business saver flight hasn’t cleared my account but after reading other posts it seems this may take a couple of days. On the good news front, when checking my flight information on the United website I see that I am confirmed in fare class X (saver economy) and waitlisted for fare class I (saver business). The reservation notes “you are confirmed in X class on this flight and have requested a change to I class. You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your request class (I) becomes available.”

    Fingers crossed everything happens as planned!

    Reply
  51. Reese

    First off, thanks so much for putting this page together and clearly describing the steps needed to get on the business saver waitlist.

    Well… like everyone else on this thread it took several hours and 5 or 6 representatives to get this all sorted out. I definitely ran into a couple representatives who said this can’t be done or even that this feature has been removed. When I gave the DRS page, the representative actually got mad that I knew that reference since it was an internal document.

    All in, I finally got it all sorted out. Can anyone confirm “Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (I class requested)” is the correct category?

    Unfortunately, there were no savers available for the return legs. If only there was a way to get this upgrade with standard fare tickets… If anyone knows a trick, please let me know.

    Reply
    1. Oren

      I had a very similar experience. Agent got super mad when I started giving the DRS page, wouldn’t even let me give the line number. Said that they recently started using a new beta system and that this isn’t possible anymore.

      I will HUCA until I get someone better…

      Reply
  52. Spr

    We think we got this sorted! We called United Premier Line (I have Gold Status), and quickly talked to the first person in line — she had no idea what we were talking about and was confused why she would waitlist us on Business Saver if only Economy Saver was available. As recommended here, I told her this is not strictly a waitlist, and quoted the line number. She had no idea what we were talking about, so we asked for a supervisor.

    We must have incredible luck. The first lady we spoke with was very kind and really helped us out. This is for our honeymoon so we really wanted to get it. Saver Economy is available at 30k, and Business and First Standard are available but no Saver Business or Saver First.

    She was very nice and thanks us for our patience. She said this should be easy and she was “very aware” of how to do this and has worked at United for many many years.

    That said, she said the systems have recently changed and this is not expicitly easy in teh new system. It used to be easier to manually do this but now that legs are priced individually, it’s more complicated and she had to do it manually. Since the awards booking system changed over a week or two ago, no one has asked for this and so it is quite uncommon.

    So, it took 1.5 hrs on the phone with the supervisor, but she was awesome and it was clear from teh start she was going to do all it took to get this right. In the end we were charged only 57.5k miles each (rather than 70k), this may have been a manual override? Oddly enough we were also already confirmed in Business on the short 2nd leg of the trip (this is with a partner airline). The long-haul United section of the ticket was booked as Economy (X) and is listed as being (I class requested). Note it says “X” and “I” class, not “XN” and “IN” as others have listed. Assuming this is OK?

    Does this sound like we did it correctly? Feels like we did. A bit odd that we are already confirmed in Business for the 2nd short non-United piece of the trip, but if we are already confirmed, we’ll take it!

    Assuming that if, for some reason, this doesn’t clear, we can still request the 57.5-30 = 27.5k miles back for the fact that the United portion was not upgraded?

    Reply
    1. SMZ

      Sorry to post this as a reply to someone’s comment but I don’t see how to post a separate comment. I’ve read through this entire thread back to 2014 and just wanted to clarify: Does the “trick” make any difference in getting a business saver ticket before one goes to the airport, or is it for the last 24 hours and the waitlist if one has not gotten that business class ticket prior. If the latter then it seems applicable to those OK with waiting to see what happens at the airport,

      Reply
  53. Tara

    If we are booking a mixed cabin flight where the first flight is a United flight in business and the second is a Lufthansa flight in economy, but are paying the miles for business saver for the whole trip, is there any way to use this technique (or any technique) to be first in line for Lufthansa business class? We are going from SFO to JNB and would love to do that whole flight in business.

    Reply
  54. Laura

    If I have already booked saver economy is there any way to change ticket to saver business?
    Will this still work?
    THanks

    Reply
  55. jonathan

    After two days on the phone, the third United Agent I spoke to was finally able to get this done. Wait-listed 2 segments of a round-trip mixed cabin reservation from XN to I class.

    First rep said nope, not possible. Her supervisor also said the same.
    Second try, I used the United Callback option (google it) and the agent said “No problem, it’s done”… it wasn’t
    Third try said “nope, not possible.” I persisted, gave the DRS reference, asked if they had anyone who used to work at Delta there, and after my 3rd time on hold, he finally found someone who knew how to do it.

    My reservation now says “I Class Requested” for both segments! Thanks!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  56. Traveler

    I think I was able to get this correctly booked for a flight to Hawaii just now. Hooray! My question: should we go ahead and select our seats in Economy, like I normally would to make sure my husband and I sit together? Or will selecting seats somehow affect the upgrade potential? Obviously we’re hoping to get upgraded (and know we may not sit together in Business if we do), but it would be the worst to not get the upgrade for some reason AND have to sit in crappy economy seats away from each other.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Traveler – Absolutely select your seats now, it won’t have anything to do with your chances of receiving an upgrade.

      Reply
  57. Andy

    I followed the instructions and got the agent to process my request from saver economy to waitlisted saver business for IAH-SFO-SYD. However, the agent indicated that if I waitlisted both segments and only the domestic (IAH-SFO) segment cleared, there would be no refund of the additional miles since one of the segments cleared.

    Is that correct? With the Global Premier Upgrades, the instrument is refunded if the BusinessFirst segment doesn’t clear (even if the domestic segment does). It would seem like this is a similar situation. Obviously, I would like to waitlist for upgrade on the IAH-SFO segment as well, but not if I’m at risk of losing the miles for a domestic-only upgrade.

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  58. Jane

    Hi,

    I have 2 separate legs booked directly through united using award miles.

    Flight 1 – Was > Lon booked using saver award economy – 30,000 deducted and it says I am wait listed for class I

    Flight 2 Lon > Was booked as standard award economy – 65,000 miles deducted and it says I am wait listed for Class I

    I asked the agent about the number of miles and she said that I will be contacted if a business seat comes available. They will then deduct the extra 27.500 for flight 1 and refund me the 7.500 for flight 2.

    The lowest Business saver is 57,500 for this route.

    Am I set up correctly?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jane – Doesn’t sound like it.

      The first one is the right underlying award – Saver Economy. But they should have deducted 57,500 miles for Business to let the waitlist carry over to the airport if needed.

      The flight 2 is not correct. They’re using a standard award, and you can’t waitlist for ‘saver’ business class on a ‘standard’ economy award. You’d need to find a flight with ‘saver’ economy class available to do it.

      Reply
    2. Jane

      Ive called them 3 times today and get a different “story” each time.

      – I am priority waitlisted. 1 agent said the priority is based on premier status and one said its on order of the time you called in to be waitlisted

      – My miles show that they are available (the 27.500) hasn’t been deducted, however one agent said I have miles on hold which will be released if the upgrade is not confirmed?

      – When going to assign my seat on the United website, it shows 2 options for the same flight. 1 has economy and economy plus available to select. 1 has only business showing but I cannot select a seat.

      – All agents said I will be notified by email if the waitlist is cleared and I need to call them back to confirm the change in cabin.

      I am very confused. Please help.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Jane – For the outbound if a business class seat opens up in ‘I’ class before 24 hours before departure you are set up to clear into it with no problems. But the way you’re setup if that doesn’t happen before 24 hours you lose the shot at the upgrade, since the business class saver miles weren’t deducted.

        For the return – officially they’re not able to book you a ‘standard’ award and waitlist you for a ‘saver’ award – not sure how that happened.

        Reply
        1. Jane

          Thanks for the quick response. So for the first flight I will call again and ask them the deduct the miles.

          For the second flight, the standard award for economy is more miles (65k) than the saver business (57.5K). Should I leave it alone? All 3 agents said I would be refunded the difference of the saver business if the wait list is cleared.

          Reply
  59. Jenness

    Hi. After 2 days on the phone with UA, hours of hold time and numerous agents, I’m unclear on if this was set up properly or not, and frankly I’m not sure I want to spend even more time on the phone if not. I had booked 2 tix from So Cal to France at the economy saver level. I asked for wait listing to Business Saver and miles deducted as outlined in this string, using the ‘script’ and quoting the reference info. I called the Mileage Plus deck (I’m Premier Gold and do have a Chase Explorer card). First rep wait listed me to IN class but wouldn’t deduct miles stating that UA would contact me if the space become available and I would then transfer miles. I called back to get the miles transferred now. This was the most painful call, with wait time 1 1/2 hours (this time I had called the call-you-back help line). At the end of the call, the rep assured me that I was waitlisted in IN and that he had transferred the additional 55,000 miles from my account for the business saver award. Upon looking online at my Mileage Plus account, instead of deducting the 55,000 miles, he had actually credited me the 60,000 miles I had paid for the economy saver award. So the entire 115,000 that should be taken for the business saver award is now sitting in my mileage plus account. I called back this morning (back to the mileage plus desk this time) and the rep said they were familiar with what I was trying to do and needed to research a bit. After another lengthy hold, she came back to say that it was done correctly….if business saver space becomes available the 115,000 miles will be automatically deducted from my account and if it doesn’t, the 60,000 miles will be deducted. I’m so confused.

    Reply
    1. Jenness

      Update to my last post. I’ve been checking my mileage account daily and the full miles were still showing in my account until this morning. Now the miles for 2 business saver tickets have been deducted, so maybe this was processed correctly after all! 🙂

      Reply
        1. Jenness

          Cleared the waitlist this morning, just shy of three weeks before travel date. Thanks again for all the great advice! 🙂

          Reply
  60. Jacob

    I have 122K Points, there are no Economy Saver Seats on the flight I want, and of course no Business Saver Seats available. It would be 150K points to book 2 round trip seats with the Standard award. Would I be able to do this with 122K Points or would I need 150K points as I’d have to confirm with economy standard but ticketed to business saver? (The Business Saver should be only 120KPoints)

    Reply
  61. Ed M.

    Hi,

    I was able to do this for both of my flights that I will be taking in September and October. I suggested this procedure to a friend, but when she tried to do it the agent didn’t know what she was talking about. I asked to speak to a supervisor and gave my flight information as a reference. The supervisor stated he was familiar with the procedure, but that policy is no longer in effect. I specifically asked if “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37″ no longer existed. He said that was correct, but that out of courtesy he would make an exception for my friend, using my reservation as a record for the exemption. So is this true? No more “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37″ ?

    Reply
  62. RDWilson

    Hi, I used your advice and made reservations last October (15) for a United non stop roundtrip from RDU to SFO. It shows confirmed X and I requested, as per your instructions. And I paid 50k pp for saver business class, double the 25k coach. Since then (today Aug 6, 16) there has been no change in the reservation, BUT now the flight doesn’t show business class at all (only first), though there are numerous seats available. I’m expecting that it will not show the higher class confirmed until 24 hours before departure, but, am wondering that since they are not currently offering business if I’ll get anything. Anything further I should do? Thanks for the column!

    Reply
  63. Brad B

    I was able get this done for my domestic leg as I booked in C on the Intl leg and it took 30min on the phone and 25 of that as on hold as he had to have the Service Desk help him out. I booked as far out as I could to give the most amount of time to request the I class. Make sure to play dumb and never say upgrade and if they say they can’t upgrade say that you paid for C so would like to wait list for it.

    Reply
    1. Renee

      Ok…so I’ve been on the phone (still on the phone) one hour and 51 minutes. We seem to be in the final process of doing this as described by Mike from Lihue to Newark, but it’s been BRUTAL. Thankfully I got a fantastic customer service agent who never gave up. They’ve given me about four alternatives, but are finally doing it as requested, but it was entirely because of the initial customer service agent. Escalating to supervisor didn’t work,but she stuck with it. It’s possible.

      Reply
  64. Margie

    Booked 2 economy saver awards. Called 8 times to get waitlisted to Business. My reservation shows the request but the agent would not take the additional miles from my account, or the additional fees.
    The reservation says United Economy – XN
    IN class requested

    Do I need to call again?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Margie – Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately yes.

      When you call, don’t mention a waitlist first.

      Say “There’s a method to book an award where you pay the Saver Business level miles upfront, even when the Saver business seat isn’t currently available. The key is a saver Economy seat needs to be available. It’s not just a straight waitlist, because the full Business Class mileage is deducted upfront. Are you familiar with it?”

      Reply
      1. Margie

        After calling United 17 times (yes 17) I found someone who would pull the business class miles from my account, and I paid the additional .80 tax. I thought all was great. Next day I look and United has returned all my miles to my account, but I still had a coach class reservation. I considered leaving the reservation alone and getting a free trip, but figured United would eventually catch the mistake. SOOOO I called again. Was on hold 59 minutes on one phone and 32 minutes on another. Eventually the first agent was able to pull the business class miles. My reservation no shows 115k pulled and “I” class requested. Hopefully this is correct, and hopefully I get upgraded. Thanks so much for the article. Would never had know about this option without it.

        Reply
        1. Jenness

          Margie, I had the same thing happen to me yesterday. I had booked to Economy Saver tix from CA to Europe and made 3 calls to United yesterday. First agent wait listed me to IN class but told me that he would not take miles now…that I would be notified it business became available and would call United to transfer miles at that time. I called back twice and finally got someone that was willing to research the issue. I was on hold for an hour and 15 minutes until he finally wait listed me to IN class and said he had deducted the extra 55,000 miles for the business saver award (two of us traveling). Before I could breathe a sigh of relief, I looked at my account online only to discover that not only had he not taken out the extra 55k miles, but he had refunded the 60,000 miles I paid for the saver awards. So now I’m completely confused and unsure what to do. My reservation shows the trip wait listed to IN class, but the total amount of miles is sitting in my account. Any advise you have on what you said to get this fixed would be greatly appreciated! Also what phone number you called at United. Thanks!!

          Reply
  65. Rich

    I have an upcoming trip in November from PVD to MNL. I booked an S class ticket with United and would like to know how to get a business class upgrade on the leg from EWR to NRT. Currently my only option is a wait list to use 30k miles and $600 charge. Do you see another way?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Rich – With a cash ticket in S class that’s your only upgrade option. The 1K ‘Global Upgrade Certificates’ require a ‘W’ or higher fare.

      You might also be presented with a cash buyup offer when you login to your reservation, or check in. Though no guarantees and it might end up being more than $600.

      Otherwise you could try eating the cancellation fee and booking an award ticket.

      Reply
  66. Jesse

    I’m looking for a bit of routing advice.

    I’m currently looking at EWR-SYD on Aug 21, and would like to try to waitlist into BusinessFirst on the SFO/LAX-SYD leg. Economy Saver availability keeps fluctuating, and I see that there are a few EWR-SFO-SYD flights available at the Economy Saver rate. There are also a number with an additional layover before getting to SFO/LAX.

    Since the EWR-SFO flights are p.s. flights, I’d like to avoid the situation where I get off the waitlist on one of those flights and (and thus would not be eligible for a redeposit) but still ended up in economy on the long-haul leg. Was thinking that the 2 layover options (EWR-IND-SFO-SYD, or something similar) would avoid that since none of them actually have BusinessFirst options.

    Is there a way to try to waitlist into a business saver fare and into a more direct routing, but only if the long-haul was BusinessFirst? If not, I don’t really mind the extra layover, but I’d really rather not spend the miles but not get the real benefit (LAX/SFO-SYD).

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jesse – It’s a tricky one. There’s not a great chance you’ll clear EWR-SFO – it can be a tough route. Maybe have the layover in a city that has a United Club like Chicago, Denver, or Houston so at least it’s a little more productive.

      Reply
      1. Jesse

        It’d be fine with me if I didn’t clear the EWR-SFO leg. It’s a super long layover – I might actually go into the city to visit friends. But I guess there are two components: a) I’d want to make sure I could do a mixed class trip (EWR-SFO in economy + SFO-SYD in BusinessFirst) and b) I’d want to avoid getting BusinessFirst on EWR-SFO (if it happens by some fluke) but NOT getting it on the over-water portion. Someone recommended asking for the waitlist just on the over-water portion – I might see if that works.

        Reply
        1. ToddC

          Hi Jesse, I also have booked EWR to LAX to SYD on Inited for next summer. I booked using 40k miles for a saver award in economy, then called to have United manually take an additional 30k miles out to so that I could be wait listed for business class. Here is the great part – if I don’t clear for Business class for the EWR to LAX flight but I get the business class seat for LAX to SYD, then I get the full 30 miles back that United pulled manually. Both legs have to clear for United to be able to keep the additional 30k! I’m hoping that I don’t clear the for the domestic portion, then hope I clear for the international portion.

          Reply
  67. Matt

    Sorry if this has been asked before but I do not see any where in your article that specifically mentions if you can use this method with a Star Alliance partner. I’m 1K with United but I want to book an award flight for my partner. They do not have status with United.

    Will it work w/ lets say EVA and will United take my partner’s non status into consideration when deciding on the upgrade?

    Reply
  68. hbnsd

    I booked a business saver to Italy from San Diego, but no business saver seats were available on the domestic part of the journey, only economy saver. I took those seats and asked to be waitlisted, read them the rule, directed them to their own website, read them the DRS reference page MPWAI-Line 37, but can’t get anyone to do it even by calling back and trying a new person. They say I can keep checking for business saver availability, but waitlists are for revenue tickets only (yes, I read them the rule again). How are others getting this done? Is there some magic words I’m not saying?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @hbnsd – For you, since you already had the full Business Saver miles deducted it should be simpler. Keep trying until you find someone who can add you to a waitlist, though domestic flights can be harder to clear because they tend to sell so many of the first class seats in cash close to departure.

      Reply
  69. Elliot

    Can you book on a Standard Economy Award and request to be waitlisted at the Saver Business Award? There are no Saver Economy Awards for the route I want to take. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  70. Matt 1K

    I did this for 2 seats on LON>EWR. The woman at the 1K desk wasn’t very familiar, but it didn’t take long. She actually remarked that this looks like a great way to gain priority for an upgrade. Unfortunately, it all ended with my wife and I as #3 & 4 on the upgrade list at check-in, and not receiving business class seats. Now I’ll have to call to get my miles & extra tax back…

    Reply
  71. Phil

    Just looking for some clarification: you mention in your example that they charge 40,000 miles…..where does this number come from??

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Phil – 40,000 miles is the one way Saver Business Class award price to Hawaii. It’s not listed in the screen shot because that Business Saver award space isn’t available on the flight shown.

      As for making the request after you’ve already booked a Standard award – unfortunately no you’d have to start over with a new booking.

      Reply
  72. Eric J

    Thanks so much for this! Been flying UA for more than a decade and have seen the gross deterioration of both upgrade availability for elites as well as bookable saver level fares…especially in the last couple years after the merger, it seems impossible to find business saver fares on the transcon p.s. flights. Just made the call to UA (and spent 50 min on the phone) but was able to book a saver economy p.s. award with a waitlist in business just as is written here. The rep I called insisted that I would lose my miles if I didn’t get confirmed but called her superior and after a while on hold, finally learned of the policy to refund the miles if the waitlist didn’t clear. Overall she was very polite and did say that this was a “very rare request” that happens “one or two times a year.”

    Reply
    1. Eric J

      Update to this: T-24 hrs from my flight I received an e-mail that my waitlist wasn’t able to be confirmed but I’d be put on the upgrade list. Sometime between T-24 and T-12 my upgrade cleared with no e-mail notification. I had already checked into economy via the UA app and noticed that my upgrade had cleared into R but was unable to re-check in or change my boarding pass, so I had to call the reservations line to get an agent to check me in again on their end, but now with a confirmed seat in front! The agent seemed in disbelief that an award ticket in coach had somehow magically upgraded into business on a transcon flight. Thanks again for the tip and good luck to everyone else trying to upgrade!

      Reply
  73. SLOTheta

    Has this worked for anyone recently? Did you get cleared for a Business Saver Upgrade in advance, or ended up getting upgraded via the Waitlist?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  74. Anne

    Hi! Thank you so much for this post. I hope it works for me one day.

    I tried this today for a trip from NYC to Johannesburg. The rep said he knew of what I was trying to do but because the flights weren’t operated by United, and were operated by SWISS or South African Air, he couldn’t put me on the wait list. Have you had experiences like this?

    Reply
  75. SLOTheta

    UPDATE: The first time I requested I called and followed the directions, I was able to get it done in the first try with the CSR on the phone. The 2nd and 3rd time I tried, it took about an hour and escalation to a Supervisor.

    My last booking, my FCO (Rome) to ORD (Chicago) flight was waitlisted (I), but the final leg, the US leg ORD to SMF doesn’t show an (I) waitlist. Do you know why?

    For my flight out: SMF to IAD to BCN, I followed the same directions, and I’m (I) class waitlisted on both legs: SMF to IAD, IAD to BCN.

    I’m not sure why it would work on one leg, and not the other.

    Reply
  76. Sally

    Thanks for the great article. I am planning on booking a mixed award on a United flight using KrisFlyer miles. Would I still be able to use this procedure even though my original miles aren’t United? Once I have the mixed flight booked and have my United conf #, can I then call and try to be waitlisted?

    Reply
  77. Ari

    I did this last night. Used the feature to have United call me. She searched for award travel said there was no business, I told her what I wanted to do and gave me no problems. It did take about an hour to e-ticket after I got off the phone, but I was on the phone for about 30 minutes. Hopefully room clears for me! I am not 1k FYI

    Reply
      1. Ari

        I got upgraded today! My flight is August 27th. I was auto upgraded and was sent a confirmation email. My husband was not upgraded. So I checked what classes were left using expert flyer mode and saw that I class was still available. I called United told them that I class was available. She double checked and put him into business class. Now I can rest easy until my flight

        Reply
  78. EJA

    Thanks for the great instructions. I am traveling from EWR to CDG and looking to get upgraded. My question is if you you end up on the airport waitlist, what is the order of priority once you are there? Meaning if there are 10 seats available who would take priority on that waitlist over me potentially? Where does this the I category fit in the overall united priority ranking?

    I don’t have a full understanding of United’s classes but below is what my flight (next week) currently reads

    F0FN0A0ON0O0J9JN9C9D9Z9ZN9P8PN0R0RN0IN0I0Y9YN9B9M9E9U9H9HN9Q9V9W9S9T9L9K9G0N0XN9X9

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @EJA – If it’s coded right onto the airport waitlist, it would be only behind the J/C/D/Z/P which are paid business class fares, and ahead of the R and others hoping for an upgrade from coach. But it can be hit or miss with how you get added to the airport list.

      Right now your flight looks pretty wide open in Business Class, which is a good start.

      Reply
      1. EJA

        Thanks so much, quick follow up. If I don’t get upgraded on my departure flight can I roll over the points to get the upgrade on my return flight (current the business saver fare is available)? Would there be a fee to do this?

        Reply
  79. robert

    Can you please advise the best people to talk to if one is not upgraded and it is 24hrs before the flight? I am flying out SFO-LHR June 7th and there are currently 20 seats available in bus class but continue to only provide standard award seats. What is your best guess on how it will come down?

    Thank you for your expertise.

    Reply
  80. BothofUs2

    Any idea if this waitlisting tip works for an award ticket booked with partner miles? For example using Singapore miles on United metal, booking a mixed class ticket ORD-HNL via SFO (ORD to SFO in First and SFO-HNL in Economy)

    Reply
  81. Jennifer Onwye

    I used miles to book a standard economy seat from LAX to London. I called to purchase a saver business class ticket using miles and they said I cannot. They said I don’t need additional miles and I am now on the waitlist-I Class Requested. Does that mean I am low on the priority list and chances of upgrade are little to none? On the inbound flight, it was booked as a saver economy ticket using miles. Would that one be eligible for business class saver using miles? I have been on the phone with 4 different reps and all four of them were ESL speakers so I am a bit frustrated trying to secure a ticket.

    Reply
  82. Benoit

    Good morning !
    I followed every step for an EWR-BCN flight on May 26th, they charged me 57.5K for each passenger (2) and we were waitlisted in IN (I’m 1K).

    This morning I checked the availability and found out that 2 award tickets were available fo 57.5K each for the exact same flight. I called the 1K desk, she saw the seats, she saw the fact that I had already paid 57.5K and she manually cleared the waitlisted.
    It is all good, we now are confirmed in businessfirst.

    This means that you should not trust the computer and keep on checking regularly !

    Good luck to all of you 🙂

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Benoit – Great that you caught that. Yes the ‘sweep’ sometimes only happens once a day. One way around it is to set up an alert on ExpertFlyer.com for ‘I’ space on your waitlisted flight. Enjoy the trip.

      Reply
  83. Mark

    Awesome! Just did this for a flight to Frankfurt on Tuesday May 31 2016, with a return on June 6th. Agent didn’t know about it but I referenced DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37 and she went right ahead and did it. Took 5 minutes. All looks good on my reservation and the right number of miles has been deducted. One thing that is different to the above that she told me:

    Agent said that if I hadn’t cleared before check-in I need to call them to have them refund the mile delta between business saver and economy saver. She said once I check in they can no longer refund the difference. I.e no being on the waitlist at the airport.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Mark

      P.S. I’m 1K. Agents on that line might be more helpful than the standard desk. Thought I knew all the tricks and tips – excited to learn this new one!

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @Mark – As far as we know you can get the difference refunded after you fly. It might require a phone call and some manual processing, but if you didn’t get into Biz First for the overwater segment you shouldn’t pay the Business Saver price.

      Reply
  84. SLOTheta

    A few months ago, I had successfully booked a 1 one way ticket from the US to Europe using this method. Yesterday, I called back to book my 1 way back home. The agent (a former Continental CSR) didn’t know what I was talking about. She was able to track down a Supervisor, and after about 45 minutes, they booked the ticket. But, I only see an upgrade for one of my legs, the one from Europe to the US. But my ORD to home flight (domestic) has no upgrade notes.

    Fare Class: United Economy (YN) – (I class requested)

    I also noticed that in my receipt, it doesn’t have any mention of a Business Saver seat. How do I know this is what I’m wait listed for?

    Lastly, I looked in my ticket for my 1 way out to Europe, and I noticed that the SFO to Frankfurt leg has a I class requested notation, but the Frankfurt to Barcelona does not.

    Can you help explain this?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @SLOTheta-

      For the FRA-BCN you won’t be able to waitlist for biz – that’s a Lufthansa flight and only United flights can be waitlisted. Though if the biz seat opens up you can call and request to be put into it.

      For the return if it says (I class requested) for the ORD-XXX looks like you are on the waitlist.

      Reply
      1. SLOTheta

        I probably wasn’t clear. My Rome to Chicago flight IS waitlisted (I). But, my Chicago (ORD) to Sacramento (SMF) IS NOT waitlist. The domestic flight is the one that is not showing me waitlisted, but the Europe to US is waitlisted Business Class.

        Reply
  85. Chris C

    So I see a leg open that’s Saver Economy, but Business Saver is not available. Business Standard is and First Standard is.

    Steps:
    1. Call in and ask to be booked into Saver Economy, but at the Business Saver Price. (got through your walkthrough if the agent doesn’t know what’s what)
    2. Does this guarantee a seat in at least economy if our plan falls through?

    Reply
    1. Chris C

      Also if we book through the phone we incur fees if we don’t have status so that’s just a loss we’re taking right?

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @Chris C – Yes – there has to be a Saver Economy seat on the flight when you book for this to work. So you will be guaranteed a seat on the flight.

      Reply
  86. Michelle

    Hi
    Is there any way to know how many people are on the waitlist before booking? I am thinking of booking an Economy Saver Award SYD-WAS and following your instructions to have it ticketed as a Business Saver Award but would like an idea of whether the upgrade is likely to come through.
    Thanks

    Reply
      1. Michelle

        Thanks. When I called I asked to speak to a supervisor as the first agent insisted that I could only book an economy seat. The supervisor said they weren’t able to advise waitlist position. I really only want the business seat for the SYD-LAX leg. If I have them book me at the Saver Business and waitlist me, will I still be charged 70K miles if I sit in economy for SYD-LAX, but they give me business for LAX-WAS, or will I be able to request a refund of my miles?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Michelle – You’ll get a refund of the extra miles if you don’t clear the SYD-LAX segment, even if you clear the LAX-WAS segment.

          Reply
          1. Michelle

            So after weeks of daily checks to see if a saver seat had opened in business class and not having any luck I decided call United and try this waistlist option. The agent waived the fees, deducted the 70K miles and booked the seat as United Economy X. The note shows that I am waitlisted for I Class.
            Has this been set up correctly? Your screen dumps above show that it should be booked as Economy XN and waitlisted for IN class. Should I call United back and ask them to change it?

          2. MileCards.com

            @Michelle – Don’t worry – X and I are correct. The ‘XN’ and ‘IN’ are for people who are Premier members of MileagePlus.

  87. Miler

    Thanks for this great strategy!!! I planned to use this strategy to book 3 seats to Germany in late July on a weekday. For the particular route I am looking for, here are the options available right now:

    – 30k Economy Saver for non-stop
    – 70k for the 1-stop Business Saver via Turkish Air. (This is a long connection which I don’t prefer)
    – Earlier this week, I saw 57.5k for the 1-stop Business Saver via Lufthansa, but not anymore. (very short connection time, so my 2nd choice)

    Ultimately, I would like to spend 57.5k for the non-stop. But I will take the Lufthansa 1-stop as the 2nd choice. I just accumulated enough miles for 3 x 57.k today. Which of the following strategies is the best option:

    1. Call and book Business Saver on the non-stop flight confirm in economy and wait list on Business Saver today.

    2. Wait until the 57.5k Business Saver seats for the 1-stop Lufthansa available again, then book and confirm them, and wait list on the non-stop flight.

    3. Not sure if this is possible….Call and book Business Saver on the non-stop flight confirm in economy and wait list on Business Saver today. When the 57.5k Business Saver seats for the 1-stop Lufthansa available again, call and confirm on that 1-stop flight and then wait list on the non-stop without paying any fee.

    I setup a trial expertflyer . com pro account to monitor these tickets, but it doesn’t look like it detect partner flights. Am I missing something? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Miler – Glad you’ve got it figured out.

      The one issue is if you change flights (even via waitlist) you’ll end up paying a change fee unless you’re a Premier member exempt from change fees.

      If you see the 57.5k with the one stop, would book that if it can be confirmed now. Otherwise, the waitlist on the nonstop sounds reasonable to try.

      Just also know that the lounge in Istanbul is one of the nicest in the world, so not a bad place to layover.

      And correct, ExpertFlyer won’t detect partner award flights. You’d need to set up a separate Lufthansa alert, which they do offer.

      Reply
        1. Miler

          So the 57.5k Business Saver seats for the 1-stop Lufthansa available now. I just called to book the Business Server on the 1-stop fly and then waitlist on the non-stop. The agent said waitlist is only for upgrade, period. I asked her to check with her supervisor. She came back after 5 minutes and said she can only book Econ Save on the non-stop and setup waitlist for the Business Saver for that flight. She cannot do it for the 1-stop and waitlist for the non-stop. So I just went with it since at least she seems know how this is done. I plan to do more research to see if the 1-stop to non-stop waitlist is possible later today and call back. I still have 24 hours to cancel. So is the agent correct that I cannot book on 1-stop and waitlist for non-stop? If not, what should I tell her instead? Is the same “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37″ in the computer system tell her to do that? Thanks again.

          Reply
          1. Miler

            Also, the agent only deducted 30k miles and I can see my reservation as Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (I class requested) online. I asked her she should be deducting 57.5k miles instead, and she said it will get deduct additional miles when I am clear for the business saver. I asked her multiple time to check and even look at DRS reference line 37. And she said that’s more for upgrade. So I am not sure if she setup correctly then.

          2. Miler

            So I called back, talked to another rep. She called the “expert team” and took 30-40 minutes to finally charge the business saver miles for my seats. She also said I cannot book the 1-stop flight and then waitlist on the non-stop. She said the waitlist is only for the same flight. Thanks again. So you can ignore my question below fom 5/8 at 1:35pm.

  88. Bev

    First thanks for an awesome detailed article regarding increasing chance to upgrade with United miles.
    What is the recommendation if your plan is to buy an upgradeable “W” or “V” fare for an EWR to CDG fare but ‘R’ class =0 is available @ time of purchase?
    If l’m waitlisted for Business using my GPU @ time of purchase, can I call in & get upgraded if I see ‘R’ class is available at least 1 or more days prior to departure?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bev – It’s worth trying if you see it. Officially they can’t clear someone on the waitlist into R manually, even if they see space, but some agents may do it. An alternative way if you see that space is to try and apply a brand new GPU – as agents can do that when R space is open (yes, makes no sense…). Then get your old waitlisted GPU back.

      Reply
      1. Christine

        Thank you so much for the detailed instructions! I had to make four calls and every person I talked to said it was not possible but I persisted. After the third call I decided to investigate United’s website for their award rules. I was able to find in the fine print, at the 17th bullet point, verbage that confirmed exactly what you said. I was then able to direct someone at United web support to this and they then conceded that they could do what I was asking. The lady I was working with even thanked me for teaching her something new and upgraded my economy seat to economy plus at no charge should business first sell out and I end up having to fly economy anyway. I felt like I won the lottery. You are the best!!

        Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @Christine- Congrats – great they figured it out – though sorry it took so long.

  89. Ed

    Hi, using this method of booking, for the domestic portion of an international trip, does this wait-list trump GS/1K complimentary upgrades that can clear a few days prior to departure?

    Thanks

    ed

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ed – In theory, yes it does. Upgrades supported by currency like miles or instruments trump complimentary upgrades. So a Silver using this method has higher priority than a 1K waiting for a complimentary upgrade.

      Reply
      1. Eddiebhai

        I recently found that THIS (what you state above) is NOT true. The CPU gets cleared and
        IN class (waitlisted) is cleared ONLY when there is an IN class inventory available. I am experiencing this right now 🙂 I called multiple agents and received the same answer that I am on waitlist and there is no inventory available (less than 24 hours to go)

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Eddiebhai – The highest priority applies to the airport standby list, which gets cleared by the gate agent. For long international flights CPU doesn’t come into play. But for domestic and others, there is a separate pre-airport upgrade priority list which as you see opens depending on which inventory bucket they decide to clear. Usually the last run of that pre-airport list is about 2 or 3 hours before departure. Then the airport standby list applies for any remaining first class seats that are unsold.

          Another thing that’s happening is UA tends to try to sell first class in cash for cheap during the check-in window, which ends up trumping any kind of upgrade.

          Reply
          1. EddieBhai

            Thank you MileCards. You are correct about that part. As we were ahead of the line on airport standby. It is a different matter that likelihood of unsold inventory within 24 hours for local flights is very remote given the number of seats that United has on the teeny-weeny planes 🙂

            It will be interesting to use this on an intl flight someday. 🙂

  90. Ed M

    Hi,

    How soon before flight date can a reservation on business be confirmed – a month, weeks, days? Thanks for all the great info. I’m booked on a flight from Milan to Newark, and from Newark to SFO a few days later.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ed M – As soon as the day you book your ticket. But after that it all depends on how the dynamics of the market play out and how actively United decides to manage the upgrades

      Reply
  91. CJT

    After several calls (4+ hours overall), I’m told that there are no economy class saver awards for any flights out of SFO to EWR the morning of 5/16. Yesterday the agent told me there were no saver awards in business or 1st class for the same group of flights. I’ve used my most humble approaches and tons of patience. I also referred them to “DRS reference page MPWAI – line 37 in their system”. Is it possible that in this case there is really no way to use this approach?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @CJT – The first requirement to be able to use this method is to have that Economy Saver award space, and checking now, it’s not available at the moment. Maybe it will appear later, but no guarantees.

      Reply
  92. Karen

    I want to change my flight from Paris to SFO (paid business saver miles and waitlisted) from July 8 to a few days later. I see an option for July 11th from CDG to ORD, ORD to cleveland, and Cleveland to SFO. Not ideal, but here are a couple questions.
    1) Will I have an option to change flights during check in to a direct flight to SFO if available? (for $75.00), or if Saver fares are not available, am I out of luck?
    2) Secondly, once I’m in Chicago, can I fly standby on direct flight, even though by reservation is through Cleveland? I’m silver status, but not sure where a saver business fare is prioritized over others flying standby.

    Also, I changed my husbands flight yesterday, and the agent knew exactly what to do to keep the new flight paid as business saver with economy seat. Entire call still took almost an hour. I was on hold for over 30 minutes as he needed the service desk tell him how tax to charge for the new flight segments. Turns out, what ever he did, put my husband into business class with confirmed seats (JN class). He didn’t know what happened, but left it as is.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Karen – Yes you should have the option to change to a direct flight with in 24 hours of departure for a fee, but the Saver fare needs to be available. The wait listing might get tricky as well if you haven’t yet cleared for Business.

      As for once you’re in Chicago, yes you can standby for the nonstop.

      Congrats on your husband though. Leave that flight alone!

      Or for your case, hope for some flight delays. Then you should be able to get yourself in Business on any United flight you want as business class customer with irregular operations, given you’ve paid the business fare.

      Reply
      1. Karen

        Last weekend I was able to change my flights. I first talked to an agent on the premier desk, but she couldn’t see saver availability for the same flights was seeing on line. So I was transferred to the support desk.

        I’m now flying through London. My connection time is 23 hours 50 minutes, so when I first told the agent what flights I wanted, she immediately said that stopovers were not allowed on one ways. I had to remind her that since the connection time was less than 24 hours it was a connection not a stop over. So she proceeded to book my ticket, knew what to do, again took about an hour.

        But on my reservation it says “I class requested” instead of IN (I’m silver status). Our flight to Europe is wait listed in IN class. Does I Class make any difference as far as business saver availability or priority on the wait list? Or do I need to call back and have it corrected?

        Reply
  93. jp

    Attempt #1: someone who clearly didnt know and was offended that i was sure that he was wrong…
    Attempt #2: really nice lady who tried to help and even asked the supervisor and spent an hour with me booking the reservation and putting me on a priority waitlist. She did everything right except pulling the business class mileage
    Attemp #3: talked to dave a laid back guy who have been in his job a while because he mentioned that he thought they got rid of that rule after the merger. but in any case, he decided to phone a specialist and had the right attitude, “you learn something every day” he said. After another 45 mins, they were able to credit me back the economy award miles and debit the correct business class mileage.

    Lesson: for anyone attempting to do this… give yourself about 2 hrs and be really patient. play dumb and say “hey im not an expert and i’m just following instructions i read from this blog” and read the critical parts back to them “hey its telling me here to ‘call in to request ticketing yourself on the flight as a BusinessSaver award, but confirmed in Economy Class’ Do you know what that means?” blah blah.

    I can attest to this post that this is possible. I almost gave up after the 2nd call. Be persistent and patient. Good luck

    Reply
    1. JP

      Ok question: Now that I got this set up. I was wondering if I am going to screw up my reservation if I go to assign myself some economy seats?

      Also tell me if this sounds right…

      when I go to the screen to assign seats, there are two of the same flights listed. ie. its a direct flight but it looks like there are two legs of the same flight listed. one shows the whole flight, the other shows only the biz/first class.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @JP – No worries – go ahead and assign the seats. That second seat map just shows because you are waitlisted for business.

        Reply
        1. JP

          So its been about a month now and I have seen 6 business class seats fill up for the flight I am on waitlist for. Is that common? With this travel hack am I the first in line to get the next business saver award seat when it becomes available?

          Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @JP – All depends on paid demand for the flight. You are first in line if no one with higher status is also on a Saver business award waiting for the seat.

          2. JP

            Does it matter that they only deducted the tax of an economy fare? They took the proper miles for business class but not tax. They said that once I am upgraded, I’ll pay the difference.

          3. MileCards.com

            @JP – It’s for the domestic segment you’re waiting to clear right? Shouldn’t be a difference in tax for that.

          4. JP

            It’s actually a direct flight from CDG – SFO. They incorrectly took the mileage the first time and they took the tax as if it was for economy. I called back to correct the mileage but they left the tax the same.

            I’m just wondering if the tax makes a difference because I have seen a lot of business class seats fill up. 11 to be exact in 2 months. Maybe there are a lot of rich people out there that just pays the fare out of pocket but just in case I thought I’d ask to see if I’m set up correctly.

            Thanks as always for your replies.

          5. JP

            Sorry to ask to bug you again about this. Do you know if they were supposed to take the tax at the rate of the business class fare as well as the points?

  94. Chitown Bound

    Thanks for this tip!

    Quick question – the flight I’m looking for does not even have Economy Saver available. Would it still be possible to ticket the flight at Business Saver price but confirmed at Economy Saver using this trick?

    Reply
      1. Chitown Bound

        @MileCards.com thanks! Another quick question – does this trick also work for Business to First class as well? Business Saver is available for this flight I’m looking at, but First Saver is not.

        Reply
  95. Bob Hostetler

    I’m quite interested in your response to my note of 2/19. Any thoughts you can give me on my question would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bob- For that situation, where you want to change from a Business (or Economy) Saver level to a Business Standard level, they would just charge you the difference in miles plus a change fee. That change fee is $100 if the change is done less than 21 days before departure, and $75 if it’s earlier than that.

      Reply
    2. JM

      My reservation now says “R class requested” however I was only charged the economy saver rate. I was told that the additional 27,500 miles (US to Europe) would be deducted if and when I get confirmed into the R class. Does this sound right? Is there a difference between R class and I class in this scenario.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @JM – R class is for upgrades from cash tickets – so odd they would waitlist you for that space – though it’s roughly equivalent.

        But no, this was not setup correctly. You are setup to be eligible to clear the waitlist into business if space opens up before the 24 hour window before the flight. But if seats don’t open up by then, you won’t be eligible to transfer over to the airport waitlist.

        Reply
  96. Nzbound

    I just tried calling United to book this but was not successful so I’m wondering if maybe I’m not asking correctly? I said I wanted to book a Business Saver award but it’s not available so I want to confirm with Economy Saver and be waitlisted but pay the Business Saver award mileage. The rep said it is only for paying customers to be able to upgrade to the waitlist. It was very confusing and then I got confused and figured I’d try calling back. I even mentioned the reference page but she said we have our own reference system and that will not work. Not super friendly.

    Any tips on how to say this over the phone so it makes sense? I’m trying to book a one-way PDX – AKL. Would I be paying the full Business Standard award amount, or the Business Saver amount and just having a confirmed seat in economy? It sounds like the latter, correct?

    Reply
      1. Nzbound

        I called back and got someone who knew how to do it, so am now I class requested and paid the business saver award! Now fingers crossed something opens up and I am able to get on business class!!

        Reply
  97. Bob Hostetler

    I’m planning to use your approach for bus class for two on United flights to Australia in January 2017…at the moment, saver economy tickets are still available for all open dates. However, I have plenty of UA miles and we really want to get on bus class for the LAX to MEL non-stop to the point that I’ll pay non-saver standard mileage rates if I have to and I don’t want to go to the airport still hanging out on whether I’m going to get into business or not. My question is whether or not there is a reasonable cost way to pay standard miles several months from now if the waitlist is not coming through or if I see business class starting to fill up. That is, will they give me credit for the bus saver miles I’ve already committed and charge me the additional miles for a standard award, or would I have to sacrifice the bus saver miles plus pay the standard miles…that would be way too much! Many thanks for your great tip on this one.

    Reply
  98. Sapphire

    Hi, Please help! I’m so confused. I had already made a reservation from SFO – SYD and back using the method you had suggested. They already deducted my miles and I do see that “I” class is requested on my confirmation page. I am a bit confused though. I called to check my status and the rep told me that even if savers award do not clear 24 hrs before my departure, I will be added to a waitlist at the airport. But the confusing part was when she told me even if there are 10 business class seats vacant/available, I would still not be issued the seat because I am requesting “saver awards” business class and it is not available. Does that sound right? From what you wrote, it seems that if there at 10 seats available and no one is asking for it, I should be able to get it since I paid in miles already. But the rep told me no, only for SAVERS AWARD. If no savers award available, even at check in I will not get the seats.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sapphire – If they have already deducted the full number of miles for a business class ticket you’re waitlisted properly. When it goes to the airport waitlist, they will fill every remaining seat in business if someone is still left on the waitlist. The key is seeing that you’re on that waitlist after the 24 hour mark.

      But if they only deducted the economy class number of miles you won’t be setup to be placed on the airport waitlist.

      Reply
      1. Sapphire

        Hi,

        They had already deducted the business class miles, but the lady kept telling me that even once I’m on the waitlist at the airport, I will not be assigned the seats EVEN if it is available because my award type is SAVERS. So I asked her, just to clarify, that even if she had seats available that no one is taking, the airline would not release it to me, and she said YES. I even asked her whats the point of airport waitlist was, and she said it was because of my SAVERS award. I asked her what will happen to the points United had already charged then. She said it would be refunded, and I will not get the seat. This was why I got so confused. What should I do?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Sapphire – She is misinformed about how waitlists are handled at the airport. Sounds like it’s set up correctly.

          Reply
  99. CloverleafFoamArt

    Okay, so I was able to get waitlisted on a SFO-LHR flight.

    Originally the agent put me down as “I class requested” (Biz class). I called back and asked for “O class requested” (1st class) waitlist. The 2nd agent told me that if I am on the O class waitlist, then I won’t be on the I class waitlist (2 different waitlist, I can only be on one).

    Is there any risk of being on 1st class waitlist but not on business class waitlist? e.g., Is there a possibility that biz savers will open up (and get filled) without any O classes opening up, at which point I’d be stuck in Economy?

    Also, I still haven’t gotten miles deducted yet, while the reservation states “Your purchase is confirmed”. Is it because I have a partner leg (LHR-DUB) attached to the reservation and that needs to be confirmed first? Just want to make sure I am able to see that my points are deducted correctly (First Check) even though “Second Check” is confirmed.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @CloverleafFoamArt – Yes there is a chance business will clear before first does. Really impossible to tell which has a better chance unless one is completely sold out.

      Though theoretically fewer people are waitlisting for first than business since it costs more.

      The ‘your purchase is confirmed’ is pretty common, but you should get an email within the day with a receipt confirming the ticket, and at that point the miles should be deducted.

      Reply
      1. CloverleafFoamArt

        Thanks @milescards

        Interesting development… so yesterday, a couple hours after my 2nd phone call, I got confirmation about my upgrade for my SFO-LHR leg: “We’re pleased to let you know that your request for an upgrade from San Francisco, CA, US (SFO) to London, GB (LHR – Heathrow) has been confirmed.”

        I have “O class requested” still showing on my LHR-SFO leg.

        However, under Mileage and Price Details, it’s still only showing 120,000 Miles + Fees (60,000 x 2 for 2 people)… R/T First Saver should be 320,000 (160,000 x 2)

        Thoughts/Recommendations?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @CloverleafFoamArt- Congrats on it clearing. Sounds like they did a waitlist without deducting the miles. Unfortunately they don’t tell you this when it clears, but you’ll need to call in to have the ticket ‘synced’ and the miles deducted. Otherwise your other waitlist might not clear if space opens up for the other leg.

          Reply
          1. CloverlifeFoamArt

            Doh (or maybe not)?

            The plane for the SFO-LHR flight got switched from a 747-400 to a 787-9 Dreamliner.

            No First Class on the dreamliner, so I got “downgraded” to BusinessFirst. I know now I don’t get to experience the GlobalFirst lounges in SFO and LHR, seating/comfort-wise, do you see this as much of a downgrade?

            FYI: I called a couple more times and still haven’t gotten them to deduct my points correctly… but at least now I’ll have some extra miles to save for another flight (for the SFO-LHR leg)

          2. CloverleafFoamArt

            Today (3/26) just got bumped into GlobalFirst for my 4/12 LHR-SFO flight. (Thanks again for this blog post)

            While I am still searching for (and have yet to find) a glowing review of UAL’s 777 GlobalFirst seats, it’s still got to be heckuva lot better than UAL’s Economy Plus (plus it’ll be monetarily/out-of-pocket cheaper now that I get that upgrade refunded).

            Question for you: If you were traveling with your significant other, would you sit window-window, window-adjacent middle, or middle-middle? Let’s assume one gets along fine with the significant other and would want to interact with each other during the flight 😉

          3. MileCards.com

            @CloverleafFoamArt – Congrats – and such a long flight. On the 777 anything but window-window will be pretty equal in interaction. The middles are probably highest interaction – they face slightly in the opposite direction so you have to turn your head a bit, but your bodies are close to each other and it’s easy to speak softly.

            Window / aisle is good for glancing over and sharing expressions, conversation a bit tougher! But the window passenger gets more privacy.

            You’ll enjoy the flight especially if you get a Heathrow based crew.

  100. al

    Just another data point. Have platinum status, booked SYD-SFO and was told that they’ll redeem the economy miles from me now and waitlist me for business. I see that I have IN requested in my reservation, but don’t know if it’s equivalent to the method you mentioned in this article or lower on the pecking order.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @al – The way the agent did it will clear you if space opens up between now and 24 hours before departure. But the way the agent set it up won’t clear you after 24 hours before departure. To do that, they need to deduct the full Business Class miles upfront.

      Reply
  101. mongobot

    I was able to do this recently but when I look at my reservation, it says “I class requested” rather than “IN class requested”. What’s the difference?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @mongobot – No difference really. People who are Premier members get waitlisted for ‘IN’, and those who are not get waitlisted for ‘I.’ In theory Premier members are supposed to get access to better availability via ‘IN’ but in practice they’re usually the same.

      Reply
    2. Wendy

      Thank you so much for this tip. It took 2 phone calls to find someone who could help us but we are now waitlisted!

      The first agent said that we had to buy the ticket and then could request the Business Saver upgrade with miles.

      We bought a saver economy ticket with miles and purchased the economy plus upgrade to be sure to have a comfortable seat. We called United back and spoke to an American agent and referenced the United rules and mentioned this was a carryover from the Continental merger. The agent spoke to her supervisor and got it done. We were on hold for a while but we did not mind at all!

      They deducted our account for the saver business miles and if we get upgraded I read that we can ask for a refund of our economy plus money that we paid.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  102. US to Europe

    I just spoke to a manager and she said this is no longer permitted, even though it is still on their website…she said the website hasn’t been adjusted yet???

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @US to Europe – Thanks for the update – keep an eye on it – managers have been known to make up policies, but sometimes also get them right before they’re public. So would try again later politely to get a sense.

      Reply
  103. twave

    Hi, I am trying to book a business saver using this method for sgn-den. My preferred flight is from sgn to nrt operated by air japan and the nrt to den is by united. I tried 3 different agents but they all told me I can’t reserve an economy saver space and be waitlisted on business saver because of the sgn-nrt leg operated by air japan.
    What else can I do in this situation? What should I tell them? I told them about the reference that you mentioned too but they were adamant that the system didn’t allow them to ticket the business saver for waitlisting. Thank you for your help!

    Reply
  104. Karina

    I have 2 questions about Saver fares and waitlists:

    – Are “saver fares” available for United international flights with “Business-First” only?
    An agent told me they weren’t…

    – Most agents definitely don’t know about the waitlist method you described; they say it can only be used if ONE SEGMENT of your flight is already booked in saver BZ or 1st, and then you can waitlist for the segment that’s in economy. True?

    – thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Karina – Both not true in practice! Unfortunately you need to wait on hold again and try another agent.

      Reply
  105. SLOTheta

    I requested a call using the link provided in this string. It took 40 minutes, but the agent was able to re-book my previously purchased ticket. I had previously booked a 30,000 Saver Award, the agent re-booked me for a 57,000 First Saver. She knew exactly how to handle the re-booking.

    Even if I don’t get the First seat, I’ll still only pay 30,000 for my ticket from SMF to BCN. Pretty good deal.

    There are still 30,000 saver seats from SFO to BCN for July 2nd!

    Reply
  106. Ed M

    Hi,

    I was successful in doing this today with a United agent for my flight from Milan, Italy to Newark and then to SFO. I even asked the repressentative if she was a former Continental employee and she responded, “yes.” Even so, I still had to talk her through on how book the flight. My only question is what if my business class gets cleared for the Newark to SFO segment (several days later than the Milan flight) and not the Milan to Newark segment? Will I be eligible for some miles refund since I will not be flying business on the transatlantic flight?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ed – It used to be if you only cleared the domestic segment the difference in miles would be refunded. Now it says if the ‘BusinessFirst’ or ‘Business Class’ segment doesn’t clear the extra miles will be refunded.

      Here’s the rub. The Newark to SFO flights are now called ‘BusinessFirst’ because of the lie flat seats. So they might not refund all the miles, but they should only charge you for the domestic saver first price if they do, which is less than a full international saver business award.

      Now, if you were to fly say, EWR-ORD-SFO then you’d get all the extra miles back if you cleared only those because those flights don’t have Business or BusinessFirst, they just have regular domestic first class.

      Reality is, you’re more likely to clear the MXP-EWR upgrade than EWR-SFO these days so it becomes a moot point.

      Here’s the current language:

      “For United BusinessFirst and United Business travel awards, the difference in miles will be refunded when the United BusinessFirst or United Business class segment of the trip could not be confirmed.”

      Reply
      1. Dorian

        So it sounds like on my MAD-EWR-LAX itinerary, if MAD-EWR clears into BusinessFirst, but I am stuck flying Economy for EWR-LAX, I won’t be refunded ANY miles, since I technically had a BusinessFirst segment clear?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Dorian – Yes that’s right. And the way demand is on those routes, that’s a possible scenario.

          Reply
          1. Dorian

            Thanks for the quick reply. Hopefully I didnt repeat a question that was already answered (i searched through the comments). Didn’t want you to have to answer another “One of my legs is on a partner airline, how do I clear into business into it?!” question haha.

          2. MileCards.com

            @Dorian – No repeat on that one. And hopefully it all clears. But those PS flights can be tough. If you hit a delay, you might be able to make a case to get put into Business outright as part of a rebooking.

          3. Dorian

            @MileCards.com – Decided not to book that itinerary. The thought of paying 57.5k miles but only having half the itinerary in biz and the other in economy was too tough to stomach! Going to keep my eye open for other routes with better odds. Awesome article and awesome continued support of the article (as evidenced by your insanely quick responses). Thanks!!!

  107. Rocky

    I’m a bit confused, it says 45000 for the standard economy, but you said 40,000. Where did you get the 40k?

    here you said:

    “Call in to request ticketing yourself on the flight as a Business or First Class Saver award, but confirmed in Economy Class. Then ask to be wait listed for Business or First Class.

    You’ll be charged 40,000 miles, much better than the 90,000 ‘Standard’ rate for Business Class and receive first priority for a Business Class seat.

    This only works for United flights, but if you have an itinerary with both a United and partner flight you can still wait list the United flight.

    Once you’ve done this, here’s how you can make sure it is ticketed correctly:

    Make sure you were charged the Business or First Class Class mileage level.”

    ok so confused even more. If the whole point is to get the business seat, for the economy cost(miles), then if I’m gonna be charged business, then whats the point?

    Reply
    1. Keith

      A business saver award for a flight from mainland USA to Hawaii is 40,000 miles.

      The point is buying a business class seat at the 40,000 “saver” level as opposed to paying 90,000 miles.

      Reply
  108. Lisa

    Any tips on how to get connected to those former Continental agents? What number are you using? I’ve tried a few times with the Click to Call option linked in the comments but so far every agent tells me it’s impossible – that if I want Business Class, I just have to take out the Standard Award miles; I can’t book Economy Saver and take out the miles for Business Saver.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Lisa – Wish there was a perfect plan for that. About half the agents are from that side of the house so it’s luck of the draw.

      Reply
  109. Karen

    I’ve booked 3 one-ways this way. The first time was painful and took over an hour. But yesterday booked a direct flight to Paris from SFO for next month, and the agent was knew exactly what to do, and didn’t even charge me the fee for booking over the phone.

    As an FYI, United has a two for one special for purchased miles. I’d almost cleaned out my United miles for my return flight on United and was going to book a 3 leg (20 hour) American economy flight to Paris using miles. But when I saw the United direct flight, wondered what it would cost to buy miles. So for under $1000, I was able to purchase 52K miles. The direct flight and ability to sit in business was worth the money. I was concerned about buying the miles and the saver flight evaporating, so the agent waited on the phone after she had the reservation in progress until I purchased the miles and they reflected in my account- then confirmed the reservation. Even if I don’t end up in business, I’ll end up with 27.5 miles back in my account and a 11 hour direct flight instead of 20 hour flight. Still cheaper than a RT economy ticket.

    When I return I’ll respond with whether the waitlist for business was successful or not.

    Reply
      1. Karen

        I’m booked on a direct flight to Paris for December 14 in business, with seat confirmed in Economy. So I just checked the flight and there are now Business seats available for 57.5K miles. Since I didn’t see any change in my reservation, I called united and explained that the business seats are now available, and wanted to get moved to the business cabin. The agent said there was a $50 close in change fee. I explained I was waitlisted in business and just wanted to claim my business seat. She told me the system would process the waitlist at midnight and I’d have to wait to get cleared, or pay the $50 change fee. I’m concerned that the seat might disappear today before the “system runs”.
        Any suggestions?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Karen – Try another agent – with the airlines it’s always worth calling back and asking politely at least 5 times if you don’t get the answer that makes sense.

          Reply
          1. Karen

            By the time I called back 15 minutes later, ready to pay the $50, the saver seats were gone.
            And nothing happened overnight- still in economy for my flight next Monday.

            I’m trying to figure out how many business seats are still available. The seating chart reflects 10 open seats. But based on the below availability, how many seats are really left? Not quite sure how to translate.
            Available fare classes:J5 JN5 C5 D4 Z2 ZN2 P1 PN0 R0RN0IN0I0Y9YN9B9M9E9U9H9HN9Q9V9W9S9T9L9K9G0N0XN9X9

    1. Jim

      First, thank you for all of the information. It was very helpful, but I think I got screwed over nonetheless, I wanted to know your thoughts.

      I was flying from LAX to EWR to BHX (UK)

      My LAX to EWR leg was economy. My EWR to BHX was business. I used 57,500 miles.

      I did everything you said and when I checked in, I was number 1 on waitlist with several seats remaining, at least 3.

      I was feeling good until I saw three people get upgraded ahead of me. They were not on the list at all.

      So when I get to airport, I am still number 1, but now there are no more seats.

      I write United and this was their response:

      ****
      Thank you for your email.

      The waitlist for upgrades using a Global Premier Upgrade (GPU), Regional Premier Upgrade (RPU) or MileagePlus miles are prioritized by Premier status of the traveleer, then fare class followed by time of request. Since most passengers using a GPU or RPU hold an elite level of status, they would have a higher priority and would receive the upgrade before yourself. Based on the information available, the waitlist for your recent Los Angeles to Newark flight was correct.

      We appreciate you taking the time to contact us.
      *****

      I don’t think she’s right. According to your article, I should have gotten higher priority over all upgrades. The only people who come ahead are those who paid full price or full points.

      So did I get screwed. I am going to fight them on this. I want to know the words to use to battle them.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Jim – The odd part is you say these people weren’t on the upgrade list at all. So that would mean #2 and #3 on the list you saw were also passed over.

        If people who weren’t on the list displayed upgraded it’s possible they paid for an upsell in cash, a deal United often offers at checkin. Sometimes it’s coded as an upgrade, other times as a higher fare which doesn’t show as an upgrade. If that’s the case, then unfortunately the priority worked correctly. United likes to sell cash upsells as often as it can.

        The key though is you shouldn’t refer to your situation as an upgrade. You were a business class ticketed passenger waitlisting for a seat on that flight. Which is different from an upgrade. What the agent says about mileage upgrades is correct. But you were not using a mileage upgrade. You were ticketed as a business class award, waitlisted for that flight.

        Reply
        1. Jim

          I know! I have been telling them them that it is NOT an upgrade! I am just going to continue to inquire. Thanks for you help. Your tips were awesome.

          I am thinking, that the upsell is what happened.

          Reply
  110. AR

    I’m new to all of this so please bare with me. If I understand this correctly, this will allow you to get a Business saver award if it’s not listed or to the top of the wait list, but you are still paying/using the Business saver award miles, correct? It’s not getting a Business award at Saver award miles?

    I am looking to book a Saver award ticket to Tokyo (I don’t have enough miles to try the trick discussed here). I have Silver status and the MileagePlus Explorer card. Is there anyway to get on the wait list for Business? Or will I be in Economy 100%? Thanks

    Reply
  111. Keith

    I have two UA award tickets booked on LH metal, (CDG-FRA-SFO) and just called to waitlist for (I) from CDG-EWR-SFO … the agent did the waitlist, and it shows on my booking online (I waitlist requested), however, he didn’t know anything about taking out the amount of miles for an (I) award, but said that if (I) space opens, we will automatically clear into it. Was he correct? Does this process *only* work if the additional miles are taken out of the account? If that’s the case, I what I don’t understand about this process is what difference does it make if the additional miles are taken out of the account or not if either way you are waitlisted for the appropriate fare class…

    Reply
  112. Nick H

    Can this also be done from business to first? For instance i am looking at going to SE Asia. If I fly US-Japan on United, then partner from Japan to SE Asia all on Business the price is 80k miles. If I fly US-Japan in First, then partner from Japan to SE Asia on business it is 80k miles. If there is business space, but no 1st space on United can I call and have it booked as first and ticketed as business with a waitlist to first?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Nick H – As far as we can tell the policy is for Economy to Business / First and haven’t seen anything about Business to First. But it’s worth calling to try.

      Reply
  113. Bud

    Just completed my “Book Saver Economy, Wait List Saver Business” with a former Continental Agent (got lucky). Went smoothly, though she said she’d waive the $50 Call Center Fee, then forgot to do so! lol

    As a matter of interest, after I brought up my Reservation by Locator # and printed it, it looked like this:

    http://tinypic.com/r/1685spf/8

    I was able to go to both Seat Maps but only select on Economy – made sense. But since I inadvertently had printed it Landscape, I went back about 10 minutes later to print Portrait, and got this:

    http://tinypic.com/r/1zp35s5/8

    Totally different, but seems OK since the Wait list verbiage is correct. May be a look at the Sausage Making at UA!!!

    Reply
  114. Bud

    Booking IAD–> AMS looking for Saver Business on 9/13/16. Appears that Standard are loaded next day, with Saver Economy a day or 2 later. Saver Business looks to take 8-12 days to be loaded. Save First Class is much farther out and seems rather random.

    I expect to be able to Book a Saver Economy Wednesday or Thursday with Award Miles for Saver Business. I found today in my “trial call” to UA that the Rule is not widely known, but the woman said she would read it and talk with her Supervisor – very nice woman who I believe would have worked her way thru it had Saver Economy been available to start the process. I think your info has been spot on and very helpful. Thanks.

    Question: My Return is FRA –> IAD on 9/29/16 and I will of course book when Saver Economy comes available for that Flight in about 16 days. Will I be able to then pay Saver First Class Award Miles for Wait List for First Class? If so, and Saver First Class is NOT available, would it revert to Saver Business if it is available?

    Also, I noticed discussion of the Fare Codes used for the various categories of seats. I have copied this Fare Code Summary: http://www.cwsi.net/united.htm . My question is “Where do I find these Fare Codes on the Flight I am Booking”? I recall being able to find this helpful info when I was a 1K before I retired in 2006 (and lost my status – sigh!). Now I don’t know how to get at it. Please advise!

    Thanks again. This info is terrific and helpful…

    Reply
      1. Bud

        Thanks, MileCards. Good info. Rather rusty on UA stuff though my 100+ Segments per year for 1K for a decade prior to 2006 had me knowledgeable back then!!

        Question 1, knowing the answer is not easy. For my Return Flight, if I were to buy Saver Econ early in the process (as in day it hits UA Site) and wait listed for UA933 (FRA –> IAD 777 w/ 8 FC seats) what do you think the probability of UA releasing a pair of FC Seats along the way knowing I would probably be first on the Wait List?

        Question 2, there are 4 UA Direct FRA –> IAD Flights daily. I am shooting for the 5 P.M. UA933, but UA988 also exists. The other 2 are LU, and I assume that even though they Code Share and show as UA8827 and UA8832 on a Cash Ticket Search, they are out of play for the Wait List Process?

        Question 3, is there any way to Wait List on 933 and eventually move to FC Seats in 988? Without Change Fee? (Suspect not!!)

        Comment: I called UA today and got a former Continental Agent (25 years) in Tampa. Lovely women who had the entire process down in spades. She even repeated the process which of course is exactly what you have put on this site. She said Saver Economy would like be released in AM. (Any way to get directed into the Tampa Office, which likely was Continental in the past?)

        Thanks for being patient on a lot of what may seem simple stuff to you, but it sure is helpful to us unwashed folks!!!

        Reply
  115. Andrea, The Fearless Flashpacker

    Very helpful! I just booked a RTW ticket using 350K miles, which should put me in Business class. I got a seat in “I” and “X” on all the flights EXCEPT the EWR-LAX-SYD and LHR-EWR legs on United, but since I’m on a Business class mileage ticket, I asked to be put on the waitlist. This makes me feel MUCH, MUCH better, and now I feel confident that unless all 40 seats up front fill up with paying customers, I kind of have a right to one of those seats.

    Do you know if status helps as well? I’m PP, but I’m going to make 92,700 miles, which I can easily convert to 1K by buying some PQMs (I have an FPO address, so I don’t need to meet the $12K PQD threshold)

    Thanks!

    Reply
  116. Germs

    Great article! Successfully added myself on waitlist for ewr-txl on a the class service plane. However, they only allowed me to waitlist for business class–not first. Thoughts?

    Reply
  117. Cathy

    I just tried to use this method to book my flight to australia. No matter how many representatives I spoke to, they all said that they cannot ticket a business saver award and confirm an economy saver award. They must book only enough points for the economy saver and then put me on the waitlist for the business saver. They said that they cannot book for business saver because it is not available and that is considered over booking if they take out more points than they need to for economy saver. Does this sound right? I spoke to about 8 people today and got hunged up on by 3 of them. I see that I am waitlisted like your screen shot, but the number of points deducted is only economy saver. Please help!! I’m not sure if I did it wrong.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Cathy – Sorry to hear about that – we had success doing it as recently as last week. Try using this callback feature (where they call you) – the agents there might be more familiar with this:

      http://as00.estara.com/UI/gui.php?donotcache=1201839075925&accountid=20010417&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.continental.com%2Fweb%2Fen-US%2Fcontent%2FContact%2Ftechnical%2Fdefault.aspx&pagetitle=Continental+Airlines+-+continental.com+Support+Contact+Information&template=1178&log1=www.continental.com%2Fweb%2Fen-US%2Fcontent%2Fcontact%2Ftechnical%2Fdefault.aspx&log2=&log3=&calltype=webvoicepop&guiid=43834a54eac25&timestamp=1201839058

      Reply
      1. Cathy

        So I did call them back. They took out all the points now, but I’m still in the X class waiting to upgrade to I class. Its not “XN” or “IN”. Its just “X” and “I”. Would that be okay? Or am I still doing it wrong?

        Reply
          1. Andrew

            I had the same experience on 9/16/15. I was able to get the agent to ticket a saver economy seat from USA-EUR under the “X” fare and get waitlisted for the “O” global first. They withdrew all 160K points required for a global first r/t ticket. I hope it works! They would not book it as XN and ON as they said that is only for Elites or United Chase card holders.

          2. MileCards.com

            @Andrew – That’s exactly right – and it’s rare that ‘ON’ is more available than ‘O’. ‘XN’ though is often more available than ‘X’ though.

  118. Cole

    This is an incredible tip; I spent 45 minutes with the agent, but an hour later I had already cleared the waitlist for First Class on United 871 (SFO – TPE) for only 80K miles!

    Reply
  119. Doug

    So I just did this for a flight to Honolulu. However, they only billed me for the 22.5K miles, not the full 40K. They put in a wait-list request, but I’m currently in XN class and they waitlisted me for “I” class, not “IN” class as in your screenshot above. Is that a problem? Did they do it correctly, or should I phone back and correct something?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Doug – IN is for Premier level members so this looks right for you. If I opens up before the day of the flight you’ll clear. But they way they’ve set it up by only deducting 22.5k means if it doesn’t clear by 24 hours before departure, you may not be on the airport waitlist as the miles aren’t deducted. So you may want to phone back.

      Reply
  120. Ice Mike

    So question. If i am in XN(saver economy) and waitlisted for IN(saver business) and have already had the miles deducted. WHat is the order that these upgrades are processed?

    I have been waitlisted for about 6 months for my flight HGK->EWR and check it almost every day. I notice there are people being upgraded(as i watch booked bulkhead seats dissapear the same day BF seats disappear) though i have not. So im wondering is this based on date booked? Status? I know fare has to do with it but where does XN fit in that order?

    Thanks for the great tips!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ice – It is status then date. But the other thing going on is there is separate inventory (‘R’) for upgrades from cash tickets. It’s possible United is opening up ‘R’ space to upgrade those tickets while leaving the award ticket Business Class inventory closed off. If it ultimately gets to the day of departure list, these award tickets get higher priority than cash ticket upgrades.

      Reply
      1. Ice Mike

        Yes you might be right. I have been tracking the buckets the past few weeks. RN has been opening but not IN.

        I guess i just have to hope for the best.

        Thanks.

        Reply
  121. Gabe

    What if the ticket is already ticketed as an economy saver award? Can you call in after the fact and ask it to be ticketed as saver business/First?

    Reply
  122. Laila

    The note in my UA app reads as follows, I assume this is exactly as you taught us (thank you!!)
    You are confirmed in X class on this flight and have requested a change to I class.

    You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class (I) becomes available.

    Reply
  123. Adada

    Hello I have booked a two segment mixed cabin flight using full first class miles on MileagePlus website. The first segment was a first class on United and the next segment is Economy with a partner airline. Is there any ways I can wait-list the second segment of my flight on first or business?

    Should I call united or the partner airline to wait-list that? or I can do that while I check in the airport?

    Thanks a lot!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Adada – Unfortunately you can’t waitlist on partner airlines with United miles. But if you see the space open up when you check the United website you can call and see if you can be moved into First/Business Class. You may be socked with a change fee though.

      Reply
      1. Adada

        Actually I am not much concerned about the second flight as it only takes 3 hours. But I have a long layover at the airport, so I would like to get access to the partner airline (Air China) lounge. Will United be able to offer me a pass or what for that? Any ideas?

        Reply
  124. Gary2hs

    Following your guidance, I attempted to find two economy saver seats on any flight from Munich to Dulles on July 19, 2016. Since you said that this process would only work on United flights, I restricted my search to United. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are NO economy saver seats (30,000) available on United, only standard awards (65,000). They do have economy saver seats on partner airlines (Lufthansa and Austrian). I think you said this waitlist process will only work on United.

    Is it your sense that more seats will open up, or has United figured out how to close this process out?

    Reply
  125. Keith

    Would you know when united opens up saver awards for their flights? Meaning how far or close before the actual flight date? I would like to make a reservation for a united flight in May EWR – TLV and as of now, only standard awards are being offered.

    I was told by a united representative that it’s not that all the saver awards were taken, but rather that since the date of the flight is so far off, they aren’t offering them yet, but the flights are wide open and i should check back in a couple of months. Are saver awards always offered? (so that i can either book a business award or waitlist it by booing a saver economy award) or is it possible that since it will be high season maybe united just won’t offer any saver awards during that season?

    Also, although i think it was mentioned once in the comments, do you know if there is a difference between when saver economy awards are offered and saver business awards are offered (it seemed that someone mentioned that saver business are only available 45 days before the flight)?

    many thank for your help!

    Reply
  126. Ryan

    Hey there,

    I booked my flight LAX-AMS thru HOU on United about a month ago using miles for an Economy Saver award. Can I call I try this even if I have already purchased my ticket or will I have to call and make a new reservation?

    Reply
  127. Calvin

    I booked an Economy Saver from CDG – SFO on a United Partner connecting flight?
    I cannot waitlist for Business Saver on a non United flight.
    1. Can I waitlist on Economy Saver nonstop flight?
    2. Can I waitlist on Business Saver nonstop flight?
    3. Should I book Economy Standard and waitlist for the Business Saver nonstop?
    4. Will the excess miles redeem for Economy Standard be return to my account if the
    Business Saver clears?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Calvin – You’re right, you can’t waitlist on a partner flight, though you can waitlist for the United portion (so for example SFO-FRA (United) – CDG (Lufthansa) would work).

      And you can only waitlist for Saver Business if you see Economy *Saver* seats open – you can’t do it if you only see Economy Standard seats.

      Reply
  128. Ed

    Thanks for the great write up.

    UA does not seem to make any savers award business seats available on the P.S. LAX/SFO – JFK flights in general. Can I confirm that your method will still work?

    Reply
  129. Tamara

    Hello, Just to confirm, this type of waitlist will work for any United flight that you have paid the full upgraded miles for even if your ticketed in economy. A flight booked in all X fares but ticketed at I fares will clear the same as a flight ticketed in I with some seats booked in X and some in I?

    Since the waitlist will clear as soon as I inventory becomes available will it confirm each leg separately? or will it wait for all legs to be open in the upgraded cabin.
    Should you call if you see space open up? like an R opening, or do you have to wait for it to clear on it’s own?

    You also mention that you are at the top of the airport priority list. But how does this fit in with all other upgrades,
    If “I” space doesn’t open up but R does, are you able to get that space?
    If “I” space does not open up, since they start clearing upgrade awards as early as 5 days out, will everyone getting an upgrade at or above gold, including complimentary upgrades, be cleared before you even make the list at the airport?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tamara – Yes if you are seated in Economy the whole way but ticketed as I you would clear the same as one that’s a mix.

      And yes each leg would clear separately as it becomes available. You can call if you see space open up as well.

      As for the airport priority list at that point it’s just about whatever physical seats remain unsold an hour before departure. There they prioritize by paid first class fare first (which is supposed to include ‘I’ tickets), then upgrades (those waiting for ‘R’) according to elite status and fare.

      As for the 5 days out upgrades, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes ‘R’ may open up while ‘I’ doesn’t, but this only matters for the domestic part of the flight.

      Reply
      1. Tamara

        As for the 5 days out upgrades, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes ‘R’ may open up while ‘I’ doesn’t, but this only matters for the domestic part of the flight.

        I’m not sure what you mean by that. Don’t all of the global and systemwide upgrade certs clear according to status starting at 5 days for international also? I thought it was the same R fare bucket but I may be wrong.
        My experience, most flying to HNL where I live, is that they start filling the front at 5 days out global, 1k, platinum, gold, maybe leaving 1 seat. Rarely did I ever clear at the airport.

        And is it possible to waitlist for both business and global first in a 3-class configuration? take the highest that becomes available?

        Reply
  130. Susie

    We want to ugrade from economy plus to business using miles and cash. UAL says it is a waitlist situation (although there looks to be plenty of seats) – Our question – if we commit the miles plus cash to be on that waitlist and we do not get upgraded do we get back our miles and a refund? We are both 1K if that matters. Thank you. Can’t seem to get a straight answer.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Susie – Yes you are eligible for a full refund after the flight if the long ‘Business First’ segment over the water doesn’t clear. Though sometimes you have to manually chase it and call them.

      Reply
  131. Chris

    Hello Milecards,

    I was able to book a saver Economy, and waitlist for Business for an upcoming flight from SFO to Europe. Ticket looks correct as I’m “IN Class Requested”.

    When I called in to see what my chances are of clearing the upgrade, I was told that I’m number 9 on the upgrade list. Does this mean there are 8 other people that also booked saver Economy, and are waitlisted for Business? Or how does the priority work?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Chris – Odd that they would even be able to tell you a place on the upgrade list. It’s possible there are 8 other people ahead of you, but the agent is probably looking at the number of people waitlisted to upgrade a cash ticket with miles or an upgrade certificate. Those clear into a different class – ‘R’ class. Sometimes ‘R’ opens when ‘I/IN’ doesn’t, other times ‘I/IN’ will be open when ‘R’ isn’t.

      Either way, you’ve been properly waitlisted if the full Business number of miles was deducted from your account. And if it comes down to airport time you should have priority over the upgrades of cash tickets.

      Reply
  132. Bea

    Hi, thank you for this great information. I could really use it right now.

    Question:
    Am I supposed to call the United to make a reservation for this?
    I thought they would charge booking fees for phone reservation.

    Or

    First , I book the Saver Economy online by myself, and then call United to change it to Saver Business reservation?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Bea – You’ll need to call in and they should waive the fee given it’s not a transaction you can do entirely online.

      Reply
      1. Bea

        Hi, I just wanted to thank you again for the valuable info.
        I ended up purchasing Mixed Cabin Business Class and First Class. and Economy portions waitlisted, so I didn’t go through much pain this time.
        But next time when I have Economy Saver Award, I certainly try yout method.

        Reply
  133. Joel

    Hello – Can this process work if you pay for and book an economy ticket with cash (no miles) then call in and request to use miles for a cabin upgrade even if it says no upgrade available online?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Joel – You can definitely wait list for an upgrade from an economy ticket when it says no upgrade available, though the priority will be a notch lower than this process. Just call them to request it.

      Reply
      1. Laila

        Thank you for this helpful info. Which booking classes in Economy paid fares (Lax-JFK) are upgrade able to BusinessFirst? I have a compensation certificate I’d like to use on one leg of my round trip therefore prefer a paid fare. I just want to be sure it’s upgrade-able with miles. And what booking class would it upgrade to please?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Laila – All paid fares are eligible for mileage upgrades, but there’s a catch. Most fares require you to pay an additional cash copay on top of the miles to get the upgrade.

          On the cheapest fares it runs around $250 each way. So you’re looking at $500 roundtrip plus the miles to do the upgrade.

          And if you plan 30 days ahead and stay over a weekend, you can often find tickets in business class on those flights for around $1,200. So maybe you want to use your voucher to help pay for a business class ticket.

          Reply
          1. Laila

            Thank you! Yes I looked at business r/t paid fares but have a hard time coughing up that much since we have >500K miles. Also it’s 2 of us traveling and we each have a $125 certificate. Hmm, so again if we each purchase Economy one way which booking class do we need to buy to be able to upgrade and into which booking class for BusinessFirst? I just don’t want to purchase online and find out the cheapest Economy fare isn’t possible to upgrade to BusinessFirst… I was thinking to do this all online.
            Then we’ll follow your plan for Saver Economy->Saver Business mileage tix for the inbound leg (or else splurge & spend Standard Business award miles if no Economy Saver exists at the time we prefer to return).
            Thanks again for your time to reply!

          2. MileCards.com

            @Laila – That’s a good plan. Any Economy fare is upgradable for P.S. flights and it will show up online as an option after your ticket is issued and you go back to the itinerary page. ‘R’ is the space it upgrades into if you want to check that when searching for flights in advance.

          3. Laila

            Ok I ticketed the one way paid Economy fares, with my certs so the total paid was very little. Upon confirmation I was offered to purchase an upgrade to Business for $579 each (i.e., $1158 for the both of us) which of course I didn’t want so then I upgraded with miles, as you warned paying $250 p/p fee + the 20K miles p/p. But even so we were only wait listed for the upgrade! I’ll never live it down if we’re stuck in Economy and only hope the UP20T award has priority for the upgrade. Since there were no saver awards for this flight in either Business or Economy does that mean I have priority over ever other wait listed passenger? And did you say there’s a way to check where we are on the wait list?
            I suppose if worse comes to worse I can get a refund on the $250 fees and use the 20K upgrade miles toward the 50K standard business awards p/p. I’m not a cool cucumber gambler and will probably view seats daily!!!

          4. MileCards.com

            @Laila – The priority here is below the Saver Economy trick, but that’s not widely used so you should be fine. If the flight is months away then you’ve got a good shot at eventually clearing. They’re good about that on those PS flights.

            Only way to check the wait list is when you get within a couple of days of departure, when you can pull up the flight status to see it.

          5. Laila

            Ugh, correction. It doesn’t actually show wait listed, but UPGRADE REQUESTED. Is that the same thing?
            Thank you again for all your help! I’m about to call in for the outbound leg using the Saver Economy “trick” now!

          6. Laila

            Got my Econ Saver seats on my desired flight but supervisor (Detroit) says he needs to book on an entirely different date to charge me Business Saver miles. Making me nervous as I wasn’t aware of this intermediate step (emailing me a booking for the wrong date!)
            But he was able to do the wait list in Business Saver on the correct flight because I had 2 confirmed seats in Economy Saver. So now it looks like I’m set and just waiting for the wait list to clear.
            Oh and I also asked that the phone booking fee charged on my first call in (before I had the PIN) be credited back since none of this could have been accomplished online. Seems not freaking out is the better strategy 😉

  134. Trey

    Waiting on our first connection from IAH-IAD before heading into DUB.

    So it looks like we won’t clear for the domestic to DC because of full paid fares, but looks good for DC to Dublin. If we can’t get to DC first class, but do get from DC to Dublin first class, is there any refund of miles? Or because we got transatlantic first class, United considers that as getting the value?

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Trey – No refund if you get the DC to Dublin. If you had cleared the IAH-IAD, but not IAD-DUB then you would get a refund.

      Reply
  135. Trvlr

    Question on this statement:

    “This only works for United flights, but if you have an itinerary with both a United and partner flight you can still wait list the United flight.”

    I am flying direct IAD-FCO next month but returning LUG-ZRH-IAD, booking as two separate one-way awards. I called and went through the typical exercise (starting with the agent saying “I’m still trying to wrap my head around what you want to do” but ultimately got him to read the reference page and agree to give it a try). It ended up that for the outbound flight they could confirm me in business saver on a different day that worked for me, so I just did that.

    However, for the return, he said that he couldn’t book me at the business saver rate and wait list because the LUG-ZRH leg is not a United flight. He did still wait list me (reservation shows I class requested) but based on the post it seems like that would be lower-priority since I didn’t “pay” the business rate. So I guess the question is, was what he told me correct and regular wait list is the best I can do in this scenario, or should I have been able to confirm economy at the business saver fare even with a partner flight in the itinerary?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Trvlr – Worth asking another agent. Can see the logic of ‘it starts with a partner so it won’t work’ but the award type should be the same as a normal United award, as you’re using United for the long BusinessFirst segment. Or put another way, this award would price at 57,500 miles one way in Business Class, rather than the 70,000 mile partner Business Class level since it’s using United for the long BusinessFirst segment.

      So it should behave like a regular United award for waitlisting purposes on the United portion.

      Reply
  136. Corky

    I have saver award tickets in Global First from MSP-LHR, connecting in IAD. The leg from MSP-IAD is in coach because there was no business class saver availability. The IAD-LHR leg is Global First. Would the waitlist work for me in this situation without paying a change fee?

    Thanks very much.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Corky – Yes you can call to waitlist the MSP-IAD and it will be free of charge if it clears as you’ve paid the full first class mileage for your ticket.

      Reply
      1. Corky

        Where is their call center during US daytime hours? I can’t place the accent but the agent was definitely familiar with the process and dealt with it in a couple of minutes. RJ700 Business Class here I come!

        Reply
  137. Xavier Williams

    Hey Mike,

    Does this also work for fares paid in cash? For example my hospital pays to fly me out based on the lowest fare (economy saver) can I call after they book my flight and have them wait list me for business saver?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  138. CPG

    Just did this for my and my husband’s flights from CMH to SYD and MEL to CMH in December and January. Really hoping business class clears because it would be a LONG 24 hours in economy. We booked the departure and the return separately and both times we called we were able to point the people on the phone in the right direction. One note – the DRS reference page is actually somewhere around line 58.

    Reply
    1. Lak

      Hi,

      Not sure how this united points /miles scheme works. One of my friends told me and we are planning to fly to Paris in next couple of months and we were wondering if this Purchsing Miles would work for that? Any advise would be appreciated.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Lak – It could but it might be expensive. Most people earn them free by flying or at low cost by having a credit card that earns the miles. How many miles do you have already?

        Reply
  139. hr2lhr

    Hi,
    This is a great website. We are traveling in five days from Pdx – LHR. We are confirmed with saver econ seats. I tried to use miles to directly upgrade to business but the agent told me business is full (I see three seats when I look online; we are 5 traveling). This is a three class aircraft. Is your technique still our best shot at getting upgrades?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @hr2lhr – This would be the better method, but you’ll get socked with a $200 fee per ticket to change award types.

      Reply
  140. Karen

    Hi, Thanks for the great article and responses to other posters. I was very prepared this afternoon to spend a lot of time on the phone making my reservation. (1 hour and 20 minutes) Since I’m only booking 1 way for now for next May, I have to do this all again in two weeks for the return leg.

    My call started the same as many others. After get the saver economy flights I wanted with the agent,, I stated I wanted to be confirmed in economy, but ticketed in Business. The agent replied back “yes, we’ll wait list you in Business and it will be 60,000 miles for 2 one ways. She said it’s not possible to book in Business if award tickets are not available. I asked her to check with her supervisor. Sure enough, her supervisor agrees, not possible. I asked to speak to supervisor and the supervisor repeats it’s not possible to book tickets in Business if not available. Again, I read the united policy and the DRS reference page. Then the supervisor suggested she call the service desk as it’s their rules. Sure enough, she comes back and says she can book the flights for the 115,000 miles. Then back on hold for quite some time.

    But here’s another thing everyone should know. You need a 4 digit Pin to book online (not your password). so back to the service desk, where they verify my identity, and create my pin. After 1 hour and 15 minutes into the call we are finally finishing up with my credit card plus the $50 for booking over the phone.

    So here’s my question. Our flights are definitely ticketed as business with the 115K out of my account and see my reservation confirmed in XN and wait listed in I class for SFO-LHR leg as expected. But LHR to FRA and FRA to Barcelona is confirmed in business (LH). Should the two Lufthansa legs be in economy also? If for some reason we are not sitting in business, will I have an issue getting a full refund for for the 55 miles (27.5/ticket)?

    Reply
    1. Karen

      One other thing that I kept saying as the agent and supervisor said it wasn’t possible to ticket in business is “I’ve done this before”. Just a little white lie as I really meant “many people on this web site have done this before”. Sometimes, not always, the internet is right.

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @Karen – Glad it worked out. You won’t have any issue getting the refund as the long transatlantic leg needs to clear for them to say you used the full value.

      Reply
  141. Mag

    I tried this, thanks to the detailed instructions. After talking to a couple of agents, I finally got one who knew what to do. I was very clear – “confirmed seat in economy saver, would like to be waitlisted for business”. I was able to do this for 2 passengers from SFO-CDG-SFO-OGG, utilizing the open jaw on international round trip. Total price for economy saver was 120K for 2 passengers, and when I changed the reservation to wait list for business, they required 117.5K each or 235K miles. The SFO-CDG round trip should have only been 115K round trip, and I thought the OGG leg was free in business as it was in economy, but I didn’t argue about the extra 5K miles. After making the change to my reservation, I confirmed that I saw “confirmed class X, requested class I” on my reservation.

    On the day of travel – I checked in 24 hours in advance and expected to see myself pop up as #1 and #2 on the wait list for business, but this did not happen. My name was entirely dropped. I called in to ask whether that was a mistake, and they said that the airport agent would be able to confirm the wait list. I checked in my luggage and asked the agent for PR-1 priority on the wait list and they said the gate agent would be able to do it. I went to the gate agent and she had no idea what I was talking about, and said that I’m not on the wait list, that there were 10 other passengers on the wait list and that I would never clear business. I called united back and asked them why I wasn’t on the wait list and they said that all the business seats may have been purchased for cash fare. That seemed likely as none of the other upgrade/wait list passengers got upgraded.

    On my way back, I wanted to make sure I got the upgrade so I called united and told them what happened before. They put me on hold for at least 20 minutes while they sorted out some stuff, then got back to me and said they put a note on my account, and that the gate agent should be able to see that I should have the highest priority when I get ticketed. I checked in and saw again that I was not added to the wait list. I went to the gate agent and asked about the wait list – and they ultimately found the note and put me on the wait list, but I was number 10 on the list, so never cleared. Ultimately, on the way back as well, Business was sold out and none of the wait listed passengers got a business seat, however it seemed like I was unlikely to get it even if there was availability. I was told by United that if the cabin is full (booked with cash buyers) then the wait list automatically cancels when I check in. This is not helpful since there are occasional no-shows or last minute cancellations, which I would want to be able to take advantage of. Overall – it seems like the success of this is very dependent on how competent the gate agent is, and is far from a high probability event which is what I had expected.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Mag – Thanks for relaying this. We did a test for an SFO-CDG flight and ran into the same issue you did. Not appearing on the list after checking in and a fully sold out cabin – despite seeing that printed on the boarding pass and getting an email saying it would.

      Calling in, the first couple of agents said “deal with it at the airport” or “it’s a coach ticket – you can’t waitlist.”

      But on the third try got an agent who then called the ‘ATO Desk’ (airport desk) – which handles the airport operations and ticketing within 24 hours. After that call, got added to the list and popped to the top of a list of 10 people.

      So lesson is – keep trying on the phone and ask the agent to check with the airport desk. It’s unfortunate it takes this much work, but it is possible to be added to the standby list properly by phone agents after you’ve checked in.

      She said to make it clear that this is a business class ticket already paid with miles – not an upgrade.

      Still no guarantee of clearing, and in your case looks like you wouldn’t have cleared regardless, but it is still technically possible to do it without airport agent assistance.

      Reply
  142. Michel

    Great blog. I do have a question and would need your expert advice. I’m trying to find 2 business award seats from YUL to HNL on April 14, 2016 One way ticket but not all legs are in Business.
    I have to use my aeroplan miles to book since I don’t have enough UA award miles. The thing is that miles required to fly one way business (Class I) is 40,000 miles per person which is the equivalent to the UA mile requirements for first saver award. All legs are with UA but I would reserve via Aeroplan. Any chance I can get waitlisted if I called United Airlines even if the trip is purchased using Aeroplan?

    Reply
    1. Michel

      Trave date is April 13, 2016 since on April 14, 2016 there is only the final leg from SFO to HNL that is with UA and in Economy. Coul i be waitlisted for only that leg?

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Michel – Unfortunately no, United can only waitlist tickets purchased with United miles. But keep an eye on the space and call Aeroplan if it opens up, and they can move you to business, though you might get charged a $90 (CAD) fee.

        Reply
      2. Michel

        Strike #1 = agent said a fee changed is required and extra miles. I tried to get to read the DRS but don’t think she did because she kept saying regardless since only the first leg is in I class and other are X classes that the fee and exta miles applies. I explained that I’m using/paying the full saver business miles/rate but that was over her head and she was like a dog with a bone about the fee and extra miles. I’ll call another agent later today.

        Reply
        1. Michel

          OH! that is a bummer… the same amount of miles is used regardless.. I guess there are limitations within Star Alliance. What is even worst is that all flights are with UA.

          Thanks

          Reply
          1. Michel

            I found another flight but leaving on April 12, 2016 YUl – EWR Class X because that aircraft only has economy seats but then the EWR – HNL is Class I.

            I presume that would be allowed to use the lounge in YUL and EWR and that I would get the Baggage allowance based on first class. Correct?

          2. MileCards.com

            @Michel – Unfortunately that’s not considered international by United for lounge access. Only South of the U.S. or Europe/Asia/Africa/Australia flights qualify. Though for the Maple Leaf lounge in YUL you may be able to access it if Air Canada deems it a business class ticket.

            And baggage allowance should be based on your first class fare.

  143. Deborah

    Hi – this is so interesting..I’ve learned a lot about United in the past couple of days. I am booked on a SFO-PVD roundtrip next month. There were no saver awards in economy or first so I booked on standard economy. Am I understanding correctly that I cannot use this wait-list opportunity because I’d be trying to move from Economy standard to First class saver (which should be the same number of miles)?
    Also, didn’t realize until yesterday that because I have the Mileage Explorer card I am entitled to a standard award seat without restriction. There were very few flights showing room but when I signed out and then signed in again, it seemed to “get” that I had that ability and lots of new flights appeared with standard award availability.
    I don’t have enough miles for a standard first class award but would love to get a saver first class. Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Deborah – You are understanding it all correctly that you can’t move from a Standard Economy to Saver Business / First via the waitlist. So you’ll need to keep an eye for either Saver Economy or Business / First and call to change once that’s available. Hopefully it will happen more than 21 days out when the change fee is smaller ($75).

      Reply
  144. barbara

    I am booked on a Tel Aviv-LAX flight on Ethiopian Air with a stop over in Addis with Saver Bus miles but the Tel Aviv to Addis leg is in Economy as there were no Saver or Standard Bus seats available at time of booking. What is the trick to getting a Bus seat on that leg since? Also, the United agent said there is a change fee involved if a Bus seat opens up. Is that correct? Thanks.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Barbara – There shouldn’t be a change fee involved since you paid the full Saver Business ticketed rate. All you can do though is watch on your own, as there’s no way for United to waitlist the space on a partner airline. You’re not missing much on that last leg though.

      Reply
  145. Keith

    @milecards – Our reservation is all set from CMH – KOA for 9/10/15. Last night they made some changes to our reservation. They changed our flight from CMH to EWR to now arriving at 8:41 am leaving only 34 min until EWR – HNL. This is cutting it close. What is UAL’s obligation should we miss the EWR – HNL flight? Could we lose our 1st class status if moved to another flight? I am really concerned about this connection. The previous schedule had us there at 7:30am.

    We also had 1st class on 1197 from IAH – CMH. They have changed equipment to a RJ 145 with no 1st class. Is it possible to obtain complimentary economy plus seating since we originally had 1st class seats?

    We are still waitlisted on the flight from KOA – SFO. Hopefully, that will come through.

    Thanks

    Reply
  146. Andrew

    I booked a round-trip Business Saver ticket to South Africa, flying Air Canada from FLL to YYZ and then to LHR, from there it’s South African Airways to Johannesburg. The flight to YYZ is in economy though. Will I automatically be waitlisted for business class with Air Canada or am I guaranteed to be put in economy.

    Also, on the return trip I have economy on United from IAH to FLL so I called to be waitlisted and was told they no longer do that and that I would need to keep checking the availability and call back to see if a seat opened up. Maybe I should call back and try my luck with someone else?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Andrew – For the Air Canada flight you’ll need to keep checking for space and then request it if you see it open up – they can’t waitlist on the other airlines. For the United IAH-FLL you should call back and try someone else.

      Reply
      1. Andrew

        Great. Thank you! Will it cost anything to change to business on Air Canada if the space opens up? Also, from looking at the seat map on United’s website, all the BusinessFirst seats are available on the flight from IAH-FLL. Have they just not opened any for Business Saver awards?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Andrew – No since you paid for a business class award type there is no charge for that, though of course it can vary by agent.

          Reply
          1. Andrew

            Well a Business Saver award has now opened up on the IAH to FLL leg, but when I called to do it, the agent told me there is a $75 change fee. Is this right or should I call back and try with a different agent?

          2. MileCards.com

            @Andrew – Try again and explain you are already ticketed on a Business Class award.

  147. Kathy

    I was told that since my flight is on another airline even though I booked it through United, I cannot be waitlisted for Business/First? Is that correct?

    Reply
  148. Tracy

    I have booked ny-par round trip with the stop over to San Francisco. NY-par route confirmed in economy. Now the correct no of miles 115k was deducted, except on the website it is showing “1 upgrade reward 115k” instead of “1 reward 115k”. Ticket receipt shows yb53. Is my ticket setup correct? Do I need to ask united to re ticket it? I called several times and no agent is willing to reticket this for me? Thanks in advance for your help. Excellent advice here.

    Reply
    1. Tracy

      Btw the economy segment waiting for business is ewr-par on 5/22, Memorial Day weekend. Any chances for business class clearing? The flight is almost full with only 8 business seats left.

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @Tracy – Does it show you are waitlisting for ‘I’, ‘IN’, or ‘R’ class? If it’s ‘R’ class it wasn’t set up correctly.

        Hard to say your chances for 5/22. Things are constantly changing, but at least there are still seats open so you have a chance.

        Reply
        1. Tracy

          Hi thanks for the reply! It shows IN class waitlisted, except now it is showing as a separate line for the wait listed class. Should I be concerned? Will this setup work in the airport?

          Reply
          1. Tracy

            Now the screen looks exact the same as in your post with IN class requested. The only thing is that it is showing in the ticket price area: “1 upgrade reward 115,000 miles”. I usually see “1 reward 115,000 miles”, is this correct? Thanks in advance.

  149. Trey

    I was finally able to get this booked today after two days of dealing with the overseas call center, and then finally talking to someone stateside.

    I have a connection through from Houston through Dulles and then to Ireland. Both of those flights show the requested first class upgrade code. Is there a chance I get upgraded on both flights, or do I need to make sure they only put me on the priority list for the Dulles to Dublin portion?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Trey – Yes the domestic portion is eligible for being upgraded as well. The good news is if you only clear the domestic leg and not the international one, you can get the extra miles refunded so you only pay the coach number of miles for the ticket.

      Reply
    2. Tracy

      I have booked ny-par round trip with the stop over to San Francisco. NY-par route confirmed in economy. Now the correct no of miles 115k was deducted, except on the website it is showing “1 upgrade reward 115k” instead of “1 reward 115k”. Ticket receipt shows yb53. Is my ticket setup correct? Do I need to ask united to re ticket it? I called several times and no agent is willing to reticket this for me? Thanks in advance for your help. Excellent advice here.

      Reply
  150. Elizabeth

    FINALLY got this done correctly! Theresa in Tampa rocks! It does pay off to call during the day. I wasted 3 hours calling after kids were in bed. Rude barely English speaking agents. Booked 4 of us from EWR-HNL in November. Thanks for the incredibly wonderful info! Now I cross my fingers that we get moved up.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Elizabeth – Congrats and hope it goes through. The Tampa agents are former Continental agents so they have known the process for years.

      Reply
  151. Scott

    Great advice, I have this setup for my flight tomorrow evening. Quick question that i was unable to determine from your steps above – if I don’t clear prior to check-in (i.e. 24 hours) am I supposed to check-in to my confirmed economy class seat/reservation? Or will that screw up the waitlist position?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Scott – Once you’ve verified that the full business class miles were deducted before 24 hours, then yes, check in as normal. If your name doesn’t show up on the upgrade standby list when you look at the flight status page, then something went wrong. But you should pop up on the list after you check in.

      Reply
  152. Carrie

    Thank you for very clear instructions. I followed it to the tee and was able to request the seats. The booking says “X class confirmed” and “I class requested”. The correct amount of business class miles were taken out of my account.

    However, thirteen days out, I noticed that all but 8 business and first class combined seats are taken. And when I click on “view change seats”, a pop up screen says “All seats available for complimentary assignment have been taken. More complimentary seat assignments may become available when you check in for your flight. If available at this time, you may choose to purchase a United First or Economy Plus seat.”

    I am concerned. I think all the elite complimentary upgrades were already given out, bypassing me. I checked the seats at least four times a day since the booking and haven’t noticed any saver business awards opening up.

    DO you have any suggestions? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  153. KT

    Hmmm, so I just spent about 1.5 hours on the phone with 2 separate UA reservations reps, and I’m still not 100% sure everything’s set up right. Here’s my story, if you have the time.

    First rep — I called and explained what I was trying to do but she was very confused. Asking her to look at the MPWAI reference page in her system didn’t seem to help either as she told me it didn’t have any useful information. By the end of the call she had me convinced she understood what I wanted and ticketed me. But when I performed the 2 checks you suggested, first of all I was charged the Economy Standard mileage price, rather than the Business Saver, and secondly my reservation in the system did not have any waitlist/upgrade indication. So I called back….

    Second rep — I called and again explained what I was trying to do, and that I believe the first rep hadn’t ticketed me correctly. Again, this rep initially said what I was trying to do wasn’t possible, but at least appeared to make an attempt to read the MPWAI reference page when I quoted it. She ended up putting me on hold to ‘research’ the issue, but did return to say that yes, what I wanted was indeed possible, but that she would need ‘support’ to help make the change in the system.

    After being on hold for at least 30 minutes she came back and said that ‘support’ was able to manually update my booking. However, there are 2 quirks that cause me some hesitation:

    1) The miles I’m being charged today remain the originally-charged Economy standard mileage price. When I asked her if that should be changed to the Business Saver mileage price she said that it shouldn’t matter because of the manual upgrade/waitlist note that ‘support’ had mde.

    2) When I viewed my reservation in the system after the call, I see that it says “I class requested — You are confirmed in HN class….and have requested a change to I class….will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class (I) becomes available.” This looks different from the “IN class requested” screenshot you had included above, so I asked the rep what the difference was between “I” and “IN”, and she said that the “N” just indicates ‘Standard’ (vs. Saver). I forgot to ask what the difference is between “HN” and “XN”. The rep tried to assure me that I would get an email automatically should I get cleared into Business (Saver?) before my flight in 2 months. Should I be assured?

    I apparently have 24 hours from the time of my original booking to call back in to make changes, but I don’t know if these ‘changes’ include what we’re talking about here, or just date+time+flight changes.

    Reply
    1. KT

      On XN vs HN and I vs IN, I just found this chart — http://www.cwsi.net/united.htm

      HN = Non-Elite EasyPass Coach Award (tracks to the H bucket)
      XN = Elite SaverPass Coach Award

      I = Non-Elite and Low Elite SaverPass Business or 2-cabin First Award
      IN = Elite (Plat/1K/GS) SaverPass Business or 2-cabin First Award

      The non-elite vs. elite difference worries me.

      Reply
      1. KT

        Well color me relieved (and impressed)!

        Just got the following email, almost exactly 1 month before our outbound flight —

        “We’re pleased to let you know that your request for an upgrade from xxx to yyy has been confirmed. If you’ve requested an upgrade for another flight in this reservation, we will notify you separately if it is confirmed.”

        I quickly logged in and made my seat selection with glee.

        All that’s left is for the same to happen for the inbound flight too.

        Fingers crossed!

        Reply
          1. KT

            The outbound flight just got bumped to business today so I’m all set! Final question? For the difference in miles originally paid (since economy standard took more miles than business saver should need), will that be automatically refunded after the flight, or do I have to call in to request that?

          2. MileCards.com

            @KT – We’ve never seen it work out with an Economy Standard bumping up. Were you actually deducted the Economy Standard level or the Business Saver level?

          3. KT

            Got a call from United yesterday to get my CC number to process the taxes+fees charge for the business class tickets. The lady also said I would be refunded the difference in miles, and sure enough when I logged in later it was already reflected in my account.

            When I made my booking I was charged economy standard or 130k for the roundtrip, and getting bumped to business saver cost 115k for the roundtrip, so I got 15k back.

          4. MileCards.com

            @KT – Good for you – sounds like you got an exception made when it was originally ticketed.

    2. MileCards.com

      @KT – Don’t worry about the I vs IN. It’s rare they make more available to the elite members for business class awards vs regular.

      But if you can still cancel and start over again, would probably try that as it sounds like this was set up in a messy way. You have 24 hours to get a full refund / redeposit.

      Reply
      1. KT

        Thanks for the speedy reply. I don’t want to take a chance so I just cancelled. Do you know how long the miles will take to be refunded to an account (so I can make another attempt at booking the ticket)?

        Reply
        1. KT

          Interesting, even though I cancelled the reservation I noticed there was another ‘cancel’ link below my payment details. Upon clicking that I was presented an option to get a refund via my original method of payment, or towards a future flight. I picked the first option and got this — “Your refund requires special attention. Please contact the Electronic Support Desk at 1-800-300-1547 for assistance.”

          Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @KT – Yes give them a call there, although you’ll probably have to go to the MileagePlus service center to get an immediate mileage redeposit. They are on 1-800-421-4655.

          2. KT

            Just got off the phone with them to confirm the cancellation….taxes+fees will be refunded within 7-10 days and miles will be refunded within 3 days. I’ll have to wait till the miles are back in my account before trying again as I don’t currently have enough for Business Saver.

          3. KT

            Had to make 2 calls today for my 2nd attempt:

            1st call: I could have -sworn- this rep was the same lady that helped with my booking attempt on 5/3, and was thinking to myself, oh man she’s going to wonder why I cancelled her booking and am trying to rebook. However, when I asked her if she was the same lady, specifying the booking method I was attempting, she said she didn’t recall (or maybe was pretending not to). Anyway, right after getting back to me from talking to support, we got disconnected so I had to call back.

            2nd call: Got another Filipino rep (from the background noise I’m guessing this call center is in the Philippines), this time a guy. Explained to him where I left off on the first call and he said the usual “oh we can’t do this” yadda yadda, then put me on hold to ‘check’. Came back and snarkily said that since the first rep had told me it could be done they would do it for me as a one time courtesy/exception. Whatever. I wasn’t in the mood to argue so I just said ok fine. He initially charged me the miles for one economy saver (outbound) and one economy standard (return, because no saver was available for the inbound), but near the end of the call said he had to change it to charge me economy standard for both (i.e. the EXACT amount as my first call on 5/3 lol) in order for the upgrade to be automatic if the waitlist cleared. Curiously though, my mileage account shows the initial miles charged but not the updated/amended amount. But when I look at the reservation it does reflect the higher amount. Back to “I class requested” on the booking too, so at the end of the day, really not much difference from the original booking I made a few days ago.

            The other ‘quirk’ is that besides the reservation and itinerary emails that came in, I got a 3rd email saying,

            “Your ticket purchase is not complete and is subject to cancellation if not purchased by 12 midnight (CT) on Fri., May. 8, 2015. This e-mail is not a receipt and will not be accepted for travel.

            You are currently holding a reservation for departure on United Airlines flight xxx.

            To complete your purchase, do one of the following:
            Cash
            Credit Card
            – Sign in to your account.”

            This email gave me pause for obvious reasons, but when I check the booking on my account it does say, “This reservation was ticketed and confirmed on Thu., May. 7, 2015 at 7:05 p.m. Central Time.”

            So weird!

            Guess there’s nothing else to do now but to wait and see what happens, hoping for the best!

  154. Keith

    Hi Milescards – Just wanted to report success in obtaining the IN Class Requested for my itinerary. We are booked CMH-EWR-HNL-KOA and return KOA-SFO-IAH-CMH. I booked one of the mixed itineraries, but 3 of the 5 segments were already 1st available. I just used the Click to Call link to contact United. Evidently, this is hosted by old Continental employees as the call did come from a 703 area code.

    I had already used business miles for the itinerary so I just needed to be set up IN Class requested for CMH-EWR and then KOA-SFO on return. I explained this to the representative who knew exactly what I was talking about. I was set up as IN Class Requested for both segments in less than 10 minutes!

    Thanks for all of the great information! For what it’s worth use the Click To Call line if having problems with customer service.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ketih – Glad it worked out – and good tip on Click to Call to get the Houston call center.

      Reply
      1. Barry

        Can I book a similar routing (First Class/Biz Saver award) using Singapore miles and then be wait listed on the economy confirmed leg?

        Thanks.

        Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @Barry – Unfortunately you can’t waitlist United flights using Singapore miles. But if space opens up, you can ask Singapore to move you into it. So keep an eye on it.

    1. MileCards.com

      @Sm – You would probably have to book a different flight that does have the full price available and then waitlist for the specific flight you want.

      Reply
  155. Stacey

    My parents will be flying to Lima and have already purchased their tickets using Economy Awards. I’d like to get them on the waitlist for first/ business awards? I’d like to do it as a surprise for their anniversary. Any way I can do this without using their miles, and using mine instead?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Stacey – Unfortunately no, they need to come from the same account. And unfortunately there are no upgrade options separately on award tickets. You’d have to pay the $200 cancellation fee on their tickets to do it at this point.

      Reply
  156. Sethatron

    This is a really great post…very clear, great color commentary, smart guidance on the likeliest pain points.

    I spoke with 3 agents tonight, each of whom said some variation of “they won’t let me take saver first miles if saver first isn’t available”. The first mistakenly debited me for the coach saver amount for HNL-EWR (waitlisting for 1st) rather than the first saver amount, particularly worrisome since saver first space opens pretty rarely on this route, to my knowledge.

    With the 4th agent, I read the DRS reference page number suggested and he was able to do change the reservation from deducting 22.5K per person (coach) to 40K per person (saver). I haven’t seen the additional 35K miles come out yet but my receipt now correctly says 80K award rather than 45K, so hopefully that suffices and the remaining miles come out as they should in the next few hours.

    Reply
  157. Ian

    I tried this and at the moment of truth the waitlist didn’t clear in real time. I was in XN, paid for BusinessFirst with IN requested. Flight departing Tuesday, checked Friday night, no award availability. Checked Saturday morning and IN was available on my flight, but waitlist had not cleared. Everything I could see on United.com looked like the flights above. Rather than have someone else book the seat out from under me I called and had the agent do it. Paranoia pays I guess.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ian – Good work – seems those advance waitlists get sweeped only intermittently, perhaps as little as once a day.

      Reply
  158. Ari Blum

    Great recommendation. All has worked well for me. I am showing wait list for business and the correct (business award) number of miles have been debited from my account. The one issue I see is that on the electronic receipt itself the miles deduced still show the economy award amount. Any thoughts as to whether this is an issue I need to resolve?

    Thanks in advance for your great help so far!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Ari – Sounds like all is clean. Strange on the receipt – but if your MileagePlus account just shows a single deduction for the Business Saver amount then should be fine.

      Reply
      1. Ari Blum

        Thanks. One other question. If half of each leg is with a partner airline (Lufthansa), and I’m confirmed in business class on the partner for its half of the return leg, will I still get a miles refund if I don’t clear into business on the United portion?

        To clarify, here is the current breakdown

        Outbound
        SFO-FRA – United – waitlisted for business (current fareclass XN – waitlist for I)
        FRA-FCO – Lufthansa – booked in economy (fareclass X)

        Return
        FCO-FRA – Lufthansa – seated in business (fare class I)
        FRA – SFO – United – waitlisted for business (current fareclass XN – waitlist for I)

        Reply
  159. DT

    Amazing! Perfectly clear instructions. Was able to book a coach saver award from LHR-ORD, but they deducted 57.5k miles for a business-class saver award instead of 30k for a coach saver award. My flight isn’t until October, so hopefully I’ll get that upgrade well before then.

    Thanks again! Great site!

    Reply
  160. Joyce

    I don’t know if I dreamed it or read it somewhere… is it true that even though the United web site says there is no saver awards available, sometimes, if I call in, they are available saver awards that the agent can see but we can’t?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Joyce – American Airlines has a formal policy for that. United doesn’t, but it doesn’t hurt to call and double check each time.

      Reply
  161. FrustratedFlyer

    Just wanted to give an update to my posting on February 13… I was cleared today for my saver first fare, exactly 45 days prior to departure on EWR-HNL. I noticed yesterday a bunch of saver F seats opened up from EWR-HNL for the day BEFORE my flight, and then today a bunch of saver seats opened up on my flight. T-45 days must be a timeframe for opening up saver F award availability, if the seats are available…

    Also, as an FYI, my reservation changed from “I class requested” to “I class confirmed” and the website said “Your reservation has changed, please call United Reservations to have your ticket reissued.” I had to call into UA reservations to confirm the upgrade and they quickly assigned me seats in first class (BusinessFirst seating on this route) and issued me a new itinerary by email. So for those of you who have request I class keep checking in case it clears and you need to call in to confirm the upgrade.

    Thanks @MileCards for your help!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @FrustratedFlyer – Glad to hear it worked out and thanks for the additional color. Yes, United’s system will throw your reservation ‘out of sync’ when the upgrade happens. No need to call in immediately, but at some point it’s helpful to get it cleaned up before you leave.

      Reply
  162. Sean

    I fly EWR-PEK on Friday 4/17. I am flying on a saver Coach ticket. I contacted them and was wait listed yesterday. Today I noticed the miles weren’t deducted. I recontacted today was put on hold for a little and she advised the miles were never deducted. She then re-did it, and about an hour after our convo my account showed the 35K was recredited and 70k was deducted for the new booking. Now I am 36 hours out from my flight and getting nervous. It shows 46 booked and 4 seats left up in biz class. How soon does this seat clear? Getting kinda worried that I am gonna be stuck with my original aisle seat in the back. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sean – You set it all up correctly, but not much you can do about the almost sold out conditions. Just have to wait and see how you do after initial check-in. You might also want to keep an eye on the ORD, IAD, and SFO-PEK flights this afternoon to see if Saver award space opens up. If it does you could try a $75 24 hour change. But they all look pretty crowded at this point.

      Reply
  163. flyingjapans

    Hi, thanks for that article of great help.

    I have a flight this friday SFO-JFK on one of UA’s p.s. 757s. Following your advice, I have asked a first agent to be put on the waitlist for BusinessFirst, and my reservation clearly indicates I am on hold for IN space (I’m 1K).

    However I realized I haven’t been debited the extra miles needed for a Saver BusinessFirst award, so I’ve phoned a second agent who apparently understood my request of debiting an extra 12,5k miles (the saver award Economy price for this route is 12,5k and saver BizFirst 25k so it makes 12,5k more to pay). A few hours later now I still haven’t been debited the 12,5k miles, and upon looking my reservation still indicates the original amount.

    On twitter, United confirmed me I had a BusinessFirst saver award.

    I’m confused. My questions are: is it simply a matter of time? Should I allow the extra 12,5k some time to be debited? Do I still get the highest priority if not?

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @flyingjapans – Call the 1k desk again and try to get those miles deducted. If they don’t the waitlist within 24 hours won’t work.

      Reply
  164. Tim

    Is it possible to to book a standard saver for economy (with premier that would be XN booking class) and then use additional miles (I think 20k) to upgrade?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Tim – You can waitlist by paying the Saver Business or First Class price if Saver Economy for Premiers is available. But if you are thinking of getting into First or Business on the spot because upgrade inventory (like ‘R’) is available, but award inventory isn’t, then no – that won’t work.

      Reply
      1. Tim

        Thanks! Will I still get on the regular upgrade waiting list when booking award saver for economy as a premier member, just like when booking a cash ticket?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Tim – Premiers only get complimentary upgrades on award tickets if they have a United Explorer, United Club, or United Presidential Plus credit card. If you have one of those, then yes.

          Reply
  165. DGibblet

    This is great information, and it seems that lots here have tried it and it worked. It also sounds like the odds are really in your favor if you follow the directions. Kind of wondering how many it doesn’t work for though and you end up in coach. I know there is no sure thing; however, are there usual quite a few seats that are not purchased by cash paying customers? I would just hate to go through this, have the waiting period of not knowing and then end up sitting in coach. Guess I’m asking if that happens often.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @DGibblet – Unfortunately it’s impossible to predict – airlines are in the business of trying to sell as many seats to cash customers as they can. But the closer you are to departure with a really empty cabin, somewhat better your chances. But even then no guarantees.

      Reply
  166. Austin Smith

    Thanks so much for this!

    My fiance and I booked tickets to NZ using this trick (appears to be displaying correctly: http://cl.ly/image/411n1P2s3507/Screen%20Shot%202015-04-08%20at%2012.29.45%20PM.png)

    Just curious: how will we know if we clear before t-24? Will the “I-Class Requested” change to just “Fare class: I”?

    On a super sought-after route like SFO-SYD, do you think we have a better shot of clearing in the next 10 months leading up to the flight, or in the final 24 hrs?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Austin Smith – Glad it worked out. Always hard to say exactly when you’ll clear, but generally you’ll get an email called ‘waitlist notification’ if it does clear before hand. And your reservation will change to ‘fare class: I’.

      Reply
  167. Alison

    I am not clear on the following where you say above that “Unfortunately there is -no- waitlist for partner awards” and you also say that this technique works for wait-listing on Turkish Air to upgrade if the “waitlist clears” ?

    Is it possible to use your technique of buying a UA saver Econ/biz-class mileage award (to increase the chance of being priority waitlisted for upgrade) for a partner airline? Maybe the waitlist has to clear on the UA site prior to flight but cannot happen at the airport (w the partner airline)?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Alison – Sorry it’s a bit confusing – the Turkish Airlines situation below is an instance where there was already Business Class available on Turkish Airlines and the United portion of the trip was only in coach.

      You can only waitlist for portions of your trip that are on United.

      Reply
  168. JP

    Wow great content! Forgive me if this has already been asked. I am flying on a UA Saver award LAX-JFK-VIE in mid-May. The JFK-VIE ticketed in Business class on Austrian Airways, however the LAX-JFK showed “Mixed Cabin no first/business saver award space and it is ticketed as economy. The LAX-JFK segment is on the newly configured fully lie flat 757-200 (UA #212). When I called UA about getting moved up front, the agent said there was nofirst/business award space and that I just needed to keep calling back. Until reading this post I did not know it was possible to wait list and it was not offered. Confirm that I can be wait listed with PR-1 priority since I already secured the long haul segment in Business? Also when I booked, not a single seat had been sold in first class. When I checked today it was still wide open, showing only 5 seats sold.

    Thanks!

    Reply
      1. JP

        Thanks for the link on mixed cabin awards. Anyone reading this please be persistent when calling UA. It is probably wise to call during USA business hours, otherwise you will get the overseas customer service staff that is shamefully clueless. After two calls answered by barely English speakers and talking with one supervisor who said it was “Impossible to wait list”, the third call was the charm. I ended up with Joanna in Houston. I explained what I wanted to do and she did it in about 15 seconds. She was also kind enough to confirm that first still had 23 seats and even told me how the 5 occupied seats were purchased. 2 with insane 80k standard award miles and 3 upgrades from economy fare. 23 seats left, so I think I have a good chance.

        JP

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @JP – Glad it worked out. Those Houston agents worked on the Continental side, where this policy originated. The overseas agents worked for the United side.

          Reply
  169. Karen

    Great information!

    We are planning a Trip to Barcelona and would like some advice. For flights to Europe from the west coast, are we better off choosing planes with more business class seats, but probably more popular (747 SFO-FRA with 52 business seats) or flights on smaller planes with only 16 business seats (757 EWR-BCN). Or SFO-Paris (757 16 business seats). All three scenarios require a connection. Where are the odds best to get the coveted business class seats. 747’s?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Karen – Hard to say – but generally flights that go straight from the West Coast to Europe like SFO-FRA are harder upgrades than those from Chicago or the East Coast to Europe.

      Reply
  170. SiRob

    So I decided to use the “Click to Call” feature United has and received a call back from an agent who knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’m now looking at my reservation and am booked “HN” class and wait listed in “I” Class. Will this achieve the same result, i.e. I will be ahead of everyone in line trying to use miles to upgrade, even high level elite fliers, and I’ll get first dibs if ‘Saver’ level space opens up before your flight?

    In comparing the example above, I notice the booking in “XN” class and wait listed in “IN”

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @SiRob – Glad it worked out – as long as the full Business Class number of miles was deducted the airport waitlist is set up properly. And you’re good for the waitlist if Saver space opens up beforehand.

      Reply
      1. SiRob

        Yes, the 70K was deducted. I understand that the courtesy wait-list will expire 24 hours before itinerary departure, and I’ll automatically be added to the airport upgrade standby list upon check-in. Does it matter when I check in? I’m assuming no, but wanted to ask?

        Also, in these cases, I read that I will be confirmed on a space-available basis by a United airport representative at the gate once the flight has closed for check-in. Is there anything I would need to do at the ticket counter during the check-in process? I assume no, but wanted to ask?

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @SiRob – If you see your name on the upgrade standby list after you check in (you can check on the United mobile app or on the website under flight status), then you’re good to go. Should be somewhere to the middle or top of the list depending on how many other people are using miles to pay for their flight who have not yet cleared. If you’re at the bottom of a long list then something’s up and it’s worth asking.

          Reply
  171. SiRob

    MileCards, thanks for the information. Super helpful. Is there any reason I couldn’t book a trip using this policy by going to the Airport or visiting a local UA Res Center and speaking with an agent in person?

    Reply
  172. lisa

    This is wonderful advice! I am currently working on 3 round trips from SFO to LHR business saver. only economy saver and standard awards are available currently. After reading this, I am Planning to book economy saver on the way out 70,000 (as you recommended) and wait list Business class but on the way back only standard award economy is avail. Should I go ahead and pay another 70,000 points for standard (even though, I think its its only 60,000) and wait list the business class. Will that work paying standard award pts economy or a little more (?) and ask for the waitlist on the return flight? In a nutshell, What I am asking is will they upgrade me to business if I ask for waitlist when I pay for Standard award Economy?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Lisa Glad you found it. Unfortunately the technique is only designed for the same award type. So if you want to get the Saver Business price you need a flight that has Saver Economy available.

      Reply
  173. Andi

    It took 6 tries, but we were finally able to get an agent to help us with our reservation from Paris (CDG) to Portland, OR (PDX) on 5/12/2015. We are waitlisted for Super Saver business class from CDG to San Francisco (SFO) and have already been moved into first class from SFO to PDX (previously waitlisted). The full business Super Saver miles were deducted as per this article. Keeping fingers crossed that we will be off the waitlist soon in Paris…

    Reply
  174. Aj

    Hi, I called in to make the reservation as described by you. I’m flying from Mel to SFO and the United Business Saver for that segment should be 70K miles and the economy is 40K miles.
    I asked her to charge be 70K miles as per your instructions but she insisted that the procedure is to charge the economy award space and as and when the business saver award space opens up I will be automatically upgraded and charged the 30k additional miles. Is this true?
    This is what my reseveration says right now.
    Flight: UA99
    Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
    Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (I class requested)

    Flight: UA239
    Aircraft: Airbus A319
    Fare Class: United Economy (X) – (I class requested)

    When I hover over the “I class requested” it says – “You are confirmed in X Class on this flight and have requested a change to I class. You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class (I) becomes available.”

    It says this for both my MEL-LAX-SFO flights. Any advice/thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Aj – As long as the space opens up more than 24 hours before departure it will work. But the setup you have now won’t work if you need to be on the waitlist at the airport. The miles need to be deducted in advance for that.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        I am on hold as I write this. I am told I should ticket as Economy, being charged only Economy saver, and I will be waitlisted (San Francisco – Frankfurt) (Munich – San Francisco) for Business Class. If Business class opens up, I will automatically be upgraded and charged the additional miles to Business Saver at that time. It doesn’t seem like this is as good as being charged the Business Saver today, but I can’t get them to understand this. Also, is it true this may only work from SFO to FRA, on a United flight, but may not work from MUC to SFO, a Lufthansa flight? Thanks.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Mike – It definitely won’t work on the Lufthansa flight. Only works on United flights. The way it’s set up for you now is fine up until 24 hours prior to departure. If a seat opens up and you’re next in line, you’ll clear into it. But if you don’t clear by 24 hours, you won’t be transferred to the waitlist at the airport. That can only be done if you have the Business Saver number of miles deducted in advance. So try calling again and explain that you need the Business Saver award fully deducted so that it will properly transfer to the airport waitlist if you don’t clear by 24 hours before departure.

          Reply
          1. Mike

            Okay. Thank you. I understand. [I was disconnected twice while they tried to figure it out. I’ll try again.]

  175. Philip

    Thank you very much for the great information. I have been looking for a business or first saver seat for the last five months and they were never there despite a great number of available seats (according to the seat map). They booked me as class XN with IN requested and I was told on the phone that there isn’t a way to jump two classes when doing things this way. There was one snafu along the way in that they didn’t take out the miles from my account right away so the reservation was cancelled. I had to call back the next morning and then they were able to complete it.

    Reply
    1. Philip

      After a third call they have it correct now. They said that if I wait list for a first saver seat and it fills up, I can still switch it to the business saver wait list until 24 hours prior to the flight.

      Reply
  176. SM

    I tried to use miles to upgrade to business class to Buenos Aires but I got wait listed despite many tickets being available for purchase. Am I doing something wrong? The flight is 30 days away.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @SM – No you’re not doing anything wrong. They often wait to see if they will sell more seats before clearing the upgrades. It could even go down to the wire at the gate.

      Reply
  177. Logan

    Thank you for the tip. I did exactly as the post mentioned and first try was unsuccessful, but second try worked like a charm. I have a saver business award going back to the US from Asia. The United-operated flights I have from LAX to final destination were only available in Economy. I reached Customer Care in the Philippines and they said those segments were not available for waitlisting for 1st class. I called back; got an agent in the Philippines again; and they tried to give me the relatively the same excuse. I simply reassured them that this wasn’t my first time doing this and that if I paid for business/first then I am surely allowed to waitlist myself for business/first. It took several minutes on hold, but they did it for both tickets (my wife and I) and I saw the request showing on my online reservation. Thanks!

    Reply
  178. AirCanada traveler

    My apologies if this is covered in mobes’ and deep’s posts below…

    If I’m reading things correctly, their questions actually both run in the other direction, but here goes…

    Does this work for reservations on United flights, but which are purchased through mileage rewards booked through a partner? I have a lot of Air Canada miles, but I would like to book saver Global First on a United flight from Paris to DC.

    Can I have the Aeroplan people reserve my seat as an economy saver, while asking them to charge me the Global First rate? Usually when I book a United flight through Air Canada, I end up with both an Air Canada and a United confirmation number, so in principle I supposed I could monitor my wait-list status directly through United even after booking through Air Canada.

    Would that work, or must the original ticket be booked directly through United using only MileagePlus miles?

    (Again, apologies if this question is redundant, but it did seem to me that both mobes and deep were asking about booking through united for a flight operated by a partner airline…hopefully I wasnt misinterpreting that!)

    Thank you so much for your help!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @AirCanada traveler – Unfortunately this option is only for booking with United miles, as it’s a feature of their internal reservation system.

      Reply
  179. Alex W

    If there are Saver Business award seats available but no Saver First, would I be able to pay Saver First and be confirmed into Business, and waitlisted for the First seat? Or can it only be confirmed in Economy with a waitlist to either premium cabin?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Alex W – The text of the rule says Saver Economy must be available: “You may redeem miles for travel in United Global First, United First, United Business or United BusinessFirst, even if the space is not available. In these cases, United Economy in the same award type must be confirmed, and the front cabin will be waitlisted”

      But it’s worth a try. It’s possible the computer system can only handle it from Economy.

      Reply
  180. Kristin

    @MileCards – thank so much for this info! I was able to book Saver Business for 4 people from SFO to IST on a non-stop Turkish Air flight. Returning however was a bit more difficult. We could get from IST to ORD but nothing back to SFO. Yesterday Saver Economy opened up from ORD to SFO so I called and added that to our reservation and requested to be waitlisted. The woman on the phone seemed knowledgable to a degree but when I asked if we would be just behind “full fare” tickets she said that we would be behind anyone that has status and requests an upgrade. I currently do not have status.

    When I log in to my account, my booking looks a little different than your example above. It says we are currently in United Economy (X) and that (I) class is requested. Your example showed (XN) and (IN). Do you know what the “N” stands for or if that makes a difference? Is this possibly the difference in us being behind full fare tickets or behind anyone with status or is the woman who helped me yesterday mis-informed?

    And lastly, if I decide to pay for Economy Plus and we do happen to get the First Class waitlist from ORD to SFO, can I get a refund for the Economy Plus?

    Thanks!
    Kristin

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kristin – The ‘I’ is fine – that’s award First Class – if award space opens up before 24 hours before departure you’ll be in line for it. Though in your case with 4 people in the reservation there would have to be 4 seats at once opening up for it to clear. Where the full fare priority comes into play is at the airport within 24 hours. That you may have to have them re-do to get that set up, but frankly – you got 95% of the deal in great shape. After a Turkish Airlines business class flight even United first class will feel like economy class.

      As for the Economy Plus, yes it can be refunded if you clear into First Class on your award.

      Reply
      1. Keith

        Hi Milescards. Can you clarify your answer to Kristin about the refund of Economy Plus. I had a similar question last year. I would want to make sure I at least get Economy Plus if I’m not able to be upgraded. However, if I do get upgraded I would think that since you’re not seated in Economy it would make sense to be able to get your money back for the Economy Plus. Below is how you responded to my question. Thanks! Just want to make sure in case. Economy Plus can be pricey.

        @Keith – Yes, you are eligible for a refund if you get a mileage upgrade. United counts that as a ‘paid premium seating upgrade’ and it qualifies for a refund. Only complimentary ‘Premier’ upgrades that involve no miles or certificates don’t qualify. It’s supposed to be automatic but as you can imagine it’s probably something you need to keep an eye on after the flight to make sure it processes.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Keith – Thanks for the reminder. Yes both your and Kristin’s cases are eligible for a refund per the following:

          “In the event of an upgrade, with some exclusions, purchased Economy Plus seating for the upgraded segment(s) will be automatically refunded. Exclusions include Complimentary Premier Upgrades and cases where a customer is reaccommodated into a seat of similar or greater value due to an aircraft change or other operational issue.”

          Just don’t expect it to be automatic knowing the way United can be…

          Reply
  181. Silversides

    Slight modification of the above conversation based on what I just learned. When you have multiple legs, at least one of the legs has to have business or first class saver award space. Then, as you pointed out, they can book the whole thing as bus./first and you get priority when the other legs open up for saver. That appears to be the case even with partner airlines, although it’s possible the partner may never release any bus./first class seats to United. In my case, the key is to get the bus./first saver from Sydney to the U.S. Then, from either LAX or SFO, I can get home to IAD and, frankly, don’t really care if the upgrade never happens. And actually, we’re going from AKL (Aukland) so the AKL to SYD doesn’t have to ever open for first. And, btw, I spoke with someone who has always been with United, not a former Cont’l. But admittedly it was with the elite desk.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Silversides – Thanks for the update. Definitely the case for partner flights that at least one leg must be in First/Business. If it’s an all-United itinerary though should be able to confirm it even if all legs are Economy Saver.

      Reply
      1. Silversides

        This rep indicated that at least one has to be available in first/bus otherwise she wouldn’t be able to ticket it. But maybe it was because there was an int’l leg as part of the itinerary. Thx for your advice. I’ve been doing this for many years now and it’s always frustrating waiting for that magic day and time. I sure wish they’d just release the first and business seats at 331 days out like they do the coach.

        Reply
  182. Eugene

    Hey there,

    Thanks for all your advice and prompt responses. I’m currently… very patiently… wishing/hoping award travel opens up in June. Wanting to fly to Greece and Italy from Houston for our honeymoon. The idea being either HOU – Italy (rome, Florence or Venice) – Greece – Houston or Hou – Greece – Italy. Have about 400k points so business class round trip for both of us on saver is what we want.

    Problem right now is there is no saver award availability to any of those locations. We are about 4 months out and getting a bit nervous about the possibility of seats opening up. What are your thoughts? Is it possible to do this method by booking 3-leg segments on saver coach and waitlist for business on all? Or is it only possible on a standard round trip?

    Other option is going in September and there is currently saver coach united availability and business with turkish air.

    Really appreciate your help! It’s for our honeymoon!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Eugene – Turkish Airlines is your secret weapon. Do a search for IAH-IST and see what pops up – there are a number of dates in June with an IAH-YYZ-IST routing. Then they should have plenty of options from IST to/from Greece and Italy.

      If that chokes things up, frankly getting the IAH-IST and back, then buying separate tickets or booking separate awards for Greece / Italy is a win.

      You’ll want to book this by the 28th, as on that day a special sale on partner award prices ends. Turkish Airlines is a really special experience well suited to a honeymoon.

      Reply
      1. Eugene

        I just wanted to give you a BIG BIG THANK YOU! I’ve been looking for business round trip for months and in fact asked Steve Belkin with awardwallet.com to help with my trip. They were of no help and just told me to consider other months such as september.

        You on the other hand gave me the idea of IST as it’s so close to greece.

        Was able to book business class saver IAH – IST on June 9th, then FLR – IAH on June 23rd for us on our hoenymoon! Will have to buy a flight from IST to Santorini for $130 and Santorini to Venice for $200 but being able to get there and back on business saver is incredible!

        Thank you so much for your help, let me know how I can reciprocate and help your business!

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Eugene – Glad to hear it worked out. Turkish Airlines is a real treat for a honeymoon. Next time you think about a card, or have a friend considering one, visit our site to apply.

          Reply
  183. mobes

    Hello, thanks for the great blog.

    Is it possible to book saver on a partner itinerary for wait-list to first class using this method? In this case, 2 of the 3 segments are on United the other on Hawaiian Airlines. I realize this would cost more miles than on a United itinerary. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @mobes – Unfortunately you can’t do an automatic wait list on partner flights. But if the partner flight space does open up on the flight you’re on, you can switch it to Business / First class at no charge (since you’ve already paid the business / first class price). You just have to keep an eye on the space.

      Reply
      1. mobes

        Thank you for the quick response!

        I would just like to clarify. In the case of a partner flight, I would need to call United, book at First class price but reserve Economy. In this case though I would not be automatically swept in if First opens up. I would monitor on my own and call United to seat in First when available. Also, if I didn’t clear prior to the day of the flight, would I have any status at the gate as with this policy? I’m thinking not. Sounds like it would be easier to wait to see if First opens up online and just book it then??

        Thank you

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @mobes – You are understanding it correctly. If the rest of your trip is available in Saver Business the advantage is you lock that in now. And you need at least part of the trip confirmed in Saver Business or First to deduct the full price when you’re dealing with a partner.

          Reply
  184. Rob

    I am looking to take advantage of this for a trip from Denver to Paris in September. All of the Saver Business/First class seats are gone (if any ever even existed) for the dates we want, but there are Saver Economy seats. There are two of us and we would want to sit together. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t want to risk not being in Business on the flight TO Europe. Returning to the U.S., I would be willing to settle for Economy if nothing opens up in Business.

    So, with this in mind, is it possible to book the Standard Award seats in Business class outbound and then use this method here to book Saver Award seats in Economy, but waitlist for Saver in Business or First, on the return flight?

    Reply
      1. Rob

        I was able to go ahead and book the Saver award for my trip mentioned above and my reservation shows class XN confirmed with I class requested for all legs. There is also a statement at the top reading “You are CONFIRMED on Economy Class and WAITLIST on Business Class for all the legs of your trip”.

        However, the miles debited for this ticket only show 120,000 and not the 230,000 that should be the case for two roundtrip business class Saver Award seats to Europe from the U.S. I pointed this out to the agent and he said that it should change over to the 230,000 miles within 24 hours since he had to “manually” create this itinerary.

        Does this sound correct? Should I call back and see if another agent can fix this? I want to make sure that we are in line to automatically clear into Business Class if any Saver seats open up and then are first in priority at the airport. Thank you!

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Rob – Call in before the 24 hours and see if you can get another agent to set it up. It shouldn’t take that long.

          Reply
  185. Kwazie

    I actually am trying to book a United flight from LAX to PVG (Shanghai) this upcoming Saturday but all the saver award tickets (both economy and business) are unavailable. At this point only the economy standard award ticket and the business standard award ticket is still available. Is it possible for me to waitlist or still get a business saver award ticket??? Do business standard award tickets ever lower down to saver award tickets 24 hours before my flight? Help!!!! I’m not sure what I should do at this point. The economy saver award ticket is typically 35,000 miles and the economy standard ticket 80,000. The business saver award is 70,000 and the standard 175,000. I want to get the 70,000 business saver award ticket as it’s less than the 80,000 economy standard award ticket. Please give some advice. Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kwazie – Unfortunately you can’t waitlist for a Saver when only Standard are available. Business Class doesn’t look very full at this point, it’s actually wide open for upgrades from paid cash tickets, so maybe it will open up. Though Economy appears pretty full. No harm in waiting and checking each day at this point.

      Reply
  186. Nash D

    Tried this out for my wife, who is United Silver, flying ORD-SFO tomorrow. She was earlier waitlisted in I-class (I-class requested) but yesterday, before she was checking in online (to her international segment with Lufthansa), her reservation started showing up as “R class requested”. She called United, and they said the list will be sent to the airport for further consideration. Does she need to do anything to clear? I am seeing 2 seats still available in F, but none in R or I. A couple of other upgrade eligible customers already seem to have been upgraded ahead of her. Tips?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Nash D – Where is she on the upgrade list? You can check using the flight status on United.com or on the United app. If she is near the top it’s coded correctly. If not, they may have goofed, and might only be able to try fixing it at the airport. She should tell them she is not an upgrader, but a first class fare that is waitlisting.

      Reply
      1. Nash D

        She is not showing up on the upgrade list at all when I look at the flight status for that particular flight. Will let her know to tell them she is not an upgrader at the airport.

        Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @Nash D – Strange, something doesn’t seem right. Worth a call as well. At least it’s only the short domestic leg.

  187. FrustratedFlyer

    @RH no fee, even though the work on their end involved a miles redeposit and then rededicating the new miles. Seems like they need to work out the kinks in their new process. Also before I booked the saver economy on the website, they did tell me if I booked it over the phone I would be charged a $25 ticketing fee, even though I wanted to request the saver F award which was not available online… In the end it worked out, I just wish I knew what I do today, yesterday 😀

    Reply
    1. RH

      @FrustratedFlyer Thanks so much for the response. Do you see the “IN class requested” on your reservation like the images above? I just tried to use the procedure and was allegedly added to the “wait list” but do not see that notation on the reservation. Thanks!

      Reply
      1. FrustratedFlyer

        @RH I do see “I class requested” on my reservation (note that it says “I” not “IN”) and it looks exactly the same as what is shown above. I had to logout of my account and back in before I could see this change. Also, for the first couple hours after I made the reservation I kept checking the reservation and I noticed at one point the “I class requested” was removed. I believe this was when we were reticketing the reservation (redepositing miles, etc.). I also received a new confirmation email from United that showed the increased mileage deduction a couple hours after my initial booking. Hope this helps!

        Reply
          1. RH

            In case it helps anyone else: I was trying to waitlist only one-way on a roundtrip itinerary. Even after the right “helpdesk” people were involved, the ticket kept pricing wrong (double), as if I was trying to waitlist for both directions on the ticket. After arguing with them for 10 minutes about the correct pricing, another department got involved and corrected the ticket price. This is definitely an “off the beaten path” procedure.

  188. FrustratedFlyer

    I’ve been on the phone for 2 hours with United this morning trying to do this for a flight from EWR-HNL… 6 agents later and still no luck! I’ve actually done this a few years ago so I know it works. Everyone at UA keeps disconnecting me when they say they are transferring me, and I’m being super nice as well! Are you guys calling a specific number because the service at their main number is horrendous and no one who works at United seems to understand what I want to do? I’ve even been transferred to the internet help desk once and they told me they couldn’t do it either. Everyone keeps instructing me to book a saver economy ticket, then to call in to be waitlisted for First class, even after they read “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37.” Please help!

    Reply
    1. FrustratedFlyer

      So as an update, after 5 hours, 10 calls, I FINALLY got this issue resolved. I’m not sure if there has been some policy change, but according to the United.COM help desk guy that finally helped waitlist me for “I” class informed me that there was a change. You apparently now have to first secure your ticket as a saver economy award when no saver first seats are available. Then you call in, and you can request to be placed on the waitlist for I class and they will redo your reservation (they actually redeposited my miles). The normal agents didn’t understand my request or simply did not want to help, so my trick was to get transferred to the United.com help desk. They are US based and more then equipped to handle this request. The reasoning you can give for being transferred to them is that “it says on the website that you are entitled to waitlist for F.” Once you get through if you reference MPWAI – Line 37 and explain what you want to do, they should be able to help. What a pain! It’s honestly not worth the effort unless you have 5 free hours and a lot of patience. Good luck to anyone else who tries to do this!

      Reply
      1. MileCards.com

        @FrustratedFlyer – Sorry to hear it was such a hassle. The common denominator seems to be finding an agent who used to work for the Continental side of the house. The web support desk was originally the Continental side.

        Reply
        1. FrustratedFlyer

          Thanks for all the advice @MileCards.com, it really helped! Do you know what happens with respect to my waitlist priority over people trying to use Global Premier upgrades? Will they have first priority? Is it possible that United will open up upgrades for them before the day of departure, while still keeping the saver F awards closed, therefore making my chance of getting an upgrade less likely? http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/mileageplus/premier/swupgrades.aspx

          Reply
          1. MileCards.com

            @FrustratedFlyer – You are waitlisting for separate space from Premier upgrades ahead of the flight. Premier upgrades come out of ‘R’ inventory, yours come out of ‘I’ or ‘O’. Sometimes ‘R’ is open when ‘I’ or ‘O’ are not, other times it’s the reverse, and others both are open. Once it comes to day of departure, you get priority over Premier upgrades as you are someone who actually paid for a premium cabin seat.

  189. Jack

    will this strategy work on a flight with the triple 7, 3 cabin configuration? There are economy saver and bus.first 2 cabin saver avail but nothing shows under the 3 cabin first column. I checked the flight and there are open seats in the first cabin but, of course they are not available for award travelers. What I’m asking is: if I book an econ saver award for the bus/ first 2nd cabin price of 35000mi, will I qualify for a seat in the first cabin that is not full?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jack – In theory yes according to the language below. You would need to deduct the Saver Global First price upfront to do it, not the Business Class price. And you would be gambling that First opens up on a flight where you could have confirmed Business from the start. You won’t be able to waitlist for Business and First on the same ticket.

      “You may redeem miles for travel in United Global First, United First, United Business or United BusinessFirst, even if the space is not available. In these cases, United Economy in the same award type must be confirmed, and the front cabin will be waitlisted.”

      Reply
  190. Lily hill

    Love your advice! I’m checking air today for September. Looking for ORD-FRA and next day FRA-VIE. Ord-Fra is saver economy only; 2nd segment Fra-Vie is only saver business. So if I book I’m charged the saver business for both segments anyway so will I be automatically wait listed for the business space on the first segment since I’m being charged or do I need to phone in and request it? Thank you…

    Reply
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  192. Matt

    Just tried using this method to book a flight from EWR to SYD (described what I wanted to do just as in steps 1 and 2 above) but was told by the agent that she couldn’t reserve me as Saver Economy and ticket it at the Business Class price. Is this just a matter of calling over and over until I get an agent who understands how to do this? I mentioned the DRS reference page as well but that didn’t seem to be any help. Thanks!

    Reply
  193. Jon

    I just ran across this excellent post. My wife and I already have economy award redemptions for a trip to Europe this summer. I noticed that there is one first class award for the departure trip. Do you know (1) if I can just call in and pay the difference in miles for one of us to snag that seat? And, (2) whether we can add the extra miles to the other person’s itinerary to automatically be waitlisted for the first class award as this post documents?

    I don’t want to cancel the itinerary entirely and rebook because of the fees, so I’m wondering If I can “adjust” the itineraries over the phone.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jon – Unfortunately you’ll probably get hit with the change fees, as you are changing from an Economy Class ticket to a new First or Business Class ticket type.

      The reason the method on this page works is that you are ‘buying’ a Business Class award ticket upfront, but getting seated in Coach. So when Business Class opens up, you’re already in that ticket type.

      You certainly should call and ask, maybe you’ll get a sympathetic agent who fudges it for you, but the policy is to charge you a change fee here.

      Reply
  194. LiveStrongForever

    Hey there,

    I posted this question in flyertalk but maybe you can help me. I’d gladly pay you a service if you can show me how to turn a mixed cabin into completely business class:

    So heres my possible itinerary:

    10/4/2015 SFO to ICN
    10/8/2014 ICN to TPE
    10/24/2015 BKK to SJC

    using multiple destination route via the United Website.

    I can get Business class on all of them except coming back I get “Mixed Cabin.”

    BKK to SJC stops at Japan. So from BKK to Japan, would be economy for 6 hours and then Japan to SJC would be business class for 9 hours.

    I want to book it soon because I am afraid it will be sold out soon. Is it possible to book it and then be waitlisted by Thai Airways for business class?

    Something about paying for the same amount of miles but on economy kind of irkes me. Thanks!!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @LiveStrongForever – You can’t waitlist the BKK-NRT, but if Business opens up on that Thai flight you can move up from Economy at no fee, since you’ve officially on a Business Class award because of that NRT-SJC segment. So keep an eye on that flight and if it changes in your favor, give them a call and they’ll move you into Business.

      Reply
  195. JA

    This is the most superb thread. Many thanks! I have two additional questions after reading through all of the above. (1) I hear you that a saver economy award has to be available for them to *ticket* you in saver business or first, and you thus not only to get on the waitlist for pre- 24 hours, but also to get the golden goose of the airport rollover and high priority. Yesterday, before reading this I booked a flight MEL-LAX that had no saver in any class; so I booked a standard economy for 85K and they waitlisted me for business (the agent suggested I do this). My reservation does show the “you are waitlisted for IN” designation. Is this all okay, and I’m properly in queue for IN – but its just that I can’t get the airport rollover with top priority? Or did they make a mistake in the first place adding me to the IN waitlist when I had an economy standard and not saver ticket? (2) On a 3 cabin flight, can you waitlist for both business and first such that you’ll get whatever becomes available first? If not, if you’re 1K so no redeposit and you have plenty of extra miles, do you think they’d be displeased if you booked 2 PNR’s on the same flight and waitlisted one for first and one for business? I know they have scrubber software to identify multiple bookings, but that’s circumventable (which I know might answer my question…just wondering if you have any opinion or experience specifically as related to upgrades?).

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @JA – On 1 – the rules is pretty explicit about needing Saver avail, so maybe you found a loophole, though it may not carry over to the airport.

      For 2- the old Continental system only handled 2 class flights, so it’s only for a single cabin upgrade.

      Reply
  196. Gina

    Hi,

    Thanks so much for this GREAT info. I am traveling from ORD to Rome in June. There are no saver awards in any class. Could I use miles to purchase a standard coach ticket and request an upgrade to a business saver or does it only work with coach saver fares? This way the miles are already deducted to cover the business saver ticket if the list gets transferred to the airport.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Gina – If you buy a cash coach ticket you’d have to pay 20,000 miles plus $550 each way to waitlist for an upgrade on most of the cheaper coach fares. If it doesn’t clear it will be refunded.

      Reply
      1. Gina

        Hi Milecards,

        Thanks for the prompt reply. I was thinking of using miles for a standard award coach ticket and wait list for a business saver award. Is it possible to wait list for a business saver award with a standard award coach ticket as opposed to a saver award coach ticket? Your prior posts only reference saver award coach tickets. I’d rather use straight miles than 40,000 miles plus an additional $1100 on top of the price of the ticket. Thanks so much for clarifying.

        Reply
        1. Gina

          Hi again Milecards,

          You can disregard my prior question.

          I just read the rules and unfortunately it clearly states that you cannot confirm standard awards and wait list saver awards. Darn!!!!! I guess I confirm a standard award and just check everyday to see if a saver fare opens up then cancel and rebook.

          Thanks so much though.

          Reply
  197. Maddie

    Hi MileCards! Just tried this tip… I booked the flight online for the economy saver seat to save on the phone booking fee and then after 5 calls to United, finally got someone willing to ask a manager for help with the business saver ticket/waitlist. Spent 30 minutes on hold while he worked it out. This is a flight to/from LHR, and they charged an extra $106 pp for premium cabin taxes out of UK and the agent told me he would be deducting an extra 55k miles pp. I checked the new confirmation for the reservation and the extra $ charge shows but no additional miles were deducted. Under Fare Class, it says “IN class requested”.

    My question is… is it the fare class that puts us at the top of the list for the seat or is it having paid the miles for the seat in advance? I’m wondering if it’s worth trying to call back to United to get them to deduct the mileage OR if we have the best chance already and wait for an upgrade?

    Thanks in advance!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Maddie- For clearing the waitlist before it moves to the airport at 24 hours you’re properly set up to clear at the right priority. The reason you want the miles actually deducted though is in case it doesn’t clear before it moves to the airport, because the airport has no way to deduct the miles.

      Reply
  198. Nanz

    Hi Milecard, Is there anything similar to stand better upgrade chances on united paid ticked (not economy saver booked through points) . Appreciate your take on that!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Nanz – Other than buying a more expensive coach ticket or being a Premier elite member, no, but at least you are ahead of Premier members hoping for complimentary upgrades.

      Reply
  199. Nanz

    Hi, Pardon me for my naivety. I wanted to know if a similar option was available if one has a paid economy ticket (not booked on saver with points) ?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Nanz – Yes you can waitlist a paid economy ticket for a mileage upgrade, though it won’t get quite the same high priority that these Saver award wait lists do. You can do this online by going to ‘manage reservations’ and checking upgrade options, or by calling in to request it.

      Reply
  200. Sam

    Thank you for the very detailed post It was extremely helpful!! … I booked a round trip awards reservation from EWR to Europe yesterday. My wait list designation (I class requested) shows when I log in and view the reservation at united.com but it is only showing the mileage deduction of the saver economy fare not the saver business fare. Is this concerning and I need to call again until I get an agent who understand this process and can make the change or is it ok since it is showing the (I class requested) waitlist designation?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sam – It’s not a huge issue if you clear before 24 hours before departure. But if you don’t then with this setup it won’t pass the waitlist onward to the airport. So to be safe best to call again and request the full deduction.

      Reply
      1. Sam

        @MileCards.com – Thank you! I followed up. I used the United Web Support Call Back instead of dialing the 800 # as I read the people answering that line had a better understand of the process. From my experience I would agree that it appears the agents at the United Web Support Call are slightly more knowledgeable and/or at least able to escalate to people who understand this process and can help you. My ticket is now showing the business award saver mileage price and (I class requested).

        Reply
  201. Keith

    I would like to clarify using this policy on Saver First itineraries that show as Mixed Cabin/First Sold Out. It seems this is what happens with United itineraries to KOA. If I am traveling on an itinerary that has Saver First available but only 1 segment is in First, will I be waitlisted automatically for the other segments showing as Economy/First Sold out?
    I wanted to make sure since the blog indicates that Saver Economy has to be available but not Saver First in order for this to work. It seems that if I’m spending the Saver First miles it would apply to the itinerary and if First became available for my other segments I could be upgraded. If this is true, can this be done online or do you still need to call United?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Keith – You’re understanding the logic correctly, but would call to verify the waitlist is properly setup once you book it.

      Reply
  202. JG

    This is fascinating. I’d like to book a summer flight from EWR-CDG one-way. The flight I’m looking at has seemingly tons of economy saver tix and obviously no business savers. There are two flights each night- a 6 and a 9:30. The 9:30 never shows savers, and the 6 almost always does (we booked this last year in good ol economy without knowing this trick). What do you think our chances are of clearing into business with this? Also, will my wife and I be attached pre-day of departure, or is it possible one of us clears the waitlist without the other?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @JG – Hard to say this far in advance, as business travelers could book flights last minute. But generally whichever flight shows more empty seats both in the front and back is preferable to one that’s more full. Again though that can all change in an instant.

      As for clearing your wife…

      If you are both in the same reservation it will hold back the upgrade unless 2 seats open up at once. If you’re willing to split up, you’ll have a better shot of upgrading by having separate reservations. That’s because upgrades are often opened one at a time. The phone agent can ‘split’ the reservation for you.

      Reply
  203. Maggie

    Australia and New Zealand, from my research, are the most difficult to find. We’re finding that super saver in any class doesn’t open outside 5 months. We’re planning a trip in January of 2016 to AKL and back from SYD in February. Air New Zealand is almost never open. United’s flights from LAX or SFO to SYD will open up but not the US portion (which is long gone by that point. What are our chances of getting upgraded to Business or First Class on those long non-stops to Sydney? We definitely do not want to go that far in the “back of the bus”. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Maggie

      One more thought on that. Can I book the ticket for October, when it comes available, and waitlist January (recognizing I’d pay a change fee)? Would the waitlist automatically clear when January opens up?

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @Maggie – It’s hard to say. United’s partners tend to have more availability for a somewhat higher price if you go through Asia, which is not as far out of the way as you might imagine.

      January 2016 flights will start to be bookable next month.

      If anything you may have better luck clearing the waitlist on LAX to Sydney because it’s not as big of a United hub as SFO and two other airlines operate the same route.

      As for booking in October and moving to January, unfortunately you can only waitlist for the very same flight. If January opens up you’d need to pay a $200 change fee.

      Reply
  204. Marian Hooker

    I am trying to book 2 business class flights from Denver to Berlin and from Amsterdam back to Denver using miles. Am I better off booking the business class flights (300,000 miles each) and doing a wait list for the saver business class (115,000 each) or tourist class with a wait list for business? Would rather default to business than tourist. However, I hate using up all of our miles on one trip as we are seniors and have been saving these for years. Thanks for any advice!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Marian-

      If you did the 300,000 mile level, you would have to pay $200 per ticket to change to the ‘Saver’ level if it opens up.

      If you booked in Tourist class you would pay no extra fee if the waitlist clears, but as you note, you won’t be guaranteed Business Class. It’s possible the waitlist won’t clear.

      What time of year are you trying to travel?

      Reply
      1. Marian Hooker

        April 2015 is when he had hoped to go. United says that the first of the year is slow to release saver tickets.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Marian – If you are willing to pay slightly more miles (70,000 one way instead of 57,500) you can fly to Berlin on Lufthansa on April 1 or 7 on the way out.

          On April 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 22 you can fly back from Amsterdam for 57,500 miles. The short domestic portion will be in coach, but the long TransAtlantic portion will be in Business class, and you can waitlist for first class on the domestic portion.

          Reply
          1. Marian Hooker

            Thanks for the information. We hope to leave Denver on the 14th of April and return on May 5, 2015. We are meeting relatives there. Do I book everything through united? I assume I need to talk to an agent? I appreciate your help.

          2. MileCards.com

            @Marian – Unfortunately those specific days don’t have the seats at the lower price. So if you can’t be flexible then consider waitlisting or the higher price.

          3. Marian Hooker

            We can be a bit flexible. Want to be gone three weeks. Could leave in the 7 th. Where did you find that Lufthansa flight?

          4. MileCards.com

            @Marian – It was on United.com, but the 2nd seat slipped away in the time being. Now showing only one seat available.

  205. Elaine Farran

    We are taking a South American cruise and plan to fly from Miami to Buenos Aires around Jan. 1, 2016 and return Jan 19,2016 from Santiago, Chile.
    Two questions:
    I understand availability is posted 331 days before travel. Will we be able to book round trip (multiple stop) award travel at the same time or would it be best to book award travel for each date separately as they become available?
    I have 92,063 United points and 40,000+ Ultimate Reward points; My husband has 43,000 United points and 80,000 Ultimate reward points; I also have about 50,000 Amex Rewards points which either of us could use. What would be the best way to use these points to travel to South America for our cruise?
    Thanks!!!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Elaine- You can book the trip down to Argentina as its own one way ticket as soon as it’s open. Then you can separately book the return from Santiago as its own one way ticket. The total price in miles will be the same.

      Moving your Ultimate Rewards points to United miles will probably be your best bet. But no need to do that until you see award space on the days you want. It will be 110,000 miles roundtrip for each person in Business Class (55,000 miles one way).

      Reply
  206. mauibound

    Can you give me advice on trying to get business class from ORD-OGG for a family of 6? Should I divide the reservation into 2 separate itineraries? My husband is Global Services. Any idea how many tickets they allow for business class award travel?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @mauibound – Best idea is to use the trick above to wait list. Get your husband’s Global Services hotline number and have them find a flight with the Economy space available for 6 people and waitlist all 6 of you for First Class.

      An alternative is to find a day where there is some upgrade space available. For example some flights have space to upgrade one or two people right away if you buy a cash coach ticket and use miles or one of your husbands upgrade certificates. So maybe buy two people a cash coach ticket, get them upgraded. Then do the other 4 using the Economy Award wait list described above. Best to keep your husband in the same reservation as the people who will be waitlisted as that gets them all top priority.

      Reply
      1. JA

        Hi – slight question along these lines. Understand that keeping the GS member in the reservation with, say, 4 pax, gets them all GS upgrade priority. But, doesn’t this mean 4 seats have to be available all at once and isn’t that less likely? For example, let’s say the flight is IN0 and I0 and then goes to IN2 I0. If there is a waitlist requiring 4 IN seats wouldn’t it pass over the GS member because there is only IN2 availability, and go to the next person on the list? I’m 1K, but always dividing my family into single pax reservations because of my belief of it working this way. Can you comment on this? Thanks!

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @JA – You are right – tying them all together would make it wait for 4 seats at once. Call and ask if you can split the reservation afterward. That might be possible.

          Reply
          1. JA

            Thanks. I think this is the best approach because I think when you split the reservation it just might retain 1K status and the IN upgrade for all pax regardless of the underlying pax’s status. I’m a little suspicious that dividing the reservation might somehow mess up the automatic nature of the UG though. I believe there may be some reports of this out there… Thank you for the replies!

  207. Jbizzle

    Fantastic trick. Curious- would it work for an OGG-SFO-BOS flight where the OGG-SFO portion is operated by Hawaiian Airlines (but issued on the United website)? Debating whether to fly into/out of HNL and take Hawaiian mini-flights between islands or just try to fly direct to, say, Kona on the way in or from Maui on the way back. Thanks again for the tip.

    Reply
      1. Jbizzle

        Great- thanks.

        Does United ever open up more saver awards or are they typically sold out once they’re gone?

        Reply
  208. TCub

    I never leave comments but I felt I needed to on this one – I spoke with 4 different agents who “bullied” me saying this is not possible etc. I remained calm and asked for a different person and kept quoting the policy stated above. I finally got a representative who said “of course we can do that” my issue then was the flight I wanted was not showing on their end as having a saver economy award but I was able to see it on my computer – the agent said I should book the ticket online and then she would adjust on her end to charge the extra points etc. Its crazy – she made it seem like this is done all the time while the other agents had no clue and got mean when I persisted. So fingers crossed I get the upgrade – thanks for the advice!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @TCub- Glad it worked out for you, and sorry to hear about the hassle. It’s probably because you found a former Continental agent. It was a policy they had for years. But it’s new to all the former United agents.

      Reply
  209. MJM

    I was able to get wait listed for business class tickets to/from Europe, but it required some work and a number of calls. There is a lot of confusion on United’s end, and my request received all sorts of responses, including being told (incorrectly) that United was not doing this anymore. There was also some confusion about the amount of miles that should be required.

    The main takeaway is that, if you are speaking to a representative who is being unhelpful or who is too confused about the process, feel free to end the conversation and call again at a later date. Eventually you will find someone who can/will do this for you.

    Reply
  210. SydneyBound

    Hello MileCards,

    Just called United to get on the wait list for business class for a trip from Sydney to Los Angeles. The lady I spoke with did not know about this at all and I explained it to her (it took directing her to the united frequent flier miles rules page). By the end of it she told me there was no way to charge the 70,000 (saver plus from Australia to LA) miles for business class and we would be charged the 40,000 miles for economy and wait listed for business. I told her that being wait listed was the only way that this would actually work and she said that yes normally you would need to be charged the 70,000 miles but since they couldn’t get it to work they added me to the wait list anyways and that it would automatically add me to business class if it becomes available and at that point we would be charged the additional 30,000 miles. I referred her to “DRS reference page MPWAI – Line 37″ and she said she looked at it and it was not working. I checked my reservation on their website and it does have the designation United Economy (X) – (I class requested). The I class requested has the note

    “You are confirmed in X class on this flight and have requested a change to I class. You will be automatically confirmed on this flight if space in your requested class I becomes available.”

    Does this sound right to you or am I going to have to spend another hour on the phone with them? If I do need to call them back do you have any pointers for me? Thank you so much, this is such a great way to get in to business… hoping it works out!

    Reply
    1. SydneyBound

      Edit: I told her that being charged the 70,000 miles was the only way this would work (I said above that being wait listed was the only way)

      Reply
    2. MileCards.com

      @SydneyBound – Unfortunately would say it’s worth calling again and making sure the Saver Business mileage gets deducted. The page on the website is pretty clear that “a Saver United First award must be confirmed in Saver United Economy to be eligible for waitlisting.” Your waitlist as-is might ultimately work, it in theory would clear into business if the space opened, then have a red flag to call to re-issue the ticket manually and deduct the miles. But it won’t transfer to the airport if it doesn’t clear before 24 hours, since airport agents can’t deduct miles.

      Reply
      1. JBizzle

        Actually wondering how this particular situation turned out. I just had the exact same situation — on the website it shows that I have requested I class and will be automatically confirmed to I class if space becomes available.

        The miles have *not* been deducted and will be deducted if and only if spaces becomes available (per the agent).

        Would you recommend calling again and requesting the miles be deducted?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @JBizzle – You should call again. If the space clears in advance you should be in good shape with the waitlist you have, but if it goes to the airport it probably won’t transfer over.

          Reply
          1. JBizzle

            Interesting. Thanks. Just today I cleared I-class business for the longest leg of the trip but wasn’t charged any miles. Would you still recommend a call or once confirmed (and seat confirmed) are we good?

          2. MileCards.com

            @JBizzle – Your ticket is probably out of ‘sync’ so at some point you’ll need to call to get it properly ticketed. But you are secure in business.

  211. Stephen

    Hi, I tried to use this today for a flight from Sacramento to Hannover Germany. Plenty of Economy Saver available. I had flight numbers in hand and called United. Even after giving the agent the DRS Reference Page number, he was so confused he didn’t know where to start. He transferred me to “Web-Support.” She looked up the DRS and told me I had to PAY with money for a full Economy Class fare and that I would be upgraded, when available. I hung up and called back. The agent again didn’t know where to start. Has something changed of late that this is no longer available?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Stephen – The terms are still listed on the United website so no changes there. Best bet is to try another agent. It’s unfortunate, but many legacy United (as opposed to legacy Continental) agents aren’t familiar with this option, as it was something that carried over from the Continental side of the house.

      That first agent should have taken the time to read through the DRS information, and ask for clarification from a supervisor. Instead, the agent passed the buck and let you down.

      Reply
  212. Jay G

    Thank you for this great content. Hugely appreciated. I’m in a similar situation with commenter Amir –

    I recently booked a round trip SFO -> IAH -> GRU -> SSA, paid for saver first on the way down, paid for saver business on the way back. Both international legs are confirmed in First and Business, respectively. Both legs of the domestic flights only had economy available. I’m not seeing any waitlist designation next to domestic economy legs. I’m assuming this means I need to call to get the waitlist designation on the domestic tickets? Couldn’t hurt, right? Thank you.

    Reply
      1. Jay G

        Called today – agent says I can’t be officially on a waitlist since I booked with points. She says to keep calling periodically, and if a saver business/first award opens up then I can be upgraded if I call and request while the upgraded cabin award is available…

        I’ll try again tomorrow. Thanks again!

        Reply
  213. CoolTraveler

    Hi MileCards.com – This is really wonderful advice, thanks for sharing.

    I have a situation for you: I’m currently booked on a United biz class award ticket with mixed airlines. I’m flying from JFK-SFO-ICN (JFK-SFO on United, SFO-ICN on Asiana). Asiana just informed me of an equipment swap (777 to 747) which doesn’t have the new biz seat, and I’d like to change the itinerary to fly LAX-ICN (A380), which shows availability on Asiana.

    However, the JFK-LAX segment only has standard econ and biz seats available. What can I (should I) do at this point? Is there a way to waitlist for the JFK-LAX segment and get United to re-ticket the award to include the new routing (with the available Asiana LAX-ICN segment)? I’m a United 1K if that matters.

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @CoolTraveler- Unfortunately you need the Saver Economy on the JFK-LAX to make it work. If it’s the late night LAX-ICN you’re looking at, maybe consider doing JFK – SFO – LAX, keeping your JFK-SFO and hoping the JFK-LAX nonstop opens later. Otherwise if you’re looking at the morning flight LAX-ICN it’s going to be tough unless the JFK-LAX opens up or you’re willing to come in the day before.

      Reply
  214. Jeremy

    Does this only work for award tickets issued by United? I booked an award using Singapore KrisFlyer miles that contain a single segment in
    Economy, but the rest of the ticket/itinerary was booked in Business.

    Reply
      1. Jeremy

        @MileCards.com Thanks for the reply. My partner, who is on the same itinerary booked via United, has all segments on other carriers in Business except the last segment which is on United in Economy. I called a United agent, but he said they cannot waitlist the United segment because it would waitlist the whole itinerary and will throw off the reservation? Is this a HUCA situation? Thanks again.

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Jeremy – Try another agent. We’ve seen examples where Lufthansa flights within Europe were confirmed in Business but the United flight across the Atlantic was in Economy, and a waitlist was successfully set up.

          Reply
          1. Jeremy

            @MileCards.com – Tried again and was successful in getting the waitlist! The agent ended up asking her manager for help. For more context to those reading and may be in similar situations – the itinerary consisted of multiple *A partners in business (SA, TK, and ET) from Africa to North America. The final segment was on United from ORD-SFO in economy. Many thanks!

  215. Amir

    Great helpful content, thank you so much for letting us know. just a quick question…I’m planing a quite complicated itinerary (tacking advantage of the stopover and open jaws), wondering if the same thing works with the segments which already has the Business or First saver award availability but puts you on mixed cabin? (for example RNO-SFO-IAD-LHR only confirms business for IAD-LHR). is it gonna be the same since I’m already being charged for a business seat for the whole segment, am I entitled to be put on the highest priority for the domestic flights too?

    I hope I could explain my question clear enough. and I would really appreciate it if you let me know what is the case in this situation

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Amir – You will be entitled to be highest priority for the domestic segments, but if they don’t clear you still get charged full price since the long international segment is in business.

      Reply
  216. Patty

    It worked!!! We just arrived back from Zagreb. Flying over we had economy tickets and coming back, we were able to book business for Luthsansa from Zagreb to Frankfurt. The other two segments were booked economy but we paid miles for business to be added to a wait list. For the flight on United from Frankfurt to San Francisco, we were seated in Economy row 40. Then as the plane was rolling away, we heard our names on the PA system telling us to put our call lights on. As soon as the the “fasten your seat belts” sign was off, we were moved to Business class! Yay! They had our names on the seats but the info had never reached us–even at the airport gate. They didn’t even know what had happened, only that those two passengers were missing up front! SFO was already booked in bus, so we flew that leg in economy-no problem. All thanks to your specific column which I followed to a T. The United agent had never heard of this policy so she looked it up just as you directed! We were so happy!!!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Patty- Great to hear that worked out! What a dramatic end to it as well. At those foreign country stations they are even less well versed on policies and aren’t used to seeing last minute upgrades as frequently as the domestic ones. Hope you all enjoyed the flight.

      Reply
      1. Patty

        Oh yes, we loved the flight, especially with the seats that lie totally flat! Again, thanks!!! I never would have even thought of this had I not read your instructions. BTW, the agent seemed quite grateful to learn about this and didn’t even charge us a fee for using her services. It was actually a bit dramatic for us and the passengers around us who wondered who we were! The PA asked for Dr. and Mrs. Roth to put our light on and then the flight attendant came back and said, “You are Dr. Patricia Roth, right?” I said, “yes, we both are Dr. Roth.” She didn’t know at that point why she was supposed to find us, but said she’d check. All of the flight attendants seemed excited that we were found and could move up front.

        Reply
  217. MartyRL

    Looking at roundtrip non-stop where only one flight has ecoonomy saver available (the other flight has economy standard award available) . Can I book and then be wait listed to business saver – or do I have to be wait listed to business saver on one and business standard on the other?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @MartyRL – You can only waitlist the one that has Economy Saver available. You can also try to book it as separate one way tickets if they find that hard to do.

      Reply
  218. mrprotoplasm

    Amazing trick! And to avoid paying $25 to have them book the travel for me on the phone, I just immediately called after booking online and they waitlisted me with no problems, very easy to do. The key term seemed to be “waitlist.” Great advice, this is possibly my favorite United trick to date. I hope it works come next September!

    Reply
  219. Keith

    @patienthoneymooner-Thanks for the info. Good to know.

    Also, I notice when looking at itineraries to KOA where Business/First saver is available, every one I look at one of the long legs says Saver First/Business First Sold Out making it not worth spending the miles for the Saver Business/First. Any thoughts on if it’s actually sold out or if United is just holding seats? For purposes of this particular policy is this an indication of only getting first on one of the legs and not really making it worth using the miles?? Although if I understand this right, if we’re priority waitlisted we could still get seats on the leg initially showing sold out if they come available. We would still risk using the miles but not getting the First/Business First seats.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Keith- Hawaii is considered a domestic flight for the purposes of United’s rules for deciding whether you pay for business or coach if the long segment doesn’t clear. Which means you pay the full business / first rate if even the short Chicago to San Francisco segment is in first class, while the San Francisco to Kona is in coach. So yes, you risk paying the full rate but not getting the business seat on the long leg. But with this method you are among the very first in line to get them. Basically first class has to sell out with paid passengers for you to sit in coach.

      Reply
  220. PatientHoneymooner

    I, too, was able to change a economy saver ticket (to Hawaii) to a currently-unavailable business saver ticket without a change fee… It only took 6 HUCAs and 68 minutes on hold with the last agent to get it all taken care of. The first three told me that it was literally impossible, and the system wouldn’t let them do what I wanted. (They also had distinctly non-American accents, FWIW). The 4th guy was able to waitlist me for an I-class ticket, but said he couldn’t charge me the I-class miles in advance. The 5th guy said he could take care of it, and someone we got disconnected after 10 minutes on hold. The 6th gal also knew exactly what I was talking about, but it took her and her supervisor 68 minutes to figure out how to make it happen.

    Moral of the story: Be patient and persistent!

    It also helped on the last 2 calls that I mentioned the old Continental policy by it’s informal name (“Plan B for Business”) – I think that jogged their memory/training a little bit.

    Reply
  221. Keith

    My wife and I are planning a July 2015 trip to KOA. Assuming that I’m successful in waitlisting for Business First, it’s for the round trip itinerary, right? In other words, as long as I see the waitlist on our reservation I should only need to follow up at the airport if we are not upgraded before the day of the flight both ways, right?

    Also, does it make any difference how early prior to July I book the tickets? Thanks for this great information regarding this policy. I just hope United maintains it and doesn’t change.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Keith- Check to see that each segment has a Business waitlist associated with it. You should see it appear for each segment of the trip, right below the Economy segment. Also make sure miles deducted for the roundtrip Business price. If that’s the case yes, no need to follow up until the day of.

      Time of booking is a very low tie-breaker, but at least it gives you a shot at getting sweeped for the upgrade sooner in case they open up seats.

      Reply
  222. JB

    I just did a booking for this going to OZ. Everything looks good and I needed these instructions to explain to the rep how to do it. The waitlist appears correct only it says it will automatically deduct the points when the seat is confirmed in business not before. Do I need to call back and somehow have them take out the extra miles or am I good?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @JB – Always good to call back and double-check. But if you have the waitlist showing and it says it’s a waitlist for Business then you are in good shape. But the reason to get the miles deducted now is so that if you end up having to go to the airport waitlist you’ll have the highest priority as you’ve already paid for a business class ticket.

      Reply
      1. JB

        Nothing has come thru yet but we are still a few weeks out from the flight. Is there any way I can get them to take the extra miles prior to getting to the airport?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @JB – Call the MileagePlus desk and ask them to deduct the Business Class number of miles. Have them look up that specific code in their system for instructions on this.

          Reply
          1. JB

            After the 5th call in the past few weeks I finally got them to listen and they took out the correct amount of miles. Persistence paid off. Thanks for your quick replys and help on this!

  223. Deep

    Great Blog!

    Question regarding a business super saver not being available for a partner segment. I’m a United 1K and have booked a flight using miles for the business super saver options, on the United website.

    I’m flying Toronto to Bangkok via Tokyo and I have a business class seat confirmed on my Air Canada flight from YYZ to NRT but the ‘super saver’ business was sold out on my Thai Air flight from NRT to BKK, and I’m in economy. Can you suggest any way I can possibly get the NRT-BKK flight upgraded to business class? I really wanna fly business on their A380.

    Thanks,
    Deep

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Deep – Unfortunately there is no waitlist for partner awards. But if the NRT to BKK ever opens up in Business you can switch to business at no charge at any time. Just call in to do it. The issue is you need to babysit and keep an eye on the flight. And of course as a 1K you can change to different days for free at any time.

      Reply
      1. Deep

        That makes sense. Are there any sites that track such ‘business class’ seat availability? Specifically for United mileage plus awards? Thanks

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Deep – Unfortunately not for Thai Airways flights. Expertflyer.com has some including Air Canada, United, and Turkish which can be tracked with alerts for a fee.

          Reply
  224. DoeT

    A tourism office booked me on a United T-type flight from IAD-DUB; I called and asked for award miles to be used to upgrade to Business Class. I am on a wait list and used 20,000 miles and a $550 fee. In the meantime, I learned about Accelerator Miles and can purchase up to Silver for $1183. (The arrangement above was for going over; I’m still in Economy Plus for the return trip.) Do I purchase the Accelerator upgrade to preferred and will that better my chances of getting Business? Would that $550 still be charged? Are Preferred Status flyers upgraded to Business Class before non-Preferred using miles/cash?

    Can I still do what you suggest in this post and ask for Economy Saver? I’m new at this mileage stuff but would like to get a handle on it! Thank you!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @DoeT – Yes Premier status does get you higher on the wait-list for a mileage upgrade. But the $550 would still be charged and honestly don’t think it would make that much difference. Silver is the very lowest of the Premier tiers so you won’t jump over many people. So unless you think the other Silver benefits like free Economy Plus at check-in are worth it, would not pay that price for the Premier Accelerator.

      And if you did, you would need to remove the upgrade request and re-instate it because the system only counts the status you have at the time you make an upgrade request.

      As for the Economy Saver option. That’s only when you buy a ticket entirely with miles. Not for when you buy a ticket in cash and use miles to upgrade it. So you’re doing the right method for your situation.

      Reply
  225. Sandy

    I purchased an upgrade to business class using miles. 2 leg trip, have only cleared the first leg. If the second portion does not clear (both domestic flights) can I request all my miles back?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Sandy – If they are both domestic flights no, if just one clears you have to pay for the whole thing. Only way to get the miles back is to downgrade back to coach. However if this were an international flight with BusinessFirst class then if the domestic leg clears but the long international one doesn’t you can get the miles back.

      Reply
  226. Patty

    Thank you so much for this information!!! I used it yesterday to secure a reserved saver economy seat on our return flight from Eastern Europe on united with a wait list for business saver. The agent had not heard of this and thanked me for the information as she booked it for me. She was able to book business saver on the first short leg to Frankfurt and we’ll see about the rest. She informed me that I would have to decide if I wanted to “gamble” my miles during the last 24 hours before that flight or cancel the wait list request and get them back at that time. When I decided to gamble them, she confirmed the first short leg in business. We’ll see! Glad to have the possibility! Thanks again SO much.

    Reply
  227. HoneymoonPlanning

    Hi!

    Could this work if we already booked our saver economy tickets? We’re waiting for miles to post that would allow us to pre-pay the business class level but booked the economy saver award a month ago.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @HoneymoonPlanning – Unfortunately they may hit you with a change fee as it requires reissuing your ticket. You might get lucky with a nice agent, but the policy is to add a change fee when a new ticket gets put together.

      Reply
      1. Jeff

        Thanks Milecards this article made me very happy. I just used it for an existing economy saver award that I had booked. It is a 5 segment flight and I had already booked the first 4 in saver business but the last longest haul from FRA to SFO was economy saver. It took 3 agents but I am now showing that I am waitlisted for business class. THANK YOU! BTW there was no fee for me to make this change.

        Reply
  228. EuropeBound

    After 4 phone calls we are finally properly ticketed. We have a connecting flight to IAH and then IAH to MUC. What happens if we are only cleared to business class for the U.S. legs and not the 10.5 hour flight to and from Munich? Are we still charged the 57500 miles? Can we decline business class for the U. S. Portion if it looks like the international flight will be full?

    Thanks for the information about the DRS Reference page. That is the ONLY way this worked. I had to BEG the reservation supervisor to look it up after he had told me he had been a supervisor for 7 years and what I wanted couldn’t be done.

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @EuropeBound- Glad it worked out for you. They will only charge you the full miles if the Transatlantic portion clears, so you’re in good shape. Here’s the language (‘United BusinessFirst’ is only offered on International segments):

      “For United BusinessFirst and United Business travel awards, the difference in miles will be refunded when the United BusinessFirst or United Business class segment of the trip could not be confirmed.”

      Reply
  229. Keith

    I would also like to make sure I at least get economy plus seating. If I pay for that at the time of booking saver economy but waitlist business first and get the business first seat, would I have any issues getting a refund for the money I paid for economy plus?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Keith – Yes, you are eligible for a refund if you get a mileage upgrade. United counts that as a ‘paid premium seating upgrade’ and it qualifies for a refund. Only complimentary ‘Premier’ upgrades that involve no miles or certificates don’t qualify. It’s supposed to be automatic but as you can imagine it’s probably something you need to keep an eye on after the flight to make sure it processes.

      Reply
      1. EuropeBound

        We are wait listed for fFirst Class in a two class plane for the U. s. Segments. Does this make a difference?

        Reply
        1. MileCards

          @EuropeBound – That’s exactly as it should work – no issue there. If the BusinessFirst/Business Class segment doesn’t clear, but you do clear on the short First Class segments you’ll get the extra miles refunded.

          Reply
  230. Pheenblat

    What if there’s no saver economy space either? Is there still a way to waitlist for business at the saver level? What if you were to book into a standard award and waitlist for saver or confirm into economy standard and waitlist for business saver?

    Reply
    1. MileCards

      @Pheenblat – Unfortunately, no they only allow wait-listing within an award type – Saver for Saver and Standard for Standard.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        I’m working on a trip from HNL to SFO.
        There are no Saver Awards showing in economy or business for the next 6 months, so this won’t work.

        Do you know if being Global Services makes any difference when using miles?
        And can I use Regional/global premier upgrades on a mileage ticket?

        Reply
        1. MileCards.com

          @Chris – Big difference. Yes as a GS member you can use upgrade instruments on an award ticket, and your upgrades come from the discount first class fare bucket (PN) instead of the more limited upgrade bucket (R). Probably worth a call to the GS line rather than fumbling with the website.

          Reply

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