United Upgrades Can Now Be Used On ANA

Filed Under: ANA, United

United Premier 1K members receive six Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) upon requalified for status each year, and can earn an additional two for every additional 50,000 elite qualifying miles earned. These can be used to upgrade flights on United, Copa, and Lufthansa, though the restrictions vary by airline and region.

Use United GPUs to upgrade to Lufthansa business class

For example, for travel on United you can waitlist the upgrade, so if it doesn’t clear at booking, you can clear all the way up until the plane’s door closes. Meanwhile for upgrades on Lufthansa, you can waitlist up until 10 hours before departure, at which point you can no longer be upgraded, even if there are empty seats.

United GPUs can now be redeemed on ANA

It looks like there’s good news for United flyers — United GPUs can now be used to upgrade flights on All Nippon Airways, United’s transpacific joint venture partner.

Use United GPUs to upgrade to ANA first class

Per United’s GPU upgrade page:

Global Premier Upgrades on ANA-operated flights are valid for one-segment, one-cabin upgrades on any multi-cabin international flight operated by ANA and marketed by ANA or United. Upgrades are subject to availability and valid for paid, published fares only. The following ANA fare classes are eligible for Global Premier Upgrades: C, D, J, Y, B and E. Please see the terms and conditions below for specific eligibility rules.

You can make upgrade requests for ANA-operated flights beginning eight weeks before departure until up to 24 hours before departure.

If you’re upgrading on ANA using United GPUs, here are the basic things to be aware of:

  • Each GPU is only valid for one segment (meanwhile for travel on United it’s valid for multiple segments)
  • Flights on ANA are eligible regardless of whether they’re marketed by United or ANA
  • You can only upgrade economy class fares in the Y, B, and E bucket, and can only upgrade business class fares in the C, D, and J bucket (for economy this is much more restrictive than on United)
  • Upgrade requests can be made by calling United between eight weeks and 24 hours of departure
  • There needs to be first or business class award space in order to upgrade (the “O” and “I” fare classes, respectively); you can’t waitlist these upgrades

It’s worth noting that as it stands, United miles can be used to upgrade ANA flights using the Star Alliance Upgrade program. For travel on ANA, this is valid for the C, D, J, Z, Y, B, and E fare classes.

Caviar service in ANA first class

Airlines need to do better with joint venture partners

Airlines have joint ventures and revenue sharing agreements, and often tout how they create a seamless travel experience. That might be true for the infrequent flyer, but for the frequent flyer, the experience is rarely comparable. In other words, as an elite member you’ll rarely get the same treatment on a partner airline as you’ll get on the airline with which you have status.

So United should be commended for this, even if the fare classes which are eligible are highly restrictive. At least it’s a move in the right direction, and shows an attempt to create a more seamless experience for passengers.

This is an area where Delta has been improving lately as well, as their Global Upgrades can be used on discounted KLM fares as well.

Delta Global Upgrades can be used on KLM

In the case of American, systemwide upgrades are only valid for travel on American, and not for travel on any partners. They’ve talked in the past about the possibility of adding reciprocal upgrades on partners (in particular Qantas), but nothing has happened yet. I guess we can’t complain too much, given that American systemwide upgrades can be used to upgrade all revenue fares, both from economy to business class, as well as from business class to first class. Then again, Executive Platinum members now only earn four per year, rather than eight.

Bottom line

It’s great to see airlines try to make the travel experience more seamless for frequent flyers, especially when joint ventures are involved. The GPU system for travel on ANA is far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing, and also shows considerable effort. Here’s to hoping we see these efforts expanded further among joint venture airlines.

To United 1Ks, do you see yourself using GPUs for travel on ANA?

(Tip of the hat to Live and Let’s Fly)

  1. I suppose it’s a good development for 1Ks but will reduce award space for premium cabins out of United hubs, e.g. Houston or Chicago.

  2. As a fan of the hobby, it’s not fantastic, but these improvements are not directed toward leisure travelers. There’s little incentive to reward people for booking restrictive classes. They are for business travelers who anyway purchase refundable/flexible tickets anyway. As a business traveler, I’m happy about that, even though I’ll likely never use this. Always helpful to remember that most changes like this are not to make the average flyer (or even the above-average flyer who follows OMAAT) happier

  3. As a 1K, I probably would not use this — but nice to have the option. If I’m traveling for work so I have a high-revenue fare in business class, it probably makes more sense to try to upgrade with miles. GPUs are worth more than a mileage upgrade because you can use them to upgrade to business from relatively cheap economy fares on Unuted. That said, nice to have the option if I’m getting toward the end of the year and haven’t been able to use my GPUs yet. Could see using them in that scenario.

  4. A question about the Y upgrades: it says that there has to be I class space (award business), but are you sure that Y upgrades to business and not premium economy? Of course would be great if they upgrade to business, but usually airlines are always trying to give the short end of the stick…
    This question also applies to LH upgrades, I guess…

  5. On the UA webpage for using ditital GPU’s to upgrade on LH flights, ANA has also appeared as an option. i noticed this over the weekend while trying my first application for LH

  6. Honestly I would rather have no fare restrictions and only be able to use upgrades on United than have partner options which require buying extremely expensive economy fares. No use to me on leisure trips and for business trips, while I could use them for upgrades to first class, I’d rather save them for economy to business upgrades for vacations.
    I suppose there are tradeoffs with everything – I’m sure United would offer fewer GPU’s than even American if they removed fare class restrictions and upgrades would undoubtedly be FAR harder to get but it can be frustrating to get these “benefits” that are so difficult to take advantage of.

  7. This is pretty much useless due to the high fare class restriction.
    No one in the right mind would buy a Y or B class ticket just to use a GPU.

  8. This is quite useful to me. With the stupid businessfirst and no first, I rarely even have the chance to use my GPUs on UA, so any opportunity to use them on other carriers is welcome. Now ANA just needs an F cabin from HND-LAX and I will be set.

  9. Option of VERY last resort to travel upfront when all else fails. It it is too restrictive, too expensive, and it might be better to just purchase a premium ticket to travel upfront, rather than to purchase one of these expensive tickets and then upgrade it with A GPU…

  10. I wouldn’t commend United just yet – I understand these are more expensive fare classes on ANA. And in theory GPUs should be applicable for all Star Alliance airlines, esp. the big ones like Asiana, Thai, EVA etc.

  11. @ Ake Bono — The page you linked to shows booking classes that accrue miles. Award tickets, by nature, come from different buckets, and of you don’t earn miles when you’re redeeming them.

  12. United GPUs are useless on ANA, they really don’t offer upgrade seats. The key phrase is “you can’t waitlist these upgrades”. So my last flight there were plenty of business class seats open, and I had GPUs available, but ANA would not honor them.

  13. @Clare: You are 100% correct. These upgrades are theoretical and nearly impossible to get. I tried to upgrade for a flight that showed 23 (!) free seats in business class but somehow NONE were available for upgrades. I called ANA and they very candidly told me that it is “very rare” that they process one of these United upgrades. Just another case of corporate lying BS!!

    I would love to hear from someone who actually managed to get one…

  14. It was useless. I had a paid Business Class fare on ANA to Haneda, and United wanted me to pay an additional $ 4000, JUST TO BE WAITLISTED using a GPU. Can you imagine ? You spend the $4000, and then ANA says, Sorry no upgrades were available for United fliers.

    I declined.

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