The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 3 – Understanding The United Award Chart

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 3 – Understanding The United Award Chart

Million Mile SecretsThe Ultimate Guide to United Miles: Part 3 – Understanding The United Award ChartMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

United has 2 award charts for redeeming miles and 2 awards charts for upgrades.

The Ultimate Guide to United Miles Index

1.   United Airlines Travel Award Chart

This award chart (page 2) is for travel only on United Airlines and COPA Airlines.

United Award Chart
Saver and Standard Award Chart for United & Copa flights.

Each box represents the one-way price in miles for a trip within or between two regions.  You can book these awards online at  If you book online, you do not have to pay the $25 telephone ticketing fee.

However, the site isn’t perfect, and you may not be able to book some flights online.  If this happens, you have to call in and perhaps pay the $25 telephone ticketing fee.

2.   Star Alliance Travel Award Chart

This award chart (page 3) lets you combine travel on:

a)   United Airlines

United Award Chart
Star Alliance Partner Award Chart

b)    Star Alliance partner airlines, including:

c)   Other partners, including:

In general, the Star Alliance and Other Partners chart costs the SAME price as the Saver level (low-level awards) on the United Airlines chart.

You can book most airline partners online for no booking fee.  However, you may have to phone United to book on some partners, which costs $25.

The ability to combine flights on United planes as well as on Star Alliance flights is what makes United miles so useful!


1.   Upgrades on United Airlines and Copa Airlines

This upgrade chart (pages 4 & 5) shows the amount of miles and cash co-pay required to upgrade a paid booking on United Airlines or Copa Airlines.

United Award Chart
Upgrade Chart for United and Copa flights

NOTE: You can only use this chart to upgrade a paid booking; you CANNOT use miles to upgrade a ticket for which you redeemed miles.

However, you can pay the difference in miles between classes of service (say, between business or first class) to upgrade a mileage ticket.

Upgrading a paid ticket only works for the next class of service, so you can upgrade from economy to business class, or business class to first class, but you cannot upgrade from economy class to first class.

The exception is on domestic flights which only have 2 classes of service – on those flights, you can upgrade from economy class to first class!

Generally, I do not like to use miles to upgrade because it costs a lot of miles and money to upgrade from the cheapest economy class tickets.

For example, if I buy the cheapest 1-way fare from the US to Europe, I would have to pay 20,000 United miles + $550 to upgrade my seat to business class!

The total cost of getting a business class seat through upgrading would cost:

  • $600 (cost of cheapest discount economy class 1-way ticket)
  • $550 (cash upgrade co-pay)
  • $200 (20,000 United miles conservatively valued @ 1 cent each)

This adds up to $1,350!

Instead, it costs only 50,000 United Airline miles to book a 1-way business class seat from the US to Europe.

I’d rather spend 50,000 United miles than $1,350.

However, you may be interested in upgrading your paid ticket if your company buys you economy class tickets, or if you are interested in acquiring elite status.

Also, if you hold Premier status (elite status) on United Airlines, you may be exempt from co-pays on certain domestic and North American routes.

2.   Upgrades on Star Alliance partner airlines

This chart (page 6) lists the amount of miles and co-pay required to upgrade flights on Star Alliance partner airlines.

United Award Chart
Upgrade chart for Star Alliance partners.

However, these upgrades require you to buy full-fare business or economy class tickets which can cost thousands of dollars more than discount fares.

This is not a good value unless your company or organization purchases full fare tickets that you wish to upgrade.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 36,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

where do I find cruises

Question: I have Premium Platinum status now (2013) and I jsut barely made it to Silver Elite and moving my way up litttle by little to GOLD. How can I get to Premier Platinum level in the next month? how do I find out what itinerary gives me be most miles?


Million Mile Secrets

@Saira – I don’t focus on mileage running, but ask One Mile at a Time or check out FlyerTalk. Sorry I can’t be of more help!

Thanks Darius..

I have a follow up question:

If I book a ticket today (to fly in January 2014) and use the “Premier accelerator” today to get extra miles towards status, would the premier miles count towards 2013 or 2014?

I ask this because a united premier agent told me: “as long as the trip is in 2014 the premier miles count towards status in 2014”..

I was not sure she was correct because the miles post right away on my account once I buy them.. What do u think?

Million Mile Secrets

@Adam – I’m not sure, but I’m guessing they post instantly.

I am trying to book 2 award tickets with multiple destinations, I check the one way award savers first from each location and copy the flight numbers and times.

ie. roc-san, san-hnl, hnl-roc =60k ( one leg is first class)

But when I put it all together I don’t see the saver award for one of the legs. ie san-hnl

So do I need to call in to get this done correctly?

Million Mile Secrets

@Adam – You’d get the miles since you paid cash for the ticket.

@Bob – You may need to call in. Also go to “Advanced” and extend the maximum results to 50 flights. Good luck!

@MattG – It doesn’t.

I forgot to mention: the question is for “Status gaining” purposes!

Load more