Guide: United Airlines MileagePlus for Indians

By | March 4, 2023
United Airlines MileagePlus Guide

United MileagePlus is the frequent flyer program of United Airlines, which is a member of Star Alliance program. The United frequent flyer program is known for its wide range of award travel destinations & excellent economy award availability among others.

It’s getting quite popular in India as one can now travel long-haul business class using United miles easily, thanks to the latest development in Indian air-miles ecosystem.

If you’re new here, please check out the Intro to airmiles article for better understanding. Here’s everything you need to know about the United MileagePlus program as an Indian,


Airline [Code]United Airlines [UA]
Home Country [Hub]United States [ORD & more]
Loyalty ProgramMileagePlus
Airline Alliance Star Alliance
ValidityMiles never expire
Value / mile~ 1 INR
Best forEurope Redemptions
USPExcursionist perk
Award AvailabilityExcellent

If at all you need a single airline loyalty program for your International travels, it’s going to be United MileagePlus.

With excellent award availability in economy & business cabins coupled with never expiring miles, it’s a must explore program if you’re into airmiles game.

Why United MileagePlus?

While United Airlines is renowned for domestic travel in United States, the bright side of it for Indians is that it has partnership with over 40+ airlines across the world which includes 25 Star alliance partners & 16 direct airline partners.

This means wider award availability across major destinations around the globe.

Also, while there are many programs to book flights on Star Alliance Partners, United is one program which doesn’t levy fuel surcharges.

The miles required for booking on partners are also very decent compared to other Star Alliance Partner programs. So it does make sense for most Indian’s to explore United Mileage Plus.

Membership Tiers

United MileagePlus Membership Tiers

There are four tiers as shown above. The qualification to above tiers is based on the numbers of flights you take and the value of the ticket purchased.

These earnings are shown as Premier qualifying flights (PQF) and Premier Qualifying Point (PQP)

Here we’ll focus on the Silver tier, as that’s the only tier that we can get access to as an Indian, without flying.

How? Marriott Titanium Elite (75 nights) and Ambassador Elite members are eligible for complementary United Silver status. You can register through this link.

If you’re wondering about the United MileagePlus Silver tier benefits, here are the important benefits that can help one to save few thousands:

United MileagePlus Silver Tier Benefits

Taxes & YQ

One of the most important factor when analysing a right airline loyalty program is the tax component, sometimes called fuel surcharges (YQ).

United doesn’t pass on carrier-imposed fees. The taxes on redemptions are one of the lowest on this metal as well as on partners.

Earning United Miles

  1. Axis Credit Cards: MagnusReserve & Atlas are the most popular credit cards in the country at the moment to earn United miles.
  2. HDFC Credit Cards: HDFC Infinia, HDFC Diners Black has the option but at poor conversion rate of 1:0.5
  3. Marriott Bonvoy: Transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to United at 3:1.1 ratio.

Marriott also comes up with transfer bonus offers where one can get extra bonus like 30% when transferring points to United. The last such offer was rolled in September 2022.

Redeeming United Miles

United MileagePlus made the switch to dynamic pricing for mileage redemption several years ago. Lot of airlines are now moving to dynamic pricing. All United Airlines flights are priced this way.

With this dynamic pricing, the number of miles required increases as the cash price of tickets rises. There is no set formula for this. You need to search for the flights and check the pricing.

The good news for us is that partner awards are not dynamic and this is one of the best programs for booking star alliance flights with very less tax. We will see some examples from an Indian perspective.

Redemption Ideas

You can literally fly to any part of the world with the help of United MileagePlus miles. Here are some noteworthy redemption ideas for those curious minds.

India to Europe

There are quite a lot of options almost to every country across Europe. Expect a lot of options in economy and little low in business. While you may play with the search tool in few clicks, here’s a quick look at what you could expect (India – Switzerland).

United Award ticket - India to Europe

India to US

Let’s explore the options we have for popular routes along the east and west coast.

East Coast: For the east coast, economy class on ANA has a decent requirement with low tax. Booking business class on ANA will be expensive. But there are other options, here’s one sample.

United Award ticket - India to US East Coast

West Coast: To the west cost, here are some options for business and first class. One can also fly Air India on “first class” using United miles but you’ll need to book a little bit in advance for this.

United Award ticket - India to US East Coast
United Award ticket - India to US first Class

US Domestic

For domestic route, the least number of miles required is called saver award. For the route shown below saver award starts at 15K miles but it’s rarely available.

United Award ticket - US domestic

Other than that, award seats for Australia is bit rare to find on United. You may instead use Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles if you wish to fly to Australia.

Excursionist Perk / Stop Over

Many US airlines barring Alaska provide free stop overs, however one can take advantage of the “Excursionist Perk” on United.

Simply put, this is United’s way of allowing free stop-overs into award itineraries. United’s Excursionist Perk allows for free one-way awards within select multicity award itineraries.

To be eligible, MileagePlus members must book an itinerary that includes three or more one-way award flights.

It’s useful for those who intend to hop multiple cities in same region during the trip, which is very much the case when flying to Europe. Here’s a detailed guide on Excursionist Perk.

Cancellation / Date Change

Starting 1st Jan 2023, there is no date change (or) cancellation fee applicable on award tickets. This is quite generous I would say and is yet another reason to choose United.

However, note that if you intend to take the help of a booking agent to book your award flights over call, there will be an additional 25$ service fee per passenger.

Redeeming for others

United Airlines allows us to redeem award tickets for friends and families without any additional concept of nominee limitation system, which is indeed an amazing perk and reduces unwanted struggle in dealing with the nominee system.

That aside, there is no family pooling concept with United, which is anyway common with most US airlines.


You may connect with United support line using below contact number. You usually get connected to a US support executive.

  • +91-124-4315500

Note that you might face issues with award redemptions on United when you try to redeem using Indian cards with Indian Billing Address. Call support to redeem tickets over call (or) you may as well choose to change billing address to fix the issue.

Bottom line

Overall, United MileagePlus program helps us to explore Europe/US (among other regions) using air-miles without breaking our head, thanks to a lot of redemption options and fair mileage requirement.

Because of all the reasons seen above, I would say United MileagePlus is one of top 3 airline loyalty programs for Indians at the moment when it comes to International award redemptions.

Have you ever redeemed United Miles for your international travels? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Author: Siddharth

Helping Indians to choose right credit cards, pick right offers and enjoy luxury vacations for less. Day & night exploring the spiritual reality of our human existence.

37 thoughts on “Guide: United Airlines MileagePlus for Indians

  1. AbhiKohli

    Sid, on the topic of airmiles, you should also explore Kris’s around the world on Star alliance. I think you did not cover it in your Kris article. It is a difficult product given the availability/conditions. But offers can offer max points value with lot of stops.

    1. Siddharth Post author

      It’s tough for most Indians, primary reason being Visa requirement. But yes, we’ll cover it once the basics are explored.

  2. Rish

    Hey Sid,
    Again, good article. Last month, I booked a flight using United, and as you mentioned, I ran into the same issue with being unable to pay with an Indian credit card. I called customer care, which automatically connected to US support, and they assisted in paying with an Indian credit card, waiving the booking fee (which was $25).

  3. Ganesh Taddi

    Hi Sid,

    Right now, either United miles or turkish doesn’t show air india flights,
    Is it because Air india wanted to go independently or award space pause by Air india

    1. Siddharth Post author

      All airlines have reduced award inventory for next couple of months as summer travel is picking up. Otherwise, AI is still there, checked yesterday on some routes.

      You may as well call United to check if they can see availability at their end. Sometimes works that way.


        Thanks sid, because United is showing literally zero AI barring very very few US Biz class , Aside Turkish shows domestic AI flights yet check out page sucks

  4. Prashant Tekriwal

    Hi Sid,

    Will it be good for booking Indian domestic flights?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      No, it’s bit expensive. We’ve Turkish, Vistara & Air India for domestic redemptions.

      1. Amanpreet Singh

        hi Sid, Is Turkish a new airmile program? Which card to use for it ?

  5. Abhi

    Very useful and well researched article, as it saves so much time and effort in figuring out which airline charges lesser miles+taxes to give more value to credit card RPs. Such articles are especially relevant when popular airlines like Emirates have steeply raised the miles as well as taxes, giving us much less value for our credit card point transfers.

    Although with United, the premier tiers look pretty challenging to achieve. 75 nights at Marriott or 12 United domestic US flights or 5K points earned by flying United (1USD paid towards base fare earns 1 pt) just to get to silver status, all options are pretty difficult to achieve in a year. But if the miles requirement is same for a redemption flight regardless of membership tier, then I think just basic membership is enough??

    A premier tier is good to have, until then we might have to forgo extra baggage, seat upgrades, etc, but we can fly a given route for the same number of miles and taxes being in any tier?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      Premier Silver tier doesn’t affect mileage requirement. It’s only useful for upgrades & baggage requirement among other minor benefits.

  6. Iyer

    They use to have awesome round the world award redemption option. Do they still have that?

  7. Niranjan

    I think there is no cancellation fee for flights originating from US even upto last minute. But non US origin flights have to be cancelled before 30 days to avoid cancellation fees.
    Can you reconfirm the cancellation fee part?

    1. Siddharth Post author

      I’ve checked United with my Upcoming flight’s PNR (under 30 days) and I’m said that there is no cancellation fee.

      Many agent’s over call are not aware of this because this is a relatively new update.

      But it’s not worth taking risk in last 72hrs whatsoever!

  8. aka

    I have heard that we may/can reserve seats and then transfer our points to miles and finally book it..something akin to earlier reserved bonvoy it true and how do we go about it ?

    It may happen that we find the award seat which we are looking for and when we transfer the points ( usually would take 1-7/8 days then the availability is not there ! what do we do to mitigate this risk ? please respond.

    1. Mathew Puthoor

      Transfer to United via Magnus at least is instant

      1. Krishna

        I have transferred miles 3 times. And every time it took 24 hours to transfer the miles.

  9. Gunasekaran Ramasamy

    There is a big problem when i try to book ticket from CJB to DUB using miles. There is much information on checked-in and cabin baggage. When i contacted through Twitter they are again asking me to check with vistara since it is being the first flight from CJB. Again i contacted vistara, they are saying since it is booked under United airlines document they only define the baggage information. Seriously they are blaming one on another and no solution so far.

    1. aka

      If there is no information then take the normal weight of luggage offered as the default option of the airline ..that this case – VIstara ..they won’t change the rules for the luggage just because somebody uses miles !

  10. Rahul

    I am trying to book an award ticket with United and my Indian credit card is not going through. Tried with Axis/HDFC and HSBC. Even tried calling United helpline and they are hitting the same issue. Tried changing the billing country to India/US and that doesnt work as well.

    Any h*cks would be appreciated.

    1. Anant

      Even I encountered the same issue. Were you able to go through anyway?

    2. Krishna

      Hey, I was facing the same issue. When I am calling customer care they are not able to help me with the payment and say that the inventory is not available. And the payment is not getting processed. Could someone help me with this? As the option of booking the flight is showing but can’t make the payment using an Indian Credit card. And The payment which is 5.88 dollars is showing as INR 5.88 while entering the OTP for the transactions.

      1. Siddharth Post author

        Payment issue can be sorted as mentioned in the article.

        But if it still doesn’t go through, then the problem is that United isn’t updating Star Alliance inventory in real-time. I’m not sure if it’s the case all the time but I got into a similar issue as well last week. They check live inventory only before payment and so it fails but unfortunately they’re not reporting proper error.

        Quick solution is to call support and book, if available by any chance.

        1. Krishna

          Thank you for your response.

          Yes, I have tried Calling their customer care which is only available Mon-Friday, between 9 -5 only. Initially, they were telling me that the issue is the payment method. After that, it was the billing address. Later when I figured out the address of the US for billing. Yet I was facing the issue.

          Post that when I called customer care they were telling me that the inventory is not reflecting correctly.

          Wasted a lot of time on their customer care and they were of not much help. Secondly, I already transferred the points to use for the ticket I wanted to book.

          So my recommendation, same as Siddharth’s, to all the people who are going to use United to book their flight is first to check the inventory by calling and then only transfer your points. Otherwise, your points will lie unused.

    3. Vineet

      Did you try from the website or the app. I booked from the website through Amex and it went through

      1. Krishna

        Hey, I initially tried the App. But once I tried going ahead with the booking I got a message which roughly mentions, ” Any Address outside the US should be booked Via the website”. So I went on the website and tried booking it.

        I tried Diners, Visa, and Masters. But none of them worked for me. As the payment keeps showing in Rupees, though the website was charging in Dollars.

  11. Aravind

    Hi Sid

    Do you think Mileage plus is better in value and redemption options compared to Krisflyer ?


    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes. But it largely depends on the travel sector as well.

    2. himchi

      United is largely better value but Singapore saver fares on its own flights would be a better deal. So south east Asia on Singapore Airways network and rest on United. Availability could also be different in both. Have found much better availability on Air India on SQ than on United and marginally cheaper too. Though United in general shows much better availability across routes and dates

  12. Krishna a

    Hey Sid,

    ” I would say United MileagePlus is one of top 3 airline loyalty programs for Indians at the moment when it comes to International award redemptions.”

    Could your please name the other two.


    1. Siddharth Post author

      1. United
      2. Turkish
      3. Singapore Airlines

      It may vary a lot with one’s travel sector. But above is the case with majority of travellers that I’ve seen.

  13. krishna

    So guys an update on how to use United Airlines for booking tickets.

    Make sure in the billing address you mention the complete address of the US. You can mention your Indian Mobile Number but the BILLING address has to be from the US.

    I used one card to make the payment and the whole thing went through smoothly. Because one is entering a billing address from the US. Visa didn’t even request an OTP and payment just went through.

    So one can use this info in case if they face any difficulty

  14. kapil shah

    Wanted opinion about whether to go for United mileageplus or Aeroplan.Both are Star Alliance partners but availability options for Aeroplan seem to be better than United as they have options for Etihad and emirates redemption as well (even though very limited).Also for AI redemption United just shows options from Del where as Aeroplan has direct flights from Mumbai.Is there anything I am missing?

  15. Aravind


    I am trying mutiple city searches from Indian to europe but no flights are showing from Jan to Mar , what am I doing wrong ?

    1. aka

      Me too.. please advise if not united then where we transfer points from united to make it happen ?


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