Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > United Airlines | MileagePlus
Reload this Page >

Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

    Hide Wikipost
Old Jun 3, 19, 7:05 am   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: dkc192
Wiki Link
Types of Upgrades

UA's Upgrades overview

UA has multiple methods for upgrading to a higher cabin. Examples include: Economy to Domestic F, Economy to International Business or Business (ex-p.s. flights) or Polaris Business to Polaris First (select 3-cabin planes).

In this regard, seating in Economy Plus is considered Economy.

Not all upgrade methods are available on all flights (see table).
Paid/cash upgrades are a different mechanism and are only available if confirmable -- no waitlisting. Depending on methods, paid upgrades can clear into P/Z/A or R/RN/PN/ZN. The later group can show up on the cleared upgrade list.

RPU, GPU, and MUA (also called "miles+cash upgrades") are collectively referred to as instrument-supported upgrades, as they are considered with equal priority once applied. They may also be used on Copa (CM) flights.

Waitlisting for a premium cabin award and all forms of Economy Plus are not considered upgrades.


Upgrade Priority and Required Inventory

All upgrades other than CPU may clear immediately if the required inventory class is available. If you request an upgrade when there is not inventory to confirm your upgrade immediately, you will be added to the upgrade waitlist. The required inventory classes are as follows:

PN class is required for Instant Upgrades from Y, B, and M fares for Premier 1K members, and for all upgrades from Economy of any type for Global Services members.
PZ class is required for all other upgrades from Economy except CPUs.


Passengers with unconfirmed upgrade requests will be added to the upgrade waitlist. This is not the same as the upgrade standby list which you can see on the Flight Status page. You cannot see this list by any means. The ordering of the upgrade waitlist is as follows:
  • All Global Services members (presumably prioritized similar to other members below), including those awaiting a CPU.
  • For CPU eligible flights, Premier 1K members on eligible Y-, B- and M-class fares that were not cleared at time of booking are prioritized by fare class and then time of request.
  • All travelers on waitlisted Global Premier Upgrades, Regional Premier Upgrades (where valid) and MileagePlus Upgrade Awards: Prioritized by Premier status of the traveler, then fare class and then time of request. There is no priority difference between GPU, RPU & MUA requests.
  • For CPU eligible flights all remaining Premier members: Prioritized by Premier status of the traveler and fare class (award tickets are considered the lowest fare class)

Recent announced modification
Effective August 14, 2018, upgrade waitlists are processed in the following priority order:
  1. Premier status of the traveler
  2. Fare class
  3. Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholder
  4. United Corporate Preferred participant
  5. Time of request
Later in 2018: We will include upgrade priority for primary Chase United MileagePlus Cardmembers who have met the $25K annual spend Premier Qualifying Dollar (PQD) waiver on a Chase MileagePlus co-brand card. Priority order for these Cardmembers will fall after United Corporate Preferred participants and before time of request.
United will periodically run sweeps from this list. The required inventory class for your upgrade does not need to be available in order to be upgraded from the standby list; passengers on the list will be upgraded at the discretion of United's systems. (You can also think of it as space was opened and then you immediately took it.)

Once check-in starts a new waitlist will be generated for use at the gate. The pre-gate list will continue to process until the flight goes to the gate, typically one to three hours prior to departure. This new list is the visible one on the Flight Status page. Generally they will have the same order, but there can be some differences in priority ordering of the two lists -- usually due to the time tiebreaker -- which is time of request for the pre-gate list and time of check-in (sequence number) for gate list. The visible (upgrade standby) list has only checked-in passengers and is not used until the flight is under gate control and the gate agent manually processes an upgrade.

The upgrade list sometimes also shows passengers who have been upgraded. For non-CPU flights, cleared instrument supported upgrades will not show on the gate list as cleared -- only gate cleared upgrades will display with a green checkmark. On CPU-eligible flights, the gate list will show any passenger that cleared (green checkmark) into R/RN/PN -- this includes any instrument supported upgrades (including pre-gate), some paid upgrades and any early CPU. Gate cleared upgrades will also show. (Confirmed ->) JN standard awards will also show with a green checkmark.

For both cases, display cleared upgrades will appear in alphabetic order and regardless if checked-in (as long as a seat has been assigned). Uncleared, waitlisted requests will appear, once checked in, in priority order. But until all have checked in, the visible gate waitlist is incomplete.


Upgrades and Companions
Main article: Comprehensive Companion Upgrade Questions

The following applies ONLY to the invisible upgrade list.

Up to one companion on the same PNR as you is entitled to a CPU based on your status. However, because PNRs must consist only of passengers with the same itinerary, you will only be eligible for an upgrade if all passengers on your PNR have the same upgrade eligibility. For CPUs, you may extend your CPU status to one companion, and then the system will take the status of the lowest passenger on the reservation.

This is a little complicated. Here are some example PNRs:

1K and non-status companion: both are eligible to CPU as 1Ks
1K and two non-status companions: no one is eligible to CPU
1K, Gold, and non-status companion: the companion gets "1K CPU status" but the Gold cannot, so all three pax have Gold priority

The situation for instrument supported upgrades is slightly different. Waitlisting an instrument is also all-or-nothing on the PNR. Either all pax must have a waitlisted upgrade, or none may. If you have a waitlisted upgrade for a multiple passenger PNR, it will have the priority of the highest Premier status on the reservation. Thus:

1K and non-status companion, 2x GPU applied: both are eligible as 1Ks with GPU
1K and three non-status companions, 4x GPU applied: all four are eligible as 1Ks with GPU

Multi-pax PNR upgrades are all or nothing - you may (or may not) be skipped over if there are fewer available seats than members in your party. If you do not like the treatment of your PNR, you may split it into smaller pieces at any time and be treated as smaller groups or individuals.


Now, what happens if you haven't cleared by check-in?

Multiple pax PNRs are not eligible for the (visible) upgrade standby list. If you wish to be added to the list, you must split the PNR at check-in. This often happens even if you didn't intend to. Note, however, that the hidden list is active until 3 hours before departure and splitting your PNR changes it. Therefore, you may wish to delay check-in until the airport. On the other hand, the tiebreak for the gate list is time of check-in, so you may wish to do so immediately. It depends on your situation.

Companions may be eligible for the upgrade standby list even after splitting the PNR, if it is split at check-in. The behavior of your companion(s) depends on whether the reservation had instruments applied. You may have one CPU companion, who will be waitlisted with your Premier priority but with an effective fare class below X (namely, last). If your companion was on a different PNR originally, or you want to designate a different companion, an airport agent can do that for you. Therefore, the list of 1Ks might be:

1) 1K on an S fare (you)
2) 1K on a K fare
3) Your no-status companion
4) Plat on a B fare

If your reservation had instruments applied, however, this process is different. In this case, if the reservation is auto-split at check-in, all travelers will have your Premier priority with their fare class. Say you are a 1K with three non-status companions, all with GPUs applied. Then you have

1) 1K on a V fare, GPU applied
2..5) you (1K) and your three companions on W fares, ordered by sequence number
6) Plat on a Q fare, miles+cash applied


Frequently Asked Questions

I was #1 on the upgrade list, but someone else got the upgrade instead. What happened?
The most likely answer is that the upgraded passenger was not checked in. Remember that the upgrade standby list (the visible list) only shows passengers who have checked in.

I'm #1 on the upgrade list but seats in the forward cabin keep disappearing. No one is being upgraded. What's going on?
There are two major sources of this. First, once your flight is within 24 hours of departure, it is eligible for SDC. Passengers with paid premium tickets can change to your flight and take seats. Many experienced flyers, especially FT members, underestimate the volatility of flight loads on the day of departure. Additionally, United usually makes a time-of-departure upsell offer available at check-in. Purchasers of this upgrade may often appear similar to last-minute revenue bookings.

I was waitlisted for I (or IN) class and did not clear. Am I now eligible for an upgrade?
"Upgrade" is the wrong terminology. You should be automatically placed on the standy list for business or first (whichever applies). Historically there have been problems with this occurring automatically, but that seems to have mostly been fixed. The exact priority compared to passengers who are waitlisted for an upgrade is unclear and a matter of some dispute. See discussion of GG ONESTANDBY lines 32-55.

Who are these people who are on standby lists for both Business and First?
These are non-revs (i.e., UA employees and family members) - either NRPS (non-rev positive space) or NRSA (non-rev standby). Non-revs can list for any cabin. NRPS are traveling on company business (e.g., deadheading pilots) and will clear into open space ahead of upgraders. NRSA travel standby and will be last in priority after all paid passengers. Why would someone be listed on both standby & upgrade list(s)?

Can you have one companion on a different PNR?
Yes, but only at the airport/gate and some agents are not familiar with the process. They are at the bottom of your status group.

Related threads
Ever see (+X blocked) in booked column on upgrade list?
Consolidated "Waitlist for Award Seats Questions/Issues"
[Consolidated] Chance of upgrade clearing on my flight
Decoding the alphabet soup - fare buckets for UA

Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively [Archive]
Print Wikipost

Reply

Old Feb 22, 18, 4:10 pm
  #556  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Programs: UA 1k, US Airways Silver, SPG PLT, Marriot Gold, Hertz PC
Posts: 534
Originally Posted by findark View Post
Yeah, and the second part is very important

It seems like the way Instant Upgrades are implemented, they are never waitlisted (would like to know if anyone has passively cleared into PN outside of T-96 as a 1K on YBM). However, at any time you can click the button and/or call to clear into available space (there was a recent report of a Plat going from B to open R and jumping the CPU queue).

For a 1K on YBM to be ahead of waitlisted instruments in practice, there would need to be a passive PN segment on the PNR, which I'm a little unsure of. Otherwise, maybe Instant Upgrades is a totally separate list, but this mainly makes sense only if they can passively clear.

At the end of the day it's a mess. I have very little personal data because I route my M fares into open PN at booking



Prior to the gate agent manually running the upgrade list, upgrades are cleared in a different order than the visible list. Most likely (assuming you were awaiting CPU), #2 was someone with the same status and fare class who booked earlier than you did, but checked in later.
Thanks for the prompt response! So even though we’re both on the visible list, the system displays the order incorrectly sometimes?
teeceedee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 22, 18, 4:18 pm
  #557  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: MSP
Programs: UA 1K, DL, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 8,576
Originally Posted by teeceedee View Post
Thanks for the prompt response! So even though we’re both on the visible list, the system displays the order incorrectly sometimes?
The visible list tiebreaks by check-in time instead of when the ticket was issued. This order is only used by the gate agent, and not before. So yes it's "incorrect" in that sense, but had the upgrade been run at the gate, you would have cleared first.
findark is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 22, 18, 4:20 pm
  #558  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG; Marriott Plat Premier; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 39,463
Originally Posted by teeceedee View Post
15 minutes before boarding, I go to check and all seats taken with me still at #1 . At closer inspection, the person who was #2 has now cleared into 4A. Is there a way that this could happen in a legitimate way?
Originally Posted by findark View Post
Prior to the gate agent manually running the upgrade list, upgrades are cleared in a different order than the visible list. Most likely (assuming you were awaiting CPU), #2 was someone with the same status and fare class who booked earlier than you did, but checked in later.
Yeah this was really bad luck for you that they opened CPU inventory right before the gate took control of the list.
Kacee is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 22, 18, 8:52 pm
  #559  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 45,851
Originally Posted by teeceedee View Post
.... So even though we’re both on the visible list, the system displays the order incorrectly sometimes?
Just to be absolutely clear -- No "the system displays the order incorrectly sometimes" is not true. There are two lists/processes and they are sorted slightly differently. The invisible list can process as late as an hour before departure and the visible is not used until 20-30 minutes prior to departure (domestically). It is most likely the individual cleared off the invisible list between the two times you viewed the visible list.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 22, 18, 10:25 pm
  #560  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Programs: UA 1k, US Airways Silver, SPG PLT, Marriot Gold, Hertz PC
Posts: 534
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Just to be absolutely clear -- No "the system displays the order incorrectly sometimes" is not true. There are two lists/processes and they are sorted slightly differently. The invisible list can process as late as an hour before departure and the visible is not used until 20-30 minutes prior to departure (domestically). It is most likely the individual cleared off the invisible list between the two times you viewed the visible list.
Interesting, thanks! AFAIK I was still in the running 30 minutes prior to departure, as I had a bet with a friend and was checking like a maniac. I suppose it’s not necessarily an incorrect displaying of order as it is conflicting with the invisible list.
teeceedee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 22, 18, 10:39 pm
  #561  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 8,610
Originally Posted by teeceedee View Post


Interesting, thanks! AFAIK I was still in the running 30 minutes prior to departure, as I had a bet with a friend and was checking like a maniac. I suppose it’s not necessarily an incorrect displaying of order as it is conflicting with the invisible list.
That close to departure, I'd wager that person #2 on the list may have accepted an upgrade offer. Depending upon what class of service they happened to buy into, they may still have appeared on the list after doing so.
jsloan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 23, 18, 6:03 pm
  #562  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Jersey
Programs: UA PLT, Marriott PLT
Posts: 1,081
WHen using GPUs for 4 people on the same reservation. Is it possible to waitlist them but have them only clear if all 4 can clear? If so, how realistic is this? DO they often open up 4 seats in RN at a time?

Thanks.
njxbean is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 23, 18, 6:11 pm
  #563  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 8,610
Originally Posted by njxbean View Post
WHen using GPUs for 4 people on the same reservation. Is it possible to waitlist them but have them only clear if all 4 can clear? If so, how realistic is this? DO they often open up 4 seats in RN at a time?

Thanks.
Yes, that's the default behavior until T-24. However, if you want to remove any possibility of having part of the party clear, you'll need to call to remove the instrument at T-25 (hours) if it hasn't cleared at that point.

It's R you need, not RN (although, in practice, they're pretty much the same). I've seen R1, and I've seen R9. R1 is more common, but it's not impossible to think that they might open 4 seats.
njxbean likes this.
jsloan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:20 pm
  #564  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: SAN
Posts: 103
Upgrade standby question

I am on the upgrade standby list for a flight tomorrow. I paid dollars and miles, but I don’t have any status. Unfortunately, I can’t check in online, not we’re they able to help me over the phone, this I cannot see where I am on the upgrade list. As of this morning it showed 6 available first class seats on the seat map, now it shows none. What I don’t understand is what it means that the 2 people at the top of the list have a blue check mark and a seat number, but the people below them are numbered 1 through whatever. Is it still possible for someone with a higher priority to come in and bump those top two out, even though there are seat numbers assigned?
maggersmagoo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:24 pm
  #565  
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: SFO-SMF
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 225
Nope. If they have blue check marks and seats assigned, it's a done deal.
jtet is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:25 pm
  #566  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: BOS<>NYC<>BKK
Programs: UA 4MM LT-GS; AA1MM; Amtrak S+; MAR LT TITAN; PC Plat; HIL DIA; HYA GLOB
Posts: 3,695
Good chance one or more high status pax did a same-day change, or else they sold the seats out from under the upgraders.
wxguy is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:32 pm
  #567  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: SAN
Posts: 103
I wonder why they even show them on there. If they are already have a confirmed upgrade they’re not on standby anymore. Ok, thanks for clearing that up, at least I can give up hoping that it will happen.
maggersmagoo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:32 pm
  #568  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 45,851
Originally Posted by maggersmagoo View Post
Is it still possible for someone with a higher priority to come in and bump those top two out, even though there are seat numbers assigned? ...
No, they have confirmed seats / upgrades.

There are a number of other things to mention
The list you see is only used at the gate but there is another similar (but some differences - take a bit to explain all the differences -- see the new thread's wiki)

Those with the checkmarks may have been upgraded earlier or more recently. They may be CPU, they may be supported upgrades.

Other seats may have been taken by last-minute purchase / flight changes or by folks do cash upgrades or ....
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 1:35 pm
  #569  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 45,851
Originally Posted by maggersmagoo View Post
I wonder why they even show them on there. If they are already have a confirmed upgrade they’re not on standby anymore. Ok, thanks for clearing that up, at least I can give up hoping that it will happen.
It is a notification - confirming their upgrade.

It is not usual for Full flights to have seats open up at the gate -- irrops, misconnects, change of plans, ..
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Mar 16, 18, 5:16 pm
  #570  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 9,112
Originally Posted by maggersmagoo View Post
...Is it still possible for someone with a higher priority to come in and bump those top two out, even though there are seat numbers assigned?...
The list you can see is those who have already been upgraded and those waiting who have checked in and have not been upgraded. Since you have not checked in, your name doesn't show, although it is still on the "invisible" waitlist used for upgrades before the gate agent takes over the process using the list you can see. Depending on the flight, your lack of status means you might be well down on the waitlist.
IAH-OIL-TRASH is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread