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Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

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Old Jun 3, 19, 7:05 am   -   Wikipost
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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]
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Old Mar 18, 18, 8:18 am
  #571  
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Programs: UN 1K MM, Marriott-LTPlat, HH-Gold
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Question

I just experienced a mile award clearing before my GPUs. My mother, husband and I are flying to PEK and returning HKG. I only had 4 GPUs left. To give my non-status mother, the best chance of upgrading, I put her on my reservation and used my GPUs for her and I. I then had my mother use her miles to upgrade my husband's ticket. Due to my million mile status, my husband has my 1K status, so, there are essentially 3, 1Ks waiting for an upgrade. My husband has cleared the upgrade list on the miles upgrade HKG to SFO and my mom and I are still in coach. All 3 of us have V fares on that leg of the flight. I booked our tickets first, so "technically" we would be waitlisted first. We still have plenty of time before our November flight, yet I'm left wondering how many more times will mile awards clear over the GPUs? And, would it have been better to book all 3 tickets separately to give all of us the best chance to upgrade?

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Mar 18, 18 at 11:38 am Reason: merged into master thread
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Old Mar 18, 18, 8:39 am
  #572  
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Originally Posted by Babymule View Post
I realize this thread is very old, however, I just experienced a mile award clearing before my GPUs. My mother, husband and I are flying to PEK and returning HKG. I only had 4 GPUs left. To give my non-status mother, the best chance of upgrading, I put her on my reservation and used my GPUs for her and I. I then had my mother use her miles to upgrade my husband's ticket. Due to my million mile status, my husband has my 1K status, so, there are essentially 3, 1Ks waiting for an upgrade. My husband has cleared the upgrade list on the miles upgrade HKG to SFO and my mom and I are still in coach. All 3 of us have V fares on that leg of the flight. I booked our tickets first, so "technically" we would be waitlisted first. We still have plenty of time before our November flight, yet I'm left wondering how many more times will mile awards clear over the GPUs? And, would it have been better to book all 3 tickets separately to give all of us the best chance to upgrade?
The system worked correctly. If 2 pax are on the same PNR and you are waiting for an upgrade (complimentary or miles or GPU or whatever) then you need R2 to clear because it will only clear when 2 seats are available. The system will skip every R1 that becomes available and goes to the next pax down the list. You increase the chance of clearing by splitting the PNR.
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Old Mar 18, 18, 10:15 am
  #573  
 
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Thank you so very much! I just called and had our record split. I sincerely appreciate the fast feedback!
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Old Mar 18, 18, 2:24 pm
  #574  
 
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Originally Posted by Babymule View Post
Thank you so very much! I just called and had our record split. I sincerely appreciate the fast feedback!
I believe your mother is now waitlisted on her own (no) status with the GPU.
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Old Mar 20, 18, 12:28 pm
  #575  
 
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I read through the wiki a couple times and still aren't sure of the answer. Going to Hawaii. Have 4 passengers on 3 itineraries:
1K + GM, RPU cleared upgrade
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU

I interpret the wiki as saying that the GMs would be ahead of all status holding passengers that are NOT using an instrument/MUA/instant upgrade fare, but behind other passengers using instruments/MUA. Is this correct and does this hold true all the way to departure time?
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Old Mar 20, 18, 12:55 pm
  #576  
 
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Originally Posted by iceman77_7 View Post
I read through the wiki a couple times and still aren't sure of the answer. Going to Hawaii. Have 4 passengers on 3 itineraries:
1K + GM, RPU cleared upgrade
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU

I interpret the wiki as saying that the GMs would be ahead of all status holding passengers that are NOT using an instrument/MUA/instant upgrade fare, but behind other passengers using instruments/MUA. Is this correct and does this hold true all the way to departure time?
Ahead of all CPUs, behind everyone else - except any GMers with lower fare classes looking for instrument/mileage upgrades (or GMers w/ same fare class who purchased later)
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Old Mar 20, 18, 1:00 pm
  #577  
 
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Ahead of all CPUs, behind everyone else - except any GMers with lower fare classes looking for instrument/mileage upgrades (or GMers w/ same fare class who purchased later)
Great, thanks!
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Old Mar 20, 18, 2:57 pm
  #578  
 
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Originally Posted by iceman77_7 View Post
I read through the wiki a couple times and still aren't sure of the answer. Going to Hawaii. Have 4 passengers on 3 itineraries:
1K + GM, RPU cleared upgrade
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU
GM, waitlisted by 1K's RPU

I interpret the wiki as saying that the GMs would be ahead of all status holding passengers that are NOT using an instrument/MUA/instant upgrade fare, but behind other passengers using instruments/MUA. Is this correct and does this hold true all the way to departure time?
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Ahead of all CPUs, behind everyone else - except any GMers with lower fare classes looking for instrument/mileage upgrades (or GMers w/ same fare class who purchased later)
* behind GS upgrade including CPU, ahead of all other CPU.
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Old Mar 25, 18, 3:03 am
  #579  
 
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Upgrade Priority - GPU > Points/Cash for GS?

I couldnt find anything specific on this...

which has waitlist priority? GPU or points/cash?
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Old Mar 25, 18, 3:19 am
  #580  
 
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If you search through the forums here, you'd see some Premiers complaining about Points/Cash for general members clearing before GPUs. Their logic was that GPU expires in 12-24 months and W fare is already forfeited; however, points+cash has a cash component that's direct revenue for United and points component that reduces liability. Not sure of any specific policy, it was just people sharing individual experiences in a thread.
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Old Mar 25, 18, 3:28 am
  #581  
 
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Originally Posted by avi8tir View Post
I couldnt find anything specific on this...

which has waitlist priority? GPU or points/cash?
Neither should have priority over the other. Any GS instrument should clear into PN, whether it's points + cash or a GPU. The priority order will be by fare class and date of request, not instrument type. Since GPUs (for non-RPU-eligible-markets) require a W fare basis and miles + cash don't, the GPUs may implicitly be higher on the priority list unless someone buys a W or higher fare when doing cash + points -- not because of the instrument, but because of the fare class.

Originally Posted by hokiebuy View Post
If you search through the forums here, you'd see some Premiers complaining about Points/Cash for general members clearing before GPUs. Their logic was that GPU expires in 12-24 months and W fare is already forfeited; however, points+cash has a cash component that's direct revenue for United and points component that reduces liability. Not sure of any specific policy, it was just people sharing individual experiences in a thread.
Can't speak to what you may find on the forum, but I think you may be confusing this with TODs. There's no way that points + cash upgrades for general members are clearing before GPUs for premier members absent unusual circumstances (e.g., multiple people on the GPU'ed reservation and only one R seat becomes available).
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Old Mar 25, 18, 5:27 am
  #582  
 
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So I'm curious.. GS using a GPU to upgrade a points award from economy to Polaris on an international flight versus a GS using a GPU to upgrade a $ ticket from economy to Polaris on an international flight.

Would that waitlist priority go by reservation / uprade request date, or would the $ + GPU take priority?
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Old Mar 25, 18, 7:19 am
  #583  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
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Originally Posted by LimeyFlyer View Post
So I'm curious.. GS using a GPU to upgrade a points award from economy to Polaris on an international flight versus a GS using a GPU to upgrade a $ ticket from economy to Polaris on an international flight.

Would that waitlist priority go by reservation / uprade request date, or would the $ + GPU take priority?
GPU for $ ticket is W class or greater
GPU for award ticket is almost certainly a lower fare class

GPU for higher fare class goes first iirc
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Old Mar 25, 18, 9:11 am
  #584  
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Originally Posted by Hipplewm View Post
GPU for $ ticket is W class or greater
GPU for award ticket is almost certainly a lower fare class

GPU for higher fare class goes first iirc
I'm not sure we know how UA codes this.

While you might think award would be lower fare class, for many purposes saver awards code as full fare.
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Old Mar 25, 18, 10:39 am
  #585  
 
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
I'm not sure we know how UA codes this.

While you might think award would be lower fare class, for many purposes saver awards code as full fare.
But this isn't a saver award. It's upgrading using miles and money.

It used to be the case that a waitlisted I award was ahead of upgrades day of departure, where it clearly is not beforehand. Lookup 'plan B".

A displaced confirmed premium passenger ($$, or I) due to IRROPS should be higher than and UG. A waitlisted I pax is unclear. As for instruments, I have seen no difference between GPU, RPU or $$ and miles since they get you on the UG list, and sorted into the usual way: status, economy fare class, time.

I could do an experiment to find out for sure if you would like. I have two identical reservations that I could get onto the UG list at the same time. To tell we would probably need 4, however.
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