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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 May 5, 18, 12:33 pm
  #661  
 
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
For a GPU international upgrade: Will a general member on M class (upgraded from PN bucket)
Unless the GPU belongs to a GS, it'll clear into R regardless of whether you're on a Y/B/M fare. And M fares aren't eligible for PN anyway even domestically if you're a GM.
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Old May 5, 18, 12:34 pm
  #662  
 
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
...Will a general member on M class (upgraded from PN bucket) get upgraded prior to a 1K on W class if the PN class opens up but R doesnt?...
I think on Polaris flights, both are looking for R (unless, as WCUA points out below, GPU sponsored by GS. M doesn't really matter in that upgrade scenario).

Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; May 5, 18 at 12:41 pm
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Old May 5, 18, 12:34 pm
  #663  
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
For a GPU international upgrade: Will a general member on M class (upgraded from PN bucket) get upgraded prior to a 1K on W class if the PN class opens up but R doesnt? Do you specifically have to tell the agent to request PN class or does the system know to automatically upgrade if PN class opens?
I'm a bit confused by the question -- Why is the GM on M fare eligible for PN? is the GPU from a GS member? Otherwise, the GM is awaiting for R space.
If this is a GS supported upgrade, PN space will open up prior to R space and it is believed the PN waitlist will be cleared prior to R space opening up,
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Old May 5, 18, 12:48 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
I'm a bit confused by the question -- Why is the GM on M fare eligible for PN? is the GPU from a GS member? Otherwise, the GM is awaiting for R space.
If this is a GS supported upgrade, PN space will open up prior to R space and it is believed the PN waitlist will be cleared prior to R space opening up,
I thought PN class is for GS upgrades on ANY fare class, AND upgrades from Y/B/M for ANYONE?? Dont want to post links from other websites but if you google "PN fare class" it says "PN is used for upgrades from Y/B/M fares tofirst/business class, plus all Global Services upgrades".
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Old May 5, 18, 1:00 pm
  #665  
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Originally Posted by PrivatePilot View Post
I thought PN class is for GS upgrades on ANY fare class, AND upgrades from Y/B/M for ANYONE?? ....
The first is correct, the second part is wrong

On CPU eligible flights (which does not include a Polaris class flight), Instant Upgrades on Y/B/M fares are available for GS/IK only if PN is available and for other elites on only Y/B if RN is available at time of booking.
Y/B/M Premier Instant Upgrade - How does it work?

So since this appears not to be an CPU eligible flights, nor the individual is even an elite, only the GS upgrade instrument will clear from PN.
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Old May 5, 18, 1:51 pm
  #666  
 
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I see, thx. I am on a W class ticket , so pretty unlucky to have same status , same ticket class lol.

Any thoughts on whether or not it matters if other half is a MP member or not, for CPUs, RPUs , GPUs etc,in terms of clearing and priority on list.

For example , we are flying with our 6 year old to LHR , so does it effect upgrade chances if she is a MP member (she is not now, but I should maybe sign her up for the miles, IF , it is not detrimental to upgrades etc. Likewise for my 6 year old.

thcx
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Old May 5, 18, 2:44 pm
  #667  
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Originally Posted by simonoaks View Post
I see, thx. I am on a W class ticket , so pretty unlucky to have same status , same ticket class lol. ...
Common on GPU routes to have many W fares to be GPU eligible -- may not be the case here but it does happen.

Originally Posted by simonoaks View Post
Any thoughts on whether or not it matters if other half is a MP member or not, for CPUs, RPUs , GPUs etc,in terms of clearing and priority on list. ...
if on a common PNR, they will inherit your status. If on a separate PNR, they use their status. A GM vs non-member, not sure, probably the same but easy (and worthily) for all your companions to have UA MP account. earning miles, earning LT miles, an account for UA compensation offers, becoming a MM companion, .... and just general ticket tracking. Even if status seeking is not a present objective.
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Old May 5, 18, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Common on GPU routes to have many W fares to be GPU eligible -- may not be the case here but it does happen.

if on a common PNR, they will inherit your status. If on a separate PNR, they use their status. A GM vs non-member, not sure, probably the same but easy (and worthily) for all your companions to have UA MP account. earning miles, earning LT miles, an account for UA compensation offers, becoming a MM companion, .... and just general ticket tracking. Even if status seeking is not a present objective.
Ok, thanks ! IT is an RPU route. I declined to use as would rather save for the PS routes. On both flights (PBI to IAH and IAH to LIR) I am number 1 on list with 3 seats available....so worst case I will let wife have my seat if it clears.

Just wanted to make sure that say if my wife made Silver , and on the same PNR, that did not effect any way on upgrades even though she would technically be 1k like me. thx
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Old May 5, 18, 3:46 pm
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Originally Posted by simonoaks View Post
...so worst case I will let wife have my seat if it clears...
You've been asking a boatload of questions about the MileagePlus Program - looks like you very adeptly already know the answer to your most important decision
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Old May 5, 18, 7:28 pm
  #670  
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I may have said this before, but this is perhaps the best wiki I've ever seen on FT.
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Old May 6, 18, 11:04 am
  #671  
 
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"Flight Status" Upgrade list vs. "Upgrade Flight" screen

I'm curious about an upcoming flight (UA786) and trying to understand the lists/rules (I won't clear regardless). What would cause someone to be higher on one list vs. the other? Is it a RPU?

For example, if I go to the Flight Status page, and review the upgrade list - passenger SCH, J is #8 and behind me. However if I go to to the Upgrade Flight option, and click on the "View Upgrade list" ranking, that same passenger is now ahead of me on the list?
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Old May 6, 18, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by adams828 View Post
"Flight Status" Upgrade list vs. "Upgrade Flight" screen

I'm curious about an upcoming flight (UA786) and trying to understand the lists/rules (I won't clear regardless). What would cause someone to be higher on one list vs. the other? Is it a RPU?

For example, if I go to the Flight Status page, and review the upgrade list - passenger SCH, J is #8 and behind me. However if I go to to the Upgrade Flight option, and click on the "View Upgrade list" ranking, that same passenger is now ahead of me on the list?
Some semi-inconclusive discussion here:
Seeing full CPU list vs airport upgrade list

Maybe you two have the same fare class and status but different times of purchase (sch,j first) and different times of check-in (you first)??
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Old May 6, 18, 11:14 am
  #673  
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Originally Posted by adams828 View Post
... For example, if I go to the Flight Status page, and review the upgrade list - passenger SCH, J is #8 and behind me. However if I go to to the Upgrade Flight option, and click on the "View Upgrade list" ranking, that same passenger is now ahead of me on the list?
The simplest reason is the second tie-breaker, time. The preGate list uses time of upgrade request after status and fare class. While the Gate List is the time of check-in. So if someone booked early and then checked in later than another passenger of the same status and same fare class, the relative positions would swap order.

Question -- are you using a supported upgrade or is this a CPU situation?
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Old May 6, 18, 11:55 am
  #674  
 
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
The simplest reason is the second tie-breaker, time. The preGate list uses time of upgrade request after status and fare class. While the Gate List is the time of check-in. So if someone booked early and then checked in later than another passenger of the same status and same fare class, the relative positions would swap order.

Question -- are you using a supported upgrade or is this a CPU situation?
Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Some semi-inconclusive discussion here:
Seeing full CPU list vs airport upgrade list

Maybe you two have the same fare class and status but different times of purchase (sch,j first) and different times of check-in (you first)??
Just a CPU request, no instrument for myself. Perhaps it is a time booking/CI issue. The other fun one is my earlier flight - there is someone who is ~#1 7 on the Flight Status upgrade list, but #1 on the "other" list!
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Old May 6, 18, 11:59 am
  #675  
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Originally Posted by adams828 View Post
... - there is someone who is ~#1 7 on the Flight Status upgrade list, but #1 on the "other" list!
As mentioned earlier, the sorting and meaning of the "Upgrade Flight" list is not clearly understood.
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