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 Jul 16, 19, 12:49 pm
  #1216  
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Programs: UA 1K MM, Marriott LT Platinum
Posts: 335
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
There's no PQD waiver for 1K, but the spend counts towards priority. You spent $25k last year and/or have spent that this year? Splits are wonky.
Yes, I'm aware that there's no PQD waiver for 1K, but the $25K spend should still count for upgrade priority. And yes, I've spent $25K both in 2018 and in 2019.

Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
It's fair to conclude that the upgrade standby list is not always prioritized per the published rules, particularly with split PNRs.
I don't like this conclusion. Can't UA fix their IT systems?
Howard is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 19, 1:03 pm
  #1217  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.85MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 46,735
Originally Posted by Howard View Post
.. Am I misunderstanding how upgrades are prioritized? (P.S. Of course, neither of us got upgraded anyways.)
On a joint PNR, the "status" for all on the joint PNR is the same as the highest elite (so it would have not mattered what the status of the second passenger was) and it could be these secondary factors (each sequence number / check-in order) are also assigned of the highest elite are also assigned to to all on the common PNR. The intent appears to keep the common PNR group together on the waitlist.

If you still have a copy of the BPs you can easily find the sequence number -- it is just below QR on the mobile app (Andriod) and above the bar code on the paper BP
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 19, 5:47 pm
  #1218  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Programs: UA 1K 1MMer & LT UC (when flying UA); Hyatt Credit Cardist; HHonors Gold; Marriott Gold via UA 1K
Posts: 6,312
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
It's fair to conclude that the upgrade standby list is not always prioritized per the published rules, particularly with split PNRs.
I am convinced from everything I have read here that UA has programmed "priority to the wife" on split PNR's.
msg75, Kacee and 8MiHi like this.
SS255 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 19, 7:33 pm
  #1219  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG; Marriott Plat Premier; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 40,377
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
The intent appears to keep the common PNR group together on the waitlist.
It's still rather perplexing that trumps the published upgrade priority rules. Something is wrong with UA's coding.
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 19, 10:53 pm
  #1220  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,532
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
It's still rather perplexing that trumps the published upgrade priority rules. Something is wrong with UA's coding.
Well, while I agree that the upgrade system is probably defective, in truth, the published rules aren't well-defined. The most obvious of the gray areas is the one that the OP asked about: the priority order between people who had been on the same PNR prior to splitting.

OP suggests he should have been ahead of his wife due to having the Club card. I would argue that the benefit of having the Club card probably conveyed to everyone on the reservation, which is why OP and his wife were #1 and #2 in the first place. Considering that they were 1Ks on a W fare, it wouldn't surprise me if the "correct" order would have been OP #1 , another passenger #2 , OP's wife #3 (or later). OP's wife inherited OP's Club card status, and, then, as findark notes, the ordering of passengers after splitting the PNR appears to be nondeterministic.
jsloan is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 16, 19, 11:00 pm
  #1221  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG; Marriott Plat Premier; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 40,377
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
OP suggests he should have been ahead of his wife due to having the Club card. I would argue that the benefit of having the Club card probably conveyed to everyone on the reservation
That may be the explanation, but it's contrary to the published rules which extend the benefit only to the primary cardholder. If UA's coding was correct, the waitlist would prioritize the primary cardholder first.

While it may not be a big deal in this specific context, it raises broader questions about the reliability of the waitlist coding.
canadiancow likes this.
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 17, 19, 9:11 am
  #1222  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 9,532
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
That may be the explanation, but it's contrary to the published rules which extend the benefit only to the primary cardholder. If UA's coding was correct, the waitlist would prioritize the primary cardholder first.
The published rules are contradictory: there's another rule that says that the upgrade status of a multi-pax reservation will be based upon the status of the highest passenger traveling, and I can't imagine that UA really intends to split PNRs four days prior to travel when processing CPUs, in order to enforce both rules at once.
jsloan is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 19, 8:30 am
  #1223  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: NYC (Primarily EWR)
Programs: UA 1K / *G; Le Club Accor Platinum; Marriott Bonvoy Gold; Hertz PC
Posts: 6,219
So for RAP-EWR - it was showing 2/12 booked, +9 blocked. Now it says full - and I am still sitting at #1 on the UG list. How is that even possible? Or did they preemptively block CPUs/op-ups, and I will only clear at the gate? Seems quite silly to me.
PsiFighter37 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 19, 9:12 am
  #1224  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG; Marriott Plat Premier; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 40,377
Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
So for RAP-EWR - it was showing 2/12 booked, +9 blocked. Now it says full - and I am still sitting at #1 on the UG list. How is that even possible?
Because if blocked plus booked equals total number of seats it will say "full." Could be booked 3/12, 9 blocked or booked 2/12, 10 blocked, or similar combination adding up to 12.
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
I can't imagine that UA really intends to split PNRs four days prior to travel when processing CPUs, in order to enforce both rules at once.
No, but once the PNR is split, priority should go to the primary Chase cardholder. That's what the rules very clearly say, and the fact the coding doesn't work that way reinforces the conclusion that the list doesn't always populate the way the rules say it should
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 21, 19, 11:50 am
  #1225  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: NYC (Primarily EWR)
Programs: UA 1K / *G; Le Club Accor Platinum; Marriott Bonvoy Gold; Hertz PC
Posts: 6,219
I did get upgraded, but my reservation still says ‘CPU requested’. First time I’ve seen that happen. Also annoyed it took so long because I’m now not assigned to an A seat on an E175 and I cannot change it.
PsiFighter37 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 19, 1:10 pm
  #1226  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 4,234
Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
I did get upgraded, but my reservation still says ‘CPU requested’. First time I’ve seen that happen. Also annoyed it took so long because I’m now not assigned to an A seat on an E175 and I cannot change it.
Seems perhaps as though you were pushed forward as an op-up rather than a cleared upgrade. Did you check the list to see if you showed with the check mark?

I agree that sometimes when F seats are blocked, the logic for clearing upgrades can be a bit, well, illogical.
fumje is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 19, 4:09 pm
  #1227  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: NYC (Primarily EWR)
Programs: UA 1K / *G; Le Club Accor Platinum; Marriott Bonvoy Gold; Hertz PC
Posts: 6,219
Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Seems perhaps as though you were pushed forward as an op-up rather than a cleared upgrade. Did you check the list to see if you showed with the check mark?

I agree that sometimes when F seats are blocked, the logic for clearing upgrades can be a bit, well, illogical.
No, there was no list, so it seems to have been processed as an op-up. I know someone flying tomorrow that is showing the same thing - X seats sold + Y blocked - instead of CPUs. It seems like UA is overriding their CPU system to oversell Y and op-up folks who would get CPUs usually. Perhaps semantics, but it seems deliberate.
PsiFighter37 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 22, 19, 4:19 pm
  #1228  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; AS MVPG; Marriott Plat Premier; Hilton Diamond (Aspire); Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 40,377
Originally Posted by PsiFighter37 View Post
It seems like UA is overriding their CPU system to oversell Y and op-up folks who would get CPUs usually. Perhaps semantics, but it seems deliberate.
You phrase that as if there's some sort of diabolical plot by UA to deprive you of an A seat. There is not. The standby upgrade list does not process when the cabin is blocked full.

And yes, of course UA blocks F seats to oversell Y. They make more money that way than if they let seats fly empty.
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 23, 19, 4:14 pm
  #1229  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2
There is no priority difference between GPU, RPU & MUA requests.
​​​​​​​From the Wiki, is it really true that a GPU gives the same priority as a "miles and cash" upgrade when waitlisted? I would have thought some revenue would have prioritized you higher.
dlcrow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 23, 19, 4:25 pm
  #1230  
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: San Francisco
Programs: UA GS, UA 1MM, Hilton Lifetime Gold, Marriott Gold, Hertz Gold
Posts: 1,863
Originally Posted by dlcrow View Post
From the Wiki, is it really true that a GPU gives the same priority as a "miles and cash" upgrade when waitlisted? I would have thought some revenue would have prioritized you higher.
All instruments are created equal. I use GPU on domestic flights all the time and use to think well the GPU trumps and RPU... wrong. All the same.
jsloan likes this.
nomad420 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread