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 May 22, 18, 4:34 pm   -   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: WineCountryUA
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.
R/RN class is required for all other upgrades from Economy except CPUs.
ON class is required for all upgrades from Business 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)

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 Jun 22, 12, 6:40 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Guatemala
Programs: CM PP DL GM
Posts: 406
Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

Thank you then what can I do with 4 Global upgrades
MARIOCASTRO777 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 3, 16, 6:32 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: LIM
Programs: United Premier 1K, Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold, AmEx Plat
Posts: 547
There's something I don't understand about the upgrade list.

Let's say I'm a Silver with a waitlisted RPU on K fare. What happens if the RPU doesn't clear by T-120? Will GS CPUs start clearing before my waitlisted RPU? Or will the RPU have priority before those pre-gate CPUs?
joseeantonior is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 3, 16, 7:32 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; DL Plat; Marriott/SPG Plat; Hilton Gold; Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 32,941
Originally Posted by joseeantonior View Post
There's something I don't understand about the upgrade list.

Let's say I'm a Silver with a waitlisted RPU on K fare. What happens if the RPU doesn't clear by T-120? Will GS CPUs start clearing before my waitlisted RPU? Or will the RPU have priority before those pre-gate CPUs?
GS upgrades will always clear first.
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 3, 16, 7:42 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: LIM
Programs: United Premier 1K, Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, SPG Gold, AmEx Plat
Posts: 547
Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
GS upgrades will always clear first.
I was just putting GS as an example. Would all CPUs clear before my RPU clears if no R space opens up? Or is this something unknown?
joseeantonior is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 3, 16, 7:48 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; DL Plat; Marriott/SPG Plat; Hilton Gold; Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 32,941
Originally Posted by joseeantonior View Post
I was just putting GS as an example. Would all CPUs clear before my RPU clears if no R space opens up? Or is this something unknown?
The instrument should have priority over the CPU. Except for GS CPU and Y/B/M upgrades. Y/B/M priority will change somewhat effective Feb. 1.

And no one (except possibly GS and Y/B/Ms) will clear until the gate if there is no R space.
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 3, 16, 7:53 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 702
Is this true that UA is doing away completely with CPUs? I know they've drastically made it harder to get but I still get them occasionally.... But do u think they will get rid of all CPUs in the near future?
sanfran8080 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 4, 16, 4:29 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: ORD
Programs: United 1K, Marriott Platinum Premier
Posts: 78
Originally Posted by uber1K_Flyer View Post
I was thinking about much the same issues in this thread based on an experience this week. As a 1K, I checked in for my ORD-IAD flight on Tuesday at T-23 hours traveling on a W fare. When I checked in, the upgrade list showed Capacity of 12 seats (A320) with 8 booked and 6 checked in. I was #1 on the upgrade list. I thought, based on this data that I should have a good chance at the upgrade. Before going to bed (T-12 hours), I was still #1 on the upgrade list, 2 new names appeared in the upgraded list and there were 10 listed as booked. When I awoke in the AM (T-3.5), I was still #1 on the upgrade list and now First was checked in Full with an additional 2 names added to the list.

I could understand 1 or 2 people jumping me but if the listing is meaningless, I would prefer for them to just give a list without any numbering.
I'm having the same issue this morning. I am #1 on the list but I see people throughout the day below me get confirmed for an upgrade and the booked count gets higher and higher.

Are these people applying their instruments at the last minute and getting a confirmed upgrade or just paying for them and then getting upgraded? Does paying for the $129 or so for the upgrade put you as confirmed on the upgrade list?
jayzala is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 4, 16, 5:13 am
  #8  
mkr
Suspended
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Just outside Big D, or many other places in big metal tubes
Programs: WN Rpd.Rwrds, AA, was longtime CO very top Elite tier, Overentitled UA Lifetime 1K (since 2012)
Posts: 1,334
Originally Posted by sanfran8080 View Post
Is this true that UA is doing away completely with CPUs? I know they've drastically made it harder to get but I still get them occasionally.... But do u think they will get rid of all CPUs in the near future?
I highly doubt that CPUs will go away. Many surveys have shown that CPUs are at the top of the list for what Premier members want as part of benefits.
mkr is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 4, 16, 5:41 am
  #9  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Between DCA and IAD
Programs: UA 1K MM; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 47,399
Originally Posted by Bonehead View Post
So due to WN canceling her flight yesterday (and leaving her with ZERO WN alternatives to get back to NYC before New Year's Day, of course) I put my SO's daughter on a United flight today with miles (standard FC award, but one of the few remaining seats even on UA out of DEN, so thank goodness for high mileage balances, right?).

Anyway, for some reason she shows up as having been upgraded into FC on the Upgrade List. Maybe this is normal, but it surprised me.



Is this normal?
Noticed the same today. My wife was on both flights as "upgraded" despite being on a standard award.
exerda is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 4, 16, 10:40 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Denver, CO
Programs: UA 1K 21 years/2MM, HHonors Diamond, Shangri-La Jade, SPG Gold, AVIS & Hertz Prez Club
Posts: 4,159
Originally Posted by jayzala View Post
Does paying for the $129 or so for the upgrade put you as confirmed on the upgrade list?
Every time I've paid the $129-$169 my ticket refares to P, Z or A and I do not appear on the upgrade list. I'm treated as a revenue F customer by the app and for any ensuing SDC options I might have available.
SFO 1K is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jan 4, 16, 12:09 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K, SY, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 6,326
Originally Posted by jayzala View Post
I'm having the same issue this morning. I am #1 on the list but I see people throughout the day below me get confirmed for an upgrade and the booked count gets higher and higher.

Are these people applying their instruments at the last minute and getting a confirmed upgrade or just paying for them and then getting upgraded? Does paying for the $129 or so for the upgrade put you as confirmed on the upgrade list?
Keep in mind that the standby list is only of people who have checked in. The sweeps are going to get run from the full list, which may include people ahead of you.
findark is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 3, 16, 8:30 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: BOS
Programs: UA 1K, IHG RA (Spire), MR Gold, HH Diamond, Hyatt Discoverist, National EE
Posts: 1,008
I had a very odd upgrade experience today on my BOS-EWR flight, and I'm still confused about what happened.

The gate upgrade list showed about 6 people confirmed into F, booked and checked in full. I was left as #1 on the list. I made a joke to the GA saying that there must be a lot of GS and 1Ks on the flight. She took a look at the BPs she had just cleared, and confirmed that a few 1Ks cleared along with a Platinum. This raised a red flag for me. Why did a Platinum clear before a 1K? She explained that if they used an instrument or miles + cash, they would be before me on the list. To prove to me that they were above me on the list, she unconfirmed their upgrade and showed me the list on her computer screen, with the Platinum as #1 and me as #2. This is where things got weird.

When she attempted to re-confirm the upgrade for the Platinum, the list re-arranged itself, placing me as #1 on the list. She had no choice but to upgrade me. I insisted that she give the upgrade to the other person, but she was now convinced that this was how it was supposed to be anyways. The downgraded passenger hadn't yet picked up their F boarding pass, and never approached the gate to find out what happened. Maybe they never knew they had been upgraded in the first place?

Anyways, the whole situation led me to lose a little bit of faith in the accuracy of the gate upgrade list. If anyone has a good explanation for what happened I'd love to hear it.
TravelTheWorld66 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 3, 16, 8:36 pm
  #13  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Posts: 10,467
Originally Posted by TravelTheWorld66 View Post
I had a very odd upgrade experience today on my BOS-EWR flight, and I'm still confused about what happened.

The gate upgrade list showed about 6 people confirmed into F, booked and checked in full. I was left as #1 on the list. I made a joke to the GA saying that there must be a lot of GS and 1Ks on the flight. She took a look at the BPs she had just cleared, and confirmed that a few 1Ks cleared along with a Platinum. This raised a red flag for me. Why did a Platinum clear before a 1K? She explained that if they used an instrument or miles + cash, they would be before me on the list. To prove to me that they were above me on the list, she unconfirmed their upgrade and showed me the list on her computer screen, with the Platinum as #1 and me as #2. This is where things got weird.

When she attempted to re-confirm the upgrade for the Platinum, the list re-arranged itself, placing me as #1 on the list. She had no choice but to upgrade me. I insisted that she give the upgrade to the other person, but she was now convinced that this was how it was supposed to be anyways. The downgraded passenger hadn't yet picked up their F boarding pass, and never approached the gate to find out what happened. Maybe they never knew they had been upgraded in the first place?

Anyways, the whole situation led me to lose a little bit of faith in the accuracy of the gate upgrade list. If anyone has a good explanation for what happened I'd love to hear it.
Maybe they were on a Y/B fare and after she unconfirmed them the list went to the new thing that if <1K Y/B no longer has priority if within 5 days and waitlisted. Computer is probably still in the growing pains of the change. Don't know if this is what happened but is one possibility.
Baze is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 5, 16, 11:46 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 2,592
Clearing within 24hr but before the gate?

Is it possible to clear from the upgrade list (i.e. the one shown on the flight status page) within 24 hours of departure but before getting to the gate? E.g., to be cleared by a computer sweep for instruments/miles/CPU. Or once on the list is any upgrade possibility in the gate agent's hands?
fumje is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 5, 16, 12:18 pm
  #15  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1K 1MM; DL Plat; Marriott/SPG Plat; Hilton Gold; Hyatt Refugeeist
Posts: 32,941
Originally Posted by fumje View Post
Is it possible to clear from the upgrade list (i.e. the one shown on the flight status page) within 24 hours of departure but before getting to the gate? E.g., to be cleared by a computer sweep for instruments/miles/CPU. Or once on the list is any upgrade possibility in the gate agent's hands?
If you clear within T-24 but prior to the gate, you're clearing off the "hidden" EUA. The published standby list doesn't come into play until the flight goes to the gate.

Edited to add: To clarify, yes, you can clear within T-24 and prior to the gate, but it will be off the EUA, not the published list. This actually happens with some frequency.

Last edited by Kacee; Feb 5, 16 at 12:26 pm
Kacee is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread