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Questions About Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPU) on UA [Merged]

Old Feb 24, 2015, 2:10 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
Previous thread: "Questions About Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPU) on UA" Thread [ARCHIVE]
Guide to CPUs

CPU eligible flights -- to see what is and is not eligible see Upgrade regions

In order for you to receive a CPU, four conditions have to be met at the same moment in time:

(NB: The following does not apply to GS members, whose CPUs process at least somewhat differently, out of the PN bucket.)

1. The flight must be within the relevant CPU window:
  • GS: 120 hours
  • 1K: 96 hours
  • Plat: 72 hours
  • Gold: 48 hours
  • Silver: 24 hours

If the flight is scheduled to depart after midnight central time, all of these windows open 24 hours early, due to a system glitch.

2. There must be CPU availability. CPUs for non-GS members draw from an invisible bucket that is often (but not always) pegged to roughly one or two less than the R PZ bucket. At the gate, all remaining seats are released.

3. You must be high enough on the relevant upgrade list.
There are two separate upgrade lists, used during the two different upgrade processes described in (4) below. Understand how these lists work is one of the things people struggle with the most.

The Pre-Gate List (a/k/a the "sweeps list" or "EUA list")
This list is used in the pre-gate process described in (4) below. Your presence on the list is indicated by the CPU Requested icon/language on your reservation, but you cannot find out what position you are on this list through any public method. The list is sorted in this manner:- Displaced first-class passengers (Bought two-segment F ticket, F wasn't available on this segment at time of purchase)

- GS using any method (note GS clear out of PN)

- Uncleared instant upgrades, sorted by fare class* and status (Only 1K Y/B/M, clears out of PN)

- Waitlisted instrument/mile upgrades, sorted by status of highest elite on the PNR, fare class, and then time of request (e.g.: 1K in N upgrading using miles, Plat in S using RPU applied on Tuesday, Plat in S using RPU applied later on Friday)**, after check-in, time of checking is used vs time of request

- CPUs, sorted by status of highest elite on the PNR, fare class, and time of purchase (e.g.: 1K in E, 1K in N, Plat in E, Plat in X***, Gold in G purchased in November, Gold in G purchased in December), after check-in, time of checking is used vs time of request

*The coach fare classes, in the order that is relevant to this whole discussion, are: O, A, R (for upgrades from United® Premium Plus seats to the United Polaris business class cabin) and Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G , YN/HN/XN/X (N is ineligible)

**Note: The upgrades above CPU can clear using R PZ space, CPU appears to be a subset, so R PZ space alone is not sufficient for CPU clearing.

***CPUs are only available for mileage tickets for certain credit card holders. It's a complicated issue that is generally beyond the scope of this thread. There is a separate thread for it.
Note the simple fare class, status and time has been replaced
Effective December 12, 2018, upgrade waitlists are processed in the following priority order:
  1. Premier status of the traveler
  2. Fare class
  3. Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders and Presidential Plus cardholders
  4. United Corporate Preferred participant
  5. Chase United MileagePlus cardholders with $25,000 annual spendFootnote 2
  6. Time of request

The Gate List (a/k/a the "visible list")

This list controls upgrades at the gate. It is semi-visible to the public on the status page for a flight, but the status page only shows checked in passengers. Even if you appear first on the list, you might actually be fifteenth by the time everyone checks in.

This list is in the same order as the list above, except that the time-related tiebreakers (such as time of purchase) are replaced with the sequence number (which is related to the time of check-in). Additionally, certain non-revs (airline employees and family traveling for free or at low cost) are put on the gate list, at the end.

4. One of the two upgrade processes must run.

The Pre-Gate Process (a/k/a the "sweeps" or "EUA")
This process runs at certain times in the days leading up to the flight. It typically runs at 24-hour intervals leading up to T-24, at which point it begins to run more often. It is unclear exactly how often it runs, or when it stops running. There are reports of upgrades that seem to have been given by the pre-gate system even once boarding has begun.

The Gate Process
This process is manually accomplished by the GA, typically once if there are empty seats after check-in has closed, and again if there are no-shows in F. In the latter case, the GA may come onto the plane to give the new boarding pass to the passenger.

Sometimes the GA might not run the process, which makes them a Very Bad GA. On very rare occasions, they might fiddle with the process to upgrade their friends, which we call "shenanigans." That makes them a Mega Bad And Very In Trouble GA. Both of these situations should be reported in the relevant FT thread and directly to UA.

CPU FAQ

I'm number one on the upgrade list on the flight status page. Does that mean I'm first in line for the upgrade?
No, unless the check-in window has passed and the flight is under gate control.

There are seats available in F, why have I not been upgraded yet?
That's not how it works. See above.

There is R PZ availability, why haven't I been upgraded yet?
That's not how it works. See above.

Will the time that I check in affect my ability to get an upgrade?
Probably not. It is the third tie-breaker on the gate list only. See above.

Do I need to check in to get an upgrade?
No. Except at the gate. But if you're not checked in by that time, you have bigger problems.

Who are all these people on both the standby list and the upgrade list(s)?
Non-revs. See above.

But the website says that the Silver window opens the day of departure, not at T-24!
Ignore that.

But the website says that there is a "transfer" of the lists at T-24!
Ignore that.

But the agent said ____________________________!
Ignore them.

Will CPU for a UA operated flight not on UA ticket stock or listed as a partner codeshare?
Yes, if your MP account is attached

DidItClear
If the DidItClear website is going to be effective, it needs more members and trip upgrade data!

Please visit https://www.diditclear.com/ and include your trip experience with CPU's, RPU's, GPU's and any other means of upgrading available on United.


The better the data, the better the search results and experiential history.

Related threads
Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively

Comprehensive Companion CPU Questions

To split or not to split PNR

Print Wikipost

Questions About Complimentary Premier Upgrades (CPU) on UA [Merged]

Old Jul 21, 2021, 7:43 am
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Osaka
Programs: United Mileage Plus Premier Executive
Posts: 581
Originally Posted by drewguy
Happened to my family recently with irrops. Missed connection (UA's fault) . . .UA was able to confirm me retaining upgrade on later flight. Child got E+seat; spouse was standby. Neither was on UG list (spouse did get seat as well). Gate agent couldn't/wouldn't do anything. CS of course couldn't because flight was already under gate control.

Interesting. That is what I experienced in DEN twice when I changed my flight in the 24 hr. Window. The first time the gate agents were extremely friendly and spent 20 minutes helping at the gate. The agent called over a supervisor to help. They were all so confused. They eventually had to offload me and reload to get on the list. I was able to be upgraded on the new flight. This past weekend the agent did not want to help or just had no idea what they were doing so they made up a story about how I was not Eligible to upgrade when I change flights. The UA club agent said he was wrong. Seems like a huge IT issue at UA when you change flights and many agents are not trained to help or solve the problem. Such a simple problem you would think employees would be trained to help with.
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Old Jul 21, 2021, 10:07 am
  #17  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.99MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 66,769
Unfortunately changing while checked-in can have this problem. A fix is to uncheck-in and re-checkin. This has been a issue since the beginning of CPU but does not always happen. Unfortunately FT trained passengers can be more familiar with certain parts of the systems (especially upgrades) than many employees. Somewhat understandable as they rarely deal with these issues but upgrades are high on our list of interest.
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Old Jul 22, 2021, 8:03 pm
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, AA, DL
Posts: 7,417
Was given an odd choice screen when checking in family (1K, S, no status) - asked who we wanted to make eligible for CPU, given choice of myself (1K) and spouse (S). Why would I have to elect, given two elites shouldn't we all just stay in the queue as silver?

I declined - no chance of upgrade clearing and didn't want to deal with the hassle of split PNR. We're now off the upgrade list (ceding positions 31-33 to someone else).

But what's the right choice should I find myself in this situation with some chance of an upgrade? (Not really asking about my chances as 1K with companion or 3 "silvers")
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Old Jul 26, 2021, 4:23 pm
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, AA, DL
Posts: 7,417
Figured out what happened.

first page was asking whether both elites wanted to be on upgrade list. I chose yes. Second page gave option of which traveler to designate as companion (I chose non-elite with bubble) and got pop-up message shown. Ended up with two in 1K slot on list and one in silver spot.

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Old Jul 26, 2021, 8:07 pm
  #20  
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 11,450
Originally Posted by drewguy
Was given an odd choice screen when checking in family (1K, S, no status) - asked who we wanted to make eligible for CPU, given choice of myself (1K) and spouse (S). Why would I have to elect, given two elites shouldn't we all just stay in the queue as silver?

I declined - no chance of upgrade clearing and didn't want to deal with the hassle of split PNR. We're now off the upgrade list (ceding positions 31-33 to someone else).

But what's the right choice should I find myself in this situation with some chance of an upgrade? (Not really asking about my chances as 1K with companion or 3 "silvers")
I am now reasonably certain that it won't split unless and until an upgrade becomes available. It might wind up splitting then, even if there wind up being enough upgrades for everyone, e.g., if 2 pax are on the reservation and it goes to J4, it might still split when clearing back to J2.

Re: your second post — did it allow you to put yourself back on the list after initially declining? That seems new to me.
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Old Jul 26, 2021, 8:41 pm
  #21  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, AA, DL
Posts: 7,417
No - separate trip (well, return booked separately)
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Old Jul 26, 2021, 8:47 pm
  #22  
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Originally Posted by drewguy
No - separate trip (well, return booked separately)
Ah — didn't notice the date on that first post!
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Old Mar 9, 2022, 3:15 pm
  #23  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Programs: UA 2MM
Posts: 1,679
Quick question about CPUs with a lapchild. Gold and Silver members only receive CPUs for them and one companion, if there is a lap child on the reservation as well (so 2 pax + infant) does the system automatically recognize give the CPU request or does it need to be manual?
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 9:19 am
  #24  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: IAD
Programs: UA Plat, HH Diamond, Supersonic (BA1Y, BA1223)
Posts: 221
I'm sure this has been asked before, but after several attempts with searches, I cant find it.
What is the difference between "CPU Requested" and "CPU Eligible"?
I've seen this before, finally getting around to asking.
On the web version, both legs of my flight say "Complimentary Premier Upgrade Requested"
However, on the app, the first leg says CPU Requested and the second says CPU Eligible.
Both are 'Y', 2 cabin, domesitc, etc. Currently no PZ/PN.
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 9:32 am
  #25  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Programs: UA 1K, IHG Spire Ambassador, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Platinum
Posts: 146
Originally Posted by huey_driver
I'm sure this has been asked before, but after several attempts with searches, I cant find it.
What is the difference between "CPU Requested" and "CPU Eligible"?
I've seen this before, finally getting around to asking.
On the web version, both legs of my flight say "Complimentary Premier Upgrade Requested"
However, on the app, the first leg says CPU Requested and the second says CPU Eligible.
Both are 'Y', 2 cabin, domesitc, etc. Currently no PZ/PN.
I had this question too the other day after booking a trip. It was CPU eligible and my other leg was Waitlist(applied PP immediately). I just checked again and now it says CPU Requested which leads me to believe that it says cpu eligible when the flight has not been ticketed yet.
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 9:55 am
  #26  
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Join Date: Nov 2014
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Programs: DL PM, UA Gold, WN, Global Entry; +others wherever miles/points are found
Posts: 14,392
Ordinarily, CPU Requested means that you are within your upgrade window and can clear immediately if upgrade space is available. CPU Eligible means your are eligible for a CPU but outside of your upgrade window.

Would not be surprised to find the display buggy though.
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 10:39 am
  #27  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: IAD
Programs: UA Plat, HH Diamond, Supersonic (BA1Y, BA1223)
Posts: 221
Originally Posted by findark
Ordinarily, CPU Requested means that you are within your upgrade window and can clear immediately if upgrade space is available. CPU Eligible means your are eligible for a CPU but outside of your upgrade window.

Would not be surprised to find the display buggy though.
DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!
Well, I think so. I just checked and both my flights now show "CPU Requested"... Return flights later next week show "CPU Eligible". I dont think its exact, because earlier today I was outside my 96 hour window, but it was close. Maybe they use zulu time or its just a bug...
Thanks!
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 10:48 am
  #28  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: ORF, RIC
Programs: UA LT 1K, 3 MM; Marriott Titanium; IHG Platinum
Posts: 6,940
Originally Posted by huey_driver
DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!
Well, I think so. I just checked and both my flights now show "CPU Requested"... Return flights later next week show "CPU Eligible". I dont think its exact, because earlier today I was outside my 96 hour window, but it was close. Maybe they use zulu time or its just a bug...
Thanks!
For my trip in the middle of May, App says “CPU eligible” but the webpage says “CPU requested.” So, they are interchangeable.
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 11:02 am
  #29  
 
Join Date: Aug 2021
Location: IAD
Programs: UA Plat, HH Diamond, Supersonic (BA1Y, BA1223)
Posts: 221
Originally Posted by Kmxu
For my trip in the middle of May, App says “CPU eligible” but the webpage says “CPU requested.” So, they are interchangeable.
Well doggoneit... You just relegated me to many more sleepless nights...
Maybe its just a random choice they make and they both mean the same...
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Old Apr 21, 2022, 12:17 pm
  #30  
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Programs: UA 1K (1MM), DL Gold (1MM), Marriott LTT
Posts: 10,335
Originally Posted by Kmxu
For my trip in the middle of May, App says “CPU eligible” but the webpage says “CPU requested.” So, they are interchangeable.
They have been used interchangeably for years. United is very inconsistent when it comes to this and no one has figured out why.

-RM
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 21, 2022 at 4:21 pm Reason: split post
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