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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 Dec 27, 2022, 4:18 pm
  #46  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Programs: UA Gold, Bonvoy Platinum
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by jsloan
Right... or buy a last-minute ticket, or change onto your flight.
As in someone buying a last-minute first class ticket? Or would someone buying even an economy ticket cause an issue for me here (presumably because they're gonna be buying at a higher fare class)?
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Old Dec 27, 2022, 4:26 pm
  #47  
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Originally Posted by earthyguppy
As in someone buying a last-minute first class ticket? Or would someone buying even an economy ticket cause an issue for me here (presumably because they're gonna be buying at a higher fare class)?
Either, actually. Anyone buying an F ticket will obviously take a spot, but also a GS, 1K, or Plat could buy a ticket at any fare class, or a Gold could buy a ticket at a fare class that's higher than yours (which would likely be the case for any last-minute purchase).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
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Old Dec 27, 2022, 4:35 pm
  #48  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Programs: UA Gold, Bonvoy Platinum
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by jsloan
Either, actually. Anyone buying an F ticket will obviously take a spot, but also a GS, 1K, or Plat could buy a ticket at any fare class, or a Gold could buy a ticket at a fare class that's higher than yours (which would likely be the case for any last-minute purchase).

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
Ahh that makes sense, thanks for breaking it down! No worries, I have tempered my expectations haha.

Either way, it's cool to think that I now at least have a non-zero chance of bagging CPUs now! When I was silver, I barely bothered since I was always like 24th on the upgrade list 😅
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 11:17 am
  #49  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Posts: 8
I'm trying to figure out if it's worth using PP to upgrade a flight. Cancun to SFO on Jan 9 is showing 0 for every fare class except J7 C6 D5 C6 D5. I feel like I have a reasonable shot at a CPU as a 1K from a leisure destination so am considering withdrawing my PP, but I'm not experienced enough to know if I'm way overestimating my upgrade chances and should just leave things be.
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 11:23 am
  #50  
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Originally Posted by SFOtoMEL
I'm trying to figure out if it's worth using PP to upgrade a flight. Cancun to SFO on Jan 9 is showing 0 for every fare class except J7 C6 D5 C6 D5. I feel like I have a reasonable shot at a CPU as a 1K from a leisure destination so am considering withdrawing my PP, but I'm not experienced enough to know if I'm way overestimating my upgrade chances and should just leave things be.
Welcome to FlyerTalk!

IMO, youre way overestimating your upgrade chances. Id be moderately surprised if your PlusPoints clear, honestly. I suspect there will be no more than 1-2 upgrades, because people will accept TOD offers, and it wouldnt surprise me if there are several people on that flight using GS instruments.
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 11:33 am
  #51  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Posts: 8
I guess I got cocky having my PPs clear on the outbound flight and getting CPU'd from BNA a few weeks ago. Thanks very much for the welcome and the reality check!
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 12:21 pm
  #52  
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Originally Posted by SFOtoMEL
I'm trying to figure out if it's worth using PP to upgrade a flight. Cancun to SFO on Jan 9 is showing 0 for every fare class except J7 C6 D5 C6 D5. I feel like I have a reasonable shot at a CPU as a 1K from a leisure destination so am considering withdrawing my PP, but I'm not experienced enough to know if I'm way overestimating my upgrade chances and should just leave things be.
As someone with more many more +P than I expect to be able to clear, I would just leave them on. However, given that scenario, I have a contrary opinion to jsloan above and would be slightly surprised to fail CPU. If you are looking to be economical with your +P, I don't think you'd be risking too much by removing them. You can also start checking upgrade list 7 days in advance (change date on your device, then look up flight status on website - website not app) to figure out what you want to do.
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 1:55 pm
  #53  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Posts: 8
Thanks for the tip about changing the date to look up flight status! Since you and jsloan have opposite opinions I'll take your advice and have a look at the upgrade list in a couple of days to see how things are shaking out.
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Old Dec 31, 2022, 2:00 pm
  #54  
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Gl! Maybe let us know outcome too.
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Old Jan 1, 2023, 2:53 am
  #55  
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Originally Posted by SFOtoMEL
Thanks for the tip about changing the date to look up flight status! Since you and jsloan have opposite opinions I'll take your advice and have a look at the upgrade list in a couple of days to see how things are shaking out.
FYI, once you can see the list, assuming your upgrade doesnt clear in the meantime, its probably safe to assume that if you take your PlusPoints off and dont like your position, you can reapply them and end up in the same spot you were before. The only time youd hurt your standing is if another 1K had PlusPoints applied in the same fare class, with all of the same intermediate tiebreakers, and applied theirs after you. The chances of that are fairly small.
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Old Jan 6, 2023, 6:54 pm
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Rochester, MN
Programs: UA Silver, Hilton HHonors Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 1,830
Have had good luck as a UA Silver on non hub to hub short haul. Get CPU'd once per itinerary. I know I shouldnt get used to that, but its nice nonetheless.
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Old Jan 8, 2023, 6:30 pm
  #57  
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by fumje
Gl! Maybe let us know outcome too.
Success! We were at #1 and #2 and cleared at the 24 hour mark.
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Old Jan 8, 2023, 6:57 pm
  #58  
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Originally Posted by SFOtoMEL
Success! We were at #1 and #2 and cleared at the 24 hour mark.
I'm quite happy to have been wrong. (FWIW, looking at the two flights, and surmising you're on the latter one; I think if you'd been on the earlier one, you might have been in tougher straits. Enjoy your trip.
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Old Jan 8, 2023, 7:16 pm
  #59  
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Originally Posted by Hawkeyefan
Have had good luck as a UA Silver on non hub to hub short haul. Get CPU'd once per itinerary. I know I shouldnt get used to that, but its nice nonetheless.
Congratulations: youve made a lot of people jealous!
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Old Jan 8, 2023, 7:52 pm
  #60  
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Originally Posted by SFOtoMEL
Success! We were at #1 and #2 and cleared at the 24 hour mark.
Yay! 🎉🎊
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