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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 Jan 9, 2023, 9:11 am
  #61  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Rochester, MN
Programs: UA Silver, Hilton HHonors Diamond, IHG Plat
Posts: 1,830
Originally Posted by ContinentalFan
Congratulations: you’ve made a lot of people jealous!
Obviously being an MSP flyer using UA is to my advantage. I am frequently in the top two on the list on both the OB from MSP and the return from hub back to MSP. Must not be a lot of higher level UA elites in the MSP area.
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 9:23 am
  #62  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Programs: MP
Posts: 350
Question about complimentary upgrade for premiers

It's been a long time since I had premier status with UA, but it looks like I should get Silver by the end of this month, and then, potentially, Gold, later in the year.

I know (I remember) that for Silvers upgrades are not common. (Though I recall I was upgraded as a Silver once on transcon flight out of SFO(!) some years ago...)

My question is about travelling with a companion on the same itinerary. If I am a Silver and the companion is not, will both of us be added to the upgrade list? Or just me?
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 9:28 am
  #63  
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 302
Originally Posted by v1rok
It's been a long time since I had premier status with UA, but it looks like I should get Silver by the end of this month, and then, potentially, Gold, later in the year.

I know (I remember) that for Silvers upgrades are not common. (Though I recall I was upgraded as a Silver once on transcon flight out of SFO(!) some years ago...)

My question is about travelling with a companion on the same itinerary. If I am a Silver and the companion is not, will both of us be added to the upgrade list? Or just me?
Forget about upgrades , I am 1K and since 2022 only one upgrade IAH - AUS cleared for me ...
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 9:28 am
  #64  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 21,357
Originally Posted by v1rok
It's been a long time since I had premier status with UA, but it looks like I should get Silver by the end of this month, and then, potentially, Gold, later in the year.

I know (I remember) that for Silvers upgrades are not common. (Though I recall I was upgraded as a Silver once on transcon flight out of SFO(!) some years ago...)

My question is about travelling with a companion on the same itinerary. If I am a Silver and the companion is not, will both of us be added to the upgrade list? Or just me?
For CPU-eligible flights, if you are traveling with a single companion, you’ll both be added to the upgrade list. (Specifically, it’ll give you the option at check-in to join the list if you want).

Note, however, that it’s common to see 30+ names on upgrade lists in/out of SFO, with none clearing.
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 9:40 am
  #65  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Programs: MP
Posts: 350
Originally Posted by jsloan
For CPU-eligible flights, if you are traveling with a single companion, you’ll both be added to the upgrade list. (Specifically, it’ll give you the option at check-in to join the list if you want).

Note, however, that it’s common to see 30+ names on upgrade lists in/out of SFO, with none clearing.
I know, I know about chances being slim to none... Not counting on anything, just want to have complete information

What are "CPU-eligible flights"? In other words, how do I know which flights are CPU-eligible and which are not?
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 10:31 am
  #66  
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Honolulu Harbor
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 14,997
Originally Posted by v1rok
…What are "CPU-eligible flights"? In other words, how do I know which flights are CPU-eligible and which are not?
Most domestic and short int’l flights are CPU-eligible. Excluded are long-haul Hawaii (ex-ORD, DEN, IAD, EWR, IAH), EWR-LAX/SFO, and any flight marketing Polaris (long-haul int’l). The wiki at top of this thread explains it all.

Yes, a Silver’s companion on same reservation will be near bottom of waitlist, too. As Gold, CPUs will still be rare, but at least you get to select E+ seat for you and companion at booking.
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Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Jul 10, 2023 at 10:38 am
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 11:19 am
  #67  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Programs: MP
Posts: 350
Thanks! I see. So, any flights with Polaris product are excluded from CPU eligibility? Interesting. Good to know.

What about Premium Economy seats (a step below Polaris, but above E+) on the same flights? Are they CPU eligible?
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 11:30 am
  #68  
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Honolulu Harbor
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 14,997
Originally Posted by v1rok
…What about Premium Economy seats (a step below Polaris, but above E+) on the same flights? Are they CPU eligible?
PremiumEconomy only exists as a ticket class on non-CPU flights. No CPUs to those seats on those flights. PE seats may appear on a CPUable flight, but they are treated for seat selection purposes as E+. As a Gold, you would be able to select those PE-treated-as-E+ seats on CPU-eligible flights at booking for no add’l cost.
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Last edited by IAH-OIL-TRASH; Jul 10, 2023 at 11:37 am
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 11:55 am
  #69  
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Programs: AS 75K, DL Silver, UA Platinum, Hilton Gold, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Platinum + LT Gold
Posts: 10,460
Originally Posted by v1rok
Thanks! I see. So, any flights with Polaris product are excluded from CPU eligibility? Interesting. Good to know.

What about Premium Economy seats (a step below Polaris, but above E+) on the same flights? Are they CPU eligible?
Note UA does fly Polaris planes on non-Polaris route.
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Old Jul 10, 2023, 11:58 am
  #70  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 21,357
Originally Posted by v1rok
Thanks! I see. So, any flights with Polaris product are excluded from CPU eligibility?
Any flights marketed as Polaris will be excluded, yes. The actual plane used is irrelevant. For example, you’l sometimes find a Polaris-equipped 777 on SFO-HNL. SFO-HNL is a CPU eligible route; therefore, you can theoretically get CPU’d into the Polaris seat. This is a corollary to what IAH-OIL-TRASH was saying.
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Old Sep 7, 2023, 10:49 am
  #71  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Programs: Watergate
Posts: 94
So I am flying UA 495 on Sept 11. It takes off in 71 hours and 30 minutes. I am Premier Platinum on a G fare. There are currently 5 seats open in First that I can upgrade to for $500.

Since I am platinum within 72 hours of takeoff and there are available First seats, why am I not in one of them? I thought the PZ/PY availability only applied to instant upgrades?
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Old Sep 7, 2023, 10:51 am
  #72  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, AA, DL
Posts: 7,417
Originally Posted by RichardNixon
So I am flying UA 495 on Sept 11. It takes off in 71 hours and 30 minutes. I am Premier Platinum on a G fare. There are currently 5 seats open in First that I can upgrade to for $500.

Since I am platinum within 72 hours of takeoff and there are available First seats, why am I not in one of them? I thought the PZ/PY availability only applied to instant upgrades?
G fare isn't an instant upgrade fare.

United doesn't have to upgrade people for free to seats it thinks it can sell even after the CPU upgrade window for your status opens.
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Old Sep 7, 2023, 10:56 am
  #73  
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Programs: Watergate
Posts: 94
Originally Posted by drewguy
G fare isn't an instant upgrade fare.

United doesn't have to upgrade people for free to seats it thinks it can sell even after the CPU upgrade window for your status opens.
Is it still only the Y/B/M fares that get upgrades for free ever? That seems like the instant upgrade is the same as the 48/72/96 hour window. I'm a new statusholder and still learning what "Upgrades will be processed as early as 72 hours before departure" means.
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Old Sep 7, 2023, 11:04 am
  #74  
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Join Date: Oct 2001
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Originally Posted by RichardNixon
Is it still only the Y/B/M fares that get upgrades for free ever? That seems like the instant upgrade is the same as the 48/72/96 hour window. I'm a new statusholder and still learning what "Upgrades will be processed as early as 72 hours before departure" means.
You are eligible for an upgrade. On CPU-eligible routes, including AUS-EWR, Instant upgrade fares can be upgraded as early as purchase. Non-instant upgrade fares can be upgraded within the window.

However, the chances of a CPU on AUS-EWR for a Platinum on a G fare — even on a Sunday — are close to zero. You’ll see what I mean when you see the upgrade list.

UA does hold back seats from upgrades until the gate, in many cases — but even if they cleared people into the seats at the start of the window, it wouldn’t help you — they’d all have disappeared no later than yesterday, as there will be at least 5 GS or 1Ks on that flight, and that’s not even counting the people who will attempt to upgrade with an upgrade instrument.

One of the reasons that UA has the upgrade list is to convince people to spend the $500 when they see their spot in line.
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Old Sep 7, 2023, 12:06 pm
  #75  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Washington, DC
Programs: UA 1K 1MM, AA, DL
Posts: 7,417
Originally Posted by RichardNixon
Is it still only the Y/B/M fares that get upgrades for free ever? That seems like the instant upgrade is the same as the 48/72/96 hour window. I'm a new statusholder and still learning what "Upgrades will be processed as early as 72 hours before departure" means.
Take a look at this Wiki, which explains all about how upgrades work, and the different types that are available - "Instrument supported" (i.e., miles/money/plus points); "instant" upgrade fares; and complimentary premier upgrades (CPUs).

Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively
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