Old Jul 4, 2023, 9:54 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: WineCountryUA
25% TATL copay discount for UA flights until 15 Sept 2015 expired

UA website page - Use your miles to upgrade and fly in a premium cabin.
Details on "Request an upgrade", "Pricing", "FAQs","Terms and conditions" can be found at the UA site

N.B., There are several changes to the policy below due to the introduction of PremiumPlus / Premium Economy. This needs to be updated.
for aircraft with PP, also see How does GPU/ Mileage Upgrade waitlist for business work with PremiumPlus?

To see the mileage + copay requirements - see Interactive travel destinations awards chart
  • UA offers the opportunity to upgrade with miles and a copay all paid fares - with exception of Basic Economy fares.
    • Mileage Award tickets are not eligible for miles+copay upgrades
  • Elites are exempt from copays on CPU routes
  • Upgrades are on a space availability base and open seats in the premium cabin is not an indicator of upgrade space availability.
  • Upgrades from economy to the next cabin is based on PZ R space (PN space for GS). For F on 3-class aircraft, it is ON space.
  • To see fare class / upgrade space information at booking, enable Expert Mode
  • If space is not available at the time of the request, the request will be waitlisted. More on waitlisting -- Understanding the United Upgrade List Comprehensively
    Also, see [Consolidated] Chance of upgrade clearing on my flight
  • Double upgrades using miles or certs is not allowed (but cash upgrades may be available with a mileage / cert upgrades)
  • If no waitlisted segment clears, your miles & copay will be returned
  • If you waitlist for multiple segments including Polaris segments and none of the Polaris segments clear, your miles & copay will be returned and any cleared non-Polaris upgrades will be retained. UA Miles + $ CoPay Upgrade (refunded if no BF/GF/Polaris segments are upgraded)
  • For itineraries that have connecting flights, upgrade mileage is based on per direction basis from departing point to the destination. You can request upgrade on a per segment basis (e.g., requesting only IAD-SFO on a XXX-IAD-SFO itinerary). Once the longer segment clears, you can request to extend the upgrade on the shorter segment. This can only be done over the phone with an agent.
  • Upgraded passengers are provided the same perks as those on a paid ticket, including lounge access
  • Upgrading UA operated segments can be done even if booked on a non-016 ticket stock or booked as UA operated codeshare.
  • Your mileage / PQD earning will be based on the original purchased ticket and the upgrade (if successful) will not change the mileage earning. The upgrade copay does not receive PQD credit.
  • If you change or cancel your flight, the miles (and copay, if any) will be funded. You will have to make a new request for the new flight.
  • If there are irrops and/or schedule changes, UA will generally maintain your upgraded status (on UA operated flights) if possible.
  • Purchased E+ access fees will be refunded for a segment will be refunded if that segments upgrade clears (does not apply to E+ subscriptions)
  • Miles can come any account but waitlist priority is based in the passenger's status (Using GS miles, the waitlist will be for PN with the passenger's status)
Occasionally Miles and/or CoPay not deducted on award booking/ upgrade, usually this will be caught by check-in, very rarely it is not noticed

Mileage upgrades are possible (although only on highest fares) on partners but the process is different -- see How to upgrade with UA miles on Star Alliance carriers
*Interactive travel destinations chart hasn't been updated to include PE yet (as of 2/25/19)
** PDF link currently redirects to the Mileageplus Updates Page

As Mileage tickets started earning PQPs in 2023, by Aug? 2023 or earlier, so do mileage upgrades

Archive: Using Miles to Upgrade on United {Archive}
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Using Miles to Upgrade on United

Old Jan 6, 2022, 7:45 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: LAX
Posts: 211
Using Miles to Upgrade on United

I'm reading the FAQ on UA's website and it says:

"If an upgrade seat becomes available, waitlisted customers are confirmed automatically based on the Premier status of the traveler first, followed by fare class, Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders, United Corporate Preferred participants, and lastly by the date and time of request."

Does that mean the waitlist is shared between Mileage Upgrade Awards, Plus Points, and CPUs (i.e. a 1K would clear on a CPU before a Gold using a mileage award)? Or is there a hierarchy between upgrade types (i.e. PP's always clear before CPUs, etc)?

I'm asking because I'm a lowly silver looking to use miles on a LAX-EWR segment, but there will almost certainly be dozens of elites ahead of me on that flight and I want to get a sense of where I'd be on the pecking order using miles.
Seph87 is offline  
Old Jan 6, 2022, 8:35 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 137
Originally Posted by Seph87
I'm reading the FAQ on UA's website and it says:

"If an upgrade seat becomes available, waitlisted customers are confirmed automatically based on the Premier status of the traveler first, followed by fare class, Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders, United Corporate Preferred participants, and lastly by the date and time of request."

Does that mean the waitlist is shared between Mileage Upgrade Awards, Plus Points, and CPUs (i.e. a 1K would clear on a CPU before a Gold using a mileage award)? Or is there a hierarchy between upgrade types (i.e. PP's always clear before CPUs, etc)?

I'm asking because I'm a lowly silver looking to use miles on a LAX-EWR segment, but there will almost certainly be dozens of elites ahead of me on that flight and I want to get a sense of where I'd be on the pecking order using miles.
Miles and PP are prioritized above CPUs (except GS CPsU I believe?) Within that, priority is based on status (so gold PP>silver PP>platinum CPU).

LAX/EWR isn't eligible for CPUs though.

​​​​​
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Old Jan 11, 2022, 11:50 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: MRY/SFO
Programs: UA Platinum; IHG Diamond Ambassador
Posts: 452
Hoping someone can please shed some light on my dilemma: a few months ago I requested an upgrade solely with points. Now that the possibility that my direct intl flight may get replaced by connecting flights, I requested the upgrade retracted (via chat on the app). The agent clears my upgrade however said miles will not be de deposited until the flight is taken or canceled (flight is in April). From conversations above I believed I’d get my miles redeposited once the upgrade request was removed. What did I do wrong?

**Miles, not points**

Last edited by ARR72; Jan 11, 2022 at 11:55 am Reason: Clarification
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Old Jan 11, 2022, 2:23 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Programs: UA
Posts: 9
Originally Posted by ARR72
Hoping someone can please shed some light on my dilemma: a few months ago I requested an upgrade solely with points. Now that the possibility that my direct intl flight may get replaced by connecting flights, I requested the upgrade retracted (via chat on the app). The agent clears my upgrade however said miles will not be de deposited until the flight is taken or canceled (flight is in April). From conversations above I believed Id get my miles redeposited once the upgrade request was removed. What did I do wrong?

**Miles, not points**
This was my recent experience. Ended up taking 2+ weeks and over 10 phone calls to get the miles back after I took my flight.
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Old Mar 29, 2022, 9:19 pm
  #5  
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Trying to make sure I understand this chart correctly. I am currently in A/R on an upcoming RDU - LHR trip and am looking to move to one day earlier for my return flight (which is booked in R). PZ9 on the flights I'm looking at so MUA should clear immediately.

When I go to change my ticket to one day earlier, its a +$0 add/collect to go back to Economy in a U fare (not surprising since my original ticket is in A outbound and R return) and then it's a $50 add/collect to change to the earlier flight into the same R fare.

But then I go to look at the MUA chart and it seems to suggest that it's actually a co-pay (with the same mileage) on the U fare than on the R fare? Is that right? So I should just change to the U fare with the $0 add/collect since I'll be able to then clear the MUA immediately up to Polaris based on the PZ9? I'm confused -- obviously I want to save money on the co-pay so why wouldn't I do that but it just seems counterintuitive. I'm in the midst of a Platinum challenge so don't have any PlusPoints to use for a PP to Polaris upgrade.

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Old Apr 6, 2022, 12:01 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 302
Using points to upgrade.

Is there a specific process for doing this? Or is there some random aspect?
Do I need to book a flight first?

I've got 400,000+ points but was bumped back to no-status from Silver last year. (From what I can see.)

I'm trying to develop a strategy to get to Gold this year but don't want to impose Economy Basic on my dear wife.
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Old Apr 6, 2022, 12:03 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: IAH
Programs: MileagePlus-Premier Silver, Marriott Bonvoy-Silver Elite
Posts: 648
Plus Points or miles? If PP, that would be a new world record, I would assume miles.
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Old Apr 6, 2022, 12:35 pm
  #8  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Plat 1.98MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Plat/LT Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Plat
Posts: 66,172
Originally Posted by hotscot
Is there a specific process for doing this? Or is there some random aspect?
Do I need to book a flight first? ...
Yes you book the flight first and then you apply the award miles (points) and copay. You will most likely be waitlisted and need to realize the chances for a general member to clear is not high, depending on the route.
Originally Posted by hotscot
I'm trying to develop a strategy to get to Gold this year but don't want to impose Economy Basic on my dear wife.
Basic Economy is a ticket type, and does not apply to all of economy. You may want to consider purchasing an annual subscript to Economy Plus which is a regular economy seat with more leg space.
Originally Posted by VRFast
Plus Points or miles? ....
Pretty obvious miles, as a general member. It is common to use the words miles and points interchangeable.
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Old Apr 6, 2022, 6:21 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: IAH
Programs: MileagePlus-Premier Silver, Marriott Bonvoy-Silver Elite
Posts: 648
Originally Posted by hotscot
Is there a specific process for doing this? Or is there some random aspect?
Do I need to book a flight first?

I've got 400,000+ points but was bumped back to no-status from Silver last year. (From what I can see.)

I'm trying to develop a strategy to get to Gold this year but don't want to impose Economy Basic on my dear wife.
Just to add my 2 cents as well. You can do an advanced search on United.com and search on upgrades on the flights youre looking at. Under the upgrades, certificates and promotion codes drop down menu select MileagePlus Upgrade Award and hit search. It will show you if that particular flight is waitlisted or if the upgrade is available at booking as well as the price of upgrading depending on if you buy Economy and want to upgrade to Premium Economy (if available on flight), or buy PE and upgrade to Polaris/business. Kind of a needle in the haystack search since youll have to play with the dates and destinations. Upgrades are per leg.
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Old Apr 7, 2022, 8:12 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 4
Polaris Upgrade - points + cash - what are people seeing?

Hi folks - recently, I've been using points + cash to upgrade to polaris on international flights. Last year, I was seeing I think points (20K+ and up) + $300 for upgrades to Polaris from econ. I'm currently seeing $550 now (plus points). Is this what others are seeing? Also does this fee move around with time? I think sometimes the points part can move, (as well as the availability). Thanks!
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Old Apr 7, 2022, 8:22 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by nuprinn123
Hi folks - recently, I've been using points + cash to upgrade to polaris on international flights. Last year, I was seeing I think points (20K+ and up) + $300 for upgrades to Polaris from econ. I'm currently seeing $550 now (plus points). Is this what others are seeing? Also does this fee move around with time? I think sometimes the points part can move, (as well as the availability). Thanks!
The fee varies by fare class paid.
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Old Apr 7, 2022, 8:32 pm
  #12  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Posts: 66,172
Welcome to FT!, nuprinn123

Originally Posted by nuprinn123
Hi folks - recently, I've been using points + cash to upgrade to polaris on international flights. Last year, I was seeing I think points (20K+ and up) + $300 for upgrades to Polaris from econ. I'm currently seeing $550 now (plus points). Is this what others are seeing? Also does this fee move around with time? I think sometimes the points part can move, (as well as the availability). Thanks!
Nothing has changed (except you are purchasing lower fare classes). It all depends on the route and purchased fare class. The rates for a particular route at a specific fare class has not changed. The miles and copay has been unchanged for years.

see https://www.united.com/en/us/upgrade-awards
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Old Apr 16, 2022, 12:18 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 4
Thank you!!

Great thanks~

I'm looking at upgrading a flight w miles + cash. One of my flights has the option to upgrade but I can't select each leg individually. Does that mean if the upgrade clears, it will apply to the entire trip (Lis to erw and erw to sfo) or is it possible only one leg will clear?

When I've done this before usually I see a (?) with the different possible outcomes but that's only been for pp or Polaris, not for multiple legs. this is my first time dealing w this would love people's insight.





Last edited by WineCountryUA; Apr 16, 2022 at 2:19 pm Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Apr 16, 2022, 12:33 pm
  #14  
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Unless you have higher status (1K or GS), it is very likely you will not get the EWR-SFO upgrade. If you do get only the LIS-EWR upgrade, no refund will be forthcoming.
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Old Apr 16, 2022, 4:25 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Redwood City, CA USA (SFO/SJC)
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Posts: 8,823
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH
Unless you have higher status (1K or GS), it is very likely you will not get the EWR-SFO upgrade. If you do get only the LIS-EWR upgrade, no refund will be forthcoming.
Related question for the same itin. Is there a way to get a miles-based upgrade for just the EWR-SFO segment? If booked separately, it's available at $250+17.5k miles. I'd rather not use my Plus Points for it, since that's my only chance of upgrading an LH flight into Premium Economy (from an H fare) if I understand things correctly. Thanks!
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