Home > MileagePlus program > Use award miles > Upgrades overview
MileagePlus program members can experience added comfort in our premium cabins with the following upgrade types.
MileagePlus Upgrade Awards
Members can use award miles to upgrade to a premium cabin on any United-, United Express®- or Copa Airlines-operated flight, with minimal fare restrictions.1
Complimentary Premier Upgrades
MileagePlus Premier® members have access to upgrades on a space-available basis on select United-operated flights.1 Premier members are also eligible for instant upgrades as early as time of ticketing on select Economy tickets.
Regional Premier Upgrades
These one-way, one-cabin upgrades are confirmable as early as time of ticketing on select United- and Copa-operated flights within certain regions.1
Global Premier Upgrades
These one-way, one-cabin upgrades are confirmable as early as time of ticketing on all United- and Copa-operated flights worldwide.1
Star Alliance Upgrade Awards
Members can use their miles to upgrade on select flights with Star Alliance® network partners.
Travelers also have access to the premium cabin experience through United Travel Options.
MileagePlus upgrade regions and eligible fares
See below for information regarding upgrade availability and eligible fares on flights across our worldwide network. MileagePlus Upgrade Awards can be used on any United-, United Express- or Copa-operated flight, with no fare restrictions.1
- For regions with a *, Global Premier Upgrades are not available on flights booked in fare classes Z, P, S, T, K, L, G or N.
- For regions with a **, the co-pay is waived for Premier members.
- All multi-cabin flights operated by Copa Airlines are eligible for Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades without fare restrictions.1
- Instant upgrades for all Premier members on Y and B full-fare Economy tickets and for Premier 1K® members on M fares are available on all flights that are eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades.
Regions and route exceptions are subject to change at any time. Upgrades are subject to capacity controls, which may limit the number of seats available.
Upgrade confirmation priority
Instant upgrades at time of ticketing
Premier members traveling on full-fare economy Y and discount full-fare economy B fares are eligible for an instant upgrade at time of ticketing on select flights. Premier 1K members traveling on M fares are also eligible. Instant upgrades are subject to capacity controls.
Waitlist priority on all flights
If upgrade space is not available when requesting a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, Regional Premier Upgrade or Global Premier Upgrade, travelers may be placed on a waitlist. Travelers placed on a waitlist are prioritized according to the Premier status of the traveler. If the request includes multiple travelers, then priority is based on the highest Premier status on the reservation. Waitlists are processed based on Premier status of the traveler, then fare class, then time of request.2 New waitlist requests for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, Regional Premier Upgrades, and Global Premier Upgrades can be made until 24 hours prior to departure.
Priority within five days on flights eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades
On certain flights, automatic processing of upgrades, including Complimentary Premier Upgrades, may begin as early as 120 hours (five days) in advance. The confirmation windows for Complimentary Premier Upgrades, by Premier status, are:
||Confirmation (as early as)
|United Global Services®
||120 hours / 5 days
||96 hours / 4 days
||72 hours / 3 days
||48 hours / 2 days
||Day of departure
The following is the order of priority, within five days, on flights that are eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades:
- Premier members on eligible Y- and B-class fares, as well as Premier 1K members on M-class fares: Instant upgrades that weren't confirmed in advance are prioritized by fare class, then Premier status
- All travelers on waitlisted Global Premier Upgrades, Regional Premier Upgrades and MileagePlus Upgrade Awards: Prioritized by Premier status of the traveler, then fare class and then time of request2
- All remaining Premier members using Complimentary Premier Upgrades: Prioritized by Premier status of the traveler, then fare class and then award travel3
Priority within 24 hours
New waitlist requests for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades can be made until 24 hours prior to departure. At 24 hours from departure, waitlists will expire and automatic processing of upgrades, per the priority listed above, will continue. As customers check in, they will be placed on an airport upgrade standby list. This standby list will clear after check-in is closed, and is based on Premier status of the traveler and fare class. Learn more about the upgrade standby list.
Sponsoring upgrades and companion policy
A MileagePlus member may request an upgrade for another traveler using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, a Global Premier Upgrade or a Regional Premier Upgrade, even if they are not traveling on the same reservation.
Waitlist confirmation priority is based on the Premier status of the traveler. If the request includes multiple travelers, then priority is based on the highest Premier status on the reservation.
In addition, one companion traveling on the same reservation as a Premier member is eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on select flights, and may be confirmed with the same priority as the Premier member, even on the day of departure. This benefit does not apply to companions traveling on award tickets.
Premier members who are primary cardholders for certain Chase-issued MileagePlus credit cards are eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades when traveling on award tickets on United-operated flights. The following credit cards qualify for this benefit:
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card
- United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
- United MileagePlus Club Card
- United MileagePlus Club Business Card
- United MileagePlus Presidential PlusSM Card
- United MileagePlus Presidential Plus Business Card
Complimentary Premier Upgrades on award tickets will be prioritized as indicated in the "Upgrade Confirmation Priority" section above, and prioritized after the lowest paid fare class within each Premier level. This benefit does not apply to companions traveling on award tickets.
1Some MileagePlus benefits on Copa Airlines flights changed on July 1, 2015, as Copa Airlines launched its own loyalty program. Learn more>
2Fare class structure in priority order is J, C, D, Z, P (for upgrades from United Business® to United First®, or United BusinessFirst® to United Global FirstSM on three-cabin aircraft) and Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G, N (for upgrades from United Economy® to the next higher class of service on all aircraft).
3Complimentary Premier Upgrades on award tickets will be prioritized after the lowest paid fare class.