MileagePlus Flight Upgrades

MileagePlus flight upgrades

MileagePlus® members can upgrade with miles to get more legroom, an enhanced onboard experience and perks on United® or Star Alliance™ flights.

Enroll in MileagePlus today to make your next trip more comfortable.

Types of upgrade awards

There are four different types of upgrade awards available to MileagePlus members.

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

Upgrade your seat with miles on most paid tickets for flights operated by United and United Express®. You can also use miles to upgrade other travelers. If you don't have MileagePlus Premier® status, there may be a co-pay fee for some types of fares.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades

Complimentary Premier Upgrades

Complimentary Premier Upgrades are free, space-available upFgrades for Premier members on select United and United Express flights*. Premier members who are cardholders may be able to use this type of upgrade on award flights**. On some flights, you can get one extra Complimentary Premier Upgrade for a travel companion.

PlusPoints

PlusPoints

PlusPoints are flexible points for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K® members. They can be used to upgrade on United flights and select partner airlines. You can use PlusPoints to upgrade another traveler, even if they’re not on your reservation.

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

Upgrade your seat with miles on select Star Alliance member airlines. Requests for upgrades can be made after you have purchased your ticket. You can use miles to sponsor a Star Alliance Upgrade Award for up to four people who are traveling on the same itinerary.

*Complimentary Premier Upgrades are available on flights within the mainland U.S.; between Hawaii and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO); and to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, Guam, and Micronesia. They are not available on flights between New York/Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO).

** For more information, read the Complimentary Premier Upgrades terms and conditions.

How to request an upgrade

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

To book a new reservation with a MileagePlus upgrade:

  • Sign in to your MileagePlus account
  • Enter your search criteria
  • Choose “MileagePlus Upgrade Awards” as your award type in the advanced search settings

If you want to request an upgrade for an existing reservation, you have three options:

Sign in to your MileagePlus account and make a request online.

Call the reservations line or the Premier Priority Desk number on your digital membership card.

Talk to an agent at the airport check-in counter or your gate.

After you make your request, your name will be put on a waitlist. New waitlist requests for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards can be made until 24 hours before departure.

PlusPoints

PlusPoints

To book a new reservation with a PlusPoints upgrade, select “PlusPoints upgrades” from the upgrade type drop-down menu in advanced search.

To request an upgrade for an existing reservation, sign in to your MileagePlus account or call the Premier Priority Desk phone number on your digital membership card. You can request a PlusPoints upgrade from the time you get your ticket until your flight check-in cutoff time. After you make your request, your name will be put on a waitlist.

Star Alliance upgrades

Star Alliance upgrades

You can request a Star Alliance Upgrade Award from the time you book your flight until 24 hours before departure. If you plan to travel with a lap infant, call the airline you’re traveling with. Some Star Alliance partners do not allow lap infants in premium cabins, or require that they have special tickets.

Waitlist priority

Waitlist priority

Our system processes upgrade requests until three hours before departure. Any requests made after that will be handled by the gate agents. The waitlists are cleared in the following order:

  1. United Global Services® requests
  2. PlusPoints upgrades and MileagePlus Upgrade Awards
  3. Travelers with Premier status
  4. Fare class***
  5. United ClubSM Infinite and UnitedSM Presidential PlusSM cardholders
  6. United Corporate Preferred participants
  7. United Chase cardholders with $25,000 in annual spending
  8. Date and time of request

If your upgrade isn’t confirmed by the time you check in, we’ll add you to the upgrade standby list.

***On flights with United Premium PlusSM , we’ll process requests to upgrade to United Business® for customers ticketed in United Premium Plus (fare classes O, A, R) before processing requests for customers ticketed in Economy. If the request includes multiple travelers, then priority is based on the highest Premier status on the reservation.

MileagePlus upgrades FAQ

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards and PlusPoints upgrades are processed before Complimentary Premier Upgrades. Higher fare classes also have a better chance of getting an upgrade.

For MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, timing also matters. The earlier you make a request, the more likely you are to get upgraded.

Premier members won’t be charged a co-pay for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards on the following routes:

  • Flights within the U.S., excluding flights between New York/Newark (EWR) and Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO)
  • Flights between the Mainland U.S., Alaska and Canada
  • Flights from the Mainland U.S., Alaska or Canada to Hawaii, except for the following airports: Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Denver (DEN), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), New York/Newark (EWR) or Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Flights from the Mainland U.S., Alaska or Canada to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean
  • Flights within Oceania (except between Honolulu and Guam)
  • Non-Premier members traveling on these routes are also exempt from the co-pay when a Premier member uses their miles to upgrade the ticket.

If you request an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, and none of your travel segments are upgraded, we will automatically redeposit your miles and refund any co-pay 7-10 days after your trip.

If you requested upgrades to United Polaris® business class and did not clear the waitlist, you will get a refund even if you are upgraded to United First® or United Business on another segment.

If you have not received the refund within two billing cycles of your scheduled flight, contact the MileagePlus Service Center.

To cancel or change your MileagePlus Upgrade Award, contact the MileagePlus Service Center. You may have to pay a re-credit fee. If you cancel or change your flight, the MileagePlus Upgrade Award will not be automatically canceled or changed. We can apply the award to the new itinerary, subject to upgrade availability. Additional miles and co-pay may be required.

The timing of upgrade confirmations is based on status level:

1K: 4 days before departure

Platinum: 3 days before departure

Gold: 2 days before departure

Silver: Day of departure

Yes. Premier members with select full-fare economy (Y or B class) tickets, and 1K members with M-class tickets may get instant upgrades. If there are open seats, upgrades will be confirmed right after you buy your tickets. If there are no seats available at ticketing, upgrades will be processed starting five days before the flight.

Complimentary Premier Upgrade availability is based on how many upgrade seats we expect to have on each flight, not how many are available in the seat map. When we have seats, they are assigned in waitlist order.

No. Star Alliance Upgrade Awards depend on each airline’s upgrade availability and rules.

Terms and Conditions

For members traveling on upgrade-eligible fares, there will be no fare class restriction for members who purchase a United Economy seat and request a move to a United® Premium Plus seat, and no fare class restriction for members who purchase a United Premium Plus seat and request an upgrade to the United Polaris® business class cabin. 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.

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards have limited availability and are subject to capacity controls. MileagePlus Upgrade Awards cannot be used when flying on award tickets or deeply discounted promotional tickets, tickets containing a Basic Economy fare or Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed) fares, or tickets purchased on websites where you don’t know the exact flight itinerary or airline until after you’ve paid for the ticket. Money + Miles tickets are not upgradable with MileagePlus Upgrade Awards.

If you’ve booked a ticket in O, Y, or B class, you won’t be charged a co-pay, but most other fare classes will require a co-pay. Requests for both United Premium Plus and United Polaris® business class will initially be charged the United Polaris business price. Miles and co-pay are deducted from your account at time of request or when you are placed on the waitlist. All waitlists expire 24 hours before trip departure. Co-pay may not be applied to future travel and may change without notice.

Open-jaw trips, stopovers and circle trips are permitted only in accordance with the rules of the fare purchased.

Mileage accrual for MileagePlus and other participating loyalty programs will be based on the original fare class purchased.

Flight changes are permitted in accordance with the rules of the fare purchased.

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards have no cash value except for applicable taxes, fees and surcharges. If you request an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, and none of your travel segments are upgraded, we will redeposit the miles and co-pay.

In most instances, a MileagePlus Upgrade Award will be considered used if any segment of your travel is upgraded. However, if your travel includes requested upgrades to United Polaris business class and none of the segments are upgraded, then your MileagePlus Upgrade Award will not be considered used, even if you are upgraded to United First or United Business on another segment. In these instances, we will fully redeposit the miles and co-pay. When applicable, these refunds will occur 7 to 10 days after travel.

Co-pays may not be applied to future travel and may change without notice.

If you're only moved to a United Premium Plus seat and requested an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin, we'll refund the difference in co-pay and miles after departure.

The government may collect additional taxes for travel in an upgraded seat.

As of January 1, 2023, PQP are also earned on the miles portion of the MileagePlus Upgrade Award at a rate of 1 PQP for every 100 MileagePlus miles redeemed.

Premier qualifying points (PQP) are based on the cash portion of the co-pay fee.

PQP will only be accrued once a MileagePlus Upgrade Award has been flown and may take up to one week after departure to post to your account. PQP earned from miles redeemed and PQP earned from the co-pay fee will post to your account separately and may post at different times.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades are eligible for one-cabin upgrades on select flights from United Economy to the next cabin of service. As long as you’re a Premier member, you’ll be automatically eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades. The higher your status, the faster the upgrades become available. Only select flights operated by United and United Express® are eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades.

Upgrades are subject to capacity controls, which may limit the number of seats available.

Your waitlist priority for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on award tickets will stay within your Premier level, after customers traveling with paid tickets.

One companion traveling on the same reservation as a Premier member is eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on select flights and can 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.

You may be able to receive a Complimentary Premier Upgrade for your award travel if you’re a MileagePlus member with Premier status and a primary Cardmember of any of the following Chase or First Hawaiian Bank-issued MileagePlus credit cards:

United Explorer Card, United Business Card, United Quest Card, United Club Infinite Card, United Club Business Card, United Presidential Plus Card, United Presidential Plus Business Card, United® World Elite Credit Card, United® World Elite Business Credit Card

This benefit only extends to one companion traveling on the same award reservation as the primary Cardmember. If you’re a Premier member who is also a primary Cardmember and would like to request a separate reservation in order to be considered for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade, call the Premier Priority Desk number on your digital membership card.

Upgrades are not available on flights that have already been upgraded, or on tickets containing Basic Economy fares, Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed) fares, certain fares such as industry discount, and tickets purchased on websites where you don’t know the exact flight itinerary or airline until after you’ve paid for the ticket.

If a reservation includes three or more travelers, and only one is not a Premier member, the Complimentary Premier Upgrades will follow the lowest Premier status level in the reservation. If two or more travelers on the reservation are not Premier members, the reservation is not eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades unless one or more travelers are moved to another reservation. Travelers can contact the United Customer Contact Center for help.

The number of MileagePlus award miles, Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments earned are based on the fare class of the ticket originally purchased, not the upgraded class.

Other restrictions may apply. Terms and other information are subject to change without notice.

Upgrades are valid only on participating Star Alliance airlines. Star Alliance Upgrade Awards are not available through general selling agents. Codeshare flights not eligible.

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards may not be requested when you travel on industry discount, agency discount, deeply discounted promotional tickets, award tickets using miles, or tickets purchased on websites where you don’t know the exact flight itinerary or airline until after you’ve paid for the ticket. Business class C and D fares and Economy class Y and B can be upgraded, and other fare types may also be eligible depending on the airline.

An upgrade may be confirmed as early as time of ticketing if a seat is available. Some airlines may impose blackout periods where upgrades are not permitted.

Miles are deducted from your MileagePlus account automatically at time of reservation. Required mileage is per person. Each individual segment requires a separate Star Alliance Upgrade Award. Double upgrades from Economy to First are not permitted on three-cabin aircraft. Standby is not permitted. Waitlisting is not permitted except for on ANA.

Mileage accrual is based on the original ticketed booking class, not the upgraded class of service. Requests for seat assignments, special meals and amenities should be made directly with the operating carrier.

The number of miles required to upgrade is based on when the request is submitted and is subject to change. If you wish to make changes or cancel your Star Alliance Upgrade Award request, please contact the operating carrier. If a segment of your Star Alliance itinerary is canceled, the upgrade request will also be automatically canceled. Miles will be automatically redeposited 24 to 48 hours after the cancellation.

All multi-cabin flights operated by Copa Airlines are eligible for PlusPoints upgrades. For a complete list of the program’s terms and conditions, visit the PlusPoints page.