All about upgrades

Added comfort especially for MileagePlus members

MileagePlus® upgrades are a valuable feature of your membership that can make your flight experience that much more comfortable and luxurious. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about upgrading your flight.

FAQ and terms and conditions

MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

  • Yes, you can waitlist for an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award on most tickets. MileagePlus Upgrade Awards cannot be used when flying on award tickets or deeply discounted promotional tickets, or on tickets containing a Basic Economy fare or fare labeled “first bag charge, no changes.” Upgrade availability changes as conditions change, so we encourage you to request an upgrade even if one is not currently available. 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. If the request includes multiple travelers, then priority is based on the highest Premier status on the reservation. Please note that when you request the upgrade, the miles will be deducted from your account and any applicable co-pay will be collected. If none of your flight segments are upgraded, we will automatically refund your miles and co-pay after your travel. For more details on the automatic refund, refer to the answer below regarding refund policy.

    If we haven't confirmed your upgrade by the time you check in for your flight, you will be added to the upgrades list at check-in, so there's nothing that you need to do after submitting your original request. Our upgrade systems process requests until three hours before flight departure, at which point our gate agents will handle all remaining upgrade requests.

  • If you request an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, and none of your travel segments are upgraded, then we will automatically redeposit your 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 international premium 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 your miles and co-pay. When applicable, these refunds will occur automatically seven to 10 days after travel.

    If you're only moved to a United Premium Plus seat but requested an upgrade to the United Polaris business class cabin, we'll refund the full United Polaris business class cabin price and charge the United Premium Plus price.

  • We will deduct the miles from your account and collect any applicable co-pay at the time when you request the MileagePlus Upgrade Award.

  • No, MileagePlus Upgrade Awards cannot be used when flying on award tickets or deeply discounted promotional tickets, or on tickets containing a Basic Economy fare.

  • The price of a MileagePlus Upgrade Award is based on the region of travel, seat type requested, fare class and Premier status of the redeeming account at the time of the request.

  • The earlier you request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, the higher your chances of being moved or upgraded — so we encourage you to request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award when booking your ticket or as soon as possible after booking. To request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award when booking, go to the Advanced Search page and check “MileagePlus Upgrade Award” under the “How would you like your flight results displayed?” section. This will show you whether MileagePlus Upgrade Award space is currently available for flights to your destination. If there is space available on your desired flight, you can book that flight and have your request instantly confirmed.

  • Premier members will not be charged a co-pay for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards on routes within the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and premium transcontinental routes*) and Canada, and from the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada to Hawaii (except between Hawaii and the following airports: Chicago O’Hare, Denver, Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark or Washington Dulles), Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. Premier members will also not be charged a co-pay for flights within Oceania (except between Honolulu and Guam).

    Non-Premier members traveling on the routes listed above are also exempt from the co-pay when a Premier member sponsors the upgrade with miles from his or her MileagePlus account.

    *Premium transcontinental routes include flights between: New York/Newark and Los Angeles or San Francisco, as well as flights between Boston and San Francisco.

Complimentary Premier Upgrades

  • You’re automatically eligible for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade as long as you are a Premier member (the higher your status, the earlier you become eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades and are flying on an eligible ticket on any eligible United-operated flight. Complimentary Premier Upgrade benefits include one companion, but if your reservation has more non-Premier travelers than Premier members, you will need to move one or more non-Premier travelers into a separate reservation in order to be eligible for a Complimentary Premier Upgrade. Premier members who are primary United Chase cardmembers 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℠ Explorer Card
    • United Explorer℠ Business Card
    • United Club℠ Card
    • United Club℠ Business Card
    • United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card
    • United Presidential Plus Business Card
  • Yes. If you are a Premier member traveling on full-fare economy Y- and B-class fare within an eligible region, you may be eligible for instant upgrades as early as time of ticketing subject to upgrade availability. Premier 1K® members are also eligible for instant upgrades when purchasing M-class fares.

  • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards, Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades are processed before Complimentary Premier Upgrades. If you would like a better chance of getting an upgrade, you may want to consider requesting an upgrade using these options. Otherwise, the higher the fare class you buy, the better chance you have in clearing an upgrade when compared to Premier members at your status level who have bought a lower fare class.

  • Complimentary Premier Upgrade availability is forecasted based on how many upgrade seats we expect to have on each flight, not how many seats appear available in the seat map at the time the request is made. When we have seats available, we clear upgrades in waitlist order. This can occur at any time within the upgrade clearance window.

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

  • No. Star Alliance Upgrade Award availability is dependent on each airline’s upgrade availability and may be unavailable even if all other requirements are met.

  • Yes. You can find all additional eligible fare classes in the Star Alliance Upgrade Awards section.

  • No. Star Alliance Upgrade Awards are only available on flights marketed and operated by the same partner airline.

  • No. Star Alliance Upgrade Awards are valid on participating airlines only. Additionally, Star Alliance Upgrade Awards are not eligible on the following:

    • Intra-Scandinavian flights to and from Finland on SAS
    • Intra-Japan flights and flights on ANA operated by Air Japan
    • All A350, A380 and 777-300ER aircraft flights on Singapore Airlines
  • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

    • You can request upgrades online or by calling the United Customer Contact Center until 24 hours prior to departure. You will need your MileagePlus account number and PIN/password to complete the transaction. You can also request an upgrade starting 24 hours before your departure at most airports by checking with a United check-in counter representative or gate agent.
    • You can request MileagePlus Upgrade Awards when flying on any fare class and for most fare types.* For most discounted fares, an upgrade co-pay fee will apply. 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.
    • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards have limited availability and are subject to capacity controls.
    • Miles and co-pay are deducted from your account at time of request or when you are placed on the waitlist.
    • Waitlisting is permitted. 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, followed by fare class, then Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders, then United Corporate Preferred participants, and lastly by the date and time of request. All waitlists expire 24 hours before trip departure.
    • Standby is permitted. Waitlisted customers will automatically be added to the Upgrades list at check-in. Our upgrade systems process requests until three hours before flight departure, at which point our gate agents will handle all remaining upgrade requests.
    • If a seat is available, the upgrade will be confirmed at time of reservation. Waitlisted customers are confirmed automatically once a seat becomes available.
    • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards may be requested at united.com or by calling the United Customer Contact Center.
    • 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.
    • To cancel or change your MileagePlus Upgrade Award, please call your United Customer Contact Center.
    • If you cancel or change your flight, you also need to call your United Customer Contact Center, as the MileagePlus Upgrade Award will not be automatically canceled or changed.
    • If you request to cancel your MileagePlus Upgrade Award, any miles and associated upgrade co-pays will be refunded, though a re-credit fee may apply.
    • If you request to change a flight with a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, we can apply the MileagePlus Upgrade Award to the new itinerary, subject to upgrade availability on that itinerary. Additional miles and co-pay may be required.
    • 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 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 your miles and co-pay. When applicable, these refunds will occur automatically seven to 10 days after travel.
    • 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.
    • Co-pay may not be applied to future travel and may change without notice.

    *Some restrictions apply. Call the United Customer Contact Center for complete details.

    Complimentary Premier Upgrades

    • Complimentary Premier Upgrades are eligible for one-cabin upgrades on select flights from United Economy® to the next cabin of service.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.

    *Upgrade processing may begin earlier for some customers with an unpublished Premier level

    Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades

    • Each Regional Premier Upgrade and Global Premier upgrade is valid for a single one-way, one-cabin upgrade.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades are earned based on flights taken between January 1 and December 31 of the same calendar year.
    • Members must fly at least four flights on United or United Express during a calendar year in order to be eligible to earn Regional Premier Upgrades or Global Premier Upgrades.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades will be deposited at the time when they are earned, and will be valid for travel through the end of the following Program year. For example, a Regional Premier Upgrade earned in June 2016 will be valid for travel through January 2018.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades in certain types of sales accounts may have different expiration policies.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades may be redeemed at united.com or by calling the United Customer Contact Center.
    • New waitlist requests for Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades will be accepted until 24 hours prior to departure.
    • Waitlisting is permitted. 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. All waitlists expire 24 hours before trip departure.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades are valid only on select United-, United Express- or Copa Airlines-operated flights.
    • Stopovers require multiple upgrade products. A stopover for a single, one-way trip within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada is defined as longer than 4 hours in the connecting city. A stopover for a single, one-way trip to or from all other destinations is defined as longer than 24 hours in the connecting city
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades are fully transferable and may be used for travel with or without the earning Premier member.
    • In the case of redeposit or cancellation, the Regional Premier Upgrade or Global Premier Upgrade will be returned to the account from which it was redeemed.
    • In the case of redeposit or cancellation, the Regional Premier Upgrade or Global Premier Upgrade will be returned to the account from which it was redeemed.
    • A Regional Premier Upgrade, and in most cases, a Global Premier Upgrade will be considered used if any segment of an itinerary is upgraded and flown. However, for travel which includes segments in United Polaris business class, the Global Premier Upgrade will be re-deposited if the United Polaris business class segment(s) could not be upgraded.
    • Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades are subject to capacity controls, which may limit the number of seats available for upgrade.
    • Award tickets, flights that have already been upgraded, tickets containing Basic Economy fares, fares labeled “first bag charge, no changes” and certain fares such as industry discounts and tickets purchased on websites where you don’t know the exact flight itinerary or airline until after you’ve paid for the ticket, are not eligible for Regional Premier Upgrades or Global Premier Upgrades.
    • The sale, barter or other transfer or attempted sale, barter or other transfer of any mileage, certificates, awards, benefits or status, other than as authorized and/or sponsored by United, is expressly prohibited. Any mileage, certificates, awards, benefits or status sold, bartered or otherwise transferred is in violation of the rules and any accounts or members involved in such sales, barters or other transfers may be subject to United’s Remedies. The acquisition, use, transfer or attempted acquisition, use or transfer of mileage, certificates, awards, benefits or status that have been acquired by purchase, barter or other transfer in violation of the rules may result in United’s exercise of United’s Remedies.
    • The number of MileagePlus award miles, Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments earned is based on the fare class of the ticket originally purchased, not the upgraded class.
    • Additional terms and restrictions apply to upgrades on ANA and Lufthansa. Learn more
    • Other restrictions may apply. Terms and other information are subject to change without notice.

    PlusPoints

    • Each PlusPoints upgrade is valid for a single one-way upgrade into a premium seat.
    • PlusPoints are earned based on flights taken between January 1 and December 31 of the same calendar year.
    • Members must fly at least four flights on United or United Express during a calendar year in order to be eligible to earn PlusPoints.
    • PlusPoints will be deposited at the time when they are earned, and will be valid for travel through the end of the following program year. For example, PlusPoints earned in June 2020 will be valid for PlusPoints upgrades for travel through January 2022.
    • PlusPoints in certain types of sales accounts may have different expiration policies.
    • PlusPoints may be redeemed at united.com, through the United mobile app, or by calling the United Customer Contact Center.
    • PlusPoints are valid on United- and United Express- operated flights.
    • Stopovers require additional PlusPoints. A stopover for a single, one-way trip within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada is defined as longer than 4 hours in the connecting city. A stopover for a single, one-way trip to or from all other destinations is defined as longer than 24 hours in the connecting city.
    • Waitlisting is permitted for PlusPoints upgrades. 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.
    • On flights equipped with United Premium Plus, waitlist requests for United Polaris business are first processed for customers who have purchased United Premium Plus fares, followed by Economy.
    • The earning Premier member may use PlusPoints for upgrade requests for themselves or to sponsor others with the exception of “Skip Waitlist” upgrade requests, for which the earning Premier member must be traveling. Although the earning Premier member may use PlusPoints to request upgrades for others, PlusPoints are not transferable to other members.
    • PlusPoints used for Skip Waitlist upgrades are not refundable or transferable to other flights in the event of itinerary changes. A PlusPoints upgrade on a changed itinerary will require additional PlusPoints.
    • Skip Waitlist upgrades won’t be available for corporate and agency account travelers who are using upgrades from a Corporate Upgrade Bank account.
    • The full PlusPoints price of an upgrade request will be deducted upon receipt of the first upgrade in the request. Upgrade requests in which the highest-priced PlusPoints upgrade is not received after completion of the last flight will be refunded the difference in PlusPoints between the amount of PlusPoints for the requested PlusPoints Upgrade and the highest-priced PlusPoints upgrade(s) received.
    • Because PlusPoints aren’t deducted until you receive your first PlusPoints Upgrade, members have the ability to request more waitlisted upgrades than their available PlusPoints balance can afford. If a customer’s available balance ever falls below the price of an upgrade request that has not received an upgrade, that request will be skipped until the available balance is increased to be equal or higher than the price of the skipped upgrade request price.
    • PlusPoints upgrades are processed on an individual flight basis as upgrades become available and are subject to waitlist rules and priority for each flight.
    • PlusPoints upgrade requests that are waitlisted and that have not received an upgrade may have the full PlusPoints price deducted from the available balance at any point in time if a seat becomes available on any of the requested flight segments.
    • In the case of a partial refund or itinerary cancellation, PlusPoints will be returned to the account from which they were redeemed. PlusPoints upgrade requests that have been upgraded on any flight within the request cannot be cancelled or changed.
    • Flight segments cannot be added to an upgrade request that has already been placed. A new request must be placed for any additional flight segments being requested for upgrade.
    • PlusPoints upgrades are subject to capacity controls, which may limit the number of seats available for upgrade.
    • Award tickets, flights that have already been upgraded, tickets containing Basic Economy fares or Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed) fares, and certain fares such as industry discounts and tickets purchased on websites where you don’t know the exact flight itinerary or airline until after you’ve paid for the ticket, are not eligible for PlusPoints upgrades.
    • The number of MileagePlus award miles, Premier qualifying miles and Premier qualifying segments earned is based on the fare class of the ticket originally purchased, not the upgraded class.
    • The sale, barter or other transfer or attempted sale, barter or other transfer of any mileage, certificates, PlusPoints, awards, benefits or status, other than as authorized and/or sponsored by United, is expressly prohibited. Any mileage, certificates, PlusPoints, awards, benefits or status sold, bartered or otherwise transferred is in violation of the rules and any accounts or members involved in such sales, barters or other transfers may be subject to United’s Remedies. The acquisition, use, transfer or attempted acquisition, use or transfer of mileage, certificates, awards, benefits or status that have been acquired by purchase, barter or other transfer in violation of the rules may result in United’s exercise of United’s Remedies.
    • Other restrictions may apply. Terms and other information are subject to change without notice.

    Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

    • Requests for upgrades can be made after you have purchased your ticket. Upgrades may be requested until 24 hours prior to departure. Your MileagePlus account number and password are required to complete the request.
    • Upgrades are valid only on participating Star Alliance™ airlines. 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.
    • Some airlines may impose blackout periods where upgrades are not permitted.
    • Star Alliance Upgrade Awards may only be requested for up to four travelers per reservation.
    • 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. For example, if you are flying on an eligible fare from Madrid to Frankfurt to London, two awards are required.
    • Double upgrades from Economy to First are not permitted on three-cabin aircraft.
    • Standby is not permitted.
    • Waitlisting is not permitted.
    • An upgrade may be confirmed as early as time of ticketing, if a seat is available.
    • 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.
    • Star Alliance Upgrade Awards are not available through general selling agents.

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