All about upgrades

Starting in 2020, we’ll begin automatically assigning seats to travelers on the upgrade list. If you’ve signed up for day-of-travel notifications and receive an upgrade, we’ll send you a text message or email asking you to refresh your boarding pass on the United app to view your new seat assignment and wait to board. Visit our Standby FAQ page for more information.

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.



MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

On most paid tickets for flights operated by United and United Express, you can use your miles to upgrade your seat. Request an upgrade as you purchase your ticket or after. Find more information on how to request an upgrade.

  • Upgrade prices

    The miles required for a MileagePlus Upgrade Award are based on where you’re traveling, seat type, fare class and your Premier status. 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.

    Premier members and others who are traveling on a Premier sponsor’s miles are exempt from any co-pay when traveling the following routes:

    Compare benefits at each level when you are at the airport
    If you’re traveling betweenandExceptions
    Mainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaMainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaCo-pay still required on Premium Transcontinental routes
    Mainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaHawaiiCo-pay still required when travel includes a nonstop segment between Hawaii and Chicago O'Hare, Denver, Houston Intercontinental, New York/Newark or Washington Dulles
    Mainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaMexicoNone
    Mainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaCentral AmericaNone
    Mainland U.S., Alaska and CanadaCaribbeanNone
    OceaniaOceaniaCo-pay still required between Hawaii and Guam

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

    Miles and co-pay are due at time of request, even if you’re waitlisted, but you’ll be automatically refunded if none of your flights are upgraded. If some segments of your trip were upgraded, but not all, you can review the refund policy in our FAQs



Complimentary Premier Upgrades

Complimentary Premier Upgrades are free, space-available upgrades on select United- and United Express-operated flights. For information on where these upgrades are available, see our eligible upgrade destinations.

  • Complimentary Premier Upgrade availability:

    • ✓ Available to All Premiers
    • ✓ Available to Companions traveling on the same reservation as the Premier
    • ✖ Unavailable to Basic economy fares

    If you’ve booked a full-fare Economy ticket in these fare classes, you may be eligible for an upgrade as soon as your flight is ticketed:

    Compare benefits at each level for Star Alliance partners
    Fare typeSilverGoldPlatinum1K
    Y- and B-class farescheckmarkAvailablecheckmarkAvailablecheckmarkAvailablecheckmarkAvailable
    M-class faresNot availableNot availableNot availablecheckmarkAvailable

    Upgrading award tickets

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

    • United℠ Explorer Card
    • United Explorer℠ Business Card
    • United℠ Business Card
    • United Club℠ Card
    • United Club℠ Business Card
    • United℠ Presidential Plus℠ Card
    • United Presidential Plus Business Card

    The confirmation windows for Complimentary Premier Upgrades, by published Premier level, are:

    Compare benefits at MileagePlus Premier level
    MileagePlus Premier levelConfirmation (as early as)
    1K96 hours / 4 days
    Platinum72 hours / 3 days
    Gold48 hours / 2 days
    SilverDay of departure

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

    Instant upgrades are confirmable at time of ticketing, if space is available. If a seat is not available at time of ticketing, these upgrades will be processed automatically starting at the five-day window. Instant upgrades are subject to capacity controls.

    Things to remember:

    • Your waitlist priority for Complimentary Premier Upgrades on award tickets will stay within your Premier level, after customers traveling with paid tickets.
    • This benefit does not extend to companions traveling on award tickets. Complimentary Premier Upgrades can’t be processed for reservations that include additional travelers.
    • 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.

PlanPlus Logo

PlusPoints

PlusPoints are a new, flexible upgrade benefit for Platinum and 1K members that can be used anywhere United flies. Learn more

  • A little more about PlusPoints:

    • They can be used on all flights operated by United or United Express.
    • They can be used on flights operated by Copa, Lufthansa, or All Nippon Airways.
    • You can use them to upgrade multiple segments of the same itinerary.
    • They’re never deducted until we’ve confirmed an upgrade on one of your flight segments.
    • After you’ve requested your upgrade, it can be confirmed as early as the time of ticketing all the way up until departure.

    Earning and using PlusPoints

    Among loyalty programs of U.S. global airlines, MileagePlus® offers the most generous upgrade benefits for members at our highest published status level — and PlusPoints makes them even better:

    Compare conversion of Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades to PlusPoints
    Platinum40 PlusPoints
    1K280 PlusPoints (plus the 40 you earned with Platinum status)
    1K earning additional upgradesAdditional 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 PQP beyond 18,000 PQP*

    *Applies only to members who meet all qualification requirements for 1K status

    Earning incremental PlusPoints in 2020

    After meeting the 18,000 PQP and 54 PQF required to reach 1K status, 1K members will receive an additional 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 PQP they earn. Members meeting the higher 24,000 PQP goal for 1K will receive 40 additional PlusPoints after reaching 1K for having earned 6,000 PQP beyond the lower 18,000 PQP requirement.

    The earlier you earn Platinum or 1K status, the longer you’ll have to use your upgrade benefits. PlusPoints are valid as soon as they‘re earned through the end of the following Premier program year. For example, a member earning Premier 1K status in January 2020 would have PlusPoints that don’t expire until the end of the 2021 program year.

    Eligible flights

    These upgrades are available on most United- and United Express- operated flights system-wide.

    Pricing

    PlusPoints upgrade pricing is based on whether the request is for a long-haul or short-haul upgrade, the requested seat and fare purchased. The PlusPoints request price is equal to the highest-priced upgrade in your request.

    Short-haul flights

    Compare Short-haul flights upgrades benefit for PlusPoints
    Upgrade from:Upgrade to:PlusPoints
    United EconomyUnited First or United Business20
    United EconomyUnited Premium Plus20
    United Premium PlusUnited Business10

    Short-haul flights are flights without United Polaris business and include flights within the U.S., including Alaska, Hawaii and premium transcontinental service; flights between the U.S. and Canada, Bogota, Central America, Caribbean, Mexico and Quito; flights between Guam and Honolulu, including island hopper service; and intra-Asia flights.

    Map showing short-haul routesMap showing short-haul routesMap showing short-haul routes

    Long-haul flights

    Compare Long-haul flights upgrades benefit for PlusPoints
    Upgrade from:Upgrade to:PlusPoints
    Discounted EconomyUnited Polaris business80
    United EconomyUnited Polaris business40
    United Premium PlusUnited Polaris business30
    United EconomyUnited Premium Plus20

    Long-haul flights are flights with United Polaris business and include flights between the U.S. and Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand, South America, and Tahiti.

    Map showing long-haul routesMap showing long-haul routesMap showing long-haul routes

    Eligible fare classes

    Long-haul flights:

    • Discounted Economy to United Polaris business: Fare classes S, T, L, K, and G
    • Economy to United Polaris business: Fare classes Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, and W
    • United Premium Plus to United Polaris business: Fare classes O, A, and R
    • Economy to United Premium Plus: Fare classes Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, and G

    Short-haul flights:

    All paid, upgrade-eligible tickets can be upgraded with PlusPoints. This includes fare classes Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, and G.

    Requesting PlusPoints upgrades online or in our mobile app

    • To manage your PlusPoints or upgrade an existing trip on united.com, visit My Trips, where you can look at the status of upgrade requests and cancel requests that have not been upgraded.
    • Upgrade requests can also be made by viewing existing reservations and selecting “Upgrade” on united.com or from the mobile app.
    • For new bookings, you can select advanced search from united.com to shop for new itineraries and PlusPoints upgrades at the same time.
      • There are two options for PlusPoints upgrades within advanced search: Available and waitlist, and Available only and Skip Waitlist.
      • Available and waitlist will show PlusPoints pricing for flights that may or may not have available upgrades. This option will not allow you to view Skip Waitlist upgrades.
      • Available only and Skip Waitlist will show waitlist pricing for flights with available upgrades, as well as flights wherein upgrade inventory is closed but Skip Waitlist is available.

    Star Alliance partners

    You’ll be able to use PlusPoints for upgrade requests on eligible flights operated by Copa, Lufthansa, and ANA. Each upgrade request on a partner airline will be priced at 40 PlusPoints per flight segment. All PlusPoints upgrade requests on partner airlines will be deducted at the time the PlusPoints upgrade request is placed.

    The following Copa fare classes are eligible for PlusPoints upgrades: A, B, E, H, K, L, M, O, Q, S, T, U, V, W, and Y. The following Lufthansa fare classes are eligible for PlusPoints upgrades: B, C, D, E, G, H, J, M, Q, U and Y. U.S. government fares are not eligible for upgrades on Lufthansa-operated flights. The following ANA fare classes are eligible for PlusPoints upgrades: B, C, D, E, G, J, M, U and Y. PlusPoints cannot be used to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy on Lufthansa or ANA-operated flights.

    More information about using PlusPoints on Copa, Lufthansa and ANA

    Managing your PlusPoints

    PlusPoints will appear in three different categories based on your activity.

    Image of available, requested and deducted PlusPoints balancesImage of available, requested and deducted PlusPoints balancesImage of available, requested and deducted PlusPoints balances

    Available: Your useable balance of PlusPoints

    • These PlusPoints can be used for future upgrades.
    • You must have enough PlusPoints in your available balance to cover the price of an upgrade request.
    • If your available balance ever goes below the price of an individual request that hasn’t been upgraded, that request will be skipped until your available balance can cover the cost of the upgrade.

    Requested: The total amount of PlusPoints for upgrade requests that haven’t yet been upgraded

    • These PlusPoints have been used to request waitlisted upgrades
    • They’re not withheld from your available balance until we’re able to confirm an upgrade.

    Deducted: The total amount of PlusPoints deducted for requests that have at least one confirmed upgrade

    • These requests have received at least one upgrade.
    • When you receive an upgrade, the PlusPoints price of the request is deducted and withheld until departure as we work to clear any remaining upgrades within your request.
    • You may receive a partial refund after reaching your destination if you didn’t receive the highest priced PlusPoints upgrade.

    Things to remember:

    • Requests that have received an upgrade cannot be cancelled.
    • Skip Waitlist upgrades are confirmed immediately at time of request, so we’ll deduct the full PlusPoints amount at the time of request as well.
    • PlusPoints upgrades on Star Alliance partners are deducted immediately at time of request.
    • Once your request has been placed, you cannot add additional flight segments.

    We won’t deduct PlusPoints from your account until you receive an upgrade, which means you can request as many upgrades as you have bookings, as long as you have enough PlusPoints for each individual request.

    We’ll deduct the full PlusPoints amount when we can give you at least one of the upgrades in your request. This way, once you receive an upgrade, we’ll be able to fulfill your remaining upgrades when they become available.

    Illustration: If you request upgrades on an itinerary from Phoenix to Chicago O'Hare (20 points); then Chicago O'Hare to New York/Newark (20 points); and finally New York/Newark to London Heathrow (40 points), you'll only be charged for the highest-priced upgrade in the request (40 points).Illustration: If you request upgrades on an itinerary from Phoenix to Chicago O'Hare (20 points); then Chicago O'Hare to New York/Newark (20 points); and finally New York/Newark to London Heathrow (40 points), you'll only be charged for the highest-priced upgrade in the request (40 points).Illustration: If you request upgrades on an itinerary from Phoenix to Chicago O'Hare (20 points); then Chicago O'Hare to New York/Newark (20 points); and finally New York/Newark to London Heathrow (40 points), you'll only be charged for the highest-priced upgrade in the request (40 points).

    If you don’t receive the highest priced PlusPoints upgrade, we’ll credit the difference between the request price and the price of the upgrade(s) you received.

    If your PlusPoints balance falls below the amount needed for any requests you’ve made, those requests will be ‘skipped’ until you get enough PlusPoints, and then your original request will be reinstated.

    Skip Waitlist

    With Skip Waitlist, you can pay a higher PlusPoints price to confirm an upgrade request even when upgrade space isn’t available.

    This option is available to 1K members. You may sponsor other travelers, but you must be traveling on the same reservation with them.

    Other restrictions:

    • Skip Waitlist will only be available from time to time on select flights.
    • Skip Waitlist will not be available once you’re within 30 days of departure.
    • For Economy to United Polaris business requests, tickets must have a W fare class or higher.
    • Remember: Skip Waitlist upgrades are always non-refundable and can never be transferred to other flights.

    If you choose to skip the waitlist, your PlusPoints will be deducted immediately.

    How to find Skip Waitlist upgrades

    Image of Skip WaitlistImage of Skip WaitlistImage of Skip Waitlist

    For an existing reservation, if Skip Waitlist is available for your flight, it will be an available upgrade option after you elect to upgrade your trip.

    For new reservations: Within advanced search, after searching for PlusPoints upgrades, select the “Available only and Skip the waitlist” button.

    Still have questions about PlusPoints? Visit mileageplusupdates.com for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.



Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

You can use the miles you’ve earned for upgrade awards on many of our Star Alliance™ member airlines and enjoy benefits like priority check-in, lounge access and more personal service onboard. Learn more about Star Alliance upgrade awards

  • 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.

    • Aegean
    • Air Canada
    • Air China
    • Air India
    • Air New Zealand
    • ANA
    • Asiana Airlines
    • Austrian
    • Avianca
    • Brussels Airlines
    • Copa Airlines
    • Croatia Airlines
    • EgyptAir
    • Ethiopian Airlines
    • EVA Airways
    • LOT
    • Lufthansa
    • SAS
    • Shenzhen Airlines
    • Singapore Airlines
    • South African Airways
    • SWISS
    • THAI
    • TAP
    • Turkish Airlines

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