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MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

Use your miles to upgrade and fly in a premium cabin.


Frequently asked questions

Can I waitlist for an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award? How is the waitlist cleared?

Yes, you can waitlist for an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award. 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, then fare class, then 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.

What is the refund policy for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards that do not clear the waitlist?

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 PolarisSM business class or United Polaris first 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.

When will you deduct the miles and charge the co-pay for a MileagePlus Upgrade Award?

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

How much does a MileagePlus Upgrade Award cost?

The price of an upgrade is based on the region of travel, fare class and Premier status of the redeeming account at the time when the upgrade is requested. Check pages 4-5 of our Travel Award Destinations chart (PDF) for pricing details.

How do I maximize my chances of getting an upgrade using a MileagePlus Upgrade Award?

The earlier you request an upgrade, the higher your chances of being upgraded - so we encourage you to request an upgrade 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 an upgrade is currently available for flights to your destination. If there is upgrade space available on your desired flight, you can book that flight and have your upgrade instantly confirmed.

Is there a benefit to having Premier status when requesting a MileagePlus Upgrade Award?

Premier members will not be a charged a co-pay for MileagePlus Upgrade Awards on routes within the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and p.s.® routes) and Canada, and from the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada to Hawaii (except between Honolulu and New York/Newark, Washington Dulles or Houston Intercontinental)*, 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.

*As of December 8, 2016: For flights departing on or after March 1, 2017, the co-pay exemption will no longer apply for flights between Hawaii and Denver or Chicago O’Hare.

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