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HomeBusiness NewsHow Do I Upgrade My Seat on United Airlines? -Skynair

How Do I Upgrade My Seat on United Airlines? -Skynair

United Airlines’ ticket upgrading process is complex and restrictive, especially if you’re not an elite member. It involves various upgrade types, fare classes, and rules, making it confusing. This blog covers United Airlines upgrade types, availability, the upgrade waitlist, and the impact of elite status on upgrades. Additionally, it discusses the benefits of a United-branded credit card and practical tips for securing upgrades.

For more information, call  US Number: OTA: +1-800-860-5036 or +1-800-241-6522.

Types of Upgrades

United Airlines has several options for  upgrade seat on united airlines

  • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards: Upgrades using miles on any United or Copa Airlines-operated flights
  • Complimentary Upgrades: Upgrades for Premier elite members on a space-available basis on select United-operated domestic flights
  • PlusPoints Upgrades: Upgrades purchased with PlusPoints earned by Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members that can be used on United and specific United global partner airlines
  • Star Alliance Upgrade Awards: Upgrades using miles on select flights with Star Alliance network partners
  • Instant Upgrades: Upgrades granted at the time of ticketing on full fare Y economy and B fares for Premier members; Premier 1K members may receive instant upgrades when purchasing M fares (subject to availability)

How To Find Out if Upgrade Space Is Available

The best way to see if there are seats available for upgrade united airlines seat is to search for tickets using United’s expert mode. 

  • To activate expert mode on your account, start at the home page and sign in to your MileagePlus account.
  • Select the option to go to your Profile, then select Search Preferences. Under search preferences, you’ll find the expert mode option.
  •  Just click that you acknowledge the considerations, save, and it will be activated.
  • When searching for a flight in expert mode, you’ll be able to see the fare class you’re purchasing and the available fare classes for that flight by clicking on the Details tab.
  • In expert mode, you’ll be able to see the fare classes listed under the Details tab. The fare class you purchase will determine the possible upgrade options. Image Credit: United

The fare classes available on this flight from highest to lowest are J, C, D, Z, P (business) and Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G (economy).

Although United doesn’t publish a list of what each fare code represents, the availability for upgrades is generally found in these classes:

  • ON: First class upgrade from business class
  • PN: Business class instant upgrade from Y/B/M fare purchase by Premier 1K and Global Services members
  • R/PZ: Business class or first-class domestic upgrade from economy
  • RN: Business class instant upgrade for Y/B fare purchases by Premier Platinum, Gold, or Silver members

Upgrade Priority: Who Gets the Upgrade First?

The Importance of Elite Status

Getting upgraded from economy to a premium seat will depend on the level of elite status you have with the airline and whether you’re using earned PlusPoints, paying for upgrades, or using miles to upgrade.

United has several tiers of elite airline status with the following ranking order when it comes to upgrade determination:

  • Global Services: Top status given to United’s best clients at United’s discretion
  • United Premier 1K: 1K members earn 280 PlusPoints on qualification and additional points when exceeding qualification that can be used for upgrades; 1K members also receive complimentary upgrades when available
  • United Premier Platinum: Platinum members earn 40 PlusPoints on qualification which can be used for upgrades and also receive complimentary upgrades when available
  • United Premier Gold: Complimentary upgrades when available
  • United Premier Silver: Complimentary upgrades when available

The Value of a United-Branded Credit Card

Premier members with a qualifying United-branded Chase credit card get complimentary upgrades on United award flights. United Club Infinite cardholders can also extend this benefit to companions. These cards offer more benefits, like lounge access worldwide, which can save you over $550 a year. They also provide free checked bags, making the annual fee worthwhile. Note that the United Gateway card doesn’t offer these perks.

How To Upgrade With Miles & Co-Pay When Purchasing a Ticket

  • For a new reservation, search for flights using the Advanced Search option on the homepage. 
  • To find upgrade availability, use the Advanced Search option. Image Credit: United
  • Once you have typed in your preferred departure, destination and dates, select the MileagePlus Upgrade Awards option from the drop-down box under Upgrades, certificates, and promotion codes.
  • You’ll find several options for upgrading your flight if seats are available. 
  • You may be able to upgrade with just miles, or there may be a co-pay if you do not have Premier elite status.
  •  You can select to upgrade from economy to business or from business to first class. 

Here’s an example of the results when selecting an upgrade from economy:

In this example, it would cost $1,217 to purchase an economy seat on the flight. If you wanted to upgrade your flights to business class, you could do so with 25,000 miles plus a $125 co-pay each way.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a United Premier elite member to upgrade an economy ticket to business class using miles and a co-pay.

However, you’ll want to make sure it is a good value option versus purchasing any available discounted business class. Discounted business class can be priced lower, and therefore a better value, than purchasing economy with an upgrade.

How To Upgrade an Existing Reservation With Miles

If you’ve already purchased your ticket and want to upgrade that ticket to a premium cabin, you can process the upgrade yourself within your existing reservation, call United at US Number: OTA: +1-800-860-5036 or +1-800-241-6522  to request the upgrade, or request an upgrade at the airport.

To process the upgrade yourself online, sign in to your MileagePlus account and access your existing reservation. Select Redeem upgrade to view your options. You will see the option to buy up to a premium cabin, use PlusPoints if you have these available, or have the option to use miles and co-pay for the upgrade.

Upgrading on Partner Airlines

United has over 20 Star Alliance partners that participate in mileage upgrades, and upgrades for most partner airlines may be requested up to 331 days before departure for up to 4 travelers on the same reservation.

  • To request a Star Alliance upgrade with miles, you must first book your ticket, access the reservation on
  • then request the upgrade under redeem upgrade as you would with a normal United reservation.

For complete rules, terms, and conditions for upgrades on Star Alliance partner airlines, visit the United Airlines website or call US Number: OTA: +1-800-860-5036 or +1-800-241-6522.

10 Ways To Secure an Upgrade or Increase Your Chances of an Upgrade With United

With United Elite Status:

  • Earn PlusPoints by achieving Premier Platinum or United Premier 1K elite status and use these for upgrades.
  • Purchase a Y fare class ticket or a discounted full-fare economy B fare and receive an instant upgrade on select flights. Premier 1K members can purchase an M fare and receive an immediate upgrade. Upgrades are subject to availability.
  • Check for discounted business-class fares before applying upgrades or using miles to upgrade an economy ticket.
  • Select an upgrade-eligible flight at booking using the advanced search tool and selecting the MUA option to find flights that can be upgraded using miles.
  • Purchasing a higher fare ticket will not guarantee you an upgrade, but it will increase your chances of securing the upgrade over other Premier members with the same status when you’re redeeming upgrades. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra dollars.
  • Use United MileagePlus miles to secure a business or first-class ticket.
  • Request the upgrade early. One of the last tie-breakers for upgrade priority is the time of the upgrade request, so be sure to request the upgrade as early as possible.

Without United Elite Status:

  • Check the price for all classes of service and compare. It may seem obvious, but occasionally, business and first class fares can be a deal. Consider the example earlier in this article where discounted business and first class fares are less expensive than economy.
  • Purchase an upgrade-eligible ticket. If you have United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles, you can purchase an upgrade-eligible ticket and use miles and co-pay to secure a business or first class ticket instantly if seats are available. You can find this type of ticket by selecting the MileagePlus upgrade award option (MUA) from the drop-down menu on the advanced search page.
  • Use United MileagePlus miles to secure a business or first-class ticket.


  • How can I request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award?
  • There are three ways to request a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, either online through your MileagePlus account, by calling United Reservations, or at the check-in counter or gate within 24 hours of departure.
  • What are PlusPoints upgrades?
  • PlusPoints upgrades allow you to request upgrades for United flights, including United Premium Plus and United Polaris Business Class. You can request them during booking or after ticketing.
  • Can I request a Star Alliance Upgrade Award after purchasing my ticket?
  • Yes, you can request a Star Alliance Upgrade Award up until 24 hours before your flight departs by calling United Airlines.
  • Call US Number: OTA: +1-800-860-5036 or +1-800-241-6522 


Scoring an upgrade is complicated because there are many factors, and the system may not always work as planned. Anomalies can happen, but understanding the process can help you secure upgrades. To get complimentary upgrades with United, having Premier elite status is key. Otherwise, consider buying business or first-class tickets or using miles for an upgrade if it’s a good value compared to discounted business class.

For more information on  How Do I Upgrade My Seat on United Airlines? Call US Number: OTA: +1-800-860-5036 or +1-800-241-6522.