How to request an elite upgrade using United PlusPoints

If you’re looking to upgrade your next United Airlines flight, there’s a great option aside from paying cash – United PlusPoints. United introduced PlusPoints in 2019 as a replacement for Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades, offering a more flexible system for upgrading to different classes. Whether you want to sit in Polaris business class, Premium Plus, or domestic first class, here’s how you can earn and use United PlusPoints.

Earning United PlusPoints
Premier Platinum, Premier 1K, and Global Services members can earn PlusPoints at different rates. Premier Platinum members earn 40 PlusPoints upon reaching that level, Premier 1K and Global Services members earn 280 PlusPoints upon reaching their respective levels. Additionally, Premier 1K and Global Services members earn 20 PlusPoints for every 3,000 Premier qualifying points earned beyond 18,000.

United MileagePlus members who qualify for Premier Platinum status and subsequently qualify for Premier 1K will earn a total of 320 PlusPoints.

Searching for upgrade availability
To find PlusPoints-eligible upgrade availability on United’s website, log into your United MileagePlus account and click on the “Upgrades, certificates, and promotion codes” option. Then, select “PlusPoints upgrades” from the “Upgrade type” drop-down menu. Make sure to complete these steps before beginning a flight search.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to see flight and upgrade pricing, as well as whether you’ll get an instant upgrade or be put on the waitlist. You can also see the fare class breakdown by enabling “expert mode.” You can filter flights by departure time, stops, connecting airports, and most importantly, whether an upgrade is confirmable at booking.

Redeeming PlusPoints for domestic flights
For domestic and regional upgrades, United requires 20 PlusPoints, except for customers purchasing Premium Plus on a domestic premium flight. In that case, you only need to redeem 10 PlusPoints to move up to business class. However, it’s important to note that domestic confirmed upgrade space can be difficult to come by, especially on transcontinental flights. When upgrades are waitlisted, the points won’t be deducted from your account until the request clears.

Redeeming PlusPoints for international flights
International upgrades have different point requirements depending on the route and class. Moving from economy to Premium Plus requires 20 PlusPoints, while moving from Premium Plus to Polaris requires 30 PlusPoints. Economy to Polaris upgrades have varying point requirements depending on the fare class, ranging from 40 to 80 PlusPoints. Upgrades to partner airlines like All Nippon Airways, Copa Airlines, and Lufthansa also have different point requirements.

When redeeming PlusPoints for international flights, it’s important to carefully read the upgrade options. Once you’ve made a request, you can’t change it later, although you can cancel it if the upgrade hasn’t cleared yet. If domestic segments clear but international segments don’t, you’ll be charged the appropriate number of PlusPoints for a domestic upgrade.

Canceling a request
If you want to cancel an upgrade request, simply go to the “My trips” page on your United account and click “Cancel upgrade” for the specific flight.

Skipping the upgrade waitlist
United offers a “Skip Waitlist” option that allows you to skip the upgrade waitlist in exchange for more PlusPoints. However, this option is only available for select international flights more than 30 days from departure and is nonrefundable. Skip Waitlist can only be applied to reservations with Premier 1K or Global Services members and their travel companions. Pricing for Skip Waitlist starts at 70 PlusPoints for Premium Plus and 110 PlusPoints for Polaris.

Upgrading a partner flight
If you want to upgrade a non-United flight, the process is a bit more complex. You’ll need to visit a dedicated website to confirm the upgrade request, and be sure to read all the terms and conditions before processing a partner upgrade. PlusPoints can only be redeemed on Lufthansa, ANA, and Copa flights, and only a subset of fares on these airlines qualify for upgrades.

In conclusion, United PlusPoints offer a versatile upgrade currency that allows you to upgrade your flight with fewer restrictions. Whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, PlusPoints can be used to upgrade to different classes, and they even offer the option to skip the waitlist for a higher number of PlusPoints. It’s a great way to enhance your United Airlines flying experience without having to pay cash.

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