United Airlines Boosts Its Upgrade Offering To New “PlusPoints” Program

United Airlines has launched a new overhaul of its loyalty program, with some amazing upgrades for those who are big fans of the airline or fly it regularly. Uniquely for United, these upgrades are available without having to make a phone call. This new system kicks off on December 4th.

United has overhauled its upgrade system. Photo: United

What are the details?

According to a press release by United, the American flag carrier has decided to overhaul the way that certain loyalty members can access perks onboard.

“We’re making it even easier for our Premier members to use upgrades when and how they want,” said Vice President of Loyalty and President of MileagePlus Luc Bondar.

These changes relate to the way Premier Platinum and 1K members can use their upgrades to improve their inflight experience. In the past, these passengers would have used Regional Premier Upgrades (RPU) or Global Premier Upgrades (GPU), but now United has rolled all this process into their website and created a new ‘currency’ called PlusPoints. The new connectivity allows passengers to upgrade on the fly, wherever they are.

“We already make it easy for members to manage all of their upgrades online, and the move to PlusPoints is yet another way we are making MileagePlus the best loyalty program in the industry.”

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United is clearing up some of the confusion surrounding its old upgrade system. Photo: United

What type of upgrades can these members get?

Specifically, the new program, PlusPoints, will allow these passengers to:

  • Expand the fare classes where upgrades can be used (e.g. if you buy a basic business ticket, you might be able to upgrade its flexibility)
  • Use points to join multiple upgrade waitlists at once. This allows passengers to hedge their bets and ensures that they get the upgraded journey they want. Plus, when they are actually awarded the opportunity to be upgraded, they get choice on whether to proceed
  • Upgrade from Economy to United Premium Plus and from United Premium Plus to United Polaris business class for a lower cost
  • Remove the geo-restriction. Previously Regional Premier Upgrades (RPU) was restricted to the region where they were awarded, but now with the new PlusPoints, they can be used for any flight in the United network.
  • Upgrade online through the website, where previously it required a phone call during business hours.

“The new PlusPoints program increases the overall number of upgrade opportunities for top tier Premier members, expands the fare classes where they can be used and lets members request upgrades on multiple flights all at once.”

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The new flexibility is a big plus for passengers who are unsure if they will win an upgrade. Photo: United

What happens to those with the older system?

To clarify exactly what happens to those with the older RPU and GPU points, United has made it clear how they will convert over:

  • RPU will equal 20 PlusPoints
  • GPU will equal 40 PlusPoints

As an example of how this is used, if you wanted to upgrade a short-haul flight from Economy to United First it will cost 20 PlusPoints. For those flying international, Economy to United Polaris business class will cost 40 PlusPoints. Simple.

What do you think of the new program? Will you benefit from it? Let us know in the comments.