United Airlines’ New PlusPoints Upgrade System

Filed Under: MileagePlus, Reward Programs

United Airlines has just announced a significant adjustment to how their upgrades work for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members. On the surface these sound like incredibly positive changes, but is there a catch (United later announced negative changes to their elite status program)?

How United Airlines Upgrades Currently Work

Currently all United MileagePlus elite members receive complimentary upgrades on most domestic and select international flights. These are subject to availability at the upgrade window, which is at most several days before departure.

On top of that, those with Platinum Premier and Premier 1K status (which requires 75,000 and 100,000 elite qualifying miles, respectively) receive further confirmed upgrades:

  • Premier Platinum members receive two Regional Premier Upgrades per year
  • Premier 1K members receive an additional six Global Premier Upgrades and two Regional Premier Upgrades per year

These upgrades can be confirmed at the time of booking pending upgrade availability, which can be tough to come by. It’s these Regional Premier Upgrades and Global Premier Upgrades that are being adjusted with United’s changes.

What Are United Airlines PlusPoints?

Today United Airlines has announced that as of December 4, 2019, they’ll replace Global Premier Upgrades and Regional Premier Upgrades with PlusPoints.

PlusPoints is a new system that’s intended to give members a lot more flexibility, and on the surface it’s actually incredibly positive. Rather than giving Platinum Premier and Premier 1K members a certain number of Global Premier Upgrades and Regional Premier Upgrades, United is instead giving members the flexibility to choose the rewards they value most.

Members will receive a certain number of PlusPoints, and they can redeem them however they want.

United’s VP of Loyalty and President of MileagePlus, Luc Bondar, had the following to say:

“We’re making it even easier for our Premier members to use upgrades when and how they want. 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. 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.”

How Do You Earn United Airlines PlusPoints?

With United Airlines’ new PlusPoints system:

  • MileagePlus Platinum members will receive 40 PlusPoints
  • MileagePlus 1K members will receive an additional 280 PlusPoints (for a total of 320)

For any existing confirmed upgrade instruments, on December 4, 2019:

  • Each Regional Premier Upgrade will be converted into 20 PlusPoints
  • Each Global Premier Upgrade will be converted into 40 PlusPoints

Members can choose whether they value domestic or international upgrades more

The expiration policy for PlusPoints will mirror that of GPUs and RPUs. They’ll still expire in January one full year after they’re earned.

How Do You Redeem United Airlines PlusPoints?

With the way PlusPoints upgrades work, no one should be losing out here, at least with how things are currently set up:

  • Flights that were previously upgradeable with Regional Premier Upgrades will require at most 20 PlusPoints
  • Flights that were previously upgradeable with Global Premier Upgrades will require at most 40 PlusPoints
  • PlusPoints can still be used for upgrades on ANA and Lufthansa at the same costs as before, with the same fare class restrictions

You can even use PlusPoints to upgrade on Lufthansa

But members will have even further flexibility. For example, on international flights:

  • You can upgrade from economy to premium economy for 20 PlusPoints
  • You can upgrade from premium economy to business class for 30 PlusPoints
  • You can upgrade from economy to business class for 40 PlusPoints
  • You can upgrade from discounted economy (those fares that weren’t previously upgradeable with Global Premier Upgrades) for 80 PlusPoints

So as you can see, members have a lot more flexibility. For example, previously Premier 1K members received four Regional Premier Upgrades and six Global Premier Upgrades, while now they can redeem 320 PlusPoints however they’d like, whether they prefer domestic or international upgrades.

New “Skip Waitlist” Feature

In addition to the published upgrade costs, United is also introducing a “Skip Waitlist” feature exclusively for Premier 1Ks, where members can redeem additional PlusPoints to skip the upgrade waitlist on a flight and confirm an upgrade. The cost of this will vary based on the specific itinerary, and I’d guess that the pricing will be steep. So this won’t be for everyone, but it is a nice option to have nonetheless.

With PlusPoints you can even skip the waitlist by redeeming more points

You Only Pay The Highest Upgrade Cost Of Your Itinerary

Say you’re flying from Aspen to Houston to Newark to Hong Kong. If all the upgrades clear, you’ll only pay the upgrade cost of the longest segment, so the pricing wouldn’t be cumulative, but rather would be based on the most expensive segment only.

Members Can Request Upgrades on Multiple Flights

PlusPoints won’t be deducted until the upgrades are confirmed. This means MileagePlus members can request upgrades across a lot of flights, and then will only have to redeem the points when the upgrade confirms. This gives members a lot more opportunities to confirm upgrades, because it’s always frustrating when you use an upgrade instrument on a flight and it doesn’t clear, and then it goes to waste.

United Allows All Upgrades To Be Requested Online

United is unique in allowing members to request all upgrades directly on their website. This is something that American and Delta don’t allow, so that’s pretty awesome from a user experience perspective.

It’s nice to be able to request upgrades directly on united.com

What’s The Catch With PlusPoints?

PointsPlus seems like a wholly positive change. Members have more flexibility to redeem upgrades how they want, whether they prefer domestic or international upgrades. Furthermore, no costs are going up here, but rather there’s more flexibility to redeem at better rates otherwise.

So for now there’s no catch with PointsPlus. Why would an airline make a seemingly positive change, you ask?

  • This is a way they can genuinely improve the program without it costing them much
  • Long term this can be devalued more easily than GPUs and RPUs, as they can increase the number of points required for certain upgrades
  • With the introduction of premium economy, I’m sure long term this will result in greater pricing differentiation for economy to premium economy upgrades, premium economy to business upgrades, and economy to business upgrades
  • This is an interesting currency that United could monetize; could they offer additional PlusPoints as a United credit card perk, as an additional reward for certain activity, or more?

United PlusPoints Bottom Line

United’s new PlusPoints upgrade system is actually kind of awesome, at least the way it’s implemented now. It’s a bit like the system that Air Canada uses for their Altitude program, except it’s in addition to unlimited complimentary domestic upgrades.

As of now this change is wholly positive, though of course the fear is that this makes it easier for them to devalue upgrade rates in the future.

What do you make of United’s new PlusPoints system?

Comments
  1. @ mkrutil — Upgrades on ANA and Lufthansa remain unchanged. You can still upgrade for 40 PlusPoints in the same fare classes.

  2. I’m sure we won’t notice any changes in the first year but knowing how the airline industry works, there will be “enhancements” that will devalue this.

  3. Jon G is correct, 1K is 100K miles (and $15,000 PQD with no waiver mechanism).

    Sam, I’ve been flying United for years now and while of course I have crap experiences with them sometimes they usually get the job done fine, and frequently pleasantly. And when I do have bad experiences with them their customer service usually makes it right for me. Their Premier Desk is always good to me. I’d take them over current day AA any day, and, at least for now, I get exponentially more value out of UA miles than I can with Delta, plus United’s own route network and partner network is more comprehensive than Delta’s. So, it ain’t like United’s the best thing since sliced bread, but I don’t think they actually suck as bad as their rep suggests.

  4. what is most concerning from this is that they will deduct short-haul even though your long-haul doesn’t clear.

    Meaning if I am going from PHX to EWR to LHR and only PHX clears I would be charged 20K. No thanks

  5. I’m usually Gold or Silver and have been “given” upgrades by “friends” in the past. Can non elites use these new points?

  6. No mention as to with this new upgrade program if the points will be usable with mileage award tickets. That would be an awesome addition, with my GS status for many years this was a benefit however as a 1K this currently is not an option.

  7. If you are not upgraded when requesting a GPU, you don’t lose it. The article incorrectly suggests that you wasted it. It is redeposited. What you do lose is the additional monies paid for an upgradeable fare class, which can be $200-$400 more on some flights. Also do the math. If you get 6 GPU and didn’t use them this year that is converted to 240 mileplus points instead of 280. You are being penalized by 40 mpp from the outset. existing certificates are being devalued.

  8. @ Judy — My point was that many people wasted upgrades because of waitlisting. Say you waitlist a flight in January and it doesn’t clear. You’d then end up with an upgrade certificate expiring soon that you may not be able to use. Not sure where you get the 40 point devaluation from?

  9. Do we know anything about the waitlist clearance policy and whether that remains the same? Will 1K’s still have priority over Platinums on the waitlist under the new scheme?

  10. @ Greg — As far as I know nothing is changing with the standard upgrade priority (short of the new “rule buster” upgrade option).

  11. My guess is even fewer upgrades will clear the waitlist until departure unless you pay for the skip the waitlist

  12. Bottom line, this program will only be as successful as the number of fare buckets and seats United releases for upgrade. Now, even as a 1K, the number of upgrade certificates I can actually use is quite limited because the seats just aren’t there on the routes I fly.

    Don’t get too excited about this until you see how it actually plays out.

  13. Just wait until they require more points to upgrade. They couldn’t do it with an instrument like a GPU but now there is points, it is ripe for devaluation. Watch.

  14. There are some potential downsides that @lucky hasn’t fully appreciated:

    (1) Now if you waitlist for a long-haul international business class upgrade and it doesn’t clear but you clear an upgrade in a domestic connection in your itinerary, you’ll be charged for a regional (which surprisingly is 50% of the cost of a global), whereas under the old policy, your global would simply be refunded entirely if your long-haul segment did not clear. For example, if you fly ORD-EWR-BCN, you’ll be charged a regional if ORD-EWR clears even if EWR-LHR doesn’t. Since people mostly care about the long-haul segments, this means you’re more likely to end up “burning” through an upgrade even if you didn’t get the benefit you wanted.

    (2) This program will have a lot of effects on upgrade availability that are difficult to fully predict. My guess is that this program is intended to encourage people to use more upgrades on short domestic flights, because you can now trade a global upgrade for two regionals. If people do that, other members will see fewer complimentary domestics upgrades. Already on some segments where complimentary upgrades are *theoretically* possible, it’s practically impossible to get an upgrade without using a certificate (e.g., SAN-EWR). Even LGA-ORD is super hard. I suspect the way this program is structured will encourage more people to just burn PlusPoints on domestic segments—crowding out complimentary upgrades. If you’re someone who can use all your upgrades on long-haul international flights, that makes you worse off — though if you’re already the type that’s booking all paid business class fares for long haul and only book coach domestically, obviously it’s better for you.

    (3) In the same vein, the new “confirmed” option necessarily will make it harder for other members of the same status level to confirm upgrades without payment. It’s really hard to monitor, but one could imagine they will reduce confirmable-in-advance availability over time. Even if they’re not trying to coerce people into paying more to “confirm” an upgrade, the fact that some members can do that necessarily will reduce availability on competitive routes.

    Also, @lucky, do we know how this works with the extension policy? Traditionally you could extend two expiring global upgrades until April after you re-qualified for 1K, but it wasn’t a published policy. Is it now that you can just extend up to 80 PlusPoints if you re-qualify?

    On the whole I do think it’s a positive change but how it affects availability will be interesting. Right now I have 4 unused globals and 8 regionals that are due to expire in January. I can’t really find a good use for the regionals, but now I can in effect have 8 globals to use for the rest of the year (though I won’t actually be able to convert the 8 regionals into globals until this program goes live in early December). So conceivably, 8 regionals that I otherwise would have let expire can be put to good use.

    The question then comes: At whose expense do I get those upgrades? United’s business cabin is always full, with non-revs is nothing else, and I will only use an upgrade if I can confirm it at ticketing. I guess if I end up using my additional global upgrades on segments where non-revs otherwise would have cleared into business, the only losers will be the non-revs. However, it’s at least conceivable that my using more global upgrades will “crowd out,” say, a platinum or lower member who was trying to do a mileage upgrade into business on that route.

  15. @Jon — I’m actually not sure United is doing this as an excuse to devalue. Thinking about it, this move actually just makes them (somewhat) more competitive with Delta when it comes to certificate upgrades: On Delta, Diamond members get 4 global upgrades that can be used in any fare class. That’s equivalent to 80 points per upgrade — or 320 points total — the allotment that 1K members receive in the new system. True, you could get more if you’re booked into a higher fare class, but until now, the only reason to book a higher fare class was to be able to use your certificates.

    Ultimately, free, space-available upgrades are an incentive that the airlines should *want* to keep around because if they don’t give those seats to elite members, they’ll end up giving them to non-revs. So they still have the cost of catering, etc. Giving an upgrade to an elite member literally costs nothing. They just want to make sure they do it in a way that drives incremental revenue to the airline (handing out rewards to customers who would not otherwise have booked business for a flight, rather than undercutting a potential sale of a business class seat).

    What I actually would think we’re more likely to see is more complexity and gradients introduced into the system over time. For example, if it’s 80 points for a cheap discounted ticket and 40 for a W fare, maybe it becomes only 20 to upgrade a Y or B fare in long-haul business. (Note that right now, for Mileage upgrades, there’s no co-pay if you’re upgrading a Y or B fare, whereas there’s a hefty copay for lower fare classes.) Maybe we end up with a complicated matrix like what you have for mileage upgrades — and eventually opportunities to earn PlusPoints for credit card spend, or as part of the Mileage Play programs they create.

    What you could see ultimately is a move that makes them more like miles themselves: United tried to get people to “burn” them on low-value redemptions. (Why not standby for an upgrade on *all* of your domestic flights? You’ll have priority over everyone else who’s not using PlusPoints! Or use 320 PlusPoints—your full allotment for the year—to confirm an otherwise difficult-to-get upgrade, which means you’re effectively redeeming at “Standard” award pricing.) And since United can award them in smaller increments, say 10 or 20 PlusPoints at a time, they can create more ways to earn them — so the amount of “currency” in circulation get inflated and it’s harder to find the really high-value uses. But I suspect, as has always been the case, high-value uses will still exist if you’re really willing to hunt for them.

  16. There is a downside for how *I* travel.

    Now retired, I have a lot of flexibility and will sometimes choose an itinerary based on immediate upgrade availability. Both using RPUs or GPUs (just 1 per flight) for the upgrade when I book. It would seem that if this immediate upgrade is available, skipping the “waitlist” it will cost more than an equivalent RPU or GPU.

  17. Isn’t skip the waitlist a 1k only feature? I thought I heard it was. If not, that severally devalues the 1k status.

  18. @George — Theoretically according to this announcement, you should not need to pay for a “skip the waitlist” upgrade if there is availability in the regular fare buckets to confirm.

    If I had to guess, I imagine they will offer a “skip the waitlist” option to 1K members in circumstances where the old system would have allowed Global Services members but not 1Ks to confirm availability (i.e., when there’s availability in the PN fare bucket reserved for GS but not in the PZ fare bucket used by 1Ks). According to their announcement, if there’s availability in the PZ fare bucket, you could confirm an upgrade at the existing “price” just as you can today. I highly doubt they would let 1Ks confirm an upgrade, even a “skip the waitlist,” when they’re not making any seats available to GS — because the lack of seats for GS means the computer thinks there’s a chance they might be able to sell out the whole cabin on revenue fares. They’ll never want to offer an upgrade instrument of any kind when there’s a risk it’ll crowd out a revenue fare.

    Of course it’s possible this could drive up prices over time: If a lot of 1K members are willing to pay the higher price to clear into PN using the “skip the wait list” option, then it’s less likely there will be availability in the PZ bucket to clear at the “old” price.

  19. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Even before this announcement, UA had so many different kinds of points and currencies (RDM, EQM, PQD, I don’t even remember what else – something about regional and worldwide upgrades), and so many intricate rules for what and how they’re used, that one needed a PhD in United Bullshitology to keep track of their byzantine system. And now they are adding yet another layer of complication?

    Surreal.

  20. I don’t get the devalue comments – given that these expire yearly. United has always been able to devalue this benefit by giving less GPU each year.

    @John – I thought the same as you on a mixed regional/global flight: seems we will now be charged for a regional upgrade if the global upgrade doesn’t clear. I hope that is not the case – but that would be a big negative.

  21. This change also likely decreases availability for international upgrades to 1K’s (GS) )since Platinum’s previously only received RPU’s. Now they’ll earn enough points to get a one way if they use their entire allotment.

  22. Just sent this to my 1K friend who isn’t really attuned to frequent flyer benefits. It’s great for him to be able to upgrade discount economy. His work pays for him to fly in business class internationally. He’s usually traveled out for work so he ends up using his GPUs on friends. I (and other pals) tend to buy discount economy tickets so I’m rarely are eligible unless we buy up (which we never bother with). So it ends up going to waste or getting underutilized. I felt slightly guilty using 2 GPUS just on a transcon flight but he assured me they were going to waste…

  23. So, will current Plat and 1ks get the points on 12/4, or will this only apply to people who qualify for Plat or 1k for 2020? I’m Plat currently but won’t qualify for any higher than Gold for ’20.

  24. Notwithstanding the Usual Suspect’s predictable negativity, where there is always a nefarious reason to a programmatic change even when there are not apparent downsides, this one is ***tremendous*** for someone like me, who’s been purchasing more premium cabin ticket to make up for decreased overall travel in order to maintain status. Converting GPUs and RPUs into a single upgrade instrument that can be tailored for different situations, including using more of it to secure or confirm a critical upgrade, is highly imaginative…for the better! I agree that there is more room for devaluation, but we’ll worry about that when or if it happens. Then again, they could simply have devalued GPUs by offering fewer of them, like AA did 😉

    G’day from Grand Hilton Seoul, which will stop being a Hilton Worldwide hotel at the end of this year!

  25. Important for GS members – how does this impact the ability to apply an upgrade when flying on a mileage ticket?

    Also – will we still be able to have upgrades pushed through if we are several days out and there are more than two business class seats available? Hopefully they do not take that away in favor of the “skip the line” concept… That will be a hugely negative change.

  26. This is a fantastic change for those of us living outside the US. Living in Japan and traveling to and from the US (or other places on Star Alliance) I never use the regional upgrades, so it is great I can use the new points for me and my husband when we fly back to visit family. Also nice that it is fewer points to go from premium economy to business. We usually book the new premium economy to enhance the chances of the upgrade and/or improve the experience if the upgrade doesn’t clear.

  27. I love the lack of communication from United on this. While I appreciate the increase in flexibility, there is still the waitlist that never clears. I will most likely end 2019 with 6 unused GPUs’s and not from lack of trying to use them.

  28. @Chris — Upgrades are prioritized by the status of the requesting member. So a platinum member requesting an upgrade would always be below a 1K on the wait list. If there’s comfirmable space in advance on a long-haul flight, a platinum could take it and that would leave one fewer confirmable-in-advance seat for 1Ks. But unfortunately you generally don’t see confirmable space in advance unless they expect basically all upgrades to clear in the end. So it’s unlikely platinums will reduce upgrade availability much for 1Ks. Personally, I think the “skip the line” concept is likely to have a greater negative effect on availability.

  29. Why would this “eliminate the black market for reselling upgrades”? Why couldn’t these continue to be sold the same way ?

  30. Would this mean they would get rid of the Fare class restrictions on S,T,LK,G and every fare class will be eligible for upgrade

  31. For me, this is a great move. I ended up having 4-6 GPUs thrown away each year. Now I can utilize them for paying more PlusPoints for an upgrade and confirm that leg in advance instead of waiting for the lottery on T24.

  32. 1. UA wants to reduce the “miles” liabilities.
    2. UA will shift more UGs at gate and reduce access to Polaris lounges.
    3. UA will still sell UGs for $ at time of checkin for flyers not requesting UGs.
    4. Get more rev from high PremPlus seats and still use 2x or more new points.

    So I can pay $2’100 for SFO-NRT in a W, and hope for clearing to biz.
    Or, fly ANA Prem Econ at $1400 and have a much better experience.

  33. As John mentioned the BIG ONE is listed below. You will burn through all your PlusPoints trying to get International Upgrades. There is always a catch.

    Now if you waitlist for a long-haul international business class upgrade and it doesn’t clear but you clear an upgrade in a domestic connection in your itinerary, you’ll be charged for a regional (which surprisingly is 50% of the cost of a global), whereas under the old policy, your global would simply be refunded entirely if your long-haul segment did not clear. For example, if you fly ORD-EWR-BCN, you’ll be charged a regional if ORD-EWR clears even if EWR-LHR doesn’t. Since people mostly care about the long-haul segments, this means you’re more likely to end up “burning” through an upgrade even if you didn’t get the benefit you wanted.

  34. “MileagePlus 1K members will receive an additional 280 PlusPoints (for a total of 320)” and
    “Each Global Premier Upgrade will be converted into 40 PlusPoints” —

    This new program seems to be a better deal for GPUs if you fly >100K miles but <150K miles, where you get 8 GPUs upon flying 100K miles, as compared to the current program, where 100K miles gets you a base 6 GPUs, with an additional 1 GPU per 25K miles flown over 100K miles.

    But it's not clear, with this new program, how you can earn extra PlusPoints, and at what rate, beyond the base allocations for 1K levels, as compared with the current program?

  35. Correction … I just checked my email from United and it gives the following schedule for earning PlusPoints beyond the base allocations —

    “Additional 40 PlusPoints for every 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS”

    This translates to the same as the current program, with 40 PlusPoints being equivalent to 1 GPU

  36. @Sam — “The catch is that then you still have to fly United…”

    Not exactly … United’s [MileagePlusUpdates.com] website says that “PlusPoints can be used on United, United Express and select United partners: All Nippon Airways (ANA), Lufthansa, and Copa. All upgrades on partner flights will cost 40 PlusPoints, and your PlusPoints for partner flights will always be deducted at the time of request.”

  37. Certainly allows more flexibility. But let’s not fool ourselves. United is a business and they would not be making these changes unless it benefited them. Changes will be subtle and slow, but devaluation will be in the mix. We’ve seen this movie before. My guess is less availability of automatic upgrades, putting you in the position of waitlisting or, blowing more points for the instant upgrade. Time will tell.

  38. Questions:

    1 – It will be able to share the PlusPoints? sponsor a college?

    2 – Before with 1 GPU i can upgrade from GRU-ORD-PEK, both flights. It will be the same with PlusPonints or I will need to use double points?

  39. As others have mentioned, the catch with PlusPoints is that United is implicitly separating flight segments. You have to make the decision (gamble) to spend 20 PlusPoints for a domestic upgrade if your 40 PlusPoint international long haul doesn’t clear, versus the domestic upgrade being “free” now (your GPU is redeposited if your international long haul leg doesn’t clear).

    At least they allow you to decide not to include the domestic upgrade in your request, and you’ll be near the top of the complimentary upgrade list…

  40. @Many have said something like this: “As others have mentioned, the catch with PlusPoints is that United is implicitly separating flight segments. You have to make the decision (gamble) to spend 20 PlusPoints for a domestic upgrade if your 40 PlusPoint international long haul doesn’t clear, versus the domestic upgrade being “free” now (your GPU is redeposited if your international long haul leg doesn’t clear).”

    Please stop the whining and use those little “grey cells” for a change. Anyone who understands what UA has tried to accomplish here understands that the one big positive result (and difference from the two UG instruments being phased out) is that PulsPoints are infinitely more *flexible* than was either the GPU or RPU. Now ask yourself this question: how has UA been able to provide that greater flexibility? Well, by *SEGMENTING* the GPU!!!

    So, you can either have FLEXIBILITY with PlusPoints or you can the old GPU (and associated RIGIDITY), but you ***CANNOT*** have both.

    I decided that I prefer the greater flexibility so I am happy with the change, and you?

  41. As a million mile flyer and Premier Gold for life recipient I am feeling like these changes will eliminate the perk we get for access to Economy Plus on all flights. Now retired, flying is less often but at least the Economy Plus has been nice. Although a very loyal United customer for years it seems that means less now to United.

  42. I am a million miler and Premier Gold for life and I *absolutely* do not fear that “these changes will eliminate the perk we get for access to Economy Plus on all flights” because there is no connections whatsoever between the two.

    United probably does not value their long-time and very loyal customers as much as they should, but the changes to their cabin upgrade instruments that they just announced are *not* proof this claim…

  43. Hello, can I upgrade with plus points with airlines like Aer Lingus, TAP Portugal and Swiss International?

  44. As I read it, there’s one huge downside that isn’t mentioned anywhere here (unless I missed it) — once you clear your upgrade, it can never be redeposit. So if your plans change or you booked “plan B” but were hoping a better routing would open up, the points are forfeited. As a GS member who can use upgrades on miles, I often book flights that I ultimately have to cancel when my plans change.

    Also, I wonder if GS members will not have to pay double points to upgrade ff reservations. Right now, it’s the same RPU/GPU. But if it’s going to be 80 points to upgrade a discounted economy ticket, are they also going to charge 80 points instead of 40 to upgrade a ff ticket.

    Both of these negatives have the potential to outweigh any positive.

  45. United’s slight of hand has *already* taken place with this seemingly positive change. I would encourage all to take a moment and search for long-haul flights in the months of December 2019 and January 2020 and, in particular, try to find anything with availability in the PZ fare class. Good luck finding anything other than PZ0 = upgrade by waitlist only!

    I’m a 1K million miler and each year I undoubtedly have a few RPUs and GPUs remaining to offload by September or October. This year I have two of each expiring on January 31, 2020. So…what to do? Find a far off location to fly to in January, pay for coach in W+, ensure flight has PZ1 or higher fare class availability, upgrade using GPU, have fun vacation, amass large number of PQMs to jump start next year w/o expensive ticket but enjoying Polaris Business. Great, right?

    Not this year!! On September 23, 2019 I had a verified list of 12 possible round trip Polaris options lined up for January 2020. Included were several permutations on IAD-PEK, IAD-NRT, IAD-BRU, IAD-FRA, and IAD-LHR (yes, I live in D.C.). I should have committed to one, because once this PointsPlus announcement came out the situation seems to have changed. As of September 26, not a single one of the 12 round trips I had identified on 9/23 had any availability in the PZ fare class. They all had PZ9 in both directions for weeks leading up to 9/23 and then by 9/26 they all mysteriously changed to PZ0. Probability of occurring nationally…infinitesimal!

    As I’ve seen first hand, United’s game is to all but eliminate instant upgrade availability (a thing they’ve gone to extreme lengths to make difficult to discover already) and then [most likely] lure travelers in with skip waitlist scams that essentially rob you of 2x+ the PlusPoints you would have spent historically or for $$$ instead at the gate. United is a business and their goal is to turn a profit at your expense — don’t be fooled.

  46. What about mileage award redemptions? Can we still upgrade using miles (if so, how many equals a “PlusPoint”)? How about redeeming a Business Class or First Class award? I realize under the new “no chart” system award tickets (and presumably award upgrades as well) will cost whatever United decides the market will bear, but do we have any “ball park” estimates?

  47. -do you get additional PlusPoints when you fly more than 100k miles a year? ( like additional GPUS each 25k miles)

    -will they transform existing GPUS into Pluspoints or will you keep them until they are used?

  48. @Andi — “-do you get additional PlusPoints when you fly more than 100k miles a year? ( like additional GPUS each 25k miles)”

    From my prior post above —

    “… I just checked my email from United and it gives the following schedule for earning PlusPoints beyond the base allocations —

    ‘Additional 40 PlusPoints for every 25,000 PQM or 30 PQS’

    This translates to the same as the current program, with 40 PlusPoints being equivalent to 1 GPU”
    ————————————————————————————————————————————-
    “-will they transform existing GPUS into Pluspoints or will you keep them until they are used?”

    If not mistaken, I think that on Dec 4 everything should convert over to the PlusPoints system.

  49. Currently you can upgrade Europe-US-Australia with one GPU, although it costs the same if only one segment clears. Now I presume that the cost is per-flight.

    For itineraries with one short-haul and one long-haul, will it be possible to request an upgrade for *just* the long-haul segment?

  50. If anyone has 4 GPUs that are going to waste by Jan, my family and I would love to receive them. We’ve been stationed in Okinawa for 3 years and are heading home on thanksgiving from OKA to LAX. I don’t have the ability to upgrade us all, but I’d love to treat my family being that they support my ability to fulfill my mission in the Air Force.

  51. United had an opportunity to improve the current frustration of not knowing whether upgrades will clear, or worse paying up to W class and not getting the upgrade. But they did not. They created a complex system that will ultimately devalue our elite benefits.

  52. What will happen with our mileage balance? Will we still be able to use miles to upgrade? Miles to buy flights? Or will the mileage balance get converted to PlusPoints?

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