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United PlusPoints is a currency system for upgrades that replaced Regional Premier Upgrades (RPUs) and Global Premier Upgrades (GPUs) on United Airlines in recent years. But how exactly do you use PlusPoints on United?
Upon reaching Premier Platinum status in the United MileagePlus program, members receive 40 PlusPoints. Meanwhile, 1Ks receive 280 PlusPoints — plus the 40 earned with Platinum — for a total of 320 PlusPoints.
There are four tiers in United's Premier elite status program (Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum and Premier 1K). Only Platinum and 1K status levels are eligible to receive PlusPoints.
» Learn more: What are United PlusPoints?
Under the PlusPoints currency, upgrade pricing depends on the flight distance and the cabin that you’re upgrading from/to.
United defines "short-haul flights" very specifically as flights without United Polaris business, including flights within the U.S., flights between Guam and Honolulu, island-hopper service and intra-Asia flights.
It also includes flights between the U.S. and Canada; Central America; the Caribbean; Mexico; Bogota, Colombia; and Quito, Ecuador.
Short-haul flights are priced at 10-20 PlusPoints, depending on which cabin you're upgrading from/to.
Upgrading from United Premium Plus to United Business costs 10 PlusPoints.
Upgrading from United Economy to United First, United Business or United Premium Plus costs 20 PlusPoints.
Similarly, long-haul flight upgrade pricing varies by cabin and range from 30 PlusPoints to 80.
United premium plus ticket holders can upgrade to United Polaris business for 30 PlusPoints.
United economy flyers can upgrade to United Polaris business for 40 PlusPoints or to premium plus for 20 PlusPoints.
Upgrading from discount economy to United Polaris business costs 80 PlusPoints.
Skip Waitlist upgrades for 1Ks
Skip Waitlist upgrades are another benefit specifically for Premier 1K tier members on certain flights. Formerly, elite members had to request upgrades only to be placed on a waitlist and hope that the upgrade clears.
With this perk, however, flyers can redeem an additional number of PlusPoints to confirm their upgrade on the spot.
Skip Waitlist must be requested at least 30 days before departure.
The number of points required has varied thresholds and fare class.
To upgrade to United Polaris business class from economy, you can skip the waitlist by redeeming 100 PlusPoints. From premium plus to Polaris, it will cost you 70 PlusPoints.
To upgrade to the premium plus class from economy and skip the wait, you'll need to spend 50 PlusPoints.
How to use PlusPoints on United
To access this perk for existing trips, go to "My Trips" on united.com or the United app and select "Upgrade." If the service is available, it’ll appear there.
For new bookings, click on “Advanced search," input your trip details, then navigate to the section “Upgrades, certificates and promotion codes.” Here, select “PlusPoints upgrades” and if Skip Waitlist is available, select “Available only and Skip Waitlist."
Then, your flight options will appear. Simply look for the “Skip Waitlist” marking in green.
You will see that each eligible flight also includes the number of PlusPoints to skip the waitlist.
PlusPoints for multi-segment routes
Not only will are you able to request several upgrades at once, but on a multi-segment route, you only pay for the most expensive upgrade in the request.
As in the example below, when you request an upgrade for the entire four-segment itinerary, 40 PlusPoints (the highest cost of the three upgrades) will be deducted from your account.
If all the segments clear, it will only cost 40 PlusPoints (instead of 80). This is a pretty neat feature, as you're able to enjoy a premium cabin experience on each of the segments despite only paying for one upgrade.
In the example above, if only the Chicago to Newark (ORD-EWR) upgrade clears, you'll only be on the hook for 20 PlusPoints. If none of the segments clear, no points will be deducted from your account.
» Learn more: How to get started with frequent flyer programs
Multiple upgrade requests at once
You are able to request multiple upgrades at once, so long as you have enough PlusPoints.
For example, if you make a booking in December for three separate flights in January and have 40 PlusPoints in your account, you might think you can only request an upgrade on one flight.
But instead, you're able to use your 40 PlusPoints to submit upgrade requests on each of the three separate January flights, thereby increasing your chances of the upgrade clearing.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
Final thoughts on using United PlusPoints
The United PlusPoints system brings a slew of exciting benefits that improve the upgrade experience for Platinum and 1K elites, such as enhanced flexibility and — for 1Ks — the ability to skip the waitlist on some flights.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Benefits of United Airlines credit cards 4 things the United Airlines MileagePlus Program gets right