How to Upgrade to First Class on United

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After you fly first class on United Airlines, you will find it hard to go back to flying coach. Upon boarding most flights, you'll sink into a plush leather seat, stretch out due to large amount of leg room, and be served complimentary drinks and deluxe meals on white tablecloths. On long flights between the east and west coast, or on international flights, you'll have a full flat bed to sleep laying down, a personal media player which features dozens of movies and TV shows, and access to the United First Class airport lounges. For upgrades, United gives preference to its Frequent Flier members, and the easiest way to upgrade is to use your banked frequent flier miles.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • United Mileage Plus Frequent Flier account
  • Credit card

Book a ticket with an upgradeable fare. Generally, you cannot upgrade a special or heavily discounted fare. Before purchasing your ticket, you'll notice a message specifying the fare terms and the ticket class. Read this small print, and ensure that the fare is upgradeable. Depending on the flight, there may be a co-pay for the upgrade.

Go to your Mileage Plus Account and click the "Request Upgrade" button. Select the flight that you wish to upgrade to first class. United will deduct the miles for the upgrade from your account, and calculate any co-pay.

When checking in, be prepared to provide a credit card number to charge any upgrade co-pays.

At the departure gate, ask the gate agent if you've received an upgrade. If so, the gate agent will print you a new boarding pass with the first class seating assignment. At this point, your credit card will be charged any co-pay fees.

If the flight is full with paying fist-class passengers, or other frequent fliers who had priority for an upgrade over you, you will not receive an upgrade. Your credit card will not be charged, and the mileage deducted for the upgrade will be returned to your frequent flier account.

Tips & Warnings

  • For international or cross country flights on three-class planes, you may not be able to upgrade directly from coach class to first class. Instead, purchase an upgradeable business class fare to upgrade to first class.

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