United Mileage Plus - Premier Upgrades during gratis period

3 replies


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 10 Apr 2017

Total posts 7

I am considering attempting the United Star Alliance Gold status challenge with United matching to either United Premier Gold and Platinum. Looks a great Status Match to pull off.

From what I read on the post above, upon match successful status match, it entitles you "...90 days of gratis status just to cover lounge access, priority check-in and so on during a forthcoming trip on any Star Alliance, set the start date accordingly..." and the ability to be upgraded?

I am looking to fly from either BNE or MEL > SFO (in economy). If I read this correctly the 90 days gratis status would grant Untied Premier Gold/Platinum status; so does this unlock the ability to be upgraded based on full fare from what I read here... https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/mileageplus/premier/upgrades.html

"Premier members travelling on full-fare economy Y- and B-class fares may be eligible for instant upgrades as early as the time of ticketing. Please check the travel regions below to see if your flight may be eligible. Tickets containing Basic Economy fares or Economy (first bag charge/no changes allowed) fares are not eligible for Complimentary Premier Upgrades."

My question to the community is... what are the chances of being Upgraded to a Polaris experience (Z) if Full Economy ticket is purchased whilst I am on the United Platinum 90 day gratius Star Alliance Gold status?

I realise with VA and QF there is basically 0 chance across the Pacific to be upgraded, are United's loads on UA99/870 lighter or higher chance of being upgraded? Am I better of considering flying via Singapore? Should I brace for a jarring United Economy experience compared to VA O/R/W?

MEL > LAX - UA99
SYD > SFO - UA870

Fri 31st May & Sat 1st Jun. Any help or comments appreciated.


Virgin Australia Platinum

Member since 09 Sep 2014

Total posts 60

There are significantly high numbers of 1Ks (myself included) on these particular routes. However, purchasing a Y or B fare tremendously increases your chances of getting upgraded, if not well ahead of departure. There are no complimentary upgrades on these routes, regardless of fare unfortunately. Your quoted section is therefore not related to Australian routes as it refers to flights that are eligible for complimentary upgrades. If there is upgrade inventory available for those complimentary region flights, then you'd instantly get upgraded. Otherwise, you would wait until the upgrade window opens for your status level all the way until departure at times.

BUT the miles required are greatly reduced when purchasing higher fares. A Y fare would only require 20,000 UA miles to upgrade each way. A B fare would require 30,000 miles. These high fares don't come with co-pays. If you were to book the lowest fares, for example, then the miles and copay would be 30,000 miles and $600 USD. A GPU certificate given to 1Ks can be used on this route with a minimum fare of W or higher. There are no Premium cabins on these routes (yet) as that complicates things and premium economy fares have higher priority for upgrading into business.

Given your situation, you'd still be below all Global Services & 1Ks before getting upgraded. You most likely will be at the top of the list of Platinums on a Y/B fare and guaranteed to be higher than lower tiers. If you don't have the United miles required or a certificate, then you are out of luck entirely. Purchasing 20K united miles may not seem sensible when seeing the difference of fare to the cheapest J fare from Y would not be much more. But, if you need elite miles to qualify for status, then higher fares certainly help you reach those tiers quicker.

Upgrade Priority:

You need PZ space to upgrade at booking no matter what fare class you book. You could book the cheapest fare and still upgrade if there is PZ space. If upgrade space is not available when requesting a MileagePlus Upgrade Award, Regional Premier Upgrade or Global Premier Upgrade, travelers may be placed on a waitlist. Travelers placed on a waitlist are prioritized according to the Premier status of the traveler....

  1. Premier status of the traveler
  2. Fare class
  3. Chase United MileagePlus Club cardholders and Presidential Plus cardholders
  4. United Corporate Preferred Participant
  5. Chase United MileagePlus cardholders with $25,000 annual spend
  6. Time of request
Fare class structure from Y to J with no premium economy cabin is Y, B, M, E, U, H, Q, V, W, S, T, L, K, G.

MEL - LAX 31st May - Excellent chance of clearing ahead of time on Y/B fares based on loads of Economy Plus and Business
MEL - LAX 1st June - Good chance of clearing ahead of time on Y/B fares based on loads of Economy Plus and Business

SYD - SFO 31st May - Poor chance of clearing ahead of time on Y/B fares based on loads of Economy Plus and Business
SYD - SFO 1st June - Good chance of clearing ahead of time on Y/B fares based on loads of Economy Plus and Business


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 15 Nov 2017

Total posts 143

I got upgraded SYD to LAX at the gate during my trial period matching from VA Platinum and three out of the four domestic flights within the US. I can't remember the fare class but wasn't full Y. May be harder to lock in before hand as per above, but you can still choose the economy plus seats if you match as a Premier Platinum. I would preference the upgrade on the return overnight leg as even in business it was hard to sleep on the way over.

Last editedby jch at May 01, 2019, 03:31 PM.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 10 Apr 2017

Total posts 7

Thanks @wanderlust for such a detailed and insightful reply. Has helped me significantly!

Given some logistical challenges with my work and our CONCUR flight booking system, it's been a week spent heavily looking at all options flying in Y. My main goal from this work trip to U.S. is to leverage the Status match from Velocity Platinum, also timing it so a followup trip in early July will tip over to 18,000 for Premier Platinum. Any perks or upgrades for these flights with United are a bonus but as your post details seem unlikely pending cabin loads and dates. Getting Economy Plus part of the 90 days is better than nothing.

Proposed Flights

MEL > LAX > SFO 2nd June
UA 99 / UA2186


LAX / MEL or SYD either Fri 7 June or Sat 8 June
UA 98 or UA863

Followup questions,
Q1/ Would I be right in assuming Friday night loads are heavier than Saturday.
Is the SFO>LAX UA863 busier than LAX>MEL UA 98 Flights?

Q2/ I am about to book in the next day, I have just signed up and become a Mileage Plus member but my status match may take between 7 - 14 days. At the time of booking, I won't have the complementary Premier Plus status, after it's matched a call to customer service could bump me to an Economy Plus seat maybe? Are United good with their Customer Service or don't hold my breath?

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