How To Upgrade To First Class On United For Free?

How To Upgrade To First Class On United For Free

Who doesn’t dream of flying first class? The luxury, comfort, and exclusivity are alluring, but the price tag can be daunting. This brings up a common question: How to upgrade to first class on United for free?

With a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy the comfort and exclusivity of first class without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways to upgrade to first class on United for free.

How To Upgrade To First Class On United For Free?

First, check in early and dress nicely as it can improve your chances of getting an upgrade. Additionally, United sometimes offers free upgrades to passengers who volunteer to take a later flight. You can also try to use your frequent flyer miles or credit card rewards to upgrade your seat. 

However, keep in mind that these options are not guaranteed and may only sometimes be available.

  • Join United’s MileagePlus Loyalty Program

United’s MileagePlus loyalty program is a great way to get a free upgrade to first-class on United Airlines. 

As a member of the program, you can earn loyalty points that can be used for upgrades, discounts, and other rewards. 

The higher your membership level, the more likely you are to get an upgrade. To join, simply sign up online or at a United counter.

  • Check For Last-Minute Upgrades

A great way to get a free upgrade to first-class on United Airlines is to check for any last-minute upgrades that are available. 

Last-minute upgrades are usually offered when the plane is overbooked and there aren’t enough seats in the economy or business class.

  • Volunteer To Give Up Your Seat

Another way to get a free upgrade to first-class on United Airlines is to volunteer to give up your seat. 

If there aren’t enough seats in the economy or business class, United may offer an upgrade to someone who volunteers their seat. 

It’s a win-win situation as you get the chance to fly in luxury and the is willing to take a later flight.

  • Use Your Miles Or Credit Card Rewards

Finally, you can use your United MileagePlus credit card to earn miles and free upgrades. The more points you have, the more likely you are to get an upgrade. 

You can also redeem your accumulated miles for an upgrade as well. Additionally, most airlines offer special bonuses and discounts on an airline that gets more passengers on the plane.

What Are The Different United Flight Upgrades?

What Are The Different United Flight Upgrades?
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United Airlines offers several different upgrades for their flights, including Economy Plus, United First, and Polaris Business Class. Economy Plus provides extra legroom and priority boarding, while United First offers a more luxurious experience with wider seats, more legroom, and upgraded meals. 

Polaris Business Class is the most premium option, featuring lie-flat seats, exclusive lounges, and gourmet dining options. 

Each upgrade option comes with its own set of perks and amenities, allowing passengers to choose the level of comfort and luxury that best suits their needs.

  • MileagePlus Upgrade Awards

MileagePlus members can use miles to upgrade their flights. 

The number of miles required varies based on the route and fare class you’re booking, but it’s generally much lower than the cost of a full-fare ticket. 

With this option, you can choose from Economy Plus or Business Class upgrades.

  • Complimentary Upgrades

Eligible Mileage Plus members can take advantage of complimentary upgrades on select flights. 

These upgrades are offered when there is space available in a higher cabin class and you meet all the requirements for eligibility.

  • PlusPoints Upgrades

PlusPoints are an upgrade currency that allows you to use points instead of miles to upgrade your flight. 

To use Plus Points, you must have enough Chase Ultimate Reward points or they can be purchased with cash.

  • Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

These upgrades are available to members of Star Alliance frequent flyer programs who have earned sufficient miles. 

When booking your flight, you can search for available upgrades and use your miles to upgrade to the next cabin class.

  • Instant Upgrades

Elite MileagePlus members may be eligible for Instant Upgrades on select flights operated by United Airlines or its partner airlines.

These upgrades are available as soon as you check in for your flight, without having to wait for an upgrade to be processed.

How Much Does United Airlines Upgrade Cost?

For frequent flyers, the cost of an upgrade on United Airlines is either 500 miles or $200. Upgrading your flight with miles can be done through the MileagePlus Program, with prices starting at 500 miles for domestic flights and 1,000 miles for international flights. 

For those who don’t have enough miles to cover the upgrade cost, you can pay a flat fee of $200.

Non-frequent flyers must pay a flat fee of $325 in order to upgrade their flight. These rates are the same for both domestic and international flights.

Here’s a table summarizing the different ways you can or cannot upgrade to first class on United Airlines for free:

Method Likelihood of success
MileagePlus Premier Status High
Complimentary Upgrades Low
Waitlist for Upgrade Low to Medium
Bid for an Upgrade Low to Medium
Travel on a Full Flight Low
Have a Flexible Schedule Low
Use a Credit Card Not Applicable
Use Rewards Points Not Applicable

How To Upgrade A Flight With United Airlines?

In general, first of all, launch a browser and go to the United Airlines website. Then select the “Manage Booking” tab from the menu bar at the top screen. On the following page, you have to choose the flight you want to upgrade. 

Next scroll to the bottom for checking your flight information. After that, you must select the Upgrade option to immediately upgrade to an upper class. 

Then you should select a spot from the seating plan displayed on the screen. 

The next step is to upgrade your flight by selecting from options such as redeem miles or to others. 

Finally, United Airlines will approve your request for an upgrade and provide you with the details regarding payment. Make sure to make payment in order to confirm your upgraded flight ticket.

How Can You Get A United Complimentary Upgrade?

How Can You Get A United Complimentary Upgrade?
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First, you must be a Premier member of United Airlines in order to be eligible for a complimentary upgrade. The higher your status is with United, the earlier you become eligible for an upgrade. If you are not yet a Premier member, you can upgrade your membership anytime.

Once you have upgraded your membership, the next step is to book an eligible ticket on a United-operated flight. This means that the ticket you are purchasing must be for a flight operated by United Airlines. 

If you are unsure if your ticket is eligible, you can check the details of your purchase on the United website.

Once you have an eligible ticket, you can request a complimentary upgrade when checking in online or at the airport. 

You may be required to pay a fee depending on the type of upgrade you are requesting. Additionally, complimentary upgrades are subject to availability and may not be available at all times.

What Are The Requirements And Procedures For Upgrading To First Class On United Airlines?

Firstly you must first purchase an eligible fare class, such as a full-fare economy ticket. You can then use United’s MileagePlus program to upgrade using miles or regional premier upgrades. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase an upgrade at check-in or onboard, depending on availability. 

The cost of an upgrade varies depending on the route, time of year, and demand. To upgrade using miles, you can do so online or by calling United’s reservations department.


Depending on your fare type and frequent flyer status, you may be eligible for a complimentary upgrade to first class. The most common way to qualify is by having elite status with United Airlines’ MileagePlus program. 

Other customers may also be eligible if they have purchased certain fares such as “saver” or “premium economy” tickets.

Seat Availability 

Before you can upgrade, you first need to make sure that there are seats available in first class. 

Unfortunately, seats in first class are usually limited and may not always be available for upgrades. 

Upgrade Request 

Once you’ve determined eligibility and seat availability, you can make your upgrade request. 

Depending on your status, you may be able to submit an upgrade request via the United Airlines app or website. 

Alternatively, if you’re a MileagePlus elite member, you may also contact the United call center for assistance.

Upgrade Priority 

Your upgrade priority will depend on your frequent flyer status and whether or not you purchased a premium fare or have any “elite” perks. 

Elite members will typically receive upgrade priority over other customers and may be able to bypass certain restrictions.


The cost of upgrading to first class can vary based on several factors such as your fare type, frequent flyer status, and availability of seats. 

Generally speaking, it will cost extra to upgrade from economy to first class. However, some MileagePlus elite members may be eligible for complimentary upgrades. 

Keep in mind that if you purchase an upgradeable fare, you may also be able to get a discounted rate.

What Is The United Upgrade List?

United Upgrade List is a list of passengers who are waiting to be upgraded to a higher class of service on United Airlines flights. This list is compiled based on a variety of factors, including the passenger’s frequent flyer status, fare type, and availability of seats in the higher class. 

Passengers can request to be added to the upgrade list when they check-in for their flight, and the list is updated regularly as seats become available. 

United Airlines prioritizes upgrades based on a hierarchy of criteria, including elite status, fare class, and time of request, among other factors. 

The United Upgrade List can be a valuable tool for travelers looking to enhance their travel experience and enjoy the benefits of a higher class of service.

How Can You Check The Availability Of United Upgrade Seats For Your Flight?

How Can You Check The Availability Of United Upgrade Seats For Your Flight?
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Start by visiting the United Airlines website or download the United Airlines app on your mobile device. Once you have logged in to your account, you can check the availability of upgrade seats by selecting the flight you are interested in and clicking on the “Upgrade” button. 

This will show you the available upgrade options for your flight, including the number of upgrade seats available and the cost of each upgrade. 

Alternatively, you can contact United Airlines customer service to inquire about upgrade availability for your flight. 

It is important to note that upgrade availability is subject to change and may not always be available for all flights or fare classes.

How Do United Airlines’ Complimentary Premier Upgrades Work?

United Airlines’ complimentary premier upgrades work by prioritizing frequent flyers who have achieved Premier status in their MileagePlus program. Premier members are eligible for upgrades on United-operated flights, based on availability and their Premier status level. Upgrades are processed automatically, with higher-status members receiving priority over lower-status members

The upgrades are available for domestic and international flights and can be requested at the time of booking or through the United app. 

United also offers paid upgrades for non-Premier members, which can be purchased up to 24 hours before departure.


What Are The Options Available For Upgrading To Business Class On United Airlines?

United Airlines offers several options for upgrading to business class, including purchasing an upgrade at check-in or on the United app. Additionally, bidding for an upgrade through the airline’s PlusPoints program, using miles to upgrade through MileagePlus. You can be offered a complimentary upgrade based on elite status or availability

United also offers the option to purchase a premium economy ticket, which includes additional amenities such as extra legroom and priority boarding, but is not the same as business class. 

What Is The United Upgrade Priority Order?

The United upgrade priority order is a ranking system that determines who gets upgraded to a higher class of service on United Airlines flights. The first priority goes to Premier 1K members, followed by Premier Platinum, Premier Gold, and then Premier Silver members. 

After that, customers who have purchased full-fare tickets are considered, followed by those who have purchased discounted tickets

Finally, customers who have used upgrade certificates or have requested upgrades using miles are considered, with the highest priority given to those with the highest status in the MileagePlus program. 

The order can vary based on factors such as flight length and demand.

How Can You Become An Elite Member Of United’s MileagePlus Program?

In general, if you want to become an elite member of United’s MileagePlus program, you need to earn a certain amount of Premier Qualifying Miles (PQMs) or Premier Qualifying Segments (PQSs) and spend a minimum amount of money on United flights. 

The requirements for each elite status level vary, with the highest level, Premier 1K, requiring 100,000 PQMs or 120 PQSs and $15,000 in spending

You can also earn elite status by earning a certain amount of Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQDs) and flying a minimum number of flights with United or their partner airlines. 

Can You Use Your United MileagePlus Miles To Upgrade To First Class For Free?

Yes, you can use your United MileagePlus miles to upgrade to first class for free, but there are some restrictions and requirements. First, you need to have enough miles to cover the upgrade. Second, the flight must be eligible for upgrades, which include certain fare classes and routes

Third, there must be availability in the first-class cabin for the upgrade to be confirmed. 

Is It Possible To Get A Free Upgrade To First Class On United By Asking At The Check-In Counter Or Gate?

It is possible to get a free upgrade to first class on United by asking at the check-in counter or gate, but it is unlikely. United typically upgrades passengers based on their frequent flyer status, the fare class of their ticket, and the availability of seats in first class. 

However, if there are seats available and the gate agent or check-in agent is feeling generous, they may offer a free upgrade

It never hurts to ask, but don’t expect it to happen every time.


In conclusion, while upgrading to first class on United Airlines for free is rare, it is still possible. The most common way to do so is by achieving elite status in United’s MileagePlus program, which requires a certain amount of qualifying miles or segments and spending within a calendar year. 

Alternatively, passengers can use their United MileagePlus miles to upgrade, although there may be additional fees or taxes. 

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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